General questions about movies, TV and more

This page is for general questions - if you've got a question about a specific title, please check the title-specific questions page first. Click the button below a question to answer it or click "edit" to correct a spelling mistake. Ask your questions here, and hopefully someone will answer soon. Members get e-mailed when any of their questions are answered.

Question: What's the horror film about a boy and girl travelling in a car and he ties her shoelaces together while the parents are driving to the new house? The car has an accident and the girl can't get out. At the new house the boy gets haunted by his sister - I remember a scene of a pizza cutter being run up the walls.

pierpp

Chosen answer: I believe you are referring to the 1982 TV movie "Don't Go To Sleep", with Dennis Weaver and Valerie Harper.

Gavin Jackson

Question: I always assumed that the widescreen versions of films were the entire viewing area, and the fullscreen versions had part of the viewing area cut off from the sides so that it would fill the television screen. However, I recently noticed a couple of movies whose fullscreen versions had *more* to see on the top and bottom, meaning that the widescreen versions had part of the top and bottom cut off. Why on earth would they cut portions of the top and bottom off of the viewing area, when it is completely unnecessary to do so?

Matty Blast

Chosen answer: A frame of film is square, rather than rectangular, so there are two options to get a widescreen picture. If an anamorphic lens is used, then the entire frame is used to capture a slightly horizontally squashed image, then in projection the entire frame is stretched out into widescreen. The other route taken is to block off the top and bottom of the frame, resulting in the correct rectangular shape. In projection a metal plate is used to only display this rectangular area. Because only the central region is meant to be shown, filmmakers will very often put boom mikes or other things just outside of that area - after all, otherwise a microphone will have to be further away from the actors just to avoid an unused area of film anyway. However, if a fullscreen (4:3 ratio) version is created by including these top and bottom sections rather than cropping the sides (possibly because both edges of the screen have to be seen in that shot, otherwise something important will be cropped), some things will be seen which were never meant to be. A good example is seen in the fullscreen version of "The Matrix" - when Neo receives the mobile phone near the start, you can see a crew member's hand in shot at the bottom of the screen. This is also the reason some people think a boom mike is accidentally in shot for the entirety of a movie when they see it in a theatre. If the projectionist hasn't positioned the metal plate properly, the bottom of the correct area is cut off, and too much of the top is shown, frequently exposing the microphone. So ultimately the top and bottom can only be used when they don't contain film-making equipment, and even then the framing of the shot may look odd, as the film was never shot with those parts of the screen in mind.

Jon Sandys Premium member

Question: What is the difference between subtitles and closed-captions? Over here in England we don't bother with c-c's, but I've noticed that a lot of my R1 discs have subtitles in some languages and c-c's in others. Also, on some discs the 'subtitle' button will display the c-c's but on others it won't. In those cases how do I display the c-c's?

Chimera Premium member

Chosen answer: Closed-captioning is for the hearing-impaired, and thus displays things like sound effects (ie *doorbell ringing*) and musical notes on either side of the dialogue to represent singing, whereas subtitling is usually just a translation of the dialogue. As for displaying the c-c's, it probably depends on the DVD in question, though some TVs and DVD players have built in c-c settings which can be turned on to access the captioning.

Xofer

Question: Which film features a young girl pulling a young boy inside from the wind and kissing him, and which older film is this directly imitating?

Chosen answer: There is a scene in E.T. where a young boy pulls a girl in and kisses her. The movie being imitated is 'The Quiet Man' with John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara.

Jane Doe

Question: Is there any reason why actors/actresses don't have credits in some films when they generally have a small role or cameo. I have seen this seems to especially apply to animated film where top stars are left uncredited. An example is Beavis & Butthead do America in which Bruce Willis, Demi Moore and Greg Kinnear were all uncredited despite having large roles. Has this got anything to do with the SAG? I know SAG has tight rules about actors who receive credits are also supposed to be given certain benefits under union rules.

Lummie Premium member

Chosen answer: Sometimes previous commitments make them unable to have their name attached to something. Examples include Michael Jackson and Dustin Hoffman, who both appeared uncredited in The Simpsons (or rather, credited under false names), for the simple reason that they were unable, due to contract obligations, to have their name appear in conjuction with it.

SexyIrishLeprechaun

Question: What is the job of the "best boy" that is sometimes listed in movie credits?

Chosen answer: The best boy is traditionally the assistant to the Gaffer (head electrician), although now it is a common term for the second in command of any department, so you may see 'best boy rigging' or similar. It's not even mandatory to be a boy either, female best boys include Julie Fife and Kristina Gore Trevail (who was billed as Best Girl).

umathegreatstationarybear

Question: I saw a cartoon or similar where a guy needed ivory, so he looked up in a book that ivory comes from elephants. He went up to a live elephant and tried to saw his tusks off, and the elephant threw him off. Does that sound familiar to anyone?

Chosen answer: This was from a Bugs Bunny cartoon with the Elmer Fudd. He goes looking for the tusks to cook dinner and this happens.

Question: Can anyone give me a website that has a list of all of James Bond's different gadgets he's ever had?

Question: Around ten years ago there was a made-for-television movie shown in the U.S. The movie was shown mostly like "news reports" about a meteor heading to Earth (which I believe was actually supposed to be some kind of alien spaceship). There was something of a controversy about the movie, and the network constantly showed reminders that it was a movie, not a real news broadcast. I can't remember the network it was on, though it was definitely a broadcast network, as opposed to cable. And it is not "The 4400" (which is a much more recent cable program), nor "War of the Worlds".

Chosen answer: It was called Without Warning.

Bowling255 Premium member

Question: A long time ago, maybe six years or so, I saw a little bit of a movie that has stuck in my mind. I think it might be The Spiral Staircase, but I've read summaries of that and it doesn't mention the scene I saw. In the scene, there was this huge spiraling staircase and this man and older woman, maybe two women, were running up it. The staircase was collapsing as they were running and the man ended up trying to save the older woman, even though I think the older woman might have been bad. Does anyone know?

Chosen answer: This sounds like "The Haunting" to me (the good one from the '60's, not that junk from '99). In the scene I think you're referring to, the character Eleanor has climbed up this huge rickety staircase, in her sleep I think. Everyone else in the house (3 other people, two men, one woman) gathers around the bottom, trying to figure out how to get her down. Finally, one of the men - a doctor - climbs the staircase to rescue her. It starts collapsing and they both nearly fall. Hope this helps!

Question: I remember watching an old TV show, time period I think similar to 'Who's the Boss' and 'Three's company', but i can't remember the name. About a family, the dad built a robot daughter. She had dark hair, they had a real son too, the neighbour's daughter (red hair, I think) had a crush on him. Episodes include the robot girl going in the swimming pool and breaking, and the boy making a black and white film for class.

Chosen answer: The show was called 'Small Wonder'. Check out the IMDb page for more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0088610/.

Ral0618

Question: What was the title of a movie where the lead character picks up a rather nervous looking man with a duffel bag? During the conversation that follows, the nervous guy says that he's invented his million dollar idea. It's six minute abs. The lead character replies that it sounds great, but what happens to his market if someone invents five minute abs. At which point the nervous guy gets completely thrown off track. I think in the next scene they pull over and the nervous guy gets out of the car because there's a cop nearby but leaves his duffel bag.

Chosen answer: There's Something About Mary.

Grumpy Scot

Question: I am trying to find the name of a Nicholas Cage movie. It was a film related to boxing and Cage was a body guard protecting a woman. That's all I can remember, it was a great movie but forgot to notice the title after it played on TV.

Chosen answer: The movie is "Snake Eyes". Cage is a corrupt cop that must solve a murder at a boxing match, and protect a woman that knows everything.

ChiChi Premium member

Question: I've always wondered this, but in the credits of a movie they have the director of photography's name with A.S.C. next to it. And I'm not sure but I think the editor has A.C.E. next to it. What do these mean?

Chosen answer: The A.S.C. is the American Society of Cinematographers. A.C.E. stands for American Cinema Editors. Both of these are organisations dealing with the respective professions - education, quality and so on.

Tailkinker Premium member

Question: I only ever saw this last five minutes of this film, but I'm dying to know what it is. It was in black and white.It ends on a subway train. Two crazy guys are harassing a couple with a young girl, screaming at them and throwing things out of the woman's purse. A uniformed soldier with his arm in a cast stands up and tells them to stop. The crazies attack him. The soldier beats them unconscious, but is stabbed in the stomach. His friend rushes to his aid, whereas the soldier asks why he didn't help in the fight. The guy runs off to get help. Police soon arrive and instantly start arresting the only black guy on the train. The other passengers point out the real criminals, who are dragged off, along with the injured soldier. A wino passed out on a bench groans and rolls to the floor. Passengers step over him to exit the train.

Chosen answer: Sounds like "The Incident" from 1967 with Martin Sheen.

Ingabritzen

Question: Looking at the broadcast dates of various US TV shows, it seems that they're normally aired once a week, but occasionally have a gap of up to several weeks mid-season. Why is this?

Jon Sandys Premium member

Chosen answer: Because some shows only have new episodes during "sweeps" weeks or months, they have air dates that are sometimes months apart for consecutive episodes. During December/January and again in March/April, many networks air repeats of their current hit shows. Then, in February and May, they air new episodes of these same shows. This ensures that the most people possible will be watching in February and May so that networks can set their advertising rates. The more viewers a particular show has, the more the network can charge for commercials to run during that show. That's why "sweeps" stunts (weddings, murders, major plot shifts, etc.) usually only occur during February and May, so more people will be watching.

Guy

Question: Can someone explain why special effects (namely digital ones) are so expensive in many movies? It seems many films have monstrous budgets due to their large number of special effects.

Lummie Premium member

Chosen answer: Digital special effects are expensive for a number of reasons; to get good believeable CG (computer graphics) they need to use a very good, fast, computer and a fair amount of software - each computer could cost about $10k or more. Multiply that by the 40-50 odd computers that a SFX company may have and that's a LOT of money, so the SFX company needs to make that investment back, plus there are the 50 odd staff needed to actually use the computers, and they tend to be highly trained in a particular area or program, and so they tend to charge a fair amount of money per hour. Plus you would probably find that big movie studios pay the SFX companies incentives to work on their next big budget film as opposed to a smaller film.

Question: I remember a television sitcom as a kid (I'm now 30), about a family. The dad is a doctor and I do not remember the actor. The mom is a lawyer played by Patty Duke. They had two teenage kids. Anthony Edwards played the son and Helen Hunt played the daughter. Grandma lived with them. Anyone else remember this sitcom?

fan before the site

Chosen answer: Yes, the series was called "It Takes Two", and also starred Richard Crenna. It aired from 1982-1983. More information can be found at http://imdb.com/title/tt0083431/.

LuMaria 1

Question: There was a cartoon programme years ago, and I really want to know the title. All I know about is the main character is a fat lady in a pink dress, who is in the woods mostly. I remember her saying "Coo-ee, Arthur." alot, and I'm sure she had a pet dog.

Hamster Premium member

Chosen answer: The show was the excellent 'Willo The Wisp' voiced by Kenneth Williams. The fat lady was Mavis the fairy, Arthur was a caterpiller and the dog was the Moog. Check out http://www.willothewisp.co.uk/ for more.

umathegreatstationarybear

Question: I remember a cartoon when I was younger, around the same time as watching Battle of the planets. I'm sure it was 3 people (2 men and a woman) in a space ship or something that was at the bottom of a huge hole. I think they used to change into things, the woman used to change into a large black cat I think. Anyone else remember this?

REBECCA HOBSON

Chosen answer: This was called "Space Sentinels". The two men were called Hercules (he had super strength) and Mercury (he had super speed). I forget the name of the woman but she could change into any animal. They got their orders in each episode from a huge face on a computer screen which may or may not have been their ship's computer. I am amazed that I have finally found someone else who remembers this show as everyone I have asked pleads ignorance.

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