Rob Halliday

New this month Question: At the end of the film Blondie, sitting on the horse, turns around, aims his rifle, fires, and severs the rope with a single shot. Lets face it, that rope would be a very small target, and difficult to hit with precision, even from ten or twenty feet, and Blondie is now so far from Tuco that he would no longer even be able to see the rope. Could anyone hit such a small target from such a distance with such incredible accuracy?

Rob Halliday

New this month Answer: There's a show called "Hollywood Weapons: Fact or Fiction" which dealt with this exact question (s01e03). Blondie is roughly 200 yds away. In the show the host didn't hit the rope, but only missed by an inch on his first attempt. I definitely think an expert Sharps Rifle shooter could make the shot. The issue however, is the bullet would most likely not actually slice the rope apart as seen in the film (they fired the Sharps at point blank and the rope remained partially intact still). They also tested shooting a hat off someone and (as expected) the bullet just goes right through the hat without lifting the hat at all.

Bishop73

That was another thing that puzzled me. On several occasions in this film, Tuco is suspended from a rope, and Blondie cuts the rope by firing a bullet at it, (I think Clint Eastwood repeated the trick in "The Outlaw Josey Wales"). But if you fired a bullet at a rope holding a (rather large) person like Tuco (or a similarly heavy weight), even at close range, would it really sever the rope? I will have to look out for "Hollywood Weapons Fact Or Fiction." I hope they only used a dummy or a model to re-create the shooting feats. I don't think I would have liked to have been hanging on a rope while somebody fired bullets at me to see if this would sever the rope, or to stand there while they fired bullets into my hat to see if they could lift it off my head.

Rob Halliday

New this month Answer: Probably not, but remember...this is a movie, a western at that and they typically have over the top action to excite audiences. Kinda like how its impossible to shoot someone's hat off without harming them. It's all for show.

Dra9onBorn117

New this month Question: It is implied that Satan and the forces of evil are always watching out for Damien so that when anybody gets anywhere near to hurting him they invariably meet a very sticky end. So how is it that, at the end of the film, Kate Reynolds is able to stab Damien to death with such apparent ease when all previous efforts to kill him have failed so dismally?

Rob Halliday

26th Aug 2018

The Omen (1976)

New this month Question: Something that puzzles me about the thee Omen films taken together. In the first film of the series the very young Damien is taken into a church. As the son of the Devil he has a great aversion to all things Christian, so he has a huge tantrum, and screams, struggles and resists going into the building. So how is it, that, as the series progresses, he can enter Christian buildings without any ill effects? (The denouement of the third and final Omen film is set in Fountains Abbey, a venerated Christian church in Yorkshire).

Rob Halliday

New this month Answer: It may be similar to myths around vampires. In many variations, their fear of crucifixes is purely psychological. As a child, Damian may have feared the symbolism of the church, but as he grew he realised it had no actual power over him.

Jason Hoffman

New this month Answer: There's no clear-cut answer. The first film was intended as a stand-alone movie. When the later sequels were made, the plot details were changed or otherwise adapted to fit a new story line.

raywest Premium member

26th Aug 2018

The Stranger (1946)

New this month Question: At the end, Orson Welles is wounded, and flees up a ladder out onto the face of the church clock. The clock contains an automata of statues that move in front of the clock face. One of the statues holds a sword which impales Orson Welles. We even have a distance shot in which the sword is seen sticking out of Orson Welles' back. Is such an end feasible? Surely, for a sword to fully pierce a human body it would have to be very sharp, and be driven with incredible force and speed. Would the statue be moving with anything remotely approaching such force and speed? And surely a statue on a clock would not carry a real sword, but a facsimile, meant to look like a weapon from a distance? And, if somebody really was pierced completely through with a sword, could they really press their body forward to fully withdraw the weapon? (01:34:45)

Rob Halliday

New this month Answer: This is a fictional death, and it's unlikely a person could be killed in that manner. The sword might cause a severe wound, but it would take some force to completely impale a body that way. Movies often exaggerate reality to create drama.

raywest Premium member

New this month Question: In this version the Phantom was a highly gifted composer, who, as a grown adult, was horribly disfigured in an accident. Much of the Hammer version centres on the performance of the Phantom's masterpiece, an opera about Joan Of Arc, segments of which are shown during the film. I am not an expert on opera, but it seemed to me that the Phantom's musical take on the Joan Of Arc lenient was one of the dullest musical performances I have ever seen, consisting of perfectly ordinary (and uninspiring) dialogue, sung on a single (and rather monotonous) octave. (Imagine some people who can't sing very well singing the text of a second rate historical novel.) Did anybody else who saw this little known film of the classic horror story have any opinion on the Joan Of Arc opera?

Rob Halliday

New this month Answer: This is a British low-budget version of the classic book. Due to its financial restraints, there was less concern about producing a factual or high-quality fictional opera. It is only a backdrop to the story.

raywest Premium member

Question: One of the boys, called Piggy, wears glasses. Piggy's glasses become an important, prized object, because the boys can use the lenses to refract the sun's rays, and thus start fires. It is fairly well established, that, on a hot day, in bright sunshine, one can focus the sun's rays through a magnifying glass to set light to combustible material. (I've done it myself, although it took me rather longer than the book or film suggested, and it only made a very small flame.) But could you use spectacles, that people wear to correct defective vision, to start a fire in this way? Surely, if this was possible, wouldn't it mean that when people who wear glasses went out in hot sunny weather, then they would burn their eyes?

Rob Halliday

Answer: The key factor there is the focus of the light over distance. The light coming through the glass is refracted and focused on a single point. But it's bent like a ribbon. There is a "sweet spot" so to say where you have to hold the magnifying glass or lens at just the right distance and angle from the object to focus the center point of the light on it. Typically, this means holding the glass out a good several inches or even a foot or so away from what you wish to ignite to get the focal point of the light on it. Someone wearing glasses has them pretty much right up to their face. And so the light can't reach a focal point. Also keep in mind that for focusing the light through a lens, it needs to be angled just right for the light to go through it at the optimal angle and focus. Usually this means facing the sun directly. Typically people don't look up directly at the sun, at least not for more than a second. Especially with glasses on.

Quantom X Premium member

Answer: Only convex magnifying lenses can be used to focus the sun's rays in such a way as to start a fire. A convex magnifying lens is bowed outwards on both sides. Such lenses are found in magnifying glasses, binoculars and cameras, for examples. Conventional spectacles to correct vision are convex on one side and concave (bowed inward) on the other side, and so cannot be used to start fires. If Piggy's glasses are used to start fires, then he is wearing convex magnifying lenses (which would only be useful for up-close reading purposes, and they would be utterly useless for any other vision correction) ; and, if indeed he is wearing truly convex magnifying lenses for some reason, then his retinas could certainly be damaged by even glancing at the sun.

Charles Austin Miller

Answer: Lenses for nearsightedness would not work, but they could be corrected for the purpose by filling their concave areas with clear water, which would make the whole object correctly refract sunlight.

dizzyd

That's a reported "survival" trick (placing a drop of clear water in the center of a concave lens so as to focus the sun's rays) ; but I've never had any success with it.

Charles Austin Miller

Question: When Brian is about to be crucified, soldiers arrive with news of his release. The soldiers ask for Brian, and everybody shouts "I'm Brian." Is this a parody of the "I'm Spartacus" episode in the Kirk Douglas/Stanley Kubrick film of "Spartacus"? If so, would this support my feeling that Life Of Brian is primarily a parody of classical/biblical 'epic' films?

Rob Halliday

Answer: The scene is a parody of the scene in "Spartacus" (although they are saying "I am Brian" for completely different reasons.) However, the film is meant to be a satire on religion itself and not a parody of epic films. The Pythons did a lot of research to try and accurately portray 1st century Judea, which is why it may look like a biblical epic, but I can't recall any biblical epics they parodied. At the time it was considered blasphemous, and not a parody, and banned in several areas in the UK and some countries. Although the Pythons argued it's not blasphemy but heresy.

Bishop73

Answer: Actually, no, the primary goal of "Life of Brian" was not to parody biblical films. Terry Gilliam has stated that the "important" objective of the movie was "to offend a lot of people," particularly "Jews and Christians, because they're easy to push around." Gilliam further said that, at the same time, they were "very cautious not to offend Muslims, because they're the dangerous ones." Both Gilliam and John Cleese have also said that, while the Pythons took care to avoid blasphemy (not directly mocking Jesus of Nazareth, with whom the Pythons had no quarrel), they fully intended that the film be heretical (in defiance of Catholic Church doctrine and dogma). Make no mistake, "Life of Brian" is not supposed to be a lighthearted parody of biblical films; it's supposed to be a sharp stick in the eye to the Roman Catholic Church.

Charles Austin Miller

Answer: You are indeed correct. It is a parody of the "Spartacus" scene and also of historical films.

raywest Premium member

Perhaps not so much a parody of "Spartacus" as a tribute to Stanley Kubrick. Monty Python writer Terry Gilliam was very much a fan of Kubrick films and became friends with Kubrick in the 1980s. Gilliam claimed that Kubrick had even spoken with him about making a sequel to Kubrick's "Dr. Strangelove" (with Gilliam as director). Chances are, the "Spartacus" allusion was part of Gilliam's contribution to the "Life of Brian" screenplay, a tip-o-the-hat to Stanley Kubrick.

Charles Austin Miller

6th Aug 2018

Rocky III (1982)

Question: At the start of Rocky III he is the undisputed world heavyweight champion, who has successfully defended his title 10 times. I thought the point of the first Rocky film was that he was a 'no hoper' who gets a shot at the title. At the start of the first Rocky film he is an 'over-the-hill', outsider, still strong and hard hitting, but past his peak fitness, beginning to age and lose his speed. Rocky is a fictional character, but he still has a wikipedia entry, which says that he was 30 at the time of his fight with Apollo Creed, by which time his record is 44 wins and 20 losses. What is the possibility of a boxing outsider aged over 30 having a turnaround in his career and becoming a successful world champion?

Rob Halliday

Answer: I think the point was that Apollo Creed didn't take him seriously, that he wasn't a serious competitor for him, didn't train hard enough for the fight whilst Rocky fought every chance he got. His way of fighting, not giving up, good chin and deadly punches gives him the ability to got toe to toe and later beat Apollo Creed in Rocky II where Apollo trains way better but wastes time with a smear campaign and still can't beat Rocky's spirit and chin, next to that Rocky trains way better too and has a good mental focus in time for the fight. The later fights when he is champion, as Rocky's trainer Mickey explains, are not real competitors, just show fights to keep the money coming in and keep Rocky healthy. Clubber Lang is the first real competitor after Creed, and he nearly kills him.

lionhead

6th Aug 2018

The Long Ships (1964)

Factual error: This film is about the search for a great golden bell, 'The Mother Of All Voices' that rings incredibly loudly. A bell has a free-standing metal 'clapper' inside, the bell rings when it is moved to make the clapper hit the sides. When they find 'The Mother Of All Voices' it has no clapper, so how can it ring? (The ringing was obviously dubbed in after the film was made). Bells are made of a strong, hardwearing alloy of tin and lead, which reverberates when hit to make a ringing noise. Gold is among the softest of metals. A bell made of gold would never ring, when it was struck the gold would just bend and twist. After its discovery the bell falls off a high cliff, but it is not even dented, in reality anything made of gold would be knocked completely out of shape by such a fall.

Rob Halliday

31st Jul 2018

Cat People (1942)

Factual error: Irena, the central character of Cat People, says she is of Serbian ancestry, and that her ancestors fought the Mamluks for their national freedom. Serbia was part of the Islamic Ottoman Empire between the fifteenth and nineteenth centuries. The Mamluks were a military caste who ruled Egypt between 1250 and 1517. To say the Serbs fought the Mamluks for freedom would be comparable to saying that the USA fought the Vikings for independence in 1776.

Rob Halliday

Show generally

Question: At the start of each episode of Mission Impossible Briggs or Phelps received details of the mission from a tape recording that was 'hidden in plain sight', say a telephone booth displaying a poster saying 'Telephone Out Of Order. Do Not Use'. So, what would happen if somebody went into the kiosk before Briggs or Phelps, picked up the telephone and got the secret message ahead of the Mission Impossible team?

Rob Halliday

Answer: We don't know what would happen because the show never addressed this issue. Any answer would be speculation. This is a TV show, and the plot is structured so that only IMF team will retrieve the secret message.

raywest Premium member

Answer: This is not really a serious question. When I posted this question I was fully aware that Mission Impossible is only a television programme. Like many espionage thrillers (Man From Uncle, The Avengers, James Bond) it is meant to entertain, it is never meant to be taken literally seriously. It was essential to the story that Briggs or Phelps received a secret message, which would give them a mission to accomplish. If they did not receive the message you would not have had the story. When I used to watch Mission Impossible it just used to amuse me to wonder what might have happened had somebody picked up the phone containing the secret message ahead of Briggs or Phelps. I even considered writing to a comedian and suggesting that they devise a comedy sketch in which this happened. My question was only meant to be a joke, that I posted to amuse people.

Rob Halliday

Question: Not just this, but every cinema and television adaptation of the legend of The Man In The Iron Mask that I have seen, without exception, has always left me asking the same question. A man is locked up in a lonely prison where his face is hidden by an iron mask. The Three Musketeers or some similar swashbuckling heroes rescue him. He may have worn the iron mask for weeks, months, or even years. So why is it, that, when the iron mask is removed he always emerges clean shaven?

Rob Halliday

Answer: The mask would be periodically removed by the prisoner's attendants to shave his beard and cut his hair. Leaving it on permanently and letting his beard and hair grow endlessly would create physical and medical problems, possibly even suffocating him eventually. The goal was to keep him imprisoned for a long period of time, not to execute him.

raywest Premium member

But isn't he wearing the mask so that nobody will know who he is? If the prison staff keep removing the mask to shave him and cut his hair then they will all know exactly what he looks like, and they will be able to identiry him. In many versions of the story he has to wear the mask so that nobody will recognise him as the king's twin brother. If the prison guards remove the mask won't they see how he resembles the king? Alternatively, if the prison guards already know that he is the king's twin brother, then why bother to mask his face?

Rob Halliday

Anyone who was guarding and/or attending to the prisoner would be loyal to the king, acting as his agents, and sworn to keep his secrets. Not doing so would be treason. They would likely have minimal knowledge of who this person was, nor would it matter to them. They may or may not notice any resemblance to the king. In the prisoner's disheveled and weakened conditioned, it would not be obvious that he is an identical twin. Also, few people in pre-mass media times, knew what royals looked like, probably only catching occasional glimpses of them from far away, if ever at all.

raywest Premium member

27th Jul 2018

Steptoe and Son (1962)

Christmas Special 1974 (a.k.a. A Perfect Christmas) - S8-E7

Continuity mistake: Harold suggests to Albert that they spend Christmas abroad. Albert has not been abroad since his military service in the First World War, so Harold obtains Albert an up-to-date, modern passport. The fact that Harold has an old passport, but Albert has a newly issued passport is absolutely essential to the story. This contradicts two previous episodes of Steptoe And Son. In Pilgrim's Progress (S4-E7) Albert wanted to re-visit the First World War battlefields: Albert and Harold went to an airport and boarded a plane for France. In A Winter's Tale (S5-E2) Harold bought a ticket for a ski-ing holiday in Switzerland. He had an accident and could not go, so Albert went instead. (Albert would have needed a passport for both trips.) This also contradicts the 1972 Steptoe And Son cinema film, in which Harold married, and took both his new bride and Albert on his honeymoon to Spain.

Rob Halliday

Trivia: J M Barrie befriends Sylvia Llewelyn Davies and her four sons. Sylvia is portrayed as a widow, which allows J M Barrie to become something of a surrogate husband and father figure to the Llewelyn Davies family. The truth was rather more complicated: Sylvia's husband, Arthur Llewelyn Davies was still alive when J M Barrie befriended the family, and in 1904 when the stage play of Peter Pan debuted on the London stage. Arthur developed a malignant disease that caused his death in 1907, when J M Barrie paid his medical bills.

Rob Halliday

24th Jul 2018

Mary Poppins (1964)

Question: Was I the only person to be struck quite forcefully (metaphorically speaking) by the contrast between Julie Andrews' portrayal of Mary Poppins, as the ever-smiling, cheerful, friendly, vivacious character, who melts everybody with her charm, which seemed wholly at odds with PL Travers' portrayal of Mary Poppins as acerbic, dour, and cynical, who always seems to get her way by utter, overwhelming arrogance?

Rob Halliday

Answer: Travers, herself, was pretty much the model for the original Mary Poppins: an inflexible authoritarian who insisted on advising and reviewing nearly every aspect of the film's production. Which is why Disney had such a hell of a time securing the rights and molding Travers' story into a lighthearted romp.

Charles Austin Miller

Mary Poppins may somewhat resemble P.L. Travers, but her great-aunt, Helen Morehead, is largely considered to be the inspiration for the character. Travers' mother moved in with her aunts after P.L.'s father died when she was a young girl. The aunt would often say, "Spit spot, into bed."

raywest Premium member

Some aspects of Mary Poppins were based on Travers' great-aunt (the more positive aspects that Travers remembered from childhood) ; but the overall character was Travers herself.

Charles Austin Miller

Answer: No doubt many fans of the books and P.L. Travers agreed with your assessment. However, it was 1964 and Travers' book was heavily "Disneyfied," meaning they imprinted their particular syrupy, family-oriented wholesome stamp on the project, watering down Poppins' dour personality. Travers was appalled by it and would never allow another of her books to be made into a movie. There is a remake in the works, and, hopefully, the current Disney heads will give it a darker tone.

raywest Premium member

23rd Jul 2018

Cromwell (1970)

Factual error: At the end of the film the Earl of Manchester is shown setting up corrupt, self-seeking government that will be much worse than the royal regime it has replaced. An enraged Cromwell calls soldiers to drive the Earl of Manchester and his sycophantic supporters from the Houses of Parliament. This scene completely re-writes history. The Earl Of Manchester, was what would now be termed a 'moderate' supporter of the Parliamentary cause, who hoped that Charles I would remain king, but with reduced powers. He did not want to replace the monarchy, or to take over as ruler of the country (in the way that Cromwell eventually would). As Cromwell's power grew the Earl of Manchester's role in affairs shrank. At Charles I's execution he withdrew from government until Cromwell's death, when he assisted the Restoration of Charles II, becoming one of Charles II's most loyal supporters.

Rob Halliday

23rd Jul 2018

Pancho Villa (1972)

Question: Francisco 'Pancho' Villa was photographed on many occasions, and always had a full head of hair (as well as a moustache). Yet the film cast Telly Savalas as Pancho Villa, who shaved his head, and was always very proud of and conscious of being a Greek-American. The year after Pancho Villa was released Telly Savalas began to play the titular character of the police drama series, 'Kojak', which transformed him into the world's most recognisable Greek. So, my question is, given a film about Pancho Villa was made in Spain, where the producer and director had an unlimited number of actors of Hispanic ancestry to call on, why cast one of the world's most famous bald, Greek actors (sporting an unconvincing moustache) to play the hirsute Mexican Pancho Villa?

Rob Halliday

Answer: Hollywood, especially in that era, frequently would cast white actors to play people of color The studio knew Savalas would bring in a lot of viewers, while an unknown from Spain might not.

Brian Katcher

Other mistake: Like most Sherlock Holmes films 'The Private Life Of Sherlock Holmes' is set in Victorian England: Queen Victoria even makes an appearance. Holmes and Watson go to Loch Ness in Scotland, where they see the Loch Ness monster. (Spoiler alert) it turns out that the Loch Ness Monster is not a living creature, but an experimental submarine. Like most people who would have seen the film on its release in 1970, they are familiar with the Loch Ness monster (even if they do not necessarily believe in it). But the first documented sightings of the Loch Ness Monster were only made in 1933. Nobody ever thought there might have been a monster in Loch Ness before 1933.

Rob Halliday
Upvote valid corrections to help move entries into the corrections section.

Suggested correction: Sightings and lore of the Loch Ness Monster date back over 1,500 years. In fact, the indigenous people of the region carved images of the monster into stone as far back as 500 AD. The 1933 hoax was certainly not the first time the monster was sighted; however, the hoax was inspired by the centuries-old Loch Ness legend, of which Holmes, Watson and everyone else would be well aware in the Victorian era.

Charles Austin Miller

Suggested correction: This is somewhat incorrect. The 1933 photograph that was published in newspapers may have brought the idea of a Loch Ness Monster to a wider audience, reports of a creature in Loch Ness (or Loch River) were around long before then. And just because the term "Loch Ness Monster" may have first been printed in 1933 doesn't mean the term didn't exist before then. In a fictional story surrounding fictional events, there's no mistake in bringing up a creature already rumored to have existed.

Bishop73

Well observed sir! I thought somebody might well say that. Maybe I should have gone into more detail. May I make it clear that I have absolutely no problem with a sighting of the Loch Ness Monster in a Sherlock Holmes film, since Sherlock Holmes was a fictional character, and 'The Private Life Of Sherlock Holmes' was an imaginary story. (Plus the film contained some intentionally comic elements, it was a bit 'tongue in cheek', so lets not take it too seriously!) But lets look at the history of sightings of the monster. The first sighting to attract widespread attention was on 22 July 1933, when the Spicers saw a creature near (but not in) the Loch. On 12 November Hugh Gray took the photograph you allude to. In 1934 Rupert Gould published the first book about it. You say that earlier sightings may not have been widely reported. You are quite correct! One D. Mackenzie said he saw a monster in the Loch in 1872, but did not tell anybody at the time. A sixth century life of St. Columba records an encounter with a 'water beast' in the River Ness. My point was that, in the film, Holmes, Watson, and most other people, are familiar with the story of the Loch Ness Monster. (Spoiler alert again) : The 'monster' is an experimental submarine, which Sherlock's brother, Mycroft, is helping the war office to develop. To stop people realising they were experimenting with new military technology, they would develop the submarine in Loch Ness, so anybody seeing it would think it was the Monster (to add to the deception they give it an artificial neck and head). My point is that, while most people who saw the film in 1970, and most people using this website, would be quite familiar with the story of the Loch Ness Monster. So, whether or not they believe in its existence, they would get the joke (after all, the film was not meant to be taken completely seriously). In the Victorian era the Loch Ness Monster would, at best, have been a local rumour, not something that was known worldwide so it is doubtful that even people as undoubtedly intelligent as Holmes and Watson would have known about it. If they saw a monster in Loch Ness they would not say 'Oh, that's the Loch Ness Monster'. They would ask 'Whatever is that great big thing going through the water?'.

Rob Halliday

9th Jul 2018

Amadeus (1984)

Trivia: 'Amadeus' had (and still has) the highest budget for wigs for the cast of any film in cinema history.

Rob Halliday

9th Jul 2018

Braveheart (1995)

Factual error: For much of ‘Braveheart' Robert the Bruce is torn between the choice of following his conscience by helping William Wallace or submitting to the English as a puppet ruler of Scotland. Thus he serves with the English army at the Battle of Falkirk, but helps Wallace to safety after the Scots are defeated. At the end of the film he is about to finally submit, when he has a change of heart, calls his followers to fight, and defeats the English. This is nonsense. Robert the Bruce was among the first Scottish noblemen to resist English control of Scotland. Edward I's Scottish wars lasted for more than ten years, and, at times, when it seemed that Edward had crushed all opposition, Robert the Bruce (like most Scots) made a half-hearted submission, but he soon took up arms again. There is no record that he was at the Battle of Falkirk (on either side). In 1306, seven months after Wallace's execution, he had himself crowned King of Scotland, provocatively rejecting English authority. For the rest of his life he waged uncompromising war against the English, culminating in his great victory at Bannockburn.

Rob Halliday
Upvote valid corrections to help move entries into the corrections section.

Suggested correction: This movie is historical fiction, real life events dramatized for a better film. That it's not completely historically accurate is not a mistake.

Greg Dwyer

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