Movie moguls feel the heat in Moonlight and Magnolias

PUBLISHED: 09:46 17 September 2010 | UPDATED: 10:11 17 September 2010

David O. Selznick (Chaz Doyle) and Ben Hecht (Barry Heselden) in Moonlight & Magnolias

David O. Selznick (Chaz Doyle) and Ben Hecht (Barry Heselden) in Moonlight & Magnolias


A brash young David O. Selznick is portrayed in South London Theatre’s latest offering

I’ve never read Gone with the Wind, but then neither had Ben Hecht when he was asked to perform a hasty rewrite to the Hollywood movie.

Ron Hutchinson’s delightfully funny play Moonlight and Magnolias dramatises five frenzied days in 1939 when MGM producer David O. Selznick (the ‘O’ stands for nothing) holed himself up in his office with Ben Hecht and director Victor Fleming to bash out a revised screenplay of the best-selling book.

The first screenplay by Sidney Howard was massively overlong, original director George Cukor was fired three weeks into production, and the studio was paying a fortune while studios and actors stood by idle. To say it was a fraught situation would be an understatement.

A convincingly realised production by Bromley’s South London Theatre emphasised the blood, sweat and tears that must have gone into distilling Margaret Mitchell’s doorstop novel into a tight, 130-page screenplay — in just one working week.

Under the assured direction of Mark Ireson the play also emphasised the broad comedy inherent in the situation.

As the days pass, the men’s natty suits become increasingly crumpled, their five o’clock shadows more pronounced, and a sea of banana skins and peanuts threatens to engulf them.

To read the full review, see Times Out in the Bexley Times.

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