Before Hollywood, New Jersey was the centre of film in the U.S. Thomas Edison owned a majority of the patents on motion picture cameras and, through these patents, controlled who could make films. Independent filmmakers found the restrictions stifled innovation so they fled to Hollywood in the early 1900s. The physical distance from the Edison Trust in NJ enabled them to work without tight control and patent enforcement. Movies — motion pictures — have offered an affordable source of entertainment ever since. Following are a dozen bits of trivia about familiar movies:
- To accommodate new scenery in Gone with the Wind (1939), the filmmakers had to get rid of old sets on the MGM lot. Burning them and filming the scene of “Atlanta” going down in flames accomplished both.
- Psycho (1960) was the first movie to show a toilet flushing, a shot banned by the Motion Picture Production Code at the time. Alfred Hitchcock added extra shock to his already shocking film; he presented a scrap of paper — which proves an important clue — failing to flush in a toilet.
- William Goldman’s script for Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969) was originally titled The Sundance Kid and Butch Cassidy. It flipped when Paul Newman, a huge star at the time of production, took the role of Butch.
- The original script of Jaws (1975) did not include the famous line “You’re gonna need a bigger boat.” It was an inside joke to tease the stingy producers for picking a boat too small to hold the equipment.
- Gene Hackman bought the rights to The Silence of the Lambs (1991), intending to direct the film and play the lead. He backed off the project after deciding the role was too dark for his taste. Anthony Hopkins turned serial killer Hannibal Lecter into an unforgettable character, ending the film with another memorable line in film history: “I’m having an old friend for dinner.”
- The big scene in Pulp Fiction (1994) — Vincent stabs Mia in the heart with a needle — was shot in reverse. In fact John Travolta pulls the needle out of Uma Thurman.
- In Titanic (1997), Kate Winslet found out she had to be naked in front of Leonardo DiCaprio so chose to break the ice; when they first met, she flashed him.
- The real Frank Abagnale Jr. appears in Catch Me If You Can (2002) as the French policeman who arrests Leo.
- In 2002 Steven Spielberg completed a Bachelor of Arts degree at the film school of California State University — after a 33-year hiatus from his academic studies.
- Marfa TX was the location for filming two pseudo-westerns at the same time. There Will Be Blood (2007) created a huge smoke cloud that got into a shot in No Country For Old Men (2007); Joel and Ethan Coen had to wait for it to dissipate before they could resume shooting.
- Sandra Bullock attended two ceremonies on the same weekend for The Blind Side (2010). She collected an Oscar for Best Actress and a Golden Raspberry (Razzie) Award for worst film.
- The budget of Dallas Buyers Club (2013) allocated $250 only to makeup. The film’s artists, however, worked with the measly amount, and Makeup and Hairstyling went on to win an Oscar.
Please add your favourite facts about movies in the comments below. •