Charles Austin Miller

1st Mar 2019

The Exorcist (1973)

New this month Trivia: During production of "The Exorcist," director William Friedkin abandoned the movie's original musical score (by Lalo Schifrin), and he turned to Atlantic Records for replacement music. During a visit to Atlantic Records, Friedkin picked up a random white-label recording, listened to its intro, and immediately wanted it in his movie. That random white-label recording was "Tubular Bells" by 19-year-old musician Mike Oldfield (his very first album). Although Friedkin used just a scant few seconds of Oldfield's music at only two points in the movie, "Tubular Bells" became a popular sensation, selling many millions of copies by virtue of its association to Friedkin's film. The enormous success of "Tubular Bells" made Mike Oldfield a worldwide star overnight. It was also the very first album released by Virgin Records (a young Richard Branson had provided the studio and equipment for Oldfield's work). Ironically, Mike Oldfield said he wouldn't watch "The Exorcist" because he heard it was too scary.

Charles Austin Miller

Trivia: For decades after "The Wizard of Oz" premiered, Margaret Hamilton was often called upon by adoring fans to render her witch's cackle and her most famous movie line: "I'll get you, my pretty, and your little dog, too!" Although she obliged her fans, Hamilton always publicly expressed regret that her Wicked Witch of the West was too frightening for small children. However, after she died in 1985, her only son (Hamilton Wadsworth Meserve) admitted that his mom frequently used her wicked cackle and "I'll get you, my pretty" line in private life as he was growing up, just because she loved doing it.

Charles Austin Miller

17th Jan 2019

Mary Poppins (1964)

Trivia: As well as singing the lyrics for "A Spoonful of Sugar," Julie Andrews also provided the voice of the robin, whistling in harmony with herself.

Charles Austin Miller

16th Jan 2019

Mary Poppins (1964)

Trivia: Child actor Karen Dotrice (who played Jane Banks) said in later years that she and Matthew Garber (who played Michael Banks) were shocked at Julie Andrews' frequent foul language and smoking on the set of "Mary Poppins"; and they were also aware of something very wrong with Dick Van Dyke (who was seriously hungover much of the time and having bouts of suicidal depression).

Charles Austin Miller

12th Jan 2019

Common mistakes

Deliberate mistake: Rather than gradually exploring character backgrounds as the story unfolds, characters in cheesier movies awkwardly rush to reveal whole biographies in just a couple of lines, right at the beginning of the film. Such an unlikely conversation might go like this: "I'm the luckiest girl in the world, married to the lead developer and network administrator of NASA's most ambitious interplanetary program ever"; and the husband replies, "Well, it helped that your father created the program and took a chance on me after that Wall Street computer-hacking scandal six years ago." There's no subtlety at all, it's just fast-food character development.

Charles Austin Miller

Factual error: Loosely based on the novel by Jules Verne, the entire story takes place on a remote Pacific island in the early 1860s. However, as pirates come under attack by a sea monster (in the second half of this two-part film), a modern fishing trawler or tugboat appears momentarily on the far right of the screen. (00:59:05)

Charles Austin Miller

6th Jan 2019

Westworld (1973)

Trivia: Yul Brynner, whose Man In Black character was made famous in earlier American western movies, agreed to reprise the character in Westworld for only $75,000, because he sorely needed the money.

Charles Austin Miller

Trivia: Science-fiction author Harlan Ellison wrote the original novella "A Boy and His Dog" in 1969, and director L.Q. Jones wanted Ellison to also write the screenplay for this 1975 film. When it became apparent that Ellison could not provide a screenplay (due to "writer's block"), Jones co-wrote the screenplay. In a DVD commentary decades later, Jones said that Ellison was pleased with the finished screenplay and movie except for certain dialogue. Ellison was especially offended by the last line of the movie, spoken by the telepathic dog, Blood: "Well, I'd say she certainly had marvelous judgment, Albert, if not particularly good taste." (This grisly line alluded to Vic and Blood eating Quilla June Holmes, the female love interest, in an act that happens off-camera.) Harlan Ellison said it was a "moronic, hateful, chauvinist last line, which I despise."

Charles Austin Miller

29th Dec 2018

Westworld (1973)

Trivia: When Yul Brynner chases Richard Benjamin into the android lab, Benjamin douses Brynner with concentrated hydrochloric acid (attempting to blind the killer android), and Brynner's face sizzles, bubbles and starts melting. The acid effect for this shot was achieved in a decidedly low-tech manner: Pulverized Alka Seltzer antacid tablets were mixed with Yul Brynner's facial makeup; Brynner's face was then doused with water, and the Alka Seltzer fizzed away Brynner's makeup as piped-in stage smoke swirled about his head. (01:16:50)

Charles Austin Miller

27th Dec 2018

Common mistakes

Stupidity: Ground troops armed with semi-auto handguns, automatic rifles and even heavy artillery just keep wasting ammo, barrage-after-barrage, magazine-after-magazine, against giant robots and monsters 100 feet tall, long after it becomes obvious that the weapons have zero effect. This is an ongoing stupidity dating back to some of the earliest giant monster movies, and is still seen in giant monster and superhero films today.

Charles Austin Miller
Upvote valid corrections to help move entries into the corrections section.

Suggested correction: Surely in the face of a no-win scenario, doing something that may or may not work is better than doing nothing and awaiting your doom. They would be doing everything they could to stop the enemy in the hopes of saving lives. Even if it takes every last round of ammunition, it may eventually be enough to wear down the monster / robot etc.

I hate to disagree. I think one of the best examples is the lates Godzilla movie whre they keep firing their hand guns on it knowing it would be better to just get out, there was absolutely no point to do that. Same goes for Man Of Steel.

lionhead

Agreed. Even in a no win situation, why waste ammunition and time firing on a target that impregnable when you could be doing more to evacuate and save lives.

Ssiscool Premium member

In everything from old Godzilla movies to modern superhero and kaiju flicks, we see military forces line up and throw every bit of small arms and heavier artillery they have at the giant monsters or giant robots, with zero effect. The military always retreats, regroups, then lines up and wastes all their ammunition again, as if they learned absolutely nothing from the first experience.

Charles Austin Miller

In a no-win scenario, you beat a hasty retreat and live to fight another day, hopefully better armed and better prepared next time. You don't hold your ground, futilely trying to bring down a giant monster the size of a Hilton Hotel with small arms fire.

Charles Austin Miller

It's strange because I can understand why filmmakers still do this, even though it makes little sense. They are trying to show that the monster, robot, whatever is unstoppable by conventional means and honestly I don't know how you would do that without these kinds of scenes. Even though they are dumb. It's extra dumb to me when you hear the General yell "Stand your ground, men!" or something like that. Or when the cop runs out of bullets and throws his gun.

BaconIsMyBFF

17th Dec 2018

Dr. Strangelove (1964)

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. As a result Scott refused to work with Kubrick again.

Charles Austin Miller

17th Dec 2018

Hackers (1995)

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)

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

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

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)

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

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)

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)

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)

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

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