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Top 10 Totally Trivial But Kind Of Interesting Facts About Movies

Ward Hazell . . . Comments

The process of filmmaking is often as interesting to fans as the movie itself. Many potential blockbusters now have a second crew filming the first crew for their “Making Of” movies because fans love to discover how the sets, props, and costumes were constructed.

Some enthusiasts spend hours studying the sound effects of a light saber swishing through the air (a cross between the hum of an old-style film projector and the feedback from a TV). Others try to track down the numerous “One Rings” from The Lord of The Rings. (Many were stolen from the set as souvenirs.)

Sometimes, though, you just want to impress your friends with a cool piece of movie trivia that no one else knows. If that’s what you’re after, we’ve got you covered. Keep reading.

Featured image credit: thrillist.com

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10 The Good, The Bad And The Ugly Blew Up A Bridge Twice

In the climactic scenes of Sergio Leone’s classic 1966 Western, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, Clint Eastwood and Eli Wallach are trying to reach the cemetery at Sad Hill where a fortune in gold has been buried.

Regrettably for them, their path is blocked by two warring armies on each side of a bridge. To reach the gold, they must cross the bridge. Or blow it up.

Obviously, they went for the second option.

Leone was famous for his multilingual pictures. Not only did his actors speak a number of languages, so did the crew. The bridge had been built by engineers in the Spanish army, who were standing by to blow it up.

When the Italian cameraman called “Action” on the shot, the Spanish captain misunderstood and detonated his explosives before the cameras rolled. Being engineers, however, the Spanish army got to work and built another bridge. Ultimately, Eastwood and Wallach were able to reach the cemetery. [1]

9 Alan Rickman Fell Hard In Die Hard

Everyone loves Die Hard, and Alan Rickman certainly makes a great villain. His final scene as Hans Gruber, the terrorist-turned-thief, was a difficult one in both the finished film and the shoot.

Rickman is seen hanging onto Bruce Willis and Bonnie Bedelia as he dangles from a window near the top of the Nakatomi building, which was 20th Century Fox’s corporate headquarters in real life. Gruber’s watch is entangled with that of Mrs. McClane, and he is about to drag her down with him.

In fact, Rickman was held by a rope 12 meters (40 ft) above a crash pad with a camera trained directly on his face. Director John McTiernan wanted to capture every emotion in Rickman’s face as the villain fell to his death in slow motion.[2]

The look of shock was definitely real. McTiernan had told Rickman that they would count down before the release. But the sneaky director instructed his stunt coordinator to release the rope early. Yippee-ki-yay.


8 The Matrix Code Is Made Of Sushi

The Wachowskis’ 1999 movie, The Matrix, is memorable for a lot of reasons.

First, there was bullet time. The Wachowskis may not have invented it, but they certainly made it popular. With bullet time, the action becomes slow enough that you can dodge bullets. In fact, you can even pick the bullets out of the air in mid-flight, examine them, and drop them on the floor before they kill you.

Then there are the awesome fight scenes, the costumes, and Keanu Reeves’s weirdly long, thin body.

This is a lot to process—and that’s before you try to get your head around the plot. So, if you didn’t give the Matrix code more than a glance, that’s understandable. But it’s a mistake because the Matrix is everywhere. It is all around us.

But what exactly is the Matrix?

It might be the source code which creates temporary constructs to satisfy our feeble human intellect. Or it could be a recipe for sushi.[3]

Simon Whiteley, the production designer, was tasked with producing convincing-looking code that also appeared organic and Japanese. He found what he needed while leafing through his wife’s Japanese cookbooks. However, Whiteley will not reveal what the recipe makes.

But the answer is out there. It’s looking for us, and it will find us if we are hungry enough.

7 The Usual Suspects Were Gone With The Wind

Some scenes turn out exactly the way the director intends. Other scenes turn out better. When Bryan Singer directed The Usual Suspects, he intended the lineup scene to be a serious dramatic moment.

And then Benicio del Toro farted.

Kevin Spacey, Stephen Baldwin, Gabriel Byrne, and Kevin Pollak fought to keep straight faces as they took turns stepping forward and reading the line on the card, “Hand me the keys, you f—king c—ksucker.”

Trying to hide his giggles, Gabriel Byrne had his hand over his face for the entire scene. When del Toro stepped forward to read his line in his mumbling voice, he farted again. The actors could barely contain themselves.

Luckily, Singer liked it. He felt that it showed that the usual suspects had “a shared past and a sense of camaraderie” as well as a healthy disrespect for the police.[4]

The scene was used in both the poster and the trailer and became one of the most imitated movie scenes ever.


6 Judy Garland Ingested Dangerous Substances In The Wizard Of Oz

Remember when Dorothy and her friends had to walk across a poppy field to get to Oz? The poppies drugged her and her little dog, Toto. Who knew that poppies could do that?

To wake up Dorothy, the Good Witch of the North sent the snow, which did the trick and snapped Dorothy out of it. Maybe that’s because the fake snow used on the set was made from “industrial-grade” white asbestos fibers. This asbestos fake snow was sold under the brand names White Magic, Snow Drift, and Pure White.[5]

It’s enough to make you question your faith in wholesome family entertainment.

Hollywood wasn’t entirely to blame, however. Fire-retardant fake snow was commonly used for Christmas decorations until the beginning of World War II. Production only ceased then because asbestos was needed for military use.

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5 Michael Myers’s Halloween Mask Is Truly Horrifying

If you are making a horror movie on a budget and you need a scary mask, what are you going to do?

Well, if you are working on the Halloween movie, you could take a quick trip to your local costume shop and buy a mask of William Shatner as his Star Trek character, Captain Kirk. That will do.

The designers simply had to widen the eyeholes, remove the sideburns, and spray-paint the mask white.[6]


4 William Friedkin Was A Demon On The Set Of The Exorcist

Following up his success with 1971’s The French Connection, William Friedkin made the terrifying film classic The Exorcist in 1973. The film proved to be even more successful than his previous work. The Exorcist was nominated for 10 Academy Awards and won two.

Most of the performances in the final product weren’t achieved without help from Friedkin. Taking after D.W. Griffith’s directing style, Friedkin did various things to influence the actors’ emotions for particular scenes. He fired real guns behind them to mimic the effects of being startled and slapped Father William O’Malley (a real priest and adviser on the set) right before filming to get a sincere reaction. (The result of this is still seen in the film at the end when he gives the dying Father Karras the last rites.)

The Exorcist was made before the days of CG. For the effect of Regan’s cold room, the stage was chilled below freezing, causing the crew members’ perspiration to freeze. Linda Blair, the actress who played Regan, wore only a nightgown for the duration of the shoot and says she still can’t bear being cold.

But perhaps the worst on-set occurrence at the hands of Friedkin was in the scene where Ellen Burstyn’s character gets thrown back by a demonic force. The effect was achieved via a rope harness, which violently pulled the actress backward, resulting in a permanent spinal injury.[7]

3 Velociraptors Are Sexy Beasts

Sound effects can be difficult, especially when you are trying to recreate the noise from an extinct dinosaur. The sound effects department on Jurassic Park experimented repeatedly but soon discovered that it was best to record modern animals when they are at their most primal.

In other words, when they are mating.

The Gallimimus herds were voiced by female horses in heat, and the T. rex was a combination of a dog and an elephant.

The Velociraptors may not have been the largest dinosaurs at Jurassic Park, but they were intelligent hunters. They stalked their prey through kitchens and communicated with each other through the language of tortoise love.[8]

Male tortoises, it seems, are raucous lovers. The noise is terrifying, especially when amplified and accompanied by images of a pair of Velociraptors rampaging through a kitchen after a couple of kids. Additional sound effects came from hissing geese.

The tortoises were a good resource because they mated for hours at a time. This provided plenty of material for the sound engineers. It is not known why the male tortoise is so vocal. Maybe it helps him to concentrate so that he doesn’t fall off the back of the female’s shell, which happens frequently.

Female tortoises don’t seem to enjoy the mating much. Maybe it’s the racket. Then again, the prolonged mating and the weight of the male on top of her can permanently damage her shell. Now that is something to screech about.


2 Stanley Kubrick Is Eye-Wateringly Difficult To Please

Stanley Kubrick is known to be an uncompromising director. A Clockwork Orange was always going to be a difficult film to make. Adapted from Anthony Burgess’s classic novel of the same name, the film was surreal and disturbing.

Malcolm McDowell starred as Alex, leader of his gang of “droogs” who elevated violence to art and used Beethoven as an inspiration for mayhem. But McDowell did not have an easy time of it.

He cracked some of his ribs. Worst of all, he had to endure the “Ludovico technique.” In an incredibly disturbing scene of fictional aversion therapy, McDowell’s eyes were pinned open so that he couldn’t blink as he watched films to the accompaniment of Beethoven.

Kubrick promised McDowell that the scene would take no more than 10 minutes. Of course, Kubrick is a noted perfectionist so filming took much longer. McDowell ended up with a scratch on one of his corneas and was left temporarily blind.[9]

1 Vitamins Are Not Always Good Things

The Wolf of Wall Street is a film about excess. Leonardo DiCaprio stars as Jordan Belfort, an amoral Wall Street stockbroker. When he is fired after Black Monday, the stock market crash of almost 22 percent in the Dow Jones Industrial Average on October 19, 1987, he charts a new path.

Belfort discovers that he can make as much money from conning people out of their life savings in a backstreet boiler room as from any of the fine offices along Wall Street. Along with his new business strategy, Belfort develops a huge appetite for alcohol and drugs. Donnie Azoff (Jonah Hill) is the right-hand man who aids and abets Belfort.

Based on the memoirs of the real Jordan Belfort, the script called for both men to drink a lot and take a huge amount of drugs. When filming a movie, this usually means drinking iced tea and eating sugar pills. But for the cocaine snorting, which they did a lot, DiCaprio and Hill had to snort crushed vitamin D.[10]

Although Vitamin D is good for you, snorting it is not the usual method of delivery. Both actors found that the continual snorting affected their lungs. In fact, Jonah Hill became so ill that he was eventually hospitalized for severe bronchitis.

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About The Author: Ward Hazell is a freelance writer and travel writer. Currently, he is also studying for a PhD in English Literature.

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