2 Classic Hollywood Movies Were Saved By The Exact Same Change In The Same Year

By Erin Johnson Published 3 minutes ago

Two popular Hollywood film classics were in perpetual disarray until they underwent the same behind-the-scenes change in the same year.

2 Classic Hollywood Movies Were Saved By The Exact Same Change In The Same Year


  • Victor Fleming's mid-film director switch saved both The Wizard of Oz and Gone with the Wind from production troubles in 1939.
  • The Wizard of Oz and Gone with the Wind faced cursed productions and notorious crew changes plaguing their filming processes.
  • Despite The Wizard of Oz's lasting legacy, Gone with the Wind emerged as the bigger hit with a higher box office haul and more Oscar wins.


The exact same behind-the-scenes change saved the classic Hollywood films The Wizard of Oz and Gone with the Wind from troubled productions in 1939. At face value, The Wizard of Oz and Gone with the Wind couldn't be any more different. The Wizard of Oz is a wondrous musical fantasy film that follows Kansas native Dorothy Gail's wild adventure through the magical land of Oz, and Gone with the Wind is an epic historical romance set in the American South following the torrid love affair of Scarlett O'Hara and Rhett Butler during the Civil War and Reconstruction periods.

Although fundamentally different, The Wizard of Oz and Gone with the Wind had infamous and notoriously problematic productions in common. The Wizard of Oz's strange behind-the-scenes stories led to its troubled production becoming characterized as cursed, with costume and effects issues, countless film crew changes, and several on-set accidents all adding fuel to the fire; and Gone with the Wind's turbulent production was well-known for crew and cast contention, long delays, and similar film crew changes. Luckily, in 1939, both classic Hollywood films were redeemed by a saving grace, helping them forge the impressive legacies they are known for today.

Victor Fleming Replaced George Cukor As The Wizard Of Oz's Director

2 Classic Hollywood Movies Were Saved By The Exact Same Change In The Same Year

One of The Wizard of Oz's biggest production problems was the ability to hold down a director. According to American Cinematographer, George Cukor stepped in to direct TheWizard of Oz after former director Richard Thorpe failed to capture the whimsical nature of the script and was thrown off the set by producer Mervyn LeRoy. Cukor's appointment was intentionally temporary, and he soon left The Wizard of Oz under the direction of Victor Fleming to prepare for his responsibilities in the Gone with the Wind film.

Cukor filled in as the director for The Wizard of Oz for less than a week.

As Thorpe was incapable and Cukor didn't spend enough time on set to leave a mark, Fleming is said to have left the most significant mark on The Wizard of Oz and is the only director credited with the role. Fleming, too, was replaced for the film's final weeks by American film director King Vidor. However, per The Guardian, Vidor worked directly from Fleming's storyboards, and the two later worked collectively to bring the film to fruition at the editing stage.

Director Victor Fleming Release Date August 25, 1939 Studio(s) Warner Bros. Pictures Distributor(s) Warner Bros. Pictures Writers Florence Ryerson , Noel Langley , Edgar Allan Woolf Cast Margaret Hamilton , Jack Haley , Judy Garland , Bert Lahr , Ray Bolger Runtime 102 minutes Budget $2.8 million

Victor Fleming Then Replaced George Cukor On Gone With The Wind

2 Classic Hollywood Movies Were Saved By The Exact Same Change In The Same Year

Cukor was the designated director for Gone with the Wind, but frequent disputes between him and the cast and crew on set gave rise to his eventual dismissal from the movie. Reports vary on the circumstances of his being let go, yet popular speculation says that Cukor didn't get along with Gone With the Wind's producer David O. Selznick and actor Clarke Gable. The Guardian theorizes that Selznick believed Gone with the Wind lacked dynamism under Cukor, and Gable thought Cukor gave too much screen time to his co-stars Olivia De Havilland and Vivien Leigh.

Other sources speculate that Selznick fired Cukor for taking too long to make the film (via Britannica) or that Cukor was let go after heavy discourse over the Gone with the Wind script (via Entertainment Weekly). Regardless of why it happened, Flemming promptly replaced Cukor and directed Gone with the Wind to its completion. By the end of 1939, Fleming managed two of the Golden Age of Hollywood's most successful and ever-enduring classics because of quick and worthwhile mid-film director changes that saved the movies.

Director Victor Fleming , George Cukor , Sam Wood Release Date February 16, 1940 Studio(s) Warner Bros. Pictures Distributor(s) Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer , Warner Bros. Pictures Writers Margaret Mitchell , Sidney Howard , Oliver H.P. Garrett , Ben Hecht , Jo Swerling , John Van Druten Cast Thomas Mitchell , Barbara O'Neil , Vivien Leigh , Evelyn Keyes , Ann Rutherford , George Reeves , Hattie McDaniel Runtime 238 minutes Budget $3.85 million

Gone With The Wind Was A Much Bigger Success Than The Wizard Of Oz


BothThe Wizard of Oz and Gone with the Wind were fiercely successful and developed into classics that have forged legacies that have made them prominent through the ages. The films were triumphant in lucrativeness, critical reception, and in the eyes of popular culture, though Gone with the Wind came to be the much bigger success. Their astonishing achievements pitted them against each other in 1939, especially in the competition for the higher box office haul, and even now, The Wizard of Oz and Gone with the Wind are often set against each other as the better film.


Worldwide Box Office (est.)

Worldwide Box Office Adjusted for Inflation (est.)

# of Oscar Wins

Ranking on AFI's 100 Greatest American Movies of all Time

Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer Score

Gone with the Wind

$402.3 million

$3.44 billion




The Wizard of Oz

$25.6 million





Regarding The Wizard of Oz and Gone with the Wind's box office competition, Gone with the Wind blew the musical fantasy film out of the water and was preferred by audiences, according to worldwide gross totals and estimates adjusted for inflation. Critics at the time also generally preferred Gone with the Wind over The Wizard of Oz, granting the former film 8 Oscars over the latter's 2. As time passes since The Wizard of Oz and Gone with the Wind's debut, audiences and critics remain divided over which is the better film, though history has attested to Gone with the Wind being exceedingly more successful.

Source: American Cinematographer, The Guardian, Britannica, Entertainment Weekly

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