Random Film Trivia: Part 1

Though this blog has become increasingly about film in recent months, it’s still pretty hard to put this together week after week. Not so much for finding the time to do my little bits of research and the writing, but rather just to come up with things to talk about. I keep intending to start posting serialized original fiction, but haven’t much gotten around to creating those pieces yet.

As it’s currently Sunday night after 10pm, I’m tired of staring at a blank screen and I haven’t come up with anything better yet, I’m going to post a few random pieces of film trivia this week – mostly because I saw a really funny one a couple of days ago that got me going on this.

“I love writing, but hate starting. The page is awfully white and it says, ‘You may have fooled some of the people some of the time but those days are over, Giftless. I’m not your agent and I’m not your mommy: I’m a white piece of paper. You wanna dance with me?’ and I really, really don’t. I’ll go peaceable-like.” ― Aaron Sorkin

I can’t necessarily verify that all of this is 100% true, but they’re all good stories. Some of these I wrote out myself from what I remembered, some I copied and pasted from other sites. I’ve credited those.

Die Hard
Apparently the film Die Hard is based on a Roderick Thorp novel called “Nothing Lasts Forever”. Because Fox had adapted Thorp’s novel “The Detective” in 1968 starring Frank Sinatra, the studio was contractually obligated to offer Sinatra the starring role. Thankfully, Sinatra passed, making way for Bruce Willis to assume the role of John McClaine.
Bonus: It was even harder for the then relatively unknown Willis. He was the SIXTH choice after Sinatra bowed out, after Arnold Schwartzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, Burt Reynolds, Richard Gere, Harrison Ford and Mel Gibson (oneroomwithaview.com).

The African Queen
Katherine Hepburn only drank water throughout The African Queen production as a protest against John Huston and Humphrey Bogart’s alcoholism. However, most of the cast and crew became sick from the water and only Bogart and Huston were unaffected because they only drank whiskey (The Huffington Post).

Raiders of the Lost Ark
The famous scene where the guy spends like 10 minutes showing off with the sword before Indy shoots him? Wasn’t scripted that way – apparently Indy and the guy were supposed to have an epic sword battle. But Harrison Ford had a penchant for sampling the local food on location (RotLA filmed in Tunisia), and was suffering from food poisoning the day of the shoot. So they made the switch, creating an iconic (and ironic) scene.
Bonus: Stephen Spielberg apparently brought cases of Spaghetti-Os with him to Tunisia to avoid this very problem, and restricted himself to the canned food for the shoot.

The Social Network
The iconic opening scene of the film with Mark and Erika arguing/dating for over five minutes took 99 takes before the notoriously perfectionist David Fincher was happy with it. He didn’t even print any of the first 30 takes. Writer Aaron Sorkin begged Fincher to do one more just to get to an even 100, but Fincher declined.

Allegedly, James Cameron kept a nail gun with him on the set of Avatar and would nail cell phones that rang on set during a take to the wall (slightlywarped.com).
Editor’s note: One day, I’ll own a movie theater, and this will be house policy.

The Big Chill
Surprising that the-now classic film wouldn’t have been made if not for Lawrence Kasdan’s passion for his script. Kasdan wrote The Empire Strikes Back and Raiders of the Lost Ark, and his reward was just enough funding to create his passion project.

The Big Lebowski
The word “dude” in The Big Lebowski is used approximately 161 times in the movie: 160 times spoken and once in text (in the credits for “Gutterballs”; the second dream sequence). The F-word (or a variation) is used 292 times. The Dude says “man” 147 times in the movie – that’s nearly 1.5 times a minute (thumbpress.com).

Back to the Future
A few fun pieces here. Most of you know that Eric Stoltz spent five weeks filming in the role of Marty before the producers agreed that it wasn’t working (you can still see pieces of him in the terrorist chase scene if you look carefully enough). But did you know that the iconic DeLorean was originally supposed to be a refrigerator? The script was changed when concern was raised about whether kids would climb into fridges and get stuck. Also – Disney passed on the film, because they didn’t like Marty’s “incestuous” relationship with his mother.

Spielberg and Hitchcock
After Jaws, Spielberg tried to hang around the movie set for Alfred Hitchcock’s 1976 film Family Plot in the hope of meeting his idol. Things didn’t work out however. Hitchcock had Spielberg forcibly removed from the set and refused to meet him. When actor Bruce Dern asked why, Hitchcock replied that he wasn’t fit to touch Spielberg’s hand after Jaws, and that he [Hitchcock] was a whore for having taken $1 million for narrating the Universal Studios Jaws amusement park ride (oneroomwithaview.com).

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Ever see the secret sex scene hidden in the PG film? Don’t worry – most didn’t either. The credits were based on Harry’s “Marauder’s Map”, and showed various footsteps running through the castle while the names rolled. Just before the 2:20 mark in the film, two pairs of feet are seen in the corner, one set wide and facing towards the upper right corner of the screen, one pair facing towards the lower left, and clearly between the other.

The Breakfast Club
“The Breakfast Club” was supposed to have had sequels every ten years where the club reunites, but those plans fell through because Judd Nelson and John Hughes hated each other (slightlywarped.com).

Captain America 3
Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man will likely be playing the villain in the film. Oh – that one hasn’t come out yet, has it?

I’ll be back periodically with more of these – when I run out of better ideas. SEO note: When I moved to the fully justified formatting, which I use on all my posts, my SEO indicator went from “Good” to “Ok”. I loathe SEO, I really, really do. So: film film film film film. Jeez.