David Selznick and Since You Went Away


"I have a different concept of producing than
other producers. Some producers are money men,
and others are just lieutenants. For me to
produce is to make a picture. As a producer,
I can maintain an editorial perspective that
I wouldn\'t have as a director. I consider
myself first a creative producer, then a showman
and then a businessman. You need all three things
to succeed in the business today."
-David O. Selznick

The film Since You Went Away was released in 1944. This epic film attempted to
relate to the American audience that was dealing with the war foreclosing and
the flux of soldiers coming home at the time. The Hollywood studios were
constantly trying to do their part for the war buy making films about the war in
a fairy tale "Hollywood" style. Since You Went Away crossed these boundaries,
and the movie audience at the time, positively responded for this reason. The
producer and screenwriter of the film knew America craved this portrayal.
Critics of the film from this period, applauded it\'s "realism", but in hindsight
studies of the film in the seventies and eighties were a little more critical of
the film. David O. Selznick was the man behind the vision of this film and
Selznick is best known for film classic\'s like; Gone With the Wind, (from which
the formula of this movie draws heavily from) Rebecca, and King Kong. This
film was a special project for Selznick at the time, and it was seen as his
contribution to the war effort. The academy awards recognized Selznick\'s effort
and nominated his film for best picture of 1944.

David Selznick was known as a one of the great creative producers- along side
Walt Disney. A creative producer is usually "a powerful mogul who supervises
the production of a film in such exacting detail that he was virtually its
artistic creator." (Eyman p. 121) In this period, Selznick\'s style was
remembered best by his epic length movies in which he paid special attention to
detail. His films catered to the female market but also had potential to cross
over to the male segment. Selznick was "increasingly becoming aware of the
commercial value of his name." (Fenster p.36) He decided to repeat the formula
that worked well in Gone With the Wind and made a decision to purchase a war
novel/diary from Margaret Wilder. Since You Went Away spawned from Wilder\'s
novel, after Selznick spent many hours on developing the screenplay and hiring
the right cast. The war film was a popular genre to produce during the war
years in North America. Also, it was seen as a noble effort to make a film
about the war. Most of the skilled directors or producers of these films,
stylized their own vision of the war with their special trademarks throughout
the film. Films that did this, usually did will well at the box office as well
as at the Academy Awards Ceremony. David Selznick was looking for a hit movie
to follow the success of Gone With The Wind and he hoped Since You Went Away
would be a blockbuster. Selznick spent nearly "$3,000,000 on this film",
(Thomas p. 220) which meant glossy and detailed scenes throughout the film.
This was an unusual amount of money for a film from this period, but David
Selznick was known in Hollywood for his elaborate budgets.

The films length allowed Selznick to allow it to take place over a year. The
story begins in January 12, 1943 which is immediately after Mr. Hilton departs
for the war. The Hiltons are a middle/upper class family who are now faced with
dealing with dealing with the trials and tribulations of everyday life without
the support of a male authority figure. A lot of emphasis is placed on the
female audience\'s familiarity with "the details of day to day living and plenty
of humorous sentimental reportage of housekeeping: rationing, the problems of
two growing daughters and the business of getting jobs to help the family\'s
reduced budget."(Hartung p 374) Selznick increased the original ages of the two
daughters so Shirley Temple (Bridget) and Jennifer Jones (Jane) could play the
roles and romance could be introduced. Nineteen forty-four was quite the
turbulent year for the American populous. The war was coming to a close, and
America saw the return of their heroes after a glorious battle. But, there was
also a feeling of nervous uncertainty and anxiety regarding the heroes return.
The reviewers and reviews of Since You Went Away were