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Weekly Trivia

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The Wild Bunch (1969)  -  #1

During a screening in New York, Sam Peckinpah invited Jay Cocks, of Time magazine, who brought his friend Martin Scorsese. They sat in an empty Warner Bros. screening room with only two other critics, Judith Crist and Rex Reed. That final scene knocked them out of their seats. Recalled Scorsese, "We were mesmerized by it; it was obviously a masterpiece. It was real filmmaking, using film in such a way that no other form could do it; it couldn't be done any other way. To see that in an American filmmaker was so exciting." Cocks remembered that he and Scorsese "literally turned to each other at the end and were stunned. We were looking at each other, shaking our heads, like we had just come out of a shared fever dream."


The Wild Bunch (1969)  -  #2

This film has been credited with playing a significant role in the use of violence in modern cinema, establishing the limits of post-Production Code Hollywood, shaping the Motion Picture Association of America's rating system, and redefining the Western genre. Most effectively, it demystified the western and the genre's heroic and cavalier characters. Director Sam Peckinpah and Walon Green, who co-authored the script with Peckinpah, felt that this project required a realistic look at the characters of the Old West, whose actions on screen had rarely matched the violent and dastardly reality of the men on which they were based. Green summarized the authors' feelings when he said "I always liked Westerns, but I always felt they were too heroic and too glamorous. I'd read enough to know that Billy the Kid shot people in the back of the head while they were drinking coffee." Both Green and Peckinpah felt it was important to not only show that the film's protagonists were violent men, but that they achieved their violence in unheroic and horrific ways, such as using people as human shields and killing unarmed bystanders during robberies.


The Wild Bunch (1969)  -  #3

In an interview, Ben Johnson said that the Mexican women who "frolicked" with him and Warren Oates in the huge wine vats weren't actresses but prostitutes from a nearby brothel, who were hired by Sam Peckinpah so he could tell people that Warner Bros. paid for hookers for his cast.


Guys and Dolls (1955)  -  #1

After filming repeated takes of the scene where Sky (Marlon Brando) and Nathan (Frank Sinatra) first meet, they had to quit for the day when Sinatra had eaten too much cheesecake. He said he could not take one more bite. Brando, knowing how much Sinatra hated cheesecake, had purposely flubbed each take so that Sinatra would have to eat piece after piece of cheesecake. The next day, they came back and shot the scene perfectly on the first take.


Guys and Dolls (1955)  -  #2

Marlon Brando had been cast in the role of Sky Masterson, a role coveted by Frank Sinatra, while Sinatra was relegated to the supporting role of Nathan Detroit. Relations between the two actors were strained during production. Many years later, Brando said of Sinatra, "Frank's the kind of guy who, when he gets to Heaven, is going to give God a hard time for making him bald."


Guys and Dolls (1955)  -  #3

Although he worked very hard at the musical aspects, constantly working with voice coaches and choreographer Michael Kidd, Marlon Brando thought his voice sounded like "the mating call of a yak." He had to spend many hours in the sound studio recording his numbers over and over again. In the end, his songs were patched together from countless retakes for playback during shooting. Years later, he wrote in his autobiography, "They sewed my words together on one song so tightly that when I mouthed it in front of the camera, I nearly asphyxiated myself because I couldn't breathe while trying to synchronize my lips."


Bad Day at Black Rock (1955)

The projectionist's records have revealed that over the years this has become one of the most frequently shown films in the screening room of The White House.


Anzio (1968)

Post war, General Lucas, who commanded American forces as Anzio visited war hero Audie Murphy on a movie set. Murphy, who had served at Anzio returned his salute, but refused to shake his hand as he held him responsible for the deaths of many men during the battle.


The Alamo (1960)

John Wayne originally intended that Richard Widmark should play Davy Crockett, while Wayne himself would have taken the small role of Sam Houston so he could focus his energy on directing the picture. However, Wayne was only able to get financial backing if he played one of the main parts, so he decided to play Crockett and cast Widmark as Jim Bowie.


Judgment at Nuremberg (1961)

Watching Maximilian Schell shoot a scene one day, Spencer Tracy said to Richard Widmark, "We've got to watch out for that young man. He's very good. He's going to walk away with the Oscar® for this picture." This is exactly what happened.  He was in fact he lowest-billed lead category winner in history. He is billed fifth, after Spencer Tracy, Burt Lancaster, Richard Widmark, and Marlene Dietrich.


My Six Loves (1963)

Debbie Reynolds was filming this simultaneously with How the West Was Won. Actor Barry Livingston's brother was working on that film. Barry remembers fondly that Debbie was playing his foster mom during the week, and his brother's grandmother on the weekends.


My Geisha (1962)

In an interview Shirley MacLaine stated that she was granted permission to live with real Geishas for two weeks, learning the intricacies of the delicate tea ceremony, the Japanese dance and how to play the stringed instrument. She also said that the makeup process caused a lot of problems. Her eyes were slanted by attaching gauze to the corners of her eyes with liquid adhesive. Strings were then fastened to the gauze and pulled around her head. She said that by the end of the picture her temples were raw and they had to shoot the picture carefully so that the damage did not show. She also had problems with the contact lenses, especially during the scene on the hillside when the smoke that was used to simulate mist got under the lenses.


The Angry Red Planet (1959)

The much-touted Cinemagic process which was used for the scenes set on Mars was actually the result of a film-developing mistake. The budget was slashed mid-production so the producers considered turning the film into black and white to keep costs down. However, one reel became accidentally double-exposed which produced a shimmering, vaguely psychedelic glare that director Ib Melchior latched onto, thinking it would suit his purposes for the Mars scenes. (It also helped to camouflage the cheap Martian monsters and scenery.)


The Sandbaggers (1978 – 80)

Creator Ian Mackintosh was developing the next season of Sandbaggers at the time of his disappearance. According to actor Ray Lonnen, MacKintosh was considering having the character Willie Caine promoted to D-Ops, while Neil Burnside (played by Roy Marsden) would move up to "C" (head of S.I.S.). However, after MacKintosh's (apparent) death, the producers decided to end the series because they felt no one could write Sandbaggers as well as MacKintosh.


Boeing, Boeing (1965)

At the time of its release, chief interest in Boeing, Boeing (1965) centered around the fact that Jerry Lewis and Tony Curtis essentially swapped screen personas for the occasion, each taking on the role more ideally suited for the other. Curtis, whose trademark was playing cool, reserved and unflappable characters, tackled the slapstick and pratfalls of Bernard while the ordinarily outsized Lewis embraced the meek, restrained introversion of Robert, underplaying for the only time in his career except for his role as Jerry Langford in Martin Scorsese's "King of Comedy" of 1982.


Sea Hunt (1958 – 61)

Lloyd Bridges (I) decided to leave the show after four seasons because the producers wanted to emphasize cops-and-robbers plots, while he wanted to focus more on environmental themes.