To a Hollywood producer it may not be much, but would you pony up $5,000 for the use of just one word in a film? Gone With the Wind producer David O. Selznick did when he used the word “damn” in what could be considered one of the most famous lines in movie history. The then-controversial response uttered by Rhett Butler (Clark Gable) to Scarlett O’Hara (Vivien Leigh) was shot on June 27, 1939.
At the time of filming, director Victor Fleming had replaced George Cukor who had clashed on set with actor Clark Gable. Although Cukor was in the director’s chair for two years before Fleming came on board, it’s been said that Fleming re-shot much of the film. When the newly appointed director shot the famous last scene, he filmed two versions: the one we know and love and the MPAA friendly version with Gable saying, “Frankly, my dear, I just don’t care.” (Unfortunately, the latter wasn’t followed by Clark Gable throwing his hands in the air.)
By today’s prices the choice of paying a $5,000 fee would now cost you roughly $84,000. But with a budget of almost $4 million and a domestic gross of $20 million at the time, Gone With the Wind and its blasphemous “damn” was totally worth a damn.