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Get Me Rewrite: 1920

Get Me Rewrite: 1920

Washington, D.C., January 1920. "Selznick Pictures." Interior view of the booking and exhibitor relations office seen here. Where the tidy desk belies an overflowing waste basket. National Photo glass negative. View full size.


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Uhhh . . . errr . . .

'Scuse me, but don't you mean an overflowing wastebasket belies a tidy desk???


The young guy in the front must moonlight as a boxer due to the bruised knuckle. Or maybe he just got in a fight with someone at the office who complained about his trashy work space.

No Fluorescent Lighting!

One of the things I find so attractive about offices from this period is the absence of the ugliest office fixture ever invented--the fluorescent light! I know they provide superior illumination with their hideous tubes, but they are the archtype of plain, bland ugly efficiency. Virtually every fixture in this office, from the phones to the radiators and especially the pretty hanging bowls of the lamps, look as though some thought was given to making them pleasing to look at. I know from the perspective of the 40's, a lot of these things looked hopelessly antiquated, but 90 years later they have aged very well compared to later styles.

Selznick's map

My first thought was that the outlines on the US map might indicate film distribution territories, but a look at the full-size LOC tiff reveals labels such as ""Territory of the Original Thirteen States" and "Ceded by Mexico 1848." Also, the guy to the left of it could be Roscoe Arbuckle's slightly-slimmer brother, if he had one. Finally, I worked at desks just like these (except for the fancy one in back) up until I retired in 2007. They must have been in the building since it opened in 1932. Good investment by the good ol' US Gov't.

Where is the rug

that they obviously need to sweep all the trash under.

Nice office space

I like the handsome indirect lighting fixtures, subtle wall stencil painting and oak furnishings, though it must have been sort of noisy in there with all the hard surfaces and wood flooring. All that under-desk litter, however, needs to be "Gone With The Wind" long before 1939. Oh well -- tomorrow is another day.

Rubber stamps

Ever since I was five years old and checked out my very first library book, I have been fascinated with rubber stamps and those who have the authority to "approve" things just by pounding papers with their rubber stamp. The guy in the back (just in front of the standing man) must have at least ten of them on his desk which indicates to me that he must be the one who has all the power.

Selznick, not yet International

"Selznick" and "Pictures" go together like a horse and carriage.

This was the firm of Lewis Selznick, father of David O. Selznick. David was 18 in 1920 and already seasoned in the family business. But it went bankrupt in 1923, which sent David west to Hollywood.

The rest is history. David married the boss's daughter, Irene Mayer. Started Selznick International Pictures. Gone With the Wind in 1939. Brought Alfred Hitchcock to the U.S. in 1940. Brought Ingrid Bergman to Hollywood. Kept trying to top GWTW, resulting in the spectacular flop "Duel in the Sun" (aka Lust in the Dust). Stole Jennifer Jones from husband Robert Walker and divorced Irene to marry her. Drove almost everyone crazy. Died in 1965, making true his prediction that his obituary with start with "David O. Selznick, producer of Gone with the Wind"


It looks like the guy seated to the left of the map just read something disastrous in the trades.

Front And Center

It appears that the young fella might have a case of writer's block, judging by the overflowing wastepaper basket there, and his co-worker to the his left could maybe benefit from a largest desk! Heh. And, how about that quarter-sawn oak desk in background and to the left! Great photo.

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