Hey, they’re not my strict top ten favorites ever, but how could one do that list definitively anyway??
I don’t think I’ll need to defend these unless someone’s the challenging type…
…but I will drop some facts about them:
THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY (1966)
1- In the scene where the bridge is blown up, and Tuco and Blondie are hunkered down behind sandbags waiting for the explosion, Clint Eastwood’s career came within 2 feet of ending prematurely. A fist-sized piece of rock shrapnel from the explosion slams into the sandbag right next to Eastwood’s head (watch it in slow motion to see the rock flying in).
2- Eli Wallach would have been decapitated during the train scene if he had lifted his head up. In the wide-shot, you can see the step that would have impacted his head.
3- According to Eli Wallach, when it came time to blow up the bridge, Sergio Leone asked the Spanish army captain in charge to trigger the fuse, as a sign of gratitude for the army’s collaboration. They agreed to blow up the bridge when Leone gave the signal “Vai!” (Go!) over the walkie-talkie. Unfortunately, another crew member spoke on the same channel, saying the words “vai, vai!”, meaning “it’s OK, proceed” to a second crew member. The captain heard this signal, thought it was for him and blew the bridge; unfortunately, no cameras were running at the time. Leone was so upset that he fired the crewman, who promptly fled from the set in his car. The captain was so sorry for what happened that he proposed to Leone that the army would rebuild the bridge to blow it up again, with one condition: that the fired crewman be re-hired. Leone agreed, the crewman was forgiven, the bridge was rebuilt and the scene was successfully shot.
2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY (1968)
1- According to Stanley Kubrick biographer John Baxter, Kubrick decided to use the Sinar Front Projection system for the desert backdrops during the animal/ape scenes. This method was selected because rear projection of the desert scenes would have proved too murky for Super Panavision. The use of the Sinar system explains why in the scene where the leopard is sitting next to the dead zebra (in reality a painted dead horse) the leopard’s eyes glow a bright color. The Sinar system used glass transparencies as backdrops; however, the projectors necessary for this system were so hot that a draft or a breath could crack the glass. As a result, crew members were required to wear face masks, which started a long-persistent rumor that Kubrick had a paranoia of catching infections.
2- If you consider the relative positions of Bowman when he first arrives in the suite, when he is next standing in the room, when he is in the bathroom, when he is at the table, and when he is in the bed, these points form a star.
3- The last movie made about men on the moon before Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked there in real life. 40 years later, conspiracy theorists insist that this is not a coincidence, claiming that all footage of Armstrong’s voyage was a hoax film directed by Stanley Kubrick using leftover scenes and props from this movie.
LAWRENCE OF ARABIA (1962)
1- While filming, Peter O’Toole referred to co-star Omar Sharif as “Fred,” stating that “no one in the world is called Omar Sharif. Your name must be Fred.”
2- To film Omar Sharif’s entrance through a mirage, Freddie Young used a special 482mm lens from Panavision. Panavision still has this lens, and it is known among cinematographers as the “David Lean lens”. It was created specifically for this shot and has not been used since.
3- Peter O’Toole was nearly killed during the first take of the Aqaba scene. A gun (used to signal the beginning of the scene) went off prematurely, and O’Toole’s camel panicked, throwing him to the ground, while the extras on horseback began charging. Fortunately for O’Toole, his camel stayed still and stood over O’Toole, saving him from being trampled.
CITIZEN KANE (1941)
1- On the night the movie opened in San Francisco, Welles found himself alone with William Randolph Hearst in an elevator at the city’s Fairmont Hotel. Aware that his father and Hearst were friends, Welles extended an invitation to the magnate to attend the premiere of Citizen Kane (1941). Hearst disregarded the offer and as Hearst was about to exit the elevator at his floor, Welles remarked, “Charles Foster Kane would have accepted.”
2- When asked by friends how Kane’s last words would be known when he died alone, Orson Welles reportedly stared for a long time before saying, “Don’t you ever tell anyone of this.”
3- After production wrapped, William Randolph Hearst forbade any advertisement of the film in any of his newspapers – or indeed any other RKO movies – and offered to buy the negative from studio head George Schaefer with a view to destroying it. Fortunately Orson Welles had already previewed the film to influential industry figures to rave reviews, so it was granted a limited theatrical release. Critics from non-Hearst newspapers fell over themselves praising the film. The film itself was not reviewed in any Hearst newspaper until the mid-1970s, when the film critic for the “Los Angeles Herald-Examiner” finally reviewed it.
A CLOCKWORK ORANGE (1971)
1- Alex’s prison number is 655321 (Six, double five, three, two, one), truncated from the book’s 6655321. The combination to Alex’s bedroom door is 17-34-89. When the droogs-turned-police are dragging Alex between them, their numbers are 665 and 667, implying that Alex is 666.
2- While recording narration, Malcolm McDowell would often feel the need to stretch his legs. So to satisfy McDowell and quite possibly get better narration from him, Stanley Kubrick and McDowell would play table tennis (a sport featured in Kubrick’s own Lolita (1962)), and although they played many games, Kubrick never beat a rather skilled McDowell at table tennis. McDowell was later irritated to find that his salary had been docked for the hours spent playing the game. McDowell often kept Kubrick highly amused by his ability to belch on command (as illustrated at various points of the movie). They would play chess as well, and with Kubrick being the excellent chess player he was, McDowell never managed to beat him at Chess, something that was a regular thing with many actors in Kubrick’s films. He would regularly beat George C. Scott at Chess while making Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964) , and also Jack Nicholson and Shelley Duvall on The Shining (1980).
3- The book’s writer, Anthony Burgess, lived for a time in Malaysia during WWII. After returning to London his wife was assaulted by four American GIs during the black-out, inspiring this story. Burgess claimed that “clockwork orange” was a Cockney phrase, but most philologists agree that he made it up. The Malay word for man is “orang”, as in “orangutan” (man of the jungle), and a clockwork orang would be a clockwork man. However, a UK slang expression for a gambling device is a “clockwork fruit” or “fruit machine,” due to the depictions on its dials. The anthropomorphic look of a “fruit machine” (thus, its name “one-armed bandit” in the USA for its roughly man-sized shape and “arm” giving it a humanoid appearance) may well have given rise to the term “clockwork orange” in Burgess’ fertile mind as Alex, through conditioning, is turned into a robotic clockwork man, which a fruit machine resembles. Gambling also is a game of chance, and Alex literally is gambling with his soul. Dr. Brodsky tells Alex to take his chance and be free in a fortnight, as long as a vacation in Blackpool, the most popular slot machine resort in Britain.
THERE WILL BE BLOOD (2007)
1- The instantly famous milkshake monologue Daniel has at the end of the movie comes straight from the congressional transcripts of the 1920s “Teapot Dome” scandal, in which New Mexico Republican Senator Albert Fall was convicted of accepting bribes for the oil-drilling rights to public lands in California and Wyoming from several oil-industry fat cats (including Edward Doheny). The scandal was Sinclair’s inspiration for the novel, and Edward Doheny was Anderson’s inspiration for Daniel Plainview.
2- Daniel Day-Lewis improvised the speech he gives to the citizens of Little Boston, about building schools, bringing bread to the town, etc. Paul Thomas Anderson says of this, “It was delicious. It was Plainview on a platter.”
3- In an interview on the National Public Radio program “Fresh Air with Terry Gross,” Paul Dano told Gross that he had originally been cast in the much smaller role of Paul Sunday, Eli’s brother, and another actor had been cast as Eli. However, after Dano had already started filming his one scene as Paul Sunday, Paul Thomas Anderson decided to replace the actor playing Eli. Anderson then asked Dano to play Eli Sunday (a much bigger role) as well as Paul Sunday, and they decided to change the film to make the brothers identical twins. Anderson asked Dano to play Eli on a Thursday, and filming for the role began four days later, on the next Monday. Daniel Day-Lewis, by contrast, had a whole year to prepare to play Daniel Plainview.
THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION (1994)
1- Stephen King sold the film rights for his novella for a dollar.
2- In the scene where Andy arrives in the library as Brooks’ assistant and Brooks’ crow Jake is squawking, Tim Robbins had to time his line, “Hey, Jake. Where’s Brooks?”, so that the crow wouldn’t squawk over his line, since the bird could not be trained to squawk on cue. Robbins was able to adapt to this and time his line perfectly from learning the bird’s patterns in squawking, for which Director Frank Darabont praised him. Robbins’s improvisation is noticeable, and we can see that when he walks into the room right up to the crow, he waits a short moment for it to squawk while looking at it, and then proceeds with his line after it does so.
3- In Stephen King’s original story, Red was written as a white Irishman. In the movie, they left the line, “Maybe it’s ‘cause I’m Irish”, in as a joke, even after they had cast Morgan Freeman as Red.
LE SAMOURAï (1967)
1- Melville worried how he was going to shoot the scene where Jef drives the stolen car right into the scrap garage. Without missing a beat, Delon drove the car down the narrow alley and into the garage in one shot.
2- The start of the film is completely dialog-free for almost ten minutes. The first word, “Jef?” spoken by Jane Lagrange (Nathalie Delon), comes at the 9:58 mark.
3- When director Jean-Pierre Melville brought a copy of the script to Alain Delon, Delon asked him what the title was. When he was told the title was Le Samourai, Delon had Melville follow him to his bedroom, where there was only a leather couch and a samurai blade hanging on the wall.
THE BIG LEBOWSKI (1998)
1- The Photo that the Private Eye shows the Dude of Bunny Lebowski’s farm is that from Truman Capote’s “In Cold Blood”. Oddly enough, Philip Seymour Hoffman, who plays Brandt, plays Truman Capote in 2005’s Capote (2005), and ‘Mark Pellegrino’, who plays Blond Treehorn Thug, plays Dick Hickock (one of the murders of that farm’s inhabitants) in Capote (2005).
2- Before filming a scene, Jeff Bridges would frequently ask the Coen Brothers “Did the Dude burn one on the way over?” If they said he had, he would rub his knuckles in his eyes before doing a take.
Nearly all of the visible symbols in The Dude’s second dream sequence are taken from earlier scenes: – the black and white tile is seen earlier in the Big Lebowski’s entry way when The Dude walks with Brandt and again at the end – the tool belt and workman outfit The Dude is seen wearing is identical to the one worn by Karl Hungus in Logjammin’ – Saddam is mentioned briefly by Walter in the car outside the bowling alley; in the opening credits, we see a man looking a bit similar to Saddam spraying the bowling shoes at the alley – Maude’s gold bowling ball bra cups are taken from bowling balls seen on the rack behind Walter in an earlier scene at the bowling alley – the scissors wielded by the red-clad Nihilists are seen in a painting with a red background on Maude’s wall – the red-on-black bowling ball is the same as the one in the earlier dream sequence and is also visible on the rack behind Walter and The Dude at the bowling alley. – The initial scene of The Dude’s exaggerated walking in while casting a big shadow is similar to his landlord’s shadow dance to “Pictures at an Exhibition.” – Maude Lebowski’s trident is from a statue at The Big Lebowski’s home.
TAXI DRIVER (1976)
1- The producers were looking for a “Cybill Shepherd” type to play the female lead in the film. When agent Sue Mengers heard this, she reportedly called them and asked why not hire Cybill Shepherd.
2- When Paul Schrader was first writing the script, he believed that he was just writing about “loneliness,” but as the process went on he realized he was writing about “the pathology of loneliness.” His theory being that, for some reason, some “young men” (such as Schrader himself) subconsciously push others away to maintain their isolation, even though the main source of their torment is this very isolation.
3- Travis Bickle’s famous “You talkin’ to me?” scene may have been inspired by Robert De Niro’s training under Stella Adler, who (as an exercise) had her students practice different interpretations of a similar phrase. The legendary acting teacher was surprised to see one of her former students use “You talkin’ to me?” as a psychotic mantra. Martin Scorsese was encouraging De Niro just below the camera while shooting the scene, which lead to the rest of the “dialogue” Bickle has with his mirror.