Charles Austin Miller

8th Jul 2019

Jaws (1975)

New this month Trivia: Perhaps the most often-repeated "Jaws" trivia is that actor Roy Scheider spontaneously ad-libbed the film's most iconic line, "You're gonna need a bigger boat!" Screenwriter Carl Gottleib apparently started this rumor after "Jaws" became a worldwide sensation in 1975, probably because the only thing that generated more publicity than the film itself was backstory of the film's production; and Gottleib's rumor has charmed fans and persisted to this day. However, when reporter Paul Iorio interviewed Roy Scheider in 2000 (for a story in the San Francisco Chronicle on the occasion of the "Jaws" 25th anniversary), he specifically asked Scheider about the line "You're gonna need a bigger boat." Scheider answered: "That was in the script. The first time he [Chief Brody] sees the shark. But I liked the line so much, it amused me so much, that I said, 'I bet I could work this in a few other places.' So I worked it in two more times." Indeed, Chief Brody does refer to needing a bigger boat twice more, and those subsequent lines are ad-libbed; but the very first and most memorable time he says the line, it was purely scripted. Paul Iorio's question and Roy Scheider's answer were edited out of the published San Francisco Chronicle story.

Charles Austin Miller

New this month Trivia: While James Cagney was a fine and spirited dancer in his own right, known for spontaneously "ad-libbing" dance steps on stage, Cagney insisted that Warner Brothers hire choreographer Johnny Boyle for "Yankee Doodle Dandy" to teach Cagney the precise dancing style of George M. Cohan. Boyle was an expert imitator of famous dancers and their routines, and he had worked with and choreographed Cohan on stage many years earlier. Under Boyle's instruction, James Cagney delivered a near-perfect impression of George M. Cohan's eccentric, stiff-legged, marionette-like dancing style in this movie. Unfortunately, during rehearsals for the film, Johnny Boyle broke his ankle, and the injury effectively ended his dancing career.

Charles Austin Miller

8th Jul 2019

Brainstorm (1983)

New this month Factual error: When the Brainstorm project is taken over by the sinister military operative Landan Marks, he begins weaponizing the brain-interface technology and testing it on the human guinea pig Gordon Forbes. As Gordon is subjected to increasingly difficult fighter-jet simulations, Landan Marks gleefully exclaims to military observers, "Now watch this! He can take a full 10-G rollout without losing control, just by thinking about it!" In the flight-simulator cockpit, Gordon grimaces, but the Brainstorm device allows him to remain conscious and maintain control despite his physical distress. But the fact is that no flight simulator in the 1980s or even today would be able to simulate extreme G-forces as described in this film. In fact, flight simulators then and now can't approximate even low G-forces. Only a giant centrifuge can produce such forces; but Gordon is not in a centrifuge for this scene. It's simply a flight simulator.

Charles Austin Miller

New this month Trivia: In this incredibly stupid NBC television sitcom that lasted only one season (from Sept. 1965 to April 1966), Jerry Van Dyke's late mother is reincarnated as a hideous vintage ragtop jalopy called a "1928 Porter"; but, in fact, no such vehicle was ever produced in automotive history. The 1928 Porter was a fantasy car assembled strictly for this short-lived TV show, using bits and pieces of a Model-T Ford, a Maxwell, a Hudson, and a Chevrolet.

Charles Austin Miller

8th Jul 2019

Gorgo (1961)

New this month Revealing mistake: The sea creature Gorgo is paraded through the streets of London on a flatbed tractor trailer, and an off-screen American newsman announces the monster's arrival at Battersea Park, where it will be exhibited at Dorkin's Circus. The announcer introduces the creature's owners as they step from their motorcade, saying, "And our own Mr. Dorkin, of Dorkin's Circus, in the checkered suit." Problem is, Mr. Dorkin is wearing a plain gray flannel suit. Closeup shots of Mr. Dorkin over the next 40 seconds reveal that the suit is not checkered, not plaid, not striped, not patterned in any way at all. It's simply a plain gray suit. Apparently, the announcer's pre-recorded lines were never modified after changes were made in costuming. (00:34:05 - 00:35:00)

Charles Austin Miller
Upvote valid corrections to help move entries into the corrections section.

New this week Suggested correction: You must have been watching a poor-quality copy of the movie. In the HD version available on Amazon, the checkered pattern is visible, although it is subtle. Frankly, it probably would not be visible on a television broadcast of the time.

I watched it in HD purchased from Amazon Prime on a large high-definition screen. No checkered suit.

Charles Austin Miller

You may need to adjust your settings. It is especially visible in the interview scene. The suit definitely has a checkered pattern of various shades of gray. Again, it is subtle, but definitely visible.

You may need to check your imagination.

Charles Austin Miller
Video

New this month Trivia: The original ending for this film (fully produced but then deleted) was a jaw-dropping apocalypse. For starters, Audrey II actually kills and eats both Seymour Krelborn and his bride-to-be, Audrey. The giant carnivorous plant grows to gargantuan proportions and divides into multiple monsters that go on a Godzilla-style rampage across New York City, tearing down bridges, eating whole passenger trains, climbing the Statue of Liberty, and doing battle with the military. The original ending alone cost over $5 million out of the film's $25 million budget, so it was a major undertaking. When director Frank Oz test-screened the finished film, he was stunned that audiences hated the deaths of lovable Seymour and Audrey and everything thereafter. Oz hastily reassembled his cast and crew to re-shoot a cheaper, much less gruesome happy ending, which was a hit with audiences. However, Frank Oz said that he thought the original ending was far superior and some of his best work, and he was extremely dissatisfied with the revised happy ending.

Charles Austin Miller

26th Jun 2019

Brainstorm (1983)

New this month Continuity mistake: From the very start, this movie's psychedelic visual effects (representing a test pattern grid) are rotating counter-clockwise in the background throughout the title sequence. This transitions to the opening scene in the lab, where the researchers are still trying to calibrate the test pattern grid. Christopher Walken, who is actually viewing the effects, complains that the grid is scrambled, out-of-phase and rotating. Louise Fletcher makes some technical adjustments and says, "What do you see, angel?" Walken answers, "Clockwise rotation." The shot instantly cuts to the visual-effects view again, to show us what Walken is seeing, and all of the grid effects are still rotating counter-clockwise. (00:00:50 - 00:03:00)

Charles Austin Miller

26th Jun 2019

Brainstorm (1983)

New this month Trivia: Natalie Wood's death did not significantly change the plot or threaten production of this film. At the time of her death, Wood had already completed all of her principal photography, including the ending. According to producer/director Douglas Trumbull, the truth of the matter was that Metro Goldwyn Mayer was in financial trouble and saw Wood's death as an opportunity to bail itself out of debt; so, MGM halted production of "Brainstorm" and tried to write-off the film as a loss in order to collect a sizable insurance claim from Lloyd's of London. When Lloyd's investigated the claim and deposed Douglas Trumbull, he told Lloyd's that the movie was not at all damaged or threatened by Wood's death, and that it could easily be completed. Although MGM refused to pay for the film's completion, Lloyd's of London itself gave Trumbull $5.8 million to finish production.

Charles Austin Miller

21st Jun 2019

Men in Black (1997)

New this month Other mistake: At the very beginning, when K disintegrates the alien Mikey, an MIB cover-up team arrives on the scene and approaches K at a distance of about ten meters (roughly 30 feet) ; whereupon K instructs them: "Give me a splay burn around the perimeter with holes at forty, sixty and eighty meters from right here! Thank you!" The team members disperse a scant few steps and use their flamethrowers and extinguishers on the cacti and undergrowth in the immediate area for five seconds. However, the distances K describes (forty, sixty, and eighty meters) would require the team laboriously dispersing hundreds of feet into the desert. But five seconds later, they're still only about 30 feet away from K when he says, "That's good! Thank you!" (00:07:55)

Charles Austin Miller

16th Jun 2019

Aquaman (2018)

New this month Continuity mistake: Near the end, during the final combat scene between Aquaman and King Orm, the gigantic whirling propeller blades in the background noticeably change rotation rate: At the start of the battle, the blades are turning rather lazily; but at the height of the battle, the blades are spinning rapidly, a virtual blur in close-up shots, drawing a steady stream of sparks from Orm's helmet when it touches the propeller. When Aquaman defeats Orm moments later (and their mother, Queen Atlanna, appears), the huge blades are spinning slowly again. I'm not talking about during dramatic slo-mo action effects, but during the normal-speed action. (02:04:50 - 02:07:10)

Charles Austin Miller

16th Jun 2019

Aquaman (2018)

New this month Trivia: When Atlantean King Orm tries to coerce the Fishermen Kingdom to join the war in this film, Orm calls the Fishermen leader by the name "King Ricou"; this was a tip-of-the-hat to Ricou Browning, the stunt swimmer who played the Gill-Man in underwater scenes for the 1950s "Creature from the Black Lagoon" trilogy.

Charles Austin Miller

8th Jun 2019

Iron Man (2008)

Factual error: A tank's main gun could not blast Iron Man out of the sky, as depicted in this film, and the "lucky shot" theory holds no water. In military history, there are only a couple of instances of tanks using their main guns to shoot down aircraft by chance, and those involved tanks repeatedly firing their main guns on known flight paths until an aircraft literally ran into a tank round. However, in this movie, Iron Man comes out of nowhere on no known flight path, he's not recognizable as an aircraft, he's traveling at hundreds of miles per hour, and he's only airborne for about 4 seconds before he's hit with a tank round. The tank gunner could not possibly identify Iron Man as a new target, elevate the main gun, track him and fire in 4 seconds. Modern tanks do not have the ability to acquire and track fast-moving targets with the main gun, nevermind fast-moving aerial targets.

Charles Austin Miller
Upvote valid corrections to help move entries into the corrections section.

Suggested correction: All that might be true in the real world but in this movie we know that the forces of the Ten Rings have been supplied with advanced weapons from Stark Industries. A retrofitted tank weapon that can engage a superhero in a flying suit is no more fanciful than a hand held paralyzing noise device or an arc reactor.

Yes, it's a fantasy film. You could even fairly say that all films are fantasy and therefore cannot be in error. That does not negate a factual error.

Charles Austin Miller

Tony Stark is an extremely intelligent inventor that makes advanced weapons for the military. A targeting system for made for tanks lies entirely within the realm of possibility presented within the world of this franchise.

Phaneron Premium member

And, yet, it is established in this first movie that the Ten Rings terrorists only possess as much Stark technology as Obediah Stane allows them (which isn't much). Obviously, the tank is not very advanced technology, as Tony merely sidesteps the second tank round and he utterly destroys the tank with a wrist-rocket. There is no indication in the film that the Tank is advanced Stark technology.

Charles Austin Miller

No one is saying that the tank itself is Stark technology, only that it's weapon can be retrofitted with a targeting system. It wouldn't be much different than retrofitting an older model car with a GPS system. The reason Iron Man is able to sidestep the second shot is because he's expecting it, and even then, he barely dodges it.

Phaneron Premium member

No way the single-shot main gun of ANY style tank would be "retrofitted" to track and fire on high-speed aerial targets. Any refit would require rebuilding and automating the tank and turret and replacing the main gun (which fires only single rounds) with an automatic repeating cannon, essentially turning it into an advanced mobile anti-aircraft platform. The tank in the movie is recognizable as a standard, slow, single-shot British Chieftain MK10, so it's not Stark industries.

Charles Austin Miller

Well you definitely know a hell of a lot more about tanks than I do, so I concede my previous points.

Phaneron Premium member

It takes a man to admit he's wrong. I doff my cap to your courage.

Charles Austin Miller

5th Jun 2019

Good Omens (2019)

Season 1 generally

Trivia: As we see throughout the series, the demon Crowley's prized motorcar is a 1934 Bentley that he has owned and driven since it was new. The choice of this vehicle for the show was a deliberate departure from the original novel, in which Crowley drove a 1929 Bentley. As it turns out, neither Terry Pratchett nor Neil Gaiman knew anything about vintage cars when they co-authored "Good Omens"; in ignorance of the car's actual appearance, they arbitrarily chose a 1929 Bentley for the book. During production of this TV series, however, when Neil Gaiman at last saw a 1929 Bentley, he realised that it was not at all the motorcar he and Pratchett had envisioned. Upon reviewing photos of many vintage Bentleys, Gaiman finally chose the 1934 model (as it more closely matched the "intended look" of Crowley's car) for the TV series.

Charles Austin Miller

24th May 2019

Poltergeist (1982)

Trivia: Steven Spielberg originally conceived this movie as a science-fiction thriller, a sequel of sorts to "Close Encounters of the Third Kind," with much-more-sinister aliens terrorizing a family's rural home (that was the premise of "Night Skies," the Spielberg concept that was never produced but was eventually cannibalized by other projects including "E.T. The Extraterrestrial" and this film). When Spielberg brought in Tobe Hooper to direct what later became "Poltergeist," Hooper convinced Spielberg to drop the science-fiction trappings altogether and make it a straight-up supernatural horror story.

Charles Austin Miller

24th May 2019

The Return (1980)

Revealing mistake: In this very-low-budget but star-studded flick about UFO contactees and cattle mutilations, Jan Michael Vincent's semi-auto handgun runs out of ammo during a firefight after firing only 3 rounds (the slide locks open, indicating the magazine is empty). Without reloading or racking the slide, Vincent continues firing 5 more rounds; but we see again, in close-up, that the slide is locked open, indicating an empty magazine. (01:00:55)

Charles Austin Miller

22nd May 2019

Djinn (2013)

Continuity mistake: By the end of the film, we realise that the Djinn (in this case an invisible and shape-shifting earthly entity of Islamic lore) has staged most of the film's events as a mass illusion. Meaning, the Djinn is a deceiver and can lead humans into dangerous and even deadly situations, but the Djinn cannot perform physical miracles (or else the whole movie would end almost as soon as it started). At the story's climax, the lead characters, Khalid and Salama, end up in the 62nd-floor penthouse of a luxury high-rise, where Khalid drops Salama to her death from the penthouse balcony, just as the vengeful Djinn intended. However, only minutes earlier, we see that the high-rise building is actually still under construction, and it's stated that the building is months away from completion (its main entrance and plate glass have not even been installed). The Djinn only created the illusion that the building was completed to deceive the lead characters. In reality, without electricity and functioning elevators and hundreds of feet of completed stairwells, there was no physical way for Khalid and Salama to reach the 62nd-floor penthouse suite of the high-rise for the climax scene, even if they were being deceived by illusion.

Charles Austin Miller

Trivia: This low-budget suspense/adventure was produced during the early Cold War and the flying saucer craze of the late 1940s and early 1950s, and it's often hailed as the first UFO-themed feature film. But, except for a crude saucer prop and a couple of cheesy, split-second visual effects, this movie is primarily a Cold War espionage story with Russian spies attempting to steal American weapons technology. The filmmakers' original intent was to include actual government-authorized flying saucer footage; accordingly, the film's prologue reads "We gratefully acknowledge the cooperation of those in authority who made the release of 'The Flying Saucer' film possible at this time." However, the filmmakers apparently never obtained any flying saucer footage (government-authorized or otherwise), and no such footage appears in the movie.

Charles Austin Miller

14th May 2019

Death Wish (2018)

Factual error: When Dr. Paul Kersey pays a visit to Joe Gannon, the garage mechanic, Kersey slices open Gannon's leg with a scalpel, then pours automotive brake fluid into the wound. The brake fluid sizzles and foams on contact with the blood, which is chemically impossible. Brake fluid is simply hydraulic fluid formulated for extreme temperatures. The diethylene glycol in brake fluid may be toxic and may sting slightly in open wounds, but it does not violently react with blood and sizzle like acid as depicted in this film. (01:14:45)

Charles Austin Miller

Trivia: In this and other Avenger films, Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) is depicted as standing much shorter than Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr). In reality, Ruffalo is only one inch shorter than Downey (who is 5'9" tall); but Bruce Banner is always portrayed as a diminutive character in contrast to his gigantic Hulk persona.

Charles Austin Miller

3rd May 2019

Donovan's Echo (2011)

Revealing mistake: When Donovan witnesses a fatal traffic accident on a rainy night, he suffers a mild heart attack and collapses in the street. Although he's lying on his back, unprotected from the downpour, surrounded by rain striking the pavement in both foreground and background, closeups show that no rain strikes his face, his felt hat, or his clothing. (00:12:20 - 00:12:50)

Charles Austin Miller

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