Moonlight and Magnolias tells the true story of the rewriting of the screenplay for the movie Gone With the Wind. Before I talk about the play itself I should mention that Gone with the Wind is my all time favorite movie. I absolutely love it. In addition, I read Gone with the Wind the summer between 8th and 9th grade and could NOT put it down. It is the first book I read that I loved and considered a favorite. I have such fond memories of sitting on my front steps throughout that summer with my nose in that book.
As for the play... Moonlight and Magnolias depicts how during the filming of the movie the producer, David O. Selznick, decided he had an unworkable screenplay. He convinces the journalist/screenwriter, Ben Hecht, to rewrite the screenplay - even though Hecht hasn't even read the book and is convinced a Civil War movie that glorifies the South will never make money. Selznick offers him an outrageous sum of money ($15,000. Remember this is 1939) and gets Hecht to agree to work on it for 5 days - no more. What ensues is the hilarious telling of how Selznick, Hecht and the new director Victor Fleming, who Selznick pulls off the set of The Wizard Oz, lock themselves in Selznick's office for 5 days and rewrite the screenplay. It is hilariously as Selznick and Fleming act out scenes from the book so that Hecht can write them. And all the while Hecht complains about how awful the book is and how corrupt the themes contained in the book are.
I absolutely LOVED this play. The actors were amazing. These were extremely difficult roles as there was a ton of dialogue and the three actors were on stage for the entire show. It was also a fairly rigorous production with lots of physical humor. Through the concerns of the journalist Hecht, I learned so much about the controversy surrounding the making of this movie. It was fascinating to look at Gone with the Wind (the book and the movie) through the lens of "political correctness". I've said this before and I'll say it again - The Community Players is the best kept secret in Rhode Island Theater. If you live in Rhode Island, I urge you to attend a show and see this for yourself. I don't think you will be disappointed.
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