FACT or FICTION?
Peanuts, bananas, and other surprising truths in Moonlight and Magnolias
Ron Hutchinson’s Moonlight and Magnolias is based on the true story behind the making of Gone With the Wind. The key word here is “based,” as Hutchinson takes many fictional liberties, in order to make a compelling story from film history into this gut-busting comedy. Some of the funniest moments, however, REALLY happened! Keep reading to find out what’s fact and what’s fiction in what director Prodan Dimov calls a “documentary farce.”
THE FIRST DIRECTOR OF GONE WITH THE WIND WAS FIRED 3 WEEKS INTO FILMING
The producer, David Selznick (played in this production by Chad Darnell) fired the first director, George Cukor, and hired Victor Fleming (played by Chuck Morris). Fleming hated the script, so Selznick was forced to bring in Ben Hecht (played by Joseph Quimby) for a rewrite.
GONE WITH THE WIND’s SCREENPLAY WAS REWRITTEN IN FIVE DAYS
Fact! Well, almost.
Sidney Howard, the original screenwriter, wrote a version that would’ve been, believe it or not, 6 hours long! Ben Hecht worked with Selznick and Fleming on a new version, and agreed to finish his draft within one week (so, technically, 7 days).
THE WRITER HADN’T READ THE BOOK
Ben Hecht had never read Gone With the Wind and neither had Fleming! Selznick started out their week-long writing session by giving them a verbal summary. Upon hearing, Hecht was convinced the movie would be a flop, as the plot was too dense and complicated to make a coherent movie.
THE PRODUCER ONLY LET HIS TEAM EAT PEANUTS AND BANANAS
Selznick believed that eating slowed down the creative process, and thus told Hecht and Fleming that they could eat only bananas and salted peanuts- snackable foods that provided basic nutrition and energy. This diet had its downfalls though- on day five, Selznick collapsed in the middle of eating a banana and had to be revived by a doctor. On day six, Fleming broke a blood vessel in his eye. Hecht, largely made it through the nightmare diet without incident, as he took regular naps while Selznick and Fleming acted out the scenes.
So what’s fiction in Moonlight and Magnolias? Well, we can never really know all that transpired in that week of rewriting. That’s where playwright Ron Hutchinson comes in! There is so much more zany hilarity to enjoy, but in order to experience it, you have to get your tickets to Marietta New Theatre in the Square’s preseason production!
Moonlight and Magnolias is playing at Marietta’s New Theatre in the Square from January 17th through February 1st. View curtain times and prices, or purchase your tickets by clicking HERE. You can reach the box office at (770) 426-4800 for any questions, or to purchase tickets over the phone.