Fave Film Origins – WIF @ the Movies

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Popular Films

Adapted From

Crazy Sources

Lots of iconic stuff is adapted from other iconic stuff – Jaws the movie from “Jaws” the novel, the Pirates Of The Caribbean skeleton monsters from Keith Richards, and the works of Terry Gilliam from full-blown dementia.

But not these. These iconic works are adapted from … well, weird crap. Crap you’d never think to adapt to film, unless you were on an obscene amount of cocaine, which is the only explanation we have for these:

10. The Producers (2005)

Moviegoers could be forgiven for being a little confused about 2005’s The Producers, an adaptation of the Broadway musical of the same name. Or was it an adaptation of the 1968 Mel Brooks film? Both? Who knows?

The 2005 film is a rare successful example of a recursive adaptation – that is, an adaptation to medium A from medium B, which was originally adapted from medium A. The 1968 film was adapted into the Broadway musical, which was then adapted back to film in 2005. The, um, producers of the 2005 film never even looked at Brooks’ original – it was wholly an adaptation of the musical, which had been running since 2001.

It was a great adaptation but, if it gets adapted back into a stage play based solely on it, we think that the fabric of reality might start to get a little wobbly.

9. An Inconvenient Truth

After his defeat in the 2000 Presidential election, Al Gore returned to a topic that had fascinated him for years – global warming. He finished compiling a slide showon the subject that he had started years earlier and took it on the road, giving his presentation to hundreds of audiences over several years.

In 2005 the presentation was seen by Laurie David, a television producer and part-time environmental activist, who somehow got the ball rolling on convincing Gore to turn it into a movie. Now, Gore was very passionate about his subject, but was not exactly known as a dynamic speaker. Yet instead of getting, say, The Rock to narrate, he chose to do it himself.

The 2006 film An Inconvenient Truth is largely just a filmed version of Gore’s presentation, making it the only film we can think of to be adapted from a lecture. We won’t argue with the potential importance of its message, but we will argue that its success was probably singular, and that “Adapted Lectures” do not need to become a regular thing.

8. Adaptation

Ask any screenwriter to adapt a narrative-free rumination on orchid poaching and life, like Susan Orlean’s “The Orchid Thief”, and you’ll likely end up with pages and pages of unusable garbage, and a screenwriter hanging by his neck in the closet. Unless the writer is Charlie Kaufman, in which case you’ll end up with an epic mindscrew containing Nicolas Cage’s two best performances, filmed from one of the greatest screenplays ever written.

Kaufman turned the unadaptable novel, itself based on Orlean’s original New Yorker article, into a meditation on the nature of adaptation itself – not only in the literary but the evolutionary sense – with himself as the star, a screenwriter struggling to adapt a screenplay which, of course, will eventually be made into the movie you’re watching.

It’s an approach only Kaufman could have pulled off, and whoever’s bright idea it was to make “The Orchid Thief” into a movie should thank their lucky stars that Kaufman was their writer.

7. He’s Just Not That Into You

This 2009 Affleck-and-Aniston wankfest is a pretty standard ensemble rom-com on the surface. It’s one of a handful (a very small handful, mind) of ill-advised self-help book adaptations- this one a 2004 Oprah Book Of The Month that was inspired by, O Holy Grail of creative inspirations, a line of dialogue from “Sex And The City.”

The book is essentially a long series of really obvious telltale signs that the person you’re pursuing is – wait for it – not into you. How to pad this out into a feature film instead of, say, a damn commercial? Why, by turning several of its points into a series of (supposedly) comic vignettes in the style of a bland, vacuous rom-com with Ben Affleck and Jennifer Aniston!

Needless to say, the movie did not do very well critically or commercially. Moviegoers were just not that into it, and even though that joke ss ridiculously obvious, but it was right there. We’re not even sorry.

6. The Box

For his next trick, following the epic argument starter Southland Tales, Richard Kelly turned to an adaptation of a classic … okay, an underrated … fine, a really obscure story, whose most well-known version is as a 15-minute segment from the 80’s Twilight Zone revival called “Button, Button,” which itself was adapted from a very short (8 pages!) story by Richard Matheson.

The story is too thin to fill out 15 minutes of TV, let alone a feature film, and the film itself got very mixed reviews, to say the absolute least. You wonder why labyrinthine-plot-meister Kelly would turn to it at all rather than, you know, just coming up with another of his wackaloon original stories. Sadly, it’s starting to look less and less like Kelly is ever going to make another movie as unbelievably awesome as Donnie Darko.

5. The Shop Around The Corner/You’ve Got Mail

Quintessential chick flick You’ve Got Mail is essentially an updated version of the 1940 romantic comedy The Shop Around The Corner, repackaged as a vehicle for Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan, and co-starring AOL instead of the US Postal Service.

The earlier film was adapted, for some reason, from an obscure Hungarian play called “Parfumerie” that was never even translated into English, let alone performed for English speaking audiences. Many of the plot tropes have become standard issue for rom-coms, so the next time you’re watching one, and find yourself wondering why in the heck all of these movies have virtually the same plot, you can thank Hungarian playwright Miklós László. Or go back in punch his lights out; that works too.

4. The Fast And The Furious

Vin Diesel’s surprise hit from 2001 was loosely based on a Vibe Magazine article about illegal street racing, titled “Racer X.” The 1998 article chronicled the underground drag racing scene, which had been spreading throughout Southern California in the early 1990’s. While we suppose a movie about the scene makes sense, we’re surprised there was apparently no other source material to adapt. For that matter, we’re surprised an adaptation was even necessary.

Just one in a long, long series of one film based on Vibe friggin’ Magazine, The Fast And The Furious spawned a ridiculous series of five films (soon to be six) that are still going strong, almost like an engine of some kind.

3. I Know What You Did Last Summer

This 1997 film is known mainly for ripping off the vibe of the previous year’s Scream – perhaps because it was written by the same guy – and also for Jennifer Love Hewitt’s breasts. Like Scream, it’s a kind of combination slasher flick / whodunit with a twist ending, and it’s also pretty damn gory.

Unlike Scream, or practically any other slasher movie, it’s adapted from a novel. And not just any novel; the kind you used to order from Scholastic catalogs when you were a kid. Yes, this movie was originally a Young Adult novel – from freakin’ 1973.

Of course, the novel did not feature any gory murders (one character was shot, but survived), and being a YA novel, its focus is largely on the romantic relationship between the female protagonist and her hunky boyfriend (giggle!) Which begs the question: why didn’t the filmmakers just come up with an original story for their slasher flick? Why adapt any novel, let alone this one?

2. Braveheart

The 1995 historical film Braveheart is fondly remembered as one of the last films in which Mel Gibson was undisputedly awesome. It is NOT typically remembered for being based on a 15th century epic poem entitled – we kid you not –  “The Actes and Deidis of the Illustre and Vallyeant Campioun Schir William Wallace” by a poet known as Blind Harry. Not only did we not make that up, we can’t even pronounce it.

As one of the only historical records of Wallace, the poem’s accounts of his deeds were leaned on heavily for the film’s story, even though almost as little is known about Blind Harry as about Wallace.

1. Live Free Or Die Hard

The Die Hard films have a history of adapting weird crap, but none this weird: the 2007 installment takes its premise from a 1997 (timely!) article in Wired magazine by John Carlin. The article describes “war games,” of the sort meant to anticipate and respond to an information attack, the type that wouldn’t be possible for several years.

Originally set to be adapted to film in 1999, as its own entity, the project stalled until it was absorbed (like so many other things) by the Die Hard franchise. The PG-13 rated film notoriously failed to please fans, or anyone else really, with its bloodless violence, neutered dialogue and absurd explosions. Fortunately, the 2013 installment A Good Day To Die Hard is rated R and – get ready for this – is not an adaptation of anything, but an original story for the first time in franchise history.


Fave Film Origins –

WIF @ the Movies

Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 235

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Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 235

Chapter Twenty-0ne

A DOOM WITH NO VIEW

…My cameras were rolling during the most amazing event in the recorded television history of the world and the film is blank…

The sounds of silence speak loudly. Like traveling through a tunnel without an opening and no end, the Libbyites wander the empty grounds of Comiskey Park barely able to speak. And if they do, what can they say. Nearly all of them starts, then stops before anything meaningful get shared; a dropped jaw tells no tales.

Even for a Californian like Sam Jr. who thought he had seen it all in his young life, can only gather up his equipment and check on his people. He is being told that none of the cameras had recorded anything from the time of the blackout, until BG spoke after the light & dark show. “But they weren’t turned off; you’ve got to be kidding me! We were rolling during the most amazing event in the recorded history of the world and we don’t have it!”

“You got all the other shots Sam, that’s where the rubber meets the road,” encouragement comes from a likely source. The ringmaster, of what turned out to be the Greatest Show On Earth, has accepted the events of the evening for what they are, God with us. “Do you know how many souls were won for Christ tonight?”

Can you imagine what it would have been like to have a camera following Moses around, pre-, present and post Egypt? Examples:

  • Joseph a Jewish Prince of Egypt
  • Ten plagues against Pharaoh
  • The burning bush
  • Parting of the Red Sea
  • Rod & staff, asp & snake

“My father’s friend C.B. Demille is starting a film about the Ten Commandments. I hear it is quite the production.” Goldwyn keeps his finger on the pulse of what’s hot in Hollywood. Had he only been able to capture the divine acts of the evening, what story it would have been, yet still is and it will affect him for years to come, as it does the “others”.8 of 'em in Forever Mastadon

“Nothing surprises me about this bunch anymore,” Eddie D. is childlike in his assessment of the experience. “None of my cousins have a story like this to tell.”

“Did not Constance tell you that you and Edie would be the cousins with all the attention in the future? Sam has been getting feedback, on the shortwave radio, from NBC and they tell him that over 50% of all television sets in the United States were watching the Revival!”


Constance Caraway P.I.

Forever Mastadon


page 198

Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 222

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Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 222

…the Comiskey Park Greater Chicago Billy Graham Crusade Revival is heating up

It’s getting close to showtime…

So Samuel Goldwyn is treating the production of the Comiskey Park Greater Chicago Billy Graham Crusade Revival like it will be an Academy Award contending production. He has become quite familiar with the crusade concept by now, but this is going to be seen by millions of people around the world and his name is going to be listed as producer, director and managing editor (& popcorn vendor).

— “The three stationary cameras in the middle of the stadium… you guys pick a carriage and follow it for as many times they go around… and not two of you on the same one, got it? —REVIVAL CAM-001

— “And I want all cameras panning the crowd during Communion. Zoom in on their faces, especially the ones who are crying or have their hands reaching for the sky. That is the image I’m looking to spotlight. —

— “Remember, for those of you who work with me in my movies, I cannot possibly control all the shots you are capturing. I want you to use your instincts, resisting the temptation to focus in on the crazies. Remember the Chicago Stadium meeting, the kook with the “You Are Going to Hell!” t-shirt or the chick who rushed the stage wanting to plant a smooch on BG?” –

“Did I hear my name?” asks the man who leads thousands of seeking souls to salvation. “I was eavesdropping on your production meeting and all I can add is that I cannot emphasize enough the importance of the word Revival. From here on out the Crusades are going to be billed as Revival Meetings. Whether it is an intimate gathering or a thunderous throng, I want the spirit of Revival to spread through this nation like wildfire!”

Billy Graham thinks big… h-u-g-e, big.

“And we are going to put faces to names and stories to faces; real people pulling on the same end of the rope, all for the sake of a fundamental truth.” BG tears up about how at this moment in time. Literally millions of united souls helped produce a moving and monumental 5 months. “We are witnessing a seminal moment in the history of modern man, Sam my boy!”

Samuel Goldwyn Jr. is thinking big-screen big.


Constance Caraway P.I.

Forever Mastadon


page 186

Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 221

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Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 221

Chapter Nineteen

??? GUESSING ???

…a trio of Carbon-14 Coaches will make an undetermined number of circuits around Comiskey Park...

Related image

C-14 COACH ONE:

Willard Libby (makes sense)Carbon 14 Coaches-001

Billy Graham (ditto)

Sister Mary Joseph (lucky charm)

Dr. Louis Steinberg (good-luck doc)

 

C-14 COACH TWO:

Constance Caraway (fearless leader)

Fanny Renwick (right-hand gal)

Martin Kamen (faithful Libby friend)

Agent Daniels (man of many names)

 

C-14 COACH THREE:

Eddie Dombroski (taxi driver/storyteller)

Edie Dombroski (dedicated to Eddie)

Ajax Bannion (fearless flyer)

R Worth Moore (legal eagle)

Above is the lineup of the parade that will enter Comiskey Park through the right field gate, after the concluding altar call. The trio of Carbon-14 Coaches will make an undetermined number of circuits around the ballpark. late this April 1951 afternoon.

Sam Goldwyn has assembled a film for the occasion, each of the coach riders retelling the highlights of their experience for posterity; to be projected onto a 40’h x 60’w screen bought from a drive-in theater for the price of hauling it away. It will be shown after BG’s opening sermon and before Communion.

Heaven only knows what will happen in~between.

Crusade-001

When Billy Graham envisioned his Midwest Crusade, he thought about asking many titans of faith to join him, but the more time he spent around the so-called Libbyites, he realized that he had all the evangelistic fuel he needed with them alone.

The Bible is filled with “ites”, the easiest being the Israelites. Name six more andLibbyites-001 win a prize:

  1. Moabites
  2. Jacobites
  3. Amalekites
  4. Hittites
  5. Levites
  6. Reubenites

Ding-ding-ding, everyone is a winner. Some “-ites” are more famous than others and if you can name the hundred or more “-ite” clans, God bless you.

Libbyites are found only in the collection of words named CONSTANCE CARAWAY ~ Forever Mastadon~. To add your name to the current roster of the lucky twelve dedicated members, there will be a form to fill out in APPENDIX B section at THE END of Forever Mastadon. (Placed therein for WIF readers only)


Constance Caraway P.I.

Forever Mastadon


page 185

Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 214

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Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 214

…Samuel Goldwyn needs to which of the Graham All-Stars will be taking part, so to skillfully place his cameras…

Billy Graham All-Stars-001

“Pray for good weather Samuel. There won’t a tent or roof to cover us from the elements.” Billy Graham recommends prayer in all things life, but much is at stake at the April 28 finale. “I’m not sure that the Holy Father cares whether it rains, snows, is hot or cold. I remember one time in Ventura, California… the Santa Ana’s were howling that day and 5,000 people were wearing canvas hats that morning.”

jesus treeThe accidental acquisition of the Holy Scroll, which was conveniently (if not beautifully) placed in the path of CCPI, has been enclosed in a huge shatterproof glass display case, just like the Constitution of the United States. Crusaders can come within inches of a document produced by an undoubtedly verified heavenly author.

It’s no statue of the Virgin Mary, crying blood for all the wanting witnesses. Nor is it a eucalyptus tree with a dark bark patch resembling the figure of Jesus on the Cross.

But what it is is backed by team of antiquities (not antiquated) experts, including a librarian from a quaint town in Wisconsin. Otherwise easily persuaded people can only guess what Mary’s son looked like, or whether that is real blood or not.

“Is Willard going to be at this one?” Sam needs to know which of the Graham All-Stars will be taking part, so to skillfully place his cameras for the paramount cinematic effect. How about “all of them” MisterMovieMan asks.

“Now that the veil of secrecy has been tossed to the side, I need to keep my entire Chicago friends close and the enemy of all mankind even closer; I’m expecting a whiz-bang doozy of a day!”

The excitement is building.

“We are going to tell the Willard Libby story, end to end—top to bottom.”Libby thoughts-001

“You couldn’t write a movie script this good!”

“Constance and Martin are putting together the glorious and amazing timeline, quite a story indeed.”


Constance Caraway P.I.

Forever Mastadon


page 180

Film Locale Legends – WIF @ the Movies

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Movie Sets

That Took On

a Life of Their Own

Hollywood strives to make movies look as real as possible: after all, The Matrix wouldn’t have been nearly as convincing if it’d been filmed in some guy’s basement. To make that magic, sets are often elaborately and solidly built. So elaborately and solidly, in fact, that after filming is over, those sets keep being used, even when it’s no longer for the movies.

10. Pioneertown, CA

pioneer-town

Mane Street (Really. That’s not a typo) of Pioneertown was built in the 1940’s, as a location for Westerns like Cisco Kid and The Gene Autry Show. Although it was a movie set, all the buildings were real, not just false fronts, so after the Western craze went boots up, regular folks moved in. In 1972, the building that had been “The Cantina” in various shows and movies became an outlaw biker bar that served burritos. In 1982 the biker bar was reopened as Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, and is still there today, as is the rest of Pioneertown. In fact, if you’d like to own a part of Mane Street, like the Likker Barn, check the real estate listings…they’re often for sale.

9. Christmas Story House, OH

A-Christmas-Story-House

When filming on 1983’s Christmas Story ended, Ralphie’s house gave up the glamorous Hollywood lifestyle, and went back to being a house. Like other ordinary houses, it was eventually renovated until it looked nothing like it had in the movie. In 2004, Brian Jones, whose job was making and selling replica Christmas Story leg lamps, bought it on eBay. Jones re-renovated the house back to its movie glory, going frame-by-frame to make sure it was exact. Today it’s open to visitors, and Jones also bought a house across the street and turned it into a museum. A Christmas Story museum, naturally.

8. Shakespeare in Love’s Rose Theatre, somewhere in England

Rose-Theatre

What do you do with a stage set after Gwyneth Paltrow is no longer prancing around on it? You give the whole thing to Judi Dench, apparently. Dench kept the Rose Theater set from 1998’s Shakespeare in Love in storage until 2009, when she donated it to the British Shakespeare Company. The Company announced plans to use the set as a stage in a Shakespeare center, but nothing’s been done with it yet: in 2010 the Chester Chronicle reported that the city’s attempt to bring the theater there had failed.

7. John Wayne’s Alamo Village, TX

alamo-village

Never one to skimp on details, John Wayne had a full-scale, working reproduction of the Alamo built for his 1960 film about, of course, the Alamo. The set was used as a location for other films until 1971, when it was sold back to the original owner of the land. John Wayne’s Alamo Village then became a tourist attraction, with a John Wayne Museum, trail rides, and gunfight reenactments, until the owner died and it closed to the public in 2009.

6. Spahn Movie Ranch, CA

spahn-movie-ranch

Westerns like Bonanza and The Lone Ranger were filmed at the Spahn Movie Ranch from the 1940’s-60’s. In 1968, the ranch’s elderly owner let Charles Manson and his “family” stay there as they prepared for Manson’s “revolution.” They were living on the ranch at the time of the Tate-La Bianca murders, and Manson was arrested there in 1969. The buildings burned down in 1970, no doubt as some kind of heavenly judgment, and today the land is part of the Santa Susana Pass State Park.

Misunderstood Movie Trivia – WIF @ The Movies

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Popular Pieces

of Movie Trivia

(Debunked)

Everyone wants to provide small novelty pieces of information about beloved movies. Unfortunately, the high demand means that the product has gotten a bit diluted over time. Misunderstandings or even outright lies now permeate the pop culture landscape. We’re inclined to believe a lot of them if for no other reason than the reputation that people have in show business for being weird, or for crazy things to happen when millions of dollars are spent on make believe.

There’s too much respect for the truth to let that stand. Well, at least we want to help our readers put some smug people who think they’re the smartest people in the world because they know some piece of trivia in their place.

10. Alien’s Gender Flip

Since Ellen Ripley’s status as the main character (and sole survivor, not counting the cat) of the Alien franchise was a surprise in the original film of the series, the part being played by Sigourney Weaver instead of, say, her then-more famous male co-star Tom Skerritt made it a subject of a lot of discussion from 1979 onwards. One of the claims that popped up over the years was that the character was originally intended to be male. This seems to be a carryover from the genderflipped character Ruth Leavitt in the slightly less famous 1971 science fiction classic The Andromeda Strain.

None other than screenwriter Dan O’Bannon refuted the story. He clarified that, intentionally, none of the characters were gender specific in his script so that the casting director could take care of that. He had even included notes about this decision on the last page of his original screenplay. We’ll leave it up to the reader to decide what if anything this says about gender roles in fiction.

9. Johnny Depp/Jackie Earle Haley

It’s a classic story of an audition with a comical twist: Someone who doesn’t even intend to be an actor is just going along with a friend to audition for a job. Turns out the casting director prefers the friend who wasn’t intending to act, and that person goes on to be a big star. Something very similar to that happened to Bob Hoskins, for example. The single most famous example of this would likely be in 1983, when Jackie Earle Haley brought Johnny Depp along with him for a role in A Nightmare on Elm Street and ended up launching his friend’s career. Then for a fun coincidence, Jackie Earle Haley was cast as Freddy Krueger for the 2010 remake.

Except… no. Haley clarified in an interview in Esquire that all this talk of him and Depp at the audition was just a rumor. He doesn’t even know what the origin of the rumor could have been, just that him not bringing Depp there was crystal clear.

8. Daniel Day Lewis’s Insane Method Acting

Daniel Day-Lewis is as much famous for his extreme method acting as he is for winning three Academy Awards for Best Actor. For example, playing the primarily paralyzed Christy Brown in My Left Foot involved him staying in a wheelchair for the duration of the shoot. He supposedly insists on only being referred to by his character’s name. It’s all designed to instill the belief that he spends all day trying to think of himself as the character in some maniacal worship of the acting profession.

On the podcast I Was There Too, Paul F. Tompkins (who worked with him on There Will Be Blood) clarified that Lewis wasn’t so intensely in character at all. Between takes he would discuss the characters as if they were characters, he wouldn’t insist at all on being referred to by his character’s name, and he was fine with dropping the accent once the shoot was done for the day. Indeed, as Tompkins opines, it would be an indication that Lewis isn’t a good actor if he makes others uncomfortable with such unreasonable demands, since part of the nature of being a good actor is to pay attention to the needs of your collaborators.

7. Tricking Alan Rickman

No, this isn’t an assertion that it’s untrue that Alan Rickman was ever tricked. This is referring to a story that, in order to get a better reaction out of Hans Gruber for the shot when he is dropped off Nakatomi Plaza in Die Hard, supposedly the director told him that he would be dropped on the count of three. However, to get a genuinely shocked reaction before Rickman had properly braced himself, though, he was dropped on the count of one.

Sorry to ruin everyone’s fun, but Rickman was asked about this very thing during a Q&A event. He unambiguously didn’t remember it happening, which – considering how vividly he remembered the director saying “we’re going to drop the actor” – means that would have been an aspect that would have stuck in his memory. Considering he remembered the fall being higher than the generally reported (40 feet instead of 25) he clearly wasn’t in the mood to downplay anything.

6. Al Capone’s Tailor

Bringing it back to the subject of method acting, we all know perhaps the second biggest method actor in the world was Robert DeNiro for years and years, starting with becoming a real cab driver for weeks to prepare to play Travis Bickle in 1974’s Taxi Driver. By the time 1987 rolled around, for The Untouchables the news went around that DeNiro was supposedly personally tracking down Al Capone’s tailor so that the pajamas he wore (and even his underwear) matched the crime lord’s.

As was pointed out by others well after this misconception spread, given that there was a 56-year gap between Capone’s incarceration and the production of The Untouchables, Capone’s tailor was very unlikely to be in the right shape to work. For one thing, Capone’s tailor was actually Louis Dinato, an associate of Capone’s whose main noteworthy aspect was being repeatedly questioned by the police even after Capone was imprisoned (to no avail), as if he were some sort of interrogation punching bag. The person who actually did the costume work for DeNiro was Rich Bruno, and given that he was only 52 when The Untouchables was made, it would have been quite a trick for the costumer to be tailoring for Al Capone.

5. Spider-Man’s 156 Takes

This one has been a favorite of trivia sites for years: Somehow Sam Raimi’s 2002 film Spider-Man had enough time in the production schedule to devote hours and hours (if not days) to shoot 156 takes of Tobey Maguire catching a tray full of food. Now granted, in 2002 CGI affordable enough for a throwaway gag wasn’t quite up to scratch, so there’s plenty of reason to do it mechanically instead of with computers. But Maguire didn’t do it alone and the “156 takes” claim is certainly a joke (evidenced by the fact that in its source, a commentary track, the commenter gets a laugh from it).

It explicitly was a combination of using a “mechanical rig” to drop the food and gluing the tray to Maguire’s hand, and using force-absorbing gel on the bottom of said food. In fact, if you go frame-by-frame, you can see a white substance stuck to the bottom of the apple. That at least confirms it wasn’t CGI, since why would a CG artist put that on there? Still, it definitely puts this back in the “SFX” category.

4. Werner Herzog’s Shoe Bet

Errol Morris and Werner Herzog are two of the most interesting documentary filmmakers working today, and their film careers were connected in a rather befuddling way. Errol Morris began his career in 1978 with the cult documentary Gates of Heaven(particularly beloved by Roger Ebert) at a time when he had little funding and getting distribution for the film would have been extremely difficult. Herzog came up with a bizarre bet to motivate his friend: If the movie were completed, Herzog would eat his shoe at the premiere. It was enough of an event that a short film was made of the preparation of the meal.

Then Morris came along during a Q&A session at the Lincoln Center and revealed that they actually didn’t have a wager – it was just something that Herzog had made up as an excuse to eat a shoe. Not wanting to be comedically upstaged, while telling the truth about this, Morris said he would joke for years that the bet had actually stipulated Herzog’s foot.

3. The Dark Knight’s Remote Futzing

Heath Ledger’s performance as the Joker in this 2008 blockbuster was so compelling that much of his manic behavior felt completely natural, leaving audiences open to the notion that even the biggest parts were improvised. A scene where the Joker claps in jail is an example. But the best known example is the scene where the Joker is blowing up Gotham General Hospital, but stops when there seems to be a problem with the detonation. In what was alleged to be improv, Ledger messes with the remote, and then the explosion resumes, leaving him to scramble onto the bus.

As director Christopher Nolan explains in a behind the scenes feature included on The Dark Knight blu-ray, the sudden stop in the explosion and the Joker’s pause was actually planned in advance. In fact, Warner Brothers provided a CGI mockup of how the scene would be staged as evidence. That’s much further than most studios go in debunking a piece of trivia.

2. Citizen Kane’s Non-Plot Hole

Since this 1941 film has for decades been known as arguably the best ever made, it was a delight for film buffs and critics alike to claim that the story has a gigantic plot hole right in the middle of it. The impetus for the story is that the titular Kane’s last word was “Rosebud” and it was supposed to be said to an empty room. Which begs the question of how anyone heard what his final word was if he was alone. There was a story circulated that this was pointed out to auteur Orson Welles by a member of the crew, and Welles responded some variation on “don’t you ever tell anyone this.”

The problem with the plausibility of that little story is that it’s not consistent with the content of the movie. While the opening scene has been watched by cinefiles and parodied many times by shows such as The Simpsons, the scene’s person who heard the words doesn’t appear until much later. Very near the end, the reporter that’s been spending the movie trying to learn from Kane’s intimates what Rosebud could mean has a brief chat with the butler Raymond, who explicitly says he’s the one who heard it. Raymond’s other main contribution to the movie is telling the reporter about the famous scene where Kane wrecks his room until he sees a snow globe and says Rosebud the first time. So if someone had asked Orson Welles about who heard the words, Welles would just have said Raymond instead of acting as if his entire movie were in jeopardy.

1. Being John Malkovich’s Beer Can

A lot of this trivia took a concerted effort to debunk or a celebrity to wanted to set the record straight. In this case, the thing that disproved it was completely unintentional. Indeed, the performer in question might not even have ever heard of the false story.

In Being John Malkovich, there’s a scene where the titular actor is walking by a road while he’s in a rut. An extra in a passing vehicle yelled “Hey Malkovich, think fast!” and threw a beer can at his head. Supposedly the scene was completely unscripted and instead of being rebuked for potentially ruining a take, the actor got a raise (some versions say he got a Screen Actors Guild card) because the line of dialogue was used.

The truth didn’t come out until Malkovich was doing a question and answer session known as a “AMA” (Ask Me Anything) on the popular website Reddit. One of his fans asked about that particular scene without mentioning it was supposedly completely spontaneous. The actor said that he was especially fond of that scene, and had been looking forward to it… as soon as he read it in the script. In fact, director Spike Jonze wasn’t even sure if any of the actors would be able to hit Malkovich in an acceptably low number of takes. In hindsight, it would have been a pretty bad idea to actively encourage extras to do things that might harm actors and ruin takes, so everyone should have found the story dubious even before Malkovich accidentally corrected them.


 

Misunderstood Movie Trivia –

WIF @ The Movies