Christopher Robin – Do Not Pooh-Pooh This

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The Real Story

of

Christopher Robin

Decades before we had child stars on TV, a little boy named Christopher Robin Milne was thrust into the spotlight and became the most famous child of his lifetime. Even to this day, a version of him is still portrayed in the Winnie the Pooh cartoon, and movies are still being made about his life, including Goodbye Christopher Robin in 2017, and the upcoming 2018 film starring Ewan McGregor called Christopher Robin.

But just how accurate are these films, and are they anything like the true life of Christopher Robin? While the well-loved origin story of Winnie the Pooh begins as a journey into the innocence of childhood, the true story becomes quite dark, and everyone involved in the creation of the books eventually regretted it.

Alan Alexander Milne was Christopher Robin’s father, and the creator of Winnie the Pooh. Long before he wrote children’s stories, Milne was a comedy writer and editor at Punch magazine, as well as an acclaimed playwright. After serving in World War I, he found it difficult to continue writing comedy, and wanted to talk about the politics of war instead.

Milne lived with his wife, Daphne, and his son Christopher in London, but he decided that they needed a place to get away from the big city, so he purchase a summer home near Ashdown Forest in Sussex, which is also known as the Five Hundred Acre Wood. This, of course, served as inspiration for Pooh’s “Hundred Acre Wood.”

While he was taking time to write in the country, Milne came to the conclusion that after years of tragedy, people were ready to move on, and they were not ready to read about his thoughts on war. They desperately wanted to read happy stories, and comedy. He drew inspiration from his own source of happiness, which was his 6-year-old son, Christopher Robin.

The boy loved playing in the woods with his stuffed animal teddy bear, which he received as a baby. His mother named the bear “Edward,” but he decided to change its name to Winnie, after seeing a Canadian bear at the London zoo called Winnipeg. Over the years, Daphne continued to buy her son more stuffed animals from Harrods department store, including a donkey, kangaroo, tiger, and tiny piglet. As an only child, Christopher Robin often played by himself and with his nanny, and his mother helped to encourage him to play pretend with his collection of animal friends.

One day, Milne was inspired to write down a poem about Christopher Robin saying his prayers before going to bed. He titled it “Vespers,” and gave it to his wife as a gift. It was later published in Vanity Fair magazine. The public loved reading the sweet poem about the little boy, and they wanted more. Once word got out that this little character was actually the author’s son, suddenly every newspaper and radio show wanted an interview with Christopher Robin.

After working in the magazine industry for years, Milne knew that they needed to take advantage of this hype and sell more stories. He asked his friend and co-worker, E.H. Shephard, to draw the illustrations. So he set out working on writing about Christopher Robin. The stories were loosely based on his son’s imaginary adventures. He published a collection of poems called Now We Are Six, and he eventually switch from poetry to children’s fiction about Winnie the Pooh.

The public absolutely loved Christopher Robin. He received fan letters on a daily basis.. He was taken to public events, narrated stories, and performed in a play about Winnie the Pooh. Like most child stars, he actually loved the fame and attention he was getting. It made him feel special to know that everyone wanted to be his friend. Since he was enjoying it so much, his parents continued to push him into the spotlight, and enjoyed the benefits of being rich and famous.

Even if his parents were blinded by fame, his aunt and uncle did not approve, and they spoke up about how he was being robbed of a normal childhood. Once Milne realized this as well, he chose to stop publishing Winnie the Pooh stories. However, even though he stopped making new books, there was still a demand for reprints, and the hype never died down. Even when he tried to go back to writing for adults, critics would just compare Milne’s work to the children’s stories, claiming that his new characters in a play were just “Christopher Robin grown up.”

Milne wasn’t the only one whose work suffered after Pooh. The illustrator, E.H. Shepherd, was the political cartoonist for Punch Magazine. He saw his work with Milne as a side-gig, and a favor for a friend. After the books became so popular, it overshadowed the work he was doing with political cartoons. He was criticized for copying the styles of other illustrators, and the jokes were never good enough to stand the test of time. While Winnie the Pooh was arguably his best work, he resented that it was his legacy. Whenever anyone mentioned the books to him, he called Pooh “that silly old bear.”

In 1930, when Christopher Robin was 10-years-old, his parents decided that it was time to remove their son out of the public eye and try to give him an education. He was sent to boarding school, and his magical childhood came crashing down when all of the boys started to bully and tease him about Winnie the Pooh. Over time, he grew to hate the stories, and resented his father for exposing his real name and likeness all over the world.

He went to college at Cambridge, and he joined the army at the beginning of World War II. When he was discharged from the military, he started applying to jobs, but every single employer would recognize his name, and asked about Winnie the Pooh. Instead of hiring him based on his resume, everyone already felt that they knew him and judged him based on a fictional character. This made Christopher very angry, because he felt as though his father had robbed him of ever being known for his own accomplishments. Technically, the books made the family so rich Christopher Robin didn’t really have to work to earn a living, but he resented the legacy of Winnie the Pooh so much he refused to take any of the money that the books generated, and he wanted to work and support himself like a normal person.

When he was 27-years-old, Christopher Robin met his first cousin from his mother’s side, Lesley de Selincourt. They had never grown up together as children, because his mother, Daphne, was estranged from her family. They fell in love, and got married. We all know in modern times that that’s not a very good idea to marry your first cousin, and his mother strongly disapproved of their relationship. His father, on the other hand, just wanted him to be happy, and gave them his blessing.

After marrying Lesley, they opened up a bookstore together, and started a family. Unfortunately, their close familial DNA came back to bite them when Christopher and Lesley’s daughter Clare was born severely handicapped with cerebral palsy and kyphosis. She needed nurses to be with her 24 hours a day. This was the first time that Christopher reluctantly began accepting some money from the Pooh fortune, but he only took enough to give his daughter the best medical treatments possible. After his father died, Christopher Robin stopped visiting his mother, because their relationship was beyond repair. They never saw one another again. Even on her deathbed, she said that she did not want to see him.

Milne passed away in 1952, and Disney first bought the rights to use the Winnie the Pooh characters in the 1960s. They paid the Milne estate royalties twice each year. In 2001, they decided to make it official, and purchased the characters for a lump sum of $350 million. Since Christopher Robin refused to take any of the money for himself, all of it went to the Royal Literary Society, and The Garrick Club in London. Clare was given $44 million, which was used for her care in a treatment facility. While this sounds like a massive amount of money, Disney has made a huge return on investment. They make $2 billion every single year from Winnie the Pooh.

By the time he was in his 60s, Christopher Robin said that he could finally look at the Winnie the Pooh books without cringing. He began to make public appearances again, and donated his stuffed animals to the New York City Library, which is where they remain to this day. Christopher passed away in 1996.

There is a plaque in A.A. Milne’s honor in the Five Hundred Acre Wood, and children still travel there to see where the real Winnie the Pooh and Christopher Robin once played. While Winnie the Pooh may have caused some pain to the people who created him, the stories that were left behind have made children all over the world happy, and will continue to do so for generations to come.


Christopher Robin –

Do Not Pooh-Pooh This

Dark Disney – WIF Edu-tainment

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Dark Moments

from

Disney’s Past

Disney is known for being one of the most family-friendly companies you could imagine, and spends an incredible amount of money to maintain that illusion and appear as one of the most squeaky clean companies in the world. Disney is the company that bought Star Wars, and immediately banned the appearance of smoking in films – villain or otherwise – because of the children.

However, while today Disney tries their hardest to be the most non-offensive thing possible, this wasn’t always the case. In the past, Disney hasn’t always been entirely family-friendly, and their past is checkered with racism and other abuses. Disney himself may not have necessarily been a racist or a misogynist, but he was certainly not progressive for his time, and his attitudes were reflected in the culture of his company and the products they produced.

10. Walt Disney’s Song of the South Was Not Just a Product of It’s Time

If you haven’t heard of it before, Song of the South is a Disney movie made back in the 1940s that has caused such controversy that Disney has kept it in the vault for decades now and has no intention of ever allowing it to see the light of day again. The movie has caused trouble since it was first released because of its depiction of African American characters. The movie is set on a plantation in the south, and it seems that it is post Civil War, but it’s very ambiguous. There are still a lot of black people working on the plantation, and while they are not called slaves, they have very subservient attitudes and speak in a way that seems designed to make them look less intelligent – not only that, but they seem very happy about their lot, which is working for white people.

Disney only really likes to release movies from the vault when they can celebrate it, and show off an image of squeaky cleanness. Song of the South not only doesn’t allow that, but it creates unnecessary controversy and potentially lost customers and image. Of course, there will always be people who defend the actions of Walt Disney to make this movie back in the day, and say that he was just a product of his time. However, those who knew Walt at the time understood that he knew full well all the possible controversies he could create, but he wanted to go ahead and make it anyway. Some accounts even say Walt actually downplayed the racial stereotypes some from what he originally planned because he didn’t think it would go over well. This doesn’t necessarily paint him as racist, but it does show he cared more about telling a story than any kind of racial sensitivity.

9. Disney Underpaid His Employees, Causing Them to Go On Strike and Changing Animation Forever

In the early days of the Disney company, things were not really very well organized, and Walt was just trying to get as many good ideas as possible, and move things forward at a brisk pace. He had hired on a lot of animators to do creative work, and the company expanded faster than he really knew how to deal with. This led to a very serious issue where Walt’s disorganization and greed really got him in trouble. He underpaid most of his animators to begin with, and then would give raises in very arbitrary ways. People would randomly be given more pay with little reason or explanation, and no one really knew what you exactly had to do to earn more. After dealing with this for a bit, the animators started to get tired of having their creative talents abused, and went on strike.

Walt was not really interested in negotiating with them, and instead tried to beat it out and fight them on it. The animators formed a guild to protect themselves, and after several weeks of intense picketing and the like, Walt was forced by a lot of outside pressure to give in and pay people fairly. However, laws for dealing with employer retaliation were not very good back then, and Walt held a very serious grudge. He was pretty awful to be around if you had been part of the strike, and before long he was firing people when possible, and many just departed on their own. This actually led many to create their own studios, and many other talented artists to go into comics. The Looney Tunes and many comics and other animation were designed by animators who left Disney, and likely would have never had their designs properly see the light of day under Walt’s leadership. In the end, his hardline stance against fair pay actually indirectly helped change the world of animation for the better.

8. The Yippie Invasion of Disneyland in the 1970s Caused the Disney Company to Overreact

In August of 1970, a group of radical hippies known as yippies had a plan to invade Disneyland on the 6th of the month. They passed out hundreds of thousands of flyers and the rumors started flying around that 200,000 of the counterculture youth intended to invade the park. Disneyland reacted to this by asking the local police to show up, and they arrived that day in full riot gear expecting a huge crowd. Instead, only a couple hundred of the yippies actually showed up, but they still caused quite a bit of a problem.

At first they were just doing silly things like smoking marijuana while climbing on things, but they started to get restless and get into fights with some of the park guests. As the day wore on, they “took over” Tom Sawyer Island, by standing on Castle Rock and doing drugs. Near the end of the day they disrupted the Disney marching band, and raised a gigantic flag with a pot leaf on it next to the American flag. This caused things to spiral quickly out of control between the yippies and regular guests, causing Disney management to be so upset with the situation that they shut the park down early for the first in their history. As an overreaction to the entire situation, Disney instated a dress code for men that they kept for years – if you had long hair or otherwise looked like a hippie, you would be barred from entering the theme park. Disney may be the first major company to ever actually ban all hippies from their property.

7. The Original Pirates of the Caribbean Ride Had Real Human Skeletons

Pirates of the Caribbean is a successful movie franchise that has now long overstayed its welcome; however, it was all based on the popular ride at Disneyland that was originally designed back in the 1960s. Walt Disney was very pleased with the ride itself and loved what they had done with it. However, some of the designers were disappointed that despite how realistic the rest of the ride looked, the skeletons just didn’t look real enough to them. In order to solve this problem, they contacted the UCLA medical center and managed to get their hands on some real human skeletonsto decorate the ride.

As time has passed, the ride has been regularly renovated and Disney claims all human remains have been removed and given proper burials in their country of origin. The technology for fake skeletons is good enough now that they can make them as realistic as the real thing, so it really isn’t necessary or in good taste to have real human remains lying around anymore. However, some people are not convinced. People have gone through the ride looking at the skeletons in an attempt to armchair sleuth which ones might still be real, and some employees claim they are certain some of them are. If there are any real bones still lying around the ride, we may never really know the truth for sure.

6. In the Early Days, Walt Disney Didn’t Allow Women to Do Full Animating Work for the Company

A letter that has been passed around the internet shows a rejection in Snow White stationary, answering a young woman who had applied to Disney in the hopes of working in their creative department. This letter has been verified as the real deal, and shows just how behind the times Disney was, even for the era in which it was written. The form letter states that women are not allowed to do any of the creative work at Disney, and that all of that is done by “young men.” The letter further goes on to explain that women can work at Disney, but only doing inking and tracing.

As if to add insult to injury, the form letter explains that a young woman who wishes to apply for inking or tracing should bring samples of their work to show, but actually discourages her from applying, stating that so many women apply for the inking and tracing positions that she likely would not be selected anyway. While some would say this was only a product of the times, it’s really hard to defend this at any time. Even back then, while women may not have gotten the fair pay or respect they deserved, most people were well aware that women could do creative things just as well as men could.

5. Disney Would Like You to Forget About the Wizard of Bras

Disney loves being known for their squeaky clean image, so they really don’t want you to know about some of the things they tried in Disneyland in their early days. They would especially love it if you didn’t remember that they once had a shop in Disneyland that sold bras and corsets. Not only that, but it had 3D exhibits that showed women off in a way that was scantily clad for the time, and gave people a general history on undergarments. It also had a section of the shop called a corseteria where you bought all of the undergarments.

And in the middle of all this chaos was an animatronic sorcerer dubbed “the Wizard of Bras.” It should probably be no surprise that Disney did not keep this abomination around long and it was gone in about six months. However, it was not the only time Disney allowed an attempt at a sexy lingerie store on the Disneyland grounds. In the 1990s they allowed a store called “Jessica’s” to set up shop. This was a store dedicated to selling Jessica Rabbit-themed merchandise, especially underwear and night wear – it also folded after a short time, lasting just three years. Since then, Disneyland has not attempted any more sexy lingerie stores on the park grounds.

4. Disney Doesn’t Want You to Know How Long They’ve Been Covering Up the Alligator Problem

Last year there was a huge controversy after a 2-year-old boy died at Disney World following an alligator attack. Disney came under fire for not warning people properly of the alligators, and people cried out that Disney should have put up warning signs at the very least, since they had some idea that alligators could potentially make it to certain spots in the park. Disney caved and put up warning signs, and most people have forgotten about it. However, the truth is that Disney wouldn’t do the bare minimum to warn people because they didn’t want to break their illusion, when they know the problem is much worse than most people realize.

As of last year, Disney had removed 240 nuisance alligators – alligators four feet or longer with the potential to cause harm – from their Disney World resort properties. This is an average of 24 alligators per year, or two per month, and that’s just the ones they actually catch. Florida is basically a swamp and with so many waterways, it’s very easy for them to find their way into Disney World. If Disney were being responsible, they should have warned people much sooner of the dangers, and maybe even put up stronger fencing in certain areas. Unfortunately, their commitment to maintaining the sense of illusion for their customers sometimes overwhelms their common sense.

3. Walt Disney’s Involvement with the Motion Picture Alliance for the Preservation of American Ideals

In the late 1930s the fear of communism was starting to take hold in the average American, and the House Committee on Un-American Activities had been formed. This committee existed to check into the backgrounds of Americans suspected of having communist ties or sympathies, and has been denounced in history as a witch hunt that was often racist in nature when selecting what people to go after. It was in this political environment that in the mid 1940s, a bunch of famous movie stars and filmmakers, including Walt Disney, got together to make their own group called the Motion Picture Alliance For The Preservation Of American Ideals.

The group was basically the film guild version of the House Committee On Un-American Activities, and before long people from the film industry were, indeed, being inspected by the house committee. This led to a backlash where a counter group of others in the film industry created their own guild called the Council Of Hollywood Guilds And Unions to protect themselves against the attacks from the Motion Picture Alliance, often called the MPA for short.  The new guild accused the MPA of being racist and just looking to inflame tensions and cause trouble – an accusation that has stuck in most people’s minds to this day. It is hard to say whether Walt was really being racist here or if he was genuinely concerned about communism and overreacted, as many did at the time. However, he was deeply involved in the group, as he was their vice president when they formed.

2. Disneyland in Paris has had a Recent History of Mistreating and Underpaying Its Employees

Disneyland Paris is supposed to be the happiest place in Europe, as the Disney vision goes, and for many tourists it is indeed a very fun attraction. It’s known so well for fulfilling that promise to guests that it is the single most popular tourist attraction in Europe, despite all the rich history that is available to see on the continent. However, while it is great for the tourists, the employee experience is anything but, and over time that will degrade the guest experience as well. Back in 2010 the Independent did a piece on Disneyland Paris, and found some very alarming issues.

Two employees had recently committed suicide, and one of them killed himself in a rather disturbing way. He had been sick and missed work as a cook at Disney and was supposed to go back. Before killing himself, he scrawled on the wall in French “I don’t want to work for Mickey anymore.” The parent company, Euro Disney, has been criticized for huge staff and budget cuts, while continuing to take in an even bigger influx of guests. And to make matters worse, the staff members who are expected to do more with less every year have essentially no opportunities for advancement. Not only that, but most people are being paid only barely above minimum wage, and are expected to work six days a week and very long hours. For many who work for Disney, the fun is being part of the Disney family. However, for those working at Disneyland Paris, they are being treated as anything but.

1. Disney’s Fantasia has a Character Named Sunflower Who is a Breathtakingly Racist Stereotype

Most of you have probably heard of Fantasia, but many people are really only familiar with the segment where Mickey is the Sorcerer’s Apprentice, unless they are a big Disney buff. And even those who have watched Fantasia in full may have missed Disney’s most blatant racism if they watched a more recent revision. A lesser known segment of Fantasia is called “Pastoral Symphony” and was a brief story where mythological creatures and others are preparing for a festival involving some of the Greek gods. The story starts out showing some female centaurs being beautified by cherubs to prepare them for the arrival of the male centaurs and it just goes downhill from there.

There is one female centaur who is not being prepared by the cherubs, and is instead acting like a servant to the other female centaurs – brushing their tails, etc. This female centaur is black, and is half donkey instead of half horse. She has incredibly exaggerated features, and dreadlocks that stick out at odd angles, as if the animators were doing their best to mock people of African descent. To make matters worse, this character is called Sunflower – a flower whose nicknames include “n**gerhead.” While sunflowers do have a lot of other nicknames, it seems a little too strange to just be a coincidence. Also, in a later scene, the Greek god of wine, Bacchus, shows up flanked by two black centaur servants, who are half zebra and half Amazon looking – their purpose is to fan him and keep him cool. In revisions of Fantasia, these racist elements have been removed, but you can see a brief clip of Sunflower brushing a pretty, white female centaur at the top of the entry.


Dark Disney –

WIF Edu-tainment

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

Dreams = Books = Movies – WIF Entertainment

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Books and Movies

Inspired by Dreams

Dreams are a combination of pictures and stories that develop in our minds while we sleep. Dreams can be about literally anything from something funny, to romantic, or even terrifying. While 95% of dreams are not usually remembered, it is believed that people dream anywhere from three to six times per night with each one lasting between five and twenty minutes.

While most dreams are never remembered, some people do recall specific details about them. And on a few rare occasions, people have been inspired by what they dreamed of. As a matter of fact, some great creations were developed from actual dreams. For example, the melody for the Beatles’ song “Yesterday“ was inspired by a dream. Paul McCartney woke up one morning with a tune stuck in his head that he didn’t recognize, so he composed the chords for it on the piano and it became the music for one of their most famous songs.

Another example is that of Edgar Allan Poe’s poetry. It has been said that many of his poems and short stories were inspired by the many nightmares he suffered from throughout his life.

There are also several famous books and movies that were inspired by actual dreams, 10 of which we’ll detail below…

10. E.B. White’s Stuart Little

The beloved children’s story of a mouse named Stuart Little was inspired by a dream that E.B. White had in the 1920s. The anything-but-ordinary mouse was born into a family of humans in New York City and lived with his parents, his older brother George, and a cat named Snowbell. While White had the dream in the ’20s, it was only put into a novel in 1945.

While he was sleeping on a train, White dreamt of a little boy who looked and acted a lot like a mouse. He wrote a few episodes about the boy/mouse and put them away with the intent of sharing the stories one day with his nieces and nephews. But around twenty years later his story became a best-seller and even inspired the 1999 hit movie Stuart Little, which starred Michael J. Fox as the voice of the mouse.

9. Sophie’s Choice by William Styron

In the mid-1970s, William Styron was struggling to come up with ideas to write another book. That’s when he experienced a dream that would inspire him to write Sophie’s Choice. He described the dream as “a merging from the dream to a conscious vision and a memory of this girl named Sophie. And it was powerful because I lay there in bed with the abrupt knowledge that I was going to deal with this work of fiction.” His vision of Sophie was that of her “entering the hallway of this humble boarding house in Flatbush with a book under her arm, looking very beautiful in the middle of summer with a soft of summer dress on and her arm bared and the tattoo visible.”

He felt like he had to write the Holocaust-themed story and in 1982 an acclaimed movie was made starring Meryl Streep as Sophie.

8. Christopher Nolan’s Inception

The 2010 psychological thriller Inception, a movie that is itself about dreams, was inspired by actual dreams. Director Christopher Nolan took the idea from his own lucid dreams for his seventh feature film. The film stars Leonardo DiCaprio as a talented thief who is very skilled at stealing secrets from people while they are dreaming. This new job, however, requires him to plant an idea inside the mind of a man instead of stealing it.

Nolan claims that Inception was an elusive dream. He said “I wanted to do this for a very long time; it’s something I’ve thought about off and on since I was about 16.” He also mentioned that ever since he was a kid, he was fascinated by how he would wake up and then fall back into a lighter sleep but still know that he was dreaming, and even manage to examine the location of his dreams.

7. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is a novel written in the 1800s by Robert Louis Stevenson (pictured above) and is about a man who has a split personality – the good Dr. Jekyll, and the terrible Mr. Hyde.

It is said that Stevenson was fascinated with split personality disorder but was unable to figure out how to put it into writing. However, one night he dreamt about Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde: “In the small hours of one morning… I was awakened by cries of horror from Louis,” his wife Fanny explained. “Thinking he had a nightmare, I awakened him. He said angrily ‘Why did you wake me? I was dreaming a fine bogey tale.’”

Stevenson was apparently sick with tuberculosis and under doctor’s order to rest when he wrote the novel. He produced the first draft of 30,000 words in between three to six days, followed by a second rewritten copy in just three more days. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde sold 40,000 copies in just six months, followed by over 250,000 copies in North America. His novel has also inspired several movies over the years.

6. Stephen King’s Dreamcatcher

In 1999, Stephen King was hit by a minivan when he was walking down a road in Maine. During the time that he was recovering from a shattered leg and a collapsed lung, he started to have vivid dreams, which inspired him to write his horror novel Dreamcatcher.

The novel is about four friends who reunite in the woods each year for their annual hunting trip. But one year a stranger ends up at their camp, all confused and muttering about lights in the sky. The friends are then faced with a terrifying creature from another world and need to figure out how to survive.

He was quoted telling the San Francisco Chronicle, “The first really strong idea that occurred to me after the accident was four guys in a cabin in the woods. Then you introduce this one guy who staggers into the camp saying, ‘I don’t feel well,’ and he brings this awful hitchhiker with him. I dreamed a lot about that cabin and those guys in it.”

The novel was turned into a movie in 2003, which featured a who’s who of both on and off-camera talent, including Morgan Freeman and Lawrence Kasdan.

5. Stephen King’s Misery

Not surprisingly, Stephen King came up with the idea for his horror novel Misery from a nightmare. It is about a famous author who is rescued from a car crash by his number one fan. However, he soon realizes that the crazy fan has other ideas in store for him that include abuse and captivity.

King was quoted saying “Like the ideas for some of my other novels, that came to me in a dream. In fact, it happened when I was on Concord, flying over here, to Brown’s (hotel in England). I fell asleep on the plane and dreamt about a woman who held a writer prisoner and killed him, skinned him, fed the remains to her pig and bound his novel in human skin. I said to myself, ‘I have to write this story.’” And that’s exactly what he did. He wrote the first forty or fifty pages on the landing between the ground level and first floor of the hotel.

While his book was published in 1987, the movie Misery was released in 1990, starring James Caan and Kathy Bates.

4. Jason Mott’s The Returned

The Returned is a novel written by Jason Mott about an elderly couple who have a government agent show up at their home with their son. The only thing is, their son drowned fifty years ago on his eighth birthday. The boy looks and acts the same, but there’s no possible way that it could be their deceased son. Or could it?

In an interview with CNN, Mott described how the idea for the book came to him in a dream about his deceased mother. “In the summer of 2010, I had this dream that I came home from work one day and found my mother sitting at the kitchen table waiting for me.” He went on to say, “I came in and sat down with her, and we just talked about everything that had happened since her death.” He explained, “It was one of these really vivid dreams where you wake up and question whether it was real or not.”

He wrote a short story about a couple whose son returns from the dead and received a great response to it, so he continued writing it and a year later he had finished his manuscript which turned out to be a best-seller. It was later turned into a television series.

3. James Cameron’s Terminator

The 1984 hit movie The Terminator starred Arnold Schwarzenegger as a futuristic cyborg sent back in time to assassinate a woman whose unborn son will lead humans in a war against machines.

Director/writer James Cameron was staying at a hotel in Rome while working on Piranha II: The Spawning when a horrible flu and high fever hit him, causing him to have nightmares. In fact, he dreamt of a chrome torso appearing from an explosion and dragging itself with kitchen knives across the floor right at him.

He recalled when he came up with the idea for Terminator, “I was sick at the time. I had a high fever. I was just lying on the bed thinking and came up with all this bizarre imagery… I think also had the idea that because I was in a foreign city by myself and I felt very dissociated from humanity in general, it was very easy to project myself into these two characters from the future who were out of sync, out of time, out of place.”

2. Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight

Twilight is the story of a modern day love triangle between a vampire, a werewolf, and a human. The idea for the book came to author Stephenie Meyer in a dream. She explained her dream by saying “It was two people in kind of a little circular meadow with a really bright sunlight, and one of them was a beautiful, sparkly boy and one was just a girl who was human and normal, and they were having this conversation. The boy was a vampire, which is so bizarre that I’d be dreaming about vampires, and he was trying to explain to her how much he cared about her and yet at the same time how much he wanted to kill her.”

Prior to being a best-selling author, Meyer was a stay-at-home mother who was an avid reader but was never a writer. At first, she documented the dream so that she would remember it with no expectation of making it into a novel. But after nine rejections, her dream became a reality and her story is now known throughout the world by her Twilight books and movies.

1. Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein

In 1816, Mary Godwin and her fiancé, Percy Shelley, visited Lord Byron’s residence in Switzerland. During stormy nights, Lord Byron, who was a poet, would get his guests to read ghost stories to each other. One night, he asked his guests to write down their own horror stories.

After the request, this is what Mary claimed happened to her: “When I place my head upon my pillow, I did not sleep, nor could I be said to think… I saw – with shut eyes, but acute mental vision – I saw the pale student of unhallowed arts kneeling beside the thing he had put together. I saw the hideous phantasm of a man stretched out, and then, on the working of some power engine, show signs of life, and stir with an uneasy, half-vital motion.” She described in great detail the dream that frightened her that night – the dream that inspired her famous novel, Frankenstein.


Dreams = Books = Movies

WIF Entertainment

Computer Generated Imagery… Not!

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Practical Effects

You Thought Were

Computer Generated

One of the most important aspects of the film-making is keeping the audience immersed in the world it’s being shown. Whether the characters are in a fantasy world or jumping out of a moving car, the audiences’ willingness to go along with the story is, in large part, due to the viewer’s willingness to suspend disbelief. The goal of a filmmaker is to keep the audience so entranced that it’s only afterward that they begin to question or wonder how some of the amazing feats were accomplished.

And because of the advancements in CGI, many audience members simply write off the incredible as ordinary. Many believe that the stunts are simply CGI when, in fact, some of the most powerful scenes in recent memory have been real, practical, extremely dangerous stunts.

10. The Dark Knight

Christopher Nolan is something of a realist. One of the best directors of his generation, he has resisted the switch to digital and has continued to shoot on film; it’s not surprising, then, that he’d do everything in his power to make CGI as limited as possible in his blockbuster works. A daring filmmaker who continues to tell stories in a unique narrative style and voice, Nolan was at the helm of the revitalization of the Batman franchise. In one of the most iconic scenes from The Dark Knight, Batman attempts to save Harvey Dent from the Joker, who is determined to blow up a police escort. In the well-known tunnel sequence, the Batmobile rams into a garbage truck. The scene left many scratching their heads, marveling about the realism of CGI. The truth is that it was real. Every bit.

Nolan and his team constructed a one-third scale model of the Batmobile, as well as the truck and that particularly part of Chicago’s lower Wacker Drive. Nolan’s stunt team placed both models on a guide and smashed them into each other to create the scene. The same strategy was used for the semi-trailer truck that flips on its head. All in all, the plan was executed brilliantly and viewer is left marveling at the world they created.

9. The Dark Knight Rises

Christopher Nolan was at it again in the final installment of his Batman trilogy. According to Nolan, one of his proudest moments was executing the opening scene, where Bane escapes from the CIA plane, mid-flight. It’s an exhilarating sequence, that – again – did not use CGI. The scene was filmed in Scotland, over the Cairngorm Mountains of the Scottish Highlands. It’s the highest mountain range in the UK and is described as incredibly cold, with incessant winds and an unforgiving climate. The CIA plane used in the film was a Lockheed C-130 Hercules, commissioned by the US military. It was a perfect fit for the stunt with a stall speed as low as 111 miles per hour. Nolan and his camera crew were able to follow the plane in a helicopter, recording the exterior action. The particulars are so difficult to describe in detail that when Nolan was asked about the stunt, he said “It was sort of an incredible coming together of lots and lots of planning by a lot of members of the team who worked for months rehearsing all these parachute jumps.”

The action inside the plane was much more straightforward. It was accomplished by building a simulator, where Nolan could rotate, shake and twist the fuselage, making the actors almost weightless inside the device. Put together, Nolan was able to add another jaw-dropping scene to his filmography.

8. Star Wars: The Force Awakens

One of the most highly anticipated films in recent memory, Star Wars: The Force Awakens made sure to capitalize off the hype, introducing several real props, creatures, and locations. Probably the most notable prop was the droid BB-8. JJ Abrams and crew made sure they had a BB-8 for whatever sequence they were filming. They constructed a BB-8 that could show emotion when held be actors, a BB-8 that could be thrown around and stay upright, a BB-8 controlled by rod puppeteers, and even a fully functioning droid that could roll around like a possessed bowling ball.

Abrams and crew didn’t phone it in with CGI when they really probably could have, either. Don’t get us wrong; there’s obviously a ton of CGI in a movie featuring literal spaceship battles. But even small effects like Rey’s food materializing was real. A sequence that was on screen for seconds took more than 3 months to develop and execute. And while it may not seem worth it, the smallest things can take a viewer out of a world, and The Force Awakens did a great job of refusing to allow the audience to easily fall astray.

7. Apollo 13

One of the best films depicting NASA astronauts is Ron Howard’s Apollo 13. Starring Tom Hanks, Kevin Bacon, and Bill Paxton, the film depicts the aborted 1970 lunar mission, which became a mission of survival. Instead of using CGI, Howard wanted to create an atmosphere or experience that allowed viewers to truly appreciate the fear and unease that the astronauts experienced. Howard utilized NASA’s “Vomit Comet” KC-135 airplane, designed for one purpose: creating a zero-G environment on Earth.

In order to accomplish such a feat, the KC-135 does a series of parabolic arcs at very fast speeds; this results in a window of weightlessness for the passengers. According to reports, it took more than 600 arcs for Howard to get the take he liked. It’s now clear that he knew what he was doing: the movie was nominated for 9 Academy Awards and grossed more than $355 million worldwide.

6. Skyfall

Good filmmakers certainly know how to catch an audience’s attention. The opening scene from Skyfall is no different. Every kick and punch thrown in the scene is actually performed by Daniel Craig and his counterpart on top of a speeding train. The only thing keeping them from falling is a wire that’s as thin as one’s finger. Bond films are notorious for real stunts that push the boundaries.

In Spectre, the follow-up installment in the Bond franchise, filmmakers set a Guinness record for stunts in a single production. So next time you’re watching a Bond film, make sure you take a second to appreciate the risks that some of these men and women are taking for our entertainment.

5. Mad Max: Fury Road

This is one of the most unique examples on our list because of its utilization of both CGI and real stunts to make compelling scenes. In that iconic scene where Tom Hardy is dangling perilously close to the ground, that’s completely real. All that was keeping Hardy from being roadkill was a thin cable. The sequence in question was also filmed while Hardy’s son was on set, too. Director George Miller, when asked what would happen if the cable snapped, remarked, “He’d probably go under the wheels.” Good one, George. Miller is known for pushing the limits of ordinary film practices. He hired “Cirque du Soleil performers to rock around on Chinese acrobat poles while a camera rig weaved through them at up to 100 mph.”

If that wasn’t enough, the film’s production also saw the invention of a new way to flip a car: a “nitrogen-powered metallic blade” was designed to pop down on the car, forcing it to make those ridiculous flips in the movie. Not bad for the director of Happy Feet and Babe: Pig in the City. That’ll do, George. That’ll do.

4. Mission: Impossible (Pretty Much the Whole Film Franchise)

Tom Cruise is notorious for doing most of his own stunts in his films. Shooting the upcoming installment in the Mission: Impossible series, Cruise even broke his ankle trying to jump to an adjacent rooftop. This wasn’t the first time Cruise has put himself into harm’s way. In the original, he dangled from a ceiling; in the sequel he hung off the side of a cliff. In Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, he scaled the side of Burj Khalifa. And in Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, he clung to a side of a flying plane.

Each of these stunts was performed by Cruise, without the use of stuntmen. Talk about courage (or lunacy… or maybe a little bit of both). In Rogue Nation, Cruise only had wires attached to his body as he gripped the side of a flying plane. We suppose that’s why they pay him the big bucks.

3. The Amazing Spider-Man

One of the unique bits of the Spider-Man reboot was director Marc Webb’s decision to make the web-slinging aspects of the film real. In past Spider-Man movies, the web-slinging was mostly all CGI and it became apparent in scenes that took many viewers out of the movie. Instead, The Amazing Spider-Man and its sequel relied mostly on stuntmen and Andrew Garfield himself, who was willing to participate in the action. Stunt coordinator Andy Armstrong described in an interview the difficult process of executing such a stunt. Through his research, he found that the difficulty in the execution was based, in part, on the past versions of Spider-Man depicting his downward swing as the same as his upward motion.

Armstrong and his team constructed “a track being pulled by a high-speed winch to help emulate Spidey’s web-swinging ways.” He’d go on to describe it as cracking a whip. A stuntman would “drop into the bottom of the pendulum, and as he reached the bottom of his arc, someone driving the winch would pull a dolly along to the next spot.” With a little digital effects to boot, The Amazing Spider-Man films created a whole new way of looking at one of our favorite superheroes.

2. The Matrix Reloaded

Don’t jump down our throats. We know The Matrix Reloaded relied on a heavy amount of CGI. However, it’d surprise most readers to know how many of the action sequences actually relied upon real stunts. One of the most memorable sequences in the entire trilogy, the Agents chasing Morpheus and Trinity on the highway, was no exception.

Although the Agent seen jumping from the hood of a vehicle was added later in post production, the chain reaction of car crashes and the actual implosion of the car was real. The Wachowskis managed to oversee the use of special rigs, cannons, and ramps to create the massively destructive sequence. The filmmakers choice to use real stunts and props is one of the major reasons The Matrix series has, for the most part, continued to stand the test of time.

1. Inception

Hey, we couldn’t end our list without another Christopher Nolan movie. The uncompromising auteur has managed to consistently create stunning visual sequences without relying on CGI. Probably the most memorable scene in Inception was Leonardo DiCaprio and Ellen Page’s characters conversation at a coffee shop in Paris. Suddenly, an explosion sends debris, and broken glass into the air. All the while, DiCaprio and Page remain in the center of the storm.

The sequence was executed by production designer Chris Corbould, shooting a series of air cannons while director of photography Wally Pfister shot at 1,500 frames per second. It made for one of the most memorable parts of the movie, introducing the audience to the idea of Inception. Not to be outdone, later in the film there’s a fight scene featuring Joseph Gordon-Levitt in a hotel room and hallway, in which the room continues to rotate, allowing the combatants to run up the walls and on the ceiling. As you’ve no doubt guessed by now, particularly if you watched the video up above, that was all done entirely with practical sets and stunts.


Computer Generated Imagery… Not! –

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The NULL Solution = Episode 158

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The NULL Solution = Episode 158

…To many, the Space Family McKinney represents an unnecessary capital drain on world economic equality…

America Going Down the Drain by Michael Allen Langshaw

Gus, Mindy and Marscie McKinney have been enlisted for a USO-style whirlwind tour of North America. It is just what the doctor ordered for a society still reeling and healing from alien-induced hysteria. Each and every of the designated stops relishes a visit from a model American family; an occasion with a royalty aura. It is a refreshing break from the customary military fervor.

But haters rarely let go of their hate. Space haters view NASA as a waste of money, money that should provide every manner of service and benefit for those who do nothing for themselves. Such groups are spawned in metropolitan city centers {with the exception of Houston}, whose under-educated population is overtly entitled.

New York City, for example, is a Big Apple that has become rotten to its core. As melting icecaps have raised ocean levels, low-lying residents are forced inland, the pockets of disenfranchised malcontents becomes more concentrated. The Democratic Party, which has aligned itself with the poorest demographic, continues to promise subsidized prosperity, without the revenue to make it feasible.

To many, the Space Family McKinney represents an unnecessary capital drain on world economic equality.

Nevertheless they come. With Gus in his spacesuit and Mindy with her best hat, the McKinneys settle in for an extended NYC rally.

Tickertape is hard to come by these days, with confetti shredded out of garbage taking its place. Paper itself is pretty rare, as is the need for file cabinets. The digital age has taken root. The only tangible paper trail is a person’s death certificate. What a lovely thought.

Confetti showers down on the open top limousine carrying the Earthly McKinney contingent. Marscie’s arms threaten to fall off due to her wholehearted waving. “This beats the boring ranch with a stick!” She is having the time of her life and she loves the celebrity status that she will enjoy at her elementary school, when she gets back to class.

Mother Mindy used to love the attention of being an astronaut’s wife, but that shine has long since worn off, considering that spaceflight remains risky business. On the Avenue, 5th Avenue , the motorcade crawls past some of the finest shopping midtown Manhattan has to offer. Perennially topping the “Greatest Places in America to Live” list, nothing could be finer.

Happy Easter to my loyal readers!


The NULL Solution =

Episode 158


page 154

WABAC to The Hollywood Blacklist

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Fascinating Facts

About the

Hollywood Blacklist

“Where is the WABAC Machine going to take us this time, Mr. Peabody?”

“We’re going back to some pretty dark days in Hollywood, Sherman My Boy.”

Following the end of World War II, the fear of nuclear war with the Soviet Union caused many organizations to buckle down on what they considered to be American values. In Hollywood, it was no different. In 1944, the Motion Picture Alliance for the Preservation of American Ideals (or “MPA” for short) was created. Any screenwriter, director, or actor who was even suspected of being involved with the Communist party was blacklisted from the industry.

10. Fair Wage Protests

After the Great Depression, many people feared that they could lose their jobs, and many workers were being underpaid. This led many of the workers to form unions. In 1933, a union called the American Federation of Actors was formed, and the Screen Guild extended to technicians who worked in the film industry. Most of these organizations were created by members of the American Communist Party. Over 6,000 workers picketed for their rights in the 1930s, and it forced the Hollywood executives to give in to the demands for a livable wage.

Many of the screenwriters and directors who showed their support for cameramen, set builders, and those in the technical professions of Hollywood were duly noted, and later targeted for their Communist philosophy of giving everyone a wage they can actually survive on. Today, it’s normal for the Screen Actors Guild and the Writer’s Guild to go on strike when they feel as though they are not getting paid enough. Strikes in Hollywood are no longer associated with Communist ideas.

9. The Wrath of Hedda Hopper

Hedda Hopper was a former actress who spent her later years writing a gossip column called “Hedda Hopper’s Hollywood” for the Los Angeles Times. She was extremely conservative, and wrote negatively about anyone she did not like, which of course included anyone who was suspected of being a Communist. Her work spread to radio and TV, and she used her influence in the media to frighten people into conforming, for fear of having their reputation ruined.

Hopper pretended that this crusade against the “Red Menace” was because of her loyalty as an American, but she was singlehandedly responsible for ruining the reputations of hundreds, if not thousands of people, whether it was due to being a ‘Communist’, gay, or generally “immoral.” In multiple cases, the people she humiliated actually committed suicide. A British actress named Merle Oberon once asked Hopper why she enjoyed ruining people’s lives so much, to which she replied, “Bitchery, dear. Sheer bitchery.”

Hedda was such an over-the-top character that has been dramatized in a few films: RKO 291 (1999), Trumbo (2015), and inspired Tilda Swinton’s character in Hail Caesar! (2016). The FX series Feud: Bette and Joan from 2017 also showcases a scene (which you can watch above) where Hopper threatens to ruin her friend’s reputation with old nude photos from her youth, and she revels in the lives she had destroyed.

8. The Hollywood Ten

It was a truly Catch-22 situation, because if one denied being a Communist, they would only be questioned more. If they admitted to being a Communist, they were constantly asked who else they knew in the party. The House Un-American Activities Committee asked all of the suspected Communists to admit that they were part of the party, and the only way they could free themselves was to betray their friends and give the names of other party members.

A group of 10 screenwriters refused to answer the questions, which was their right under the Fifth Amendment. One of the most famous among them was Dalton Trumbo. None of these men actually committed any crimes, since they had every right to express their thoughts under the First Amendment, and yet they were all sent to jail for Contempt of Court and blacklisted from ever working in Hollywood again. Many of these writers, especially Trumbo, continued to work as a writer, only under fake names or by ghostwriting for friends.

7. The Company Man

In a 1936 movie called The President’s Mystery (the whole thing is available on YouTube and embedded above), the wealthy owners of a factory decide to shut it down after the Great Depression, but it wasn’t because the company went bankrupt. They just wanted to save money by cutting jobs that they felt were unnecessary. People lost their livelihood by getting laid off. That movie was written by Lester Cole as an adaptation of a novel originally written by Sinclair Lewis. Cole would later become one of the Hollywood Ten.

Companies do, in fact, lay off their employees in order to save money. However, if a screenwriter ever portrayed corporations as being “the bad guys” or showed men who were unhappy with their job, it was considered to be Un-American and punishable by blacklisting. This is why, in the 1940s and beyond, male characters were always portrayed as happy with their 9-to-5 jobs, and that attitude influenced the general public. It became part of “The American Dream” to find a job, stay loyal, and keep working until retirement. By these standards, the movie Office Space would have been the most “Communist” movie ever.

In the 1980s, laying off employees for budget cuts became far more common. By the early 2000s nearly everyone knew someone who had experienced this. Once the Great Recession hit in 2008, there was no denying that corporations were filled with corruption. Rather than suppressing that truth, Hollywood began coming out with movies like The Big Short that portrayed the real greed of Corporate America.

6. Killing Feminism

One common thread among “red” filmmakers was that they put a lot of feminism in their films. In fact, most of the films that were released inside of the Soviet Union had strong female lead characters, usually played by a beautiful brunette named Tatyana Samoylova, who is best known for her performance in The Cranes are Flying.

The 1940s had wonderful feminist movies in Hollywood, but they began to disappear after the end of World War II. When husbands came back from war, they had a hard time convincing their wives to give up their income in exchange for being a full-time housewife. The MPA was frightened that this could mean the end of the traditional American way of life. In the movies released by the Soviet Union, women worked hard and still somehow managed to raise their children. The MPA considered anything along these lines to be Communist propaganda.

In 1951, a movie called I Can Get It For You Wholesale premiered. It was about a woman named Harriet who turns down a marriage proposal in favor of advancing her career as a fashion designer in New York City. In the end, Harriet realizes that friends, family, and love are far more important than money. While the movie had so many pro-Capitalism messages and celebrates the All-American entrepreneurial spirit, the fact that the character who succeeded the most was a woman, and the final moral of the story was deemed far too “un-American.” The movie was banned from theaters, for fear that it would “brainwash” the masses.

Abraham Polonsky wrote and directed I Can Get It For You Wholesale and was brought in for questioning, and he was also blacklisted from the film industry. After that point, writers were afraid to portray feminism in their scripts, because they did not want to accused of being a Communist. It took decades for Hollywood to rebound from the blacklist on feminism. This is why, during the 1950s, in nearly every single film, we see the perfect image of a stay-at-home mom who has dinner ready by 5:00 p.m.

5. John Wayne Supported The Witch Hunt

John Wayne was an actor who is most remembered for his portrayal in movies about the Old West. One of the movies that John Wayne had a huge issue with was High Noon. There is a scene where the people in the town are disrespectful towards a corrupt sheriff. He believed that this was very un-American, and reported it as potential “Communist Propaganda.”

According to Vanity Fair, the screenwriter Carl Foreman actually wrote High Noon as an allegory for the witch hunts of the McCarthy era. Despite the fact that he won an Oscar for the movie, Foreman was sent a subpoena to appear before the House Committee on Un-American Activities. He admitted to being involved in the Communist party when he was young, but he quit. When he refused to give up names of other Communists, he was blacklisted from the industry, and forced to become a ghostwriter and let other people get credit for his Oscar-worthy work.

In 1974, John Wayne was asked during an interview if he regretted his participation in the witch hunt, in retrospect. He responded that he believed it was necessary, and that they wanted to stop “radical liberals” from taking over the film industry.

4. Walt Disney and the MPA

During World War II, Walt Disney released several propaganda films for the US Government. In those films, it was easy to see that he was obviously against the oppression caused by Nazi Fascism. So, it only made sense for him to become the Vice-President of the MPA. In their mission statement, the MPA claimed to remove hidden Fascists and Communists from the movie industry, which would lead Walt Disney to believe that the fight against Nazism wasn’t over just yet.

As a beacon of wholesome, American family entertainment, Disney wanted to help the organization identify potentially dangerous content in Hollywood. However, Disney was not as vocal in the over-zealous identification and persecution of Communists as Sam Wood, the president. There is very little record of Disney’s participation in the MPA, except that he got into many disagreements with Wood about how they were running the organization.

Not long after, Disney was removed from his position as vice president. In the late 1940s, during a labor strike by the artists at one of his studios, Disney blamed the Communists for orchestrating it. However, he never tried to identify or fire any individuals he thought may be Communist. He just believed that some of the Communist ideals were beginning to change the younger generation.

3. Ronald Reagan Took a Stand

Long before he became President of the United States, Ronald Reagan began one of his first leadership roles in the Screen Actor’s Guild. In 1946, he mediated a dispute between two different Hollywood unions. One of the groups was a lot more unruly, and it was led by a member of the Communist party. He saw this as proof that all Communists really were trying to take over Hollywood and destroy the American way of life.

In 1947, Ronald Reagan became an informant for the FBI, and began giving names of known Communists in Hollywood. His first wife, Jane Wyman, asked for a divorce the next year. Despite the fact that Reagan was on a crusade against Communism, he agreed to remove Nancy Davis from the list, and married her. These experiences are what began Reagan’s interest in politics, and he eventually went on to become Governor of California, and then the President of the United States.

2. The Committee for the First Amendment

After the persecution of the Hollywood Ten, a lot of people in Hollywood began to stand up for their rights. A lot of famous actors and actresses like Lucille Ball, Lauren Bacall, Judy Garland, and Humphrey Bogart became part of the Committee for the First Amendment. The vast majority of these people were liberal Democrats. Despite the fact that they were not Communists themselves, they could see the corruption and the total disregard for the Hollywood Ten’s Constitutional rights.

However, all of these people who tried to speak up for the rights of Hollywood Communists became targets themselves. In 1948, Humphrey Bogart wrote a piece called “I’m No Communist,” explaining how his involvement in the Committee for the First Amendment caused friends to turn against him, calling him a Communist. He was getting letters in the mail, and harassed out in public. Just like the members of the Hollywood Ten who were asked to only answer in “yes” or “no” statements, Bogart compared this onslaught of accusations to someone asking, “Have you stopped beating your wife?” and the only option for answers being “yes” or “no.” You’re doomed either way. The pressure was enough for many of these actors to buckle under.

1. Breaking the Blacklist

For years, blacklisted screenwriters continued to work as ghost writers. Dalton Trumbo actually wrote the incredibly popular movie Roman Holiday and gave it to his friend Ian McClellan Hunter. The script won an Academy Award. Decades later, his credit was finally restored.

King Brothers Productions was willing to hire Trumbo for low wages to B-movies at a fraction of the pay he was used to earning for his screenplays before being blacklisted. He eventually wrote an Academy Award-winning movie called The Brave One in 1957 under the pseudonym “Robert Rich.” In 1960, Kirk Douglas was the star of the movie Spartacus, and he used his influence to make sure Trumbo’s real name was included in the credits for the screenplay. The events of Trumbo’s life were so inspiring that in 2015, the movie Trumbo was made based on his life, starring Breaking Bad’s Bryan Cranston.

Even though Spartacus was the symbolic gesture that the Hollywood Blacklist was over, the House Un-American Activities Committee continued to exist until 1975.


WABAC to

The Hollywood Blacklist