Charles Austin Miller

17th Dec 2018

Dr. Strangelove (1964)

New this week Trivia: In later interviews, Stanley Kubrick revealed that George C. Scott did not want to portray General Buck Turgidson as a campy character in the film; he very much wanted to play Turgidson straight and serious (just as Kubrick had originally envisioned the entire film). Kubrick agreed and filmed Scott playing the role straight, but only on the condition that Scott rehearse the role as over-the-top camp. Scott agreed to camp it up in rehearsal only if the cameras weren't rolling, and Kubrick assured him they weren't rolling. However, Kubrick lied and filmed the campy rehearsals, as well, which were used in the finished film.

Charles Austin Miller

17th Dec 2018

Hackers (1995)

New this week Factual error: Sharp, distinct text and even graphics are shown projected from an early laptop screen onto the faces of Angelina Jolie and Jonny Lee Miller and even against a wall several feet in the background (starting 0:50:35 and throughout the rest of the movie). Of course, computer displays have never projected sharply-focused text or images onto user faces or any other nearby surfaces. (00:50:35)

Charles Austin Miller

17th Dec 2018

Jurassic Park (1993)

New this week Deliberate mistake: When the raptor breaks into the control room and is hopping around the computer workstations, we see sharp, distinct genetic coding projected from a computer screen and across the raptor's face (starting 1:55:50). Aside from the fact that computer displays have never projected focused images onto nearby surfaces, the projected text shown in this scene oddly reads from left-to-right, when it should actually be a flipped mirror-image (right-to-left). Spielberg probably realised this factual incongruity while filming but chose to use the left-to-right text for the sake of audience recognition, given that the multiple lines of "GATC" genetic code were already confusing enough. (01:55:50)

Charles Austin Miller

17th Dec 2018

Common mistakes

New this week Deliberate mistake: Particularly in space-fantasy and science-fiction movies and television series, electronic control panels and components erupt in a shower of sparks when overloaded (as during space battles, collisions and technological failure scenes). Such furious sparking has been used in numerous futuristic films and TV shows dating from the mid-20th Century right up to the present. Of course, this sparking effect is intended to add "gee whiz" action and spectacle to otherwise mundane shots. But the implication is that advanced, futuristic technology idiotically neglects to incorporate electrical fuses or circuit breakers, which are designed to prevent equipment sparking and meltdown during power overloads. In reality, all of these control panels and electronic components should instantly and safely go dark and stop functioning as soon as the breakers are quietly tripped or the fuses are quietly blown.

Charles Austin Miller

17th Dec 2018

Common mistakes

New this week Character mistake: Mainly in Old West films, actors who are portraying barbers very frequently sharpen their straight-razors the wrong way, flipping the blade with its sharp edge against the strop. This would instantly dull and damage the razor's edge. No real barber would make such a clumsy mistake, but it's a common movie error.

Charles Austin Miller

29th Nov 2018

Europa Report (2013)

New this month Factual error: In this relatively low-budget but extremely well-produced 2013 science fiction film, a 6-man crew travels from Earth to Europa (one of the moons of Jupiter) to search for traces of life in the vast oceans beneath Europa's icy surface. One of the astronauts dies in-transit, leaving 5 crewmembers to complete the mission. When the large "Europa One" interplanetary spacecraft arrives at its destination, all 5 surviving crewmembers descend in a small landing craft to the moon's surface, leaving the Europa One spacecraft in orbit, totally unmanned. This is an inconceivable factual blunder. The narration plainly states that this mission picked up where manned lunar missions of the 1970s left off; so, many of the same protocols are in place. Just so, no manned space mission would ever abandon the primary space vehicle in orbit, placing the mission at risk by sending the entire crew down together in a landing party. At least two astronauts should have remained aboard the orbiting Europa One just in case the landing mission went sideways (as it does in this film).

Charles Austin Miller

New this month Revealing mistake: Near the beginning, when police Lieutenant Rowan is inquiring on the death of Ken Drake, there are only 4 men in the room, all facing one another in a wide shot. The camera cuts to a close-up of Dr. Bradford for a couple of seconds, and there is a distinct puff of cigarette smoke passing behind him, but none of the characters in this scene are smoking. Lieutenant Rowan does smoke later in the film (in fact, he's the only character who smokes), but he's not smoking in this early scene. Apparently, the close-up of Dr. Bradford was borrowed from omitted footage in which Lieutenant Rowan was smoking.

Charles Austin Miller

25th Nov 2018

Freaked (1993)

New this month Question: Keanu Reeves appeared in heavy makeup for this film in the uncredited (yet prominent) supporting role of "Ortiz the Dog Boy," and most viewers were oblivious to Reeves' involvement in the movie for many years after its release. Inasmuch as Reeves had starred twice before in comedies with Alex Winter, I'm only guessing that this film's producers didn't want a "Bill and Ted" association to complicate or misdirect the film's marketing; but why exactly did Reeves go uncredited in "Freaked"?

Charles Austin Miller

25th Nov 2018

Freaked (1993)

New this month Trivia: This 1993 film was actually the third time actors Alex Winter and Keanu Reeves appeared together in a fantasy-comedy. Their first two "Bill and Ted" films were successful and their title characters are still widely remembered. But, in this movie, Alex Winter starred as the half-mutated "Ricky Coogan" while Keanu Reeves played a prominent supporting role as "Ortiz the Dog Boy." Completely covered in furry makeup and delivering an over-the-top comedic performance, Keanu Reeves was virtually unrecognizable and went uncredited in the film.

Charles Austin Miller

25th Nov 2018

Freaked (1993)

New this month Trivia: With a final production budget of $13 Million, "Freaked" was a boxoffice disaster, grossing just under $30,000 in two theatres. Due to studio shake-ups at 20th Century Fox, the film's post-production budget had been cut and its advertising campaign was cancelled. After a number of bad test screenings, the movie was pulled from nationwide release, finally going to VHS in early 1994. Nonetheless, the film gained almost immediate cult status, which it retains to this day.

Charles Austin Miller

Trivia: In this 1955 horror film, Hollywood newcomer Clint Eastwood memorably appeared as a lab assistant (a speaking role) with a white rat in his pocket. Earlier the same day on a different set, Eastwood filmed his very first big-screen role as a jet fighter pilot (another speaking role) in the 1955 horror film "Tarantula," making it a big day for Clint Eastwood.

Charles Austin Miller

5th Nov 2018

Tarantula (1955)

Trivia: Clint Eastwood filmed his very first big-screen role as a jet fighter pilot (an uncredited speaking part) in 1955's "Tarantula"; later that afternoon on another set, Eastwood filmed his role as a lab assistant (a more extensive speaking role) in 1955's "Revenge of the Creature," making it a big day for a Hollywood newcomer.

Charles Austin Miller

Trivia: In addition to portraying and voicing the eponymous 7 Faces (Dr. Lao, the Abominable Snowman, Merlin, Appolonius of Tyana, The Giant Serpent, Pan, and Medusa), actor Tony Randall also appeared without makeup in a two-second cameo, as a solemn spectator in the crowd, for a total of 8 roles in the film.

Charles Austin Miller

21st Oct 2018

Common mistakes

Deliberate mistake: Characters who are being pursued on foot frequently hide in plain sight of their pursuers. You see characters (typically the "good guys") duck around the corner of a building, or a tree, or some other obstacle, where they freeze and glance over their shoulders to watch their oblivious pursuers (typically the "bad guys") wander past just a few feet in the background. Nevermind the fact that the good guy's body is only partially concealed by said obstacle, or not concealed at all. This is an old film-making trick intended to heighten audience tension, even though it is totally illogical.

Charles Austin Miller

Plot hole: Even if Dr. David Trent's and Annabelle Loren's elaborate plan had worked flawlessly (framing Nora Manning for Frederick Loren's death), the fact remains that they faked Annabelle's death for everyone to see, which would immediately arouse suspicions for investigators. Even if Annabelle and Dr. Trent somehow fled the scene before the police arrived the next morning, their actions would still raise many questions that implicated them; thus, their clumsy and convoluted scheme was far from being the "perfect crime" they imagined.

Charles Austin Miller

2nd Oct 2018

Dark Shadows (1966)

Show generally

Continuity mistake: Over the course of many Dark Shadows episodes set in the year 1795, Countess Natalie Dupres' dark, distinct, three-dimensional facial mole changes sides from left jaw to right jaw, briefly vanishes altogether, then returns as a faint, painted beauty mark on her right jaw.

Charles Austin Miller

Trivia: A phrase that is traditionally attributed to Liberace is "crying all the way to the bank." Liberace used the phrase throughout his career as a response to critics who often derided his extravagance and flamboyance on stage (in spite of the fact that he was a popular and financial success). The first documented time Liberace used the phrase was following a reception at Madison Square Garden (New York City) in 1956, when he humorously remarked, "The take was terrific, but the critics killed me. My brother George cried all the way to the bank." Thereafter, Liberace used the phrase so often that, over the decades, he came to be regarded as the originator of "crying all the way to the bank"; some sources have even retro-credited him with originating the phrase as far back as 1954. However, newspaper columnist Walter Winchell apparently originated the phrase in 1946, nearly a decade before Liberace started using it.

Charles Austin Miller

25th Sep 2018

Dark Shadows (1966)

Trivia: Of Dark Shadows' 1225 videotaped episodes, the master tapes of 30 episodes were inadvertently destroyed by the time the series went into syndication. Of the 30 episodes destroyed, 9 were black and white (from the series' first year) and 21 were full-color. Fortunately, 29 of the destroyed episodes were recovered, but only as black-and-white kinescope copies. Thus, when watching the entire original series today, the sequential episodes occasionally switch from color to black-and-white and back to color, with much lower image resolution in the black-and-white kinescope copies. The last episode (number 1225) was lost and the video was never recovered; only an audio backup existed. So, the final episode can only be seen today as a slideshow of production stills accompanied by the audio backup.

Charles Austin Miller

21st Sep 2018

Dark Shadows (1966)

Trivia: In the opening lines of episode 286, when Victoria Winters admits that she feels very close to the late Josette Collins, Barnabas says, "It's very easy for me to believe that you are descended from Josette." Except that Barnabas knew very well Josette had no descendants; Josette died childless in the late 18th Century (a suicide). The implication is that Victoria is a reincarnation of Josette. Later in the series, however, Victoria travels back in time and actually meets Josette, but the two characters share no closeness at all, even though they share the same soul.

Charles Austin Miller

21st Sep 2018

Dark Shadows (1966)

Trivia: Actor Dennis Patrick brilliantly portrayed the cruel, manipulative character of Jason McGuire in the first and second seasons of the show. In the story line, Jason McGuire was blackmailing Elizabeth Collins-Stoddard for the death of her husband, Paul Stoddard, 18 years earlier. Deservedly, Jason McGuire was murdered by Barnabas Collins. Two years later, Dennis Patrick returned to the show, this time portraying Elizabeth's long-lost and very-much-alive husband Paul Stoddard.

Charles Austin Miller

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