Factual error: The film was wholly filmed in Morocco, where the scenery, architecture and geography is wholly different to Israel. All the extras are also Moroccans, who look wholly different and wear different clothing to people from Israel (and would have looked equally different in the first century AD). Many extras were members of the Berber community. Berbers have a long tradition of being tattooed, so many extras showed prominent tattoos. But Jews have a traditional aversion to being tattooed, as per Leviticus 19:28.
8th Jan 2021
14th Aug 2020
Question: Was Robinson Crusoe On Mars scientifically plausible when it was made in 1964? Aged eight, I watched this movie on release. Even then I knew it was a movie, not a scientific documentary. Nevertheless, I understand that it was once seriously believed there were canals on the surface of Mars. (I even had a children's pictorial encyclopaedia which showed Mars criss-crossed by canals.) After crash-landing on Mars astronaut Kit Draper (Paul Mantee) discovers that the Martian canals were made by intelligent, technologically advanced beings millennia ago. Could anybody in the scientific community have believed this in 1964? Kit Draper discovers ways of creating oxygen, so he does not suffocate; he then finds water sources, vegetation he can eat and a coal like rock that burns to make fires. He witnesses extra-terrestrial aliens visiting Mars in space ships. Was this, by any stretch of the imagination, regarded as even remotely credible in 1964? Or was it pure Hollywood hokum?
3rd Aug 2020
Question: Why do the humans in "Planet Of The Apes" all wear clothes? I am fully aware that the film was made in 1968, for a general release, permitting it to be shown in cinemas or on television, and 20th Century Fox would never have been allowed to make a movie in which humans all ran around naked. But, since the film is supposed to be set in a post-apocalyptic world, where humans have regressed back to being wild creatures, without language, lacking the skills to make or create anything, where do they get their clothes from? (And their clothes fit, too.) Did anybody ever come up with an answer to this, apart from the obvious reply that they wanted to get the film past the censor?
26th Jul 2020
Factual error: The movie's title "The Inn Of The Sixth Happiness" is the name of the mission station that Gladys Aylward/Ingrid Bergman sets up. In reality this was called "The Inn Of The Eighth Happiness." Numerology is popular in China, where eight is regarded as a particularly auspicious number. Apparently the film company thought "sixth" had a better ring to it than "eighth." In the movie it is explained that there are six levels of happiness. This is not a Chinese belief and seems to have been invented for the movie.
26th Jul 2020
Trivia: The Inn Of The Sixth Happiness tells the story of Gladys Aylward, an English missionary in China. The casting of Ingrid Bergman in the role was quite amazing, especially considering that Gladys Aylward was still alive at the time. Ingrid Bergman, who exuded glamour throughout the movie, was 5' 9" tall, had blonde hair and retained her native Swedish accent. Gladys Aylward was of rather plain appearance, stood a mere 4' 10" tall, had black hair and spoke with a cockney accent.
16th Jul 2020
15th Jul 2020
Question: Spoiler alert: this question gives away much of the first "Psycho" movie. In the original Alfred Hitchcock "Psycho" we witness Norman Bates murdering Janet Leigh/Marion Crane and Martin Balsam/Milton Arbogast, and very narrowly missing killing Vera Miles/Lila Crane. At the end of the movie we discover that Norman Bates had murdered his mother and her lover ten years previously. We are also told that he had killed two female guests at Bates Motel. Norman Bates is therefore guilty of six murders and one attempted murder. In Psycho II we find out that, after his crimes were discovered, Norman Bates was placed in a secure psychiatric institution for the criminally insane. This does seem plausible. But with such a criminal record, would he ever be released from incarceration?
13th Jul 2020
Trivia: The movie tells the story of James Allen/Paul Muni, an unjustly imprisoned convict, who escapes from a brutal chain gang and ends up a frightened, hunted, homeless vagrant. This was based on the life of Robert Elliott Burns, who was unjustly convicted and placed on a chain gang, from which he escaped. Burns wrote a best-selling book about his experiences and advised on the making of the movie. After the movie's release Burns was granted parole and became a free man. "I Am A Fugitive From A Chain gang" may be unique among Hollywood movies, in that, while the movie had a sad ending, the real-life story that inspired it had a happy ending.
11th Jul 2020
9th Jul 2020
Factual error: Two scenes show aerial views of the cast in a church: this is in fact St Bartholemew The Great in the Smithfield area of London. These show everybody walking on the floor of the church, which is made of Victorian tiles, laid down in the nineteenth century, about 300 years after the age of Queen Elizabeth I (played by Judi Dench) and William Shakespeare.
8th Jul 2020
Question: Serious spoiler alert: these questions summarise the entire film. During the Second World War Sgt Joe Gunn (Humphrey Bogart) and nine allied soldiers (plus one German and one Italian captive) are crossing the North African Desert. They discover a well, but this has nearly dried up and only provides a small trickle of water, barely enough to keep them alive. They are besieged by over 100 Germans. Since the Germans have no water at all they surrender to Joe Gunn. At this point a stray shell lands in the well. The resulting explosion brings hundreds of gallons of water bubbling up, more than enough for Joe Gunn's company and all the Germans. Two questions. 1. Could a well in the Sahara dry up until it only gave a small trickle of water? 2. Could an explosion really open a water supply like this?
4th Jul 2020
Factual error: At the end, Rolfe suggests to King Harald that they seek "the three crowns of the Saxon kings." But this lost treasure legend is a modern invention. In 1925 M R James wrote "A Warning To The Curious", which says that the Anglo-Saxon kings of East Anglia buried three crowns near the English coast. Somebody who finds one of these meets a mysterious, sinister death. The legend of the three crowns of the Saxon kings has since appeared in many books about English folklore. But there is no record of this story before 1925 and it is now believed that M R James invented it. Thus the story of the three crowns would not have been known to the Vikings.
3rd Jul 2020
29th Jun 2020
Question: In the opening credits of Arrival and most subsequent episodes of The Prisoner, Patrick McGoohan/The Prisoner/Number Six walks into a government office and resigns his post. He returns to his house. A man, dressed like an undertaker, pumps gas through the keyhole. He falls unconscious and revives in "The Village." My questions? Is there a "knockout gas" that would render somebody unconscious like this? If so, after inhaling the gas, for how long would they remain unconscious? We never know where "The Village" is, so we cannot know how long it took to move Patrick McGoohan there, but how would they keep him unconscious until they got him to "The Village"? As soon as he comes to in "The Village" he seems 100% fit and alert and immediately begins to explore his new "home." Wouldn't he have a splitting headache, and be dazed, confused and disorientated after being unconscious for so long and then waking up in such a strange place?
24th Jun 2020
Factual error: In Danny Kaye's song about "The Emperor's New Clothes" he persistently and repeatedly uses the words "the king is in the altogether." Hans Christian Andersen lived from 1805 to 1875, but the expression "in the altogether", meaning naked, was invented and popularised by George Du Maurier in his novel "Trilby" which was not published until 1894.
22nd Jun 2020
Trivia: When Charlie (Tom Cruise) decides to take Raymond (Dustin Hoffman) across the USA he wants to travel by plane. Raymond refuses, citing the fact that at least one plane from all the airlines on offer have, at some time, crashed. The only airline that Raymond would be willing to travel on is Qantas (the Australian airline) as this has a 100% crash-free record. Since Qantas offers no cross USA flights they have to travel by road. After the release of Rain Man many airlines included the film as part of their in-flight entertainment option, but nearly all of them deleted this scene, since it was hardly good publicity for their flights. The one exception was Qantas, who were proud to include the film in its entirety, thinking this particular scene gave Qantas excellent publicity.
21st Jun 2020
Question: Mel Brooks consciously and deliberately filled Blazing Saddles with anachronisms, this was part of the film's humour. But one thing has always niggled at my mind. Blazing Saddles is set in 1874. Quite early on in the film the whites ask Cleavon Little/Bart why African Americans are not singing work songs. The African Americans then begin acapella harmonised version of Cole Porters "I Get A Kick Out Of You" (written for the 1934 musical "Anything Goes"). But in October 1974, shortly after Blazing Saddles had its UK release, an otherwise unknown Australian singer called Gary Shearston had a top ten UK hit with a cover of "I Get A Kick Out Of You." Was there any connection? Did Blazing Saddles revive interest in the song?
4th Jun 2020
Question: Winnie (Alexis Bledel) runs away from her family and stays with Mae Tuck (Sissy Spacek) and the Tuck family. Winnie's family organise a search party to look for Winnie. Ben Kingsley (The Stranger/Man In Yellow Suit) also seeks Winnie and the Tucks, as they have secret information he wishes to acquire. Ben Kingsley finds Winnie and the Tucks. He threatens and intimidates them with a loaded revolver, even manhandling Winnie and holding the revolver barrel at Winnie's head. Sissy Spacek is standing behind Ben Kingsley. She hits him on the head with a rifle butt, killing him. At this point the search party converge on the Tucks' home. They see Sissy Spacek kill Ben Kingsley, so she is arrested for murder and sentenced to be hanged. Would any court find Sissy Spacek guilty of murder? She was obviously acting to defend her family and Winnie from an evil man with a loaded gun.
4th Jun 2020
Trivia: Wilfrid Brambell portrayed Albert Steptoe as an untidy, badly groomed, slovenly old man. In real life Wilfrid Brambell was a smart dresser who was very particular about his appearance. When episodes of Steptoe and Son were being filmed, either in a television studio, or on location, autograph hunters might congregate hoping to collect the autograph of, or make social contact with the actors. Popular folklore about the programme holds that, after a day's filming, Wilfred Brambell would change from Albert's scruffy clothes into a tailored suit, shave and brush himself, and then blithely walk offset past the sightseers and autograph hunters, who would not recognise the dapper, well-dressed gentleman as the dishevelled Albert Steptoe.
4th Jun 2020
Factual error: Before the spectacular chariot race, we have the "Parade of the Charioteers." Around the arena you see classical statues. They are just props, they do not influence the storyline at all, they are just dotted around the set to remind us that we are in the Roman Empire. All the statues are just plain white stone. Archaeological research shows that the great Greek and Roman sculptors always painted their sculptures. Skin, clothes, eyes, hair, were all carefully painted to make the statues look 100% lifelike. In the next thousand years the paint wore away, and now, when you go to a museum and look at Greek and Roman sculptures you only see plain stone figures. Yet in ancient Greece and Rome all those statues were elaborately painted. This error applies not just to Ben Hur but probably every classical epic film ever made.
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