Hollywood's 100 Favorite Movie Quotes: The 'Gone With the Wind' Line That Was Almost Censored
"Frankly my dear, I don't give a whoop" was almost the most famous line in the 1939 classic.
If film censors had their way, the most famous line in Gone With the Wind — the final words Rhett Butler says to Scarlett O'Hara — might have been this: “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a whoop."
About two months before the film’s Dec. 15, 1939, premiere, censors told MGM and producer David O. Selznick that the “damn” in the movie's final scene was offensive and needed to be cut. The Motion Picture Production Code (popularly known as the Hays Code after Will Hays, the president of the Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America), which was adopted in 1930, forbade profanity, along with licentious or suggestive nudity, inference of sexual perversion, and ridicule of clergy, among other things.
Selznick appealed the decision, but in the meantime he had the writers come up with 22 variations that could replace the "damn" line. The choices included “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a straw,” “Frankly my dear, my indifference is boundless,” and “Frankly my dear, it makes my gorge rise.”
The MPPDA, however, reversed course. In November 1939, the organization passed an amendment that allowed for some mild swearing so long as it was “essential and required for portrayal, in proper historical context, of any scene or dialogue based upon historical fact or folklore, ... or a quotation from a literary work, provided that no such use shall be permitted which is intrinsically objectionable or offends good taste."
The "damn" would stay.
Luckily, the 22 variations of Gone With the Wind’s most famous line survive, and you can read them below. Frankly my dear, we hope you do give a damn.
'Gone With the Wind' script notes reproduced with the permission and thanks of Daniel Selznick and the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas.
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