Rob Halliday

25th Oct 2019

Cromwell (1970)

Factual error: The Battle Of Edgehill (on 23 October 1642) was the first full-scale, pitched battle of the Civil War. Although not named as such, this is shown as a total rout for the Parliamentarians/Roundheads, no match for the dashing Royalists/Cavaliers. Cromwell tries to rally his men, but, realising the situation is hopeless, he, too, leaves the field. In historical fact, the Royalist army, advancing on London, met the Parliamentary army at Edgehill. The battle was an inconclusive draw. Both armies suffered equal casualties. Neither side gained or was driven from the field. After Edgehill the Parliamentary army retreated to London. That may have appeared defeatist, but was actually a wise thing to do. The Royalists could have occupied an undefended London, but lacked supplies and material to besiege London if it was defended. Thus, the Royalist army advanced to the outskirts of London but had to withdraw after a few days, after which the Parliamentarians held London for the rest of the war. Cromwell did not fight at Edgehill. On 23 October he was leading a troop to join the main Parliamentary army and did not link up until several days later.

Rob Halliday

24th Oct 2019

Dad's Army (1968)

The Royal Train - S6-E3

Question: A set of complicated events mean that Captain Mainwaring and some other members of the platoon have to drive a railway engine. After they leave the railway station it turns out that the railway engine has no brake wheel and cannot stop. The ARP warden, the mayor of Walmington, the vicar and verger take the brake wheel, jump on a handcar and chase after the engine. Catching up with the engine, they throw the brake wheel to Captain Mainwaring. The engine then reverses, so they must pedal the handcar even faster to avoid being run over. Could four men (all obviously in late middle age, and past peak fitness) pedal a handcar to outrun a railway engine at full steam? When the engine reverses, why do they pedal the handcar to stop being run over? Why don't they jump off the handcar, then pull the handcar off the track? (Also it takes the engine less than a minute to reverse. In reality, it would take several minutes to change a moving railway locomotive from forward to reverse).

Rob Halliday

Answer: The show is a comedy, this was played for comedic effect and to show that in times of extreme fear, in this case about to be crushed by a steam train, the men had an adrenaline surge strong enough to pedal fast enough.

Question: Did the 1966-67 BBC TV series "Adam Adamant Lives!" inspire Austin Powers? The first episode of AAL! starts in England in 1902. Adam Adamant, a wealthy gentleman adventurer, thwarts a plot to assassinate Edward VII at a royal ball. Adam Adamant is captured by a masked villain, The Face, who subjects him to a 'living death' putting him to sleep in a block of ice. In 1966 Adam is found, frozen in ice. Revived to consciousness, he has daring, swashbuckling adventures in 'swinging sixties' England, although, as an Edwardian gentleman, 1960's pop culture mystifies him. In the second series of AAL! we find that The Face, too, has been cryogenically frozen. The Face is revived and renews his conflict with Adam (like Dr Evil). Aged 10 and 11 I watched AAL! avidly; it remains one of my favourite TV shows. Sadly the BBC dropped AAL! after two series. The Austin Powers franchise openly pays tribute to British 1960's espionage thrillers. How much of an influence, was Adam Adamant Lives!?

Rob Halliday

Answer: While there are many overlaps, and IMDB does list Adam Adamant as a "reference" for Austin Powers, Mike Myers himself has never indicated that that series was part of his inspiration. According to Myers, he created the character as a tribute to his father; more specifically, as a tribute to the comedy/culture of the '60s, which his father had introduced him to and which had influenced his own comedy.

Factual error: The film tells the stories of five male/female couples. They have conflicting aims in their relationships. For example, one wants to become a parent while the other does not want children. Thus they all obtain supplies of contraceptive pills (in bottles) and re-label them as aspirins or vitamin tablets (or vice versa) depending on whether they want pregnancy or not. The bottles get mixed up, causing panic and anxiety for all involved. All the interlocked stories are based on a complete error. Contraceptive pills are not stored in bottles. Contraceptive pills are packaged in 'blister packs'. This basic fact makes a nonsense of the entire film.

Rob Halliday

10th Oct 2019

Random Harvest (1942)

Question: I have several questions. In Random Harvest Ronald Colman is a First World War veteran. A war accident left him with amnesia and no memory of his previous life. He meets Greer Garson, they fall in love and marry. Several years later Ronald Colman crosses the road without looking, is hit by a car and knocked unconscious. Regaining consciousness he recalls that he is Charles Rainier, a wealthy landowner and industrialist, but he now has no memory of his life when he was an amnesiac and married to Greer Garson. Is such "double amnesia" possible? Ronald Colman meets Greer Garson again and employs her as his secretary, so he sees her and converses with her daily for several years, but his amnesia is such that he never recognises her as his wife. She could tell him about his missing years and their marriage, but she must never do this because the shock would be too great for him. Does this make any sense? Surely, if any woman met her long-lost husband, who said "I have amnesia and I can't remember who I am", wouldn't she instinctively reply "You're my husband"?

Rob Halliday

Answer: Amnesia the way it is often portrayed in movies, including this one, is impossible. People who do suffer from it, usually from some traumatic event, regain their memory relatively quickly. Double amnesia as portrayed in this movie could never, ever happen. This movie is total fiction, though people did, and still do, believe amnesia happens this way.

raywest Premium member

Answer: I have seen other films and read stories about people with amnesia. In 1965 and 1966 there was a "western" television series "A Man Called Shenandoah", wholly based on this premise. In the aftermath of the American Civil War Robert Horton is discovered unconscious on the prairie. When he revives he has no memory of who he is. He roams the west, unsuccessfully trying to discover his identity. I think he had some atrocious bad luck. Just as somebody was about to tell him who he really was they would get run over by a train, or shot in the back. The television company dropped the series after 34 episodes, so we never did find out who he really was.

Rob Halliday

8th Oct 2019

Barbarella (1968)

Question: Serious spoiler alert, but this has always puzzled me. At the end of Barbarella the Black Queen unleashes "Matmos", an evil energy which destroys nearly everybody and everything in the film. Pygar (the blind angel) escapes, only rescuing two people from the cataclysm: Barbarella and the Black Queen. Barbarella asks Pygar why he saved the Black Queen after all the evil things she did (she even blinded Pygar). Pygar replies "an angel has no memory." I never got the point of that. What did Pygar mean? (In his previous conversation he recalled things that happened before he was blinded, so obviously he did have a memory.) And I could not see the point of or meaning to this ending at all. Did any of this make sense to anybody else?

Rob Halliday

Answer: You say that Barbarella was beyond lame-it was totally atrociously bad and ludicrous. It was released in autumn 1968, when I was 12, and too young to see it at the cinema. I finally got to see Barbarella when I was 18 and it was shown late one night on television. I wholly concur: I thought it was totally, atrociously bad and ludicrous, and my opinion has not changed since.

Rob Halliday

Answer: I concede your point. Perhaps I was being a bit too literal. When Pygar says he has no memory, he may not mean that all past events clear from his mind (in the way that, for example, you could delete a computer file from your laptop). Instead, he might mean he does not dwell on the past, or he does not retain bitterness or anger for past wrongs, or he does not return evil on those who were bad to him. I think the film was based on a comic that ended in pretty much the same way. All the same, I always thought the ending was rather lame. It was as if somebody told Roger Vadim (the director) "hey, this film is supposed to be 90 minutes long, but we've done 89 minutes filming, and we still haven't got an ending." So Roger Vadim got the Black Queen to unleash Matmos and destroy everything. (To be pedantic, Barbarella is 98 minutes long, but I hope you understand what I mean.) Personally I thought the ending of "Monty Python And The Holy Grail", where a police force stops the film, was a similar disappointment.

Rob Halliday

I would have to say that, overall, the movie was beyond lame-it was totally atrociously bad and ludicrous.

raywest Premium member

Answer: I don't think his comment is meant to be taken literally. To him, a person's past behavior has no relevance to that particular moment in time (in that the memory of it has been selectively voided in the angel's mind), and therefore it does not affect who he saves.

raywest Premium member

1st Oct 2019

F Troop (1965)

Scourge of the West - S1-E1

Factual error: We see how the accident-prone Wilton Parmenter was a soldier at Appotomatox during the Civil War when he sneezed. Union soldiers mistook his sneezing for a call to regroup and charge, winning the battle. Wilton Parmenter was awarded the Medal Of Honour. Accident-prone, even in his moment of glory, when the medal was pinned on Wilton's chest it pierced his skin, drawing blood. Wilton was therefore awarded the Purple Heart, becoming "the only soldier in history to get a medal for getting a medal." This was not possible, for the "Purple Heart" (or "Badge Of Military Merit", to use its proper title) awarded to US soldiers wounded in action, was only instituted in 1932. (Before somebody corrects me, George Washington did institute the award for some distinguished combatants during the War Of Independence, but it was never awarded during the nineteenth century, and revived in 1932).

Rob Halliday

Question: This follows on from the continuity mistake about Sister Ruth wearing makeup. Sister Ruth has been a nun, living under religious vows for many years. After the nuns start their mission in the Himalayas she becomes infatuated with English expatriate, Mr. Dean. Eventually she puts on a fashionable dress, assumes an attractive hairstyle, and even applies lipstick (at the time it was somewhat controversial for any woman to wear lipstick). She then tries to seduce Mr. Dean. Could a woman who has lived a life of religious self denial change into a convincingly steaming seductress?

Rob Halliday

Answer: There's no way of knowing. For the purpose of the movie's plot and to heighten the drama and underlying sensual passion, the Sister Ruth character was probably portrayed as being more sexually savvy than a lapsed nun normally would be. She may also have dated a lot as a teenager, watched many romantic movies, or read romance novels before becoming a nun. Also, not all nuns are sexually inexperienced before joining the church. Some enter when they're older, have previously been engaged, married, and so on.

raywest Premium member

Question: At the end of the film Blondie, sitting on the horse, turns around, aims his rifle, fires, and severs the rope with a single shot. Lets face it, that rope would be a very small target, and difficult to hit with precision, even from ten or twenty feet, and Blondie is now so far from Tuco that he would no longer even be able to see the rope. Could anyone hit such a small target from such a distance with such incredible accuracy?

Rob Halliday

Answer: There's a show called "Hollywood Weapons: Fact or Fiction" which dealt with this exact question (s01e03). Blondie is roughly 200 yds away. In the show the host didn't hit the rope, but only missed by an inch on his first attempt. I definitely think an expert Sharps Rifle shooter could make the shot. The issue however, is the bullet would most likely not actually slice the rope apart as seen in the film (they fired the Sharps at point blank and the rope remained partially intact still). They also tested shooting a hat off someone and (as expected) the bullet just goes right through the hat without lifting the hat at all.

Bishop73

That was another thing that puzzled me. On several occasions in this film, Tuco is suspended from a rope, and Blondie cuts the rope by firing a bullet at it, (I think Clint Eastwood repeated the trick in "The Outlaw Josey Wales"). But if you fired a bullet at a rope holding a (rather large) person like Tuco (or a similarly heavy weight), even at close range, would it really sever the rope? I will have to look out for "Hollywood Weapons Fact Or Fiction." I hope they only used a dummy or a model to re-create the shooting feats. I don't think I would have liked to have been hanging on a rope while somebody fired bullets at me to see if this would sever the rope, or to stand there while they fired bullets into my hat to see if they could lift it off my head.

Rob Halliday

Answer: Probably not, but remember...this is a movie, a western at that and they typically have over the top action to excite audiences. Kinda like how its impossible to shoot someone's hat off without harming them. It's all for show.

Dra9onBorn117

Question: It is implied that Satan and the forces of evil are always watching out for Damien so that when anybody gets anywhere near to hurting him they invariably meet a very sticky end. So how is it that, at the end of the film, Kate Reynolds is able to stab Damien to death with such apparent ease when all previous efforts to kill him have failed so dismally?

Rob Halliday

Answer: Damien states at one point that as the birth of the Nazarene gets closer, his strength fades accordingly. Presumably this also applies to any forces assisting him.

26th Aug 2018

The Omen (1976)

Question: Something that puzzles me about the thee Omen films taken together. In the first film of the series the very young Damien is taken into a church. As the son of the Devil he has a great aversion to all things Christian, so he has a huge tantrum, and screams, struggles and resists going into the building. So how is it, that, as the series progresses, he can enter Christian buildings without any ill effects? (The denouement of the third and final Omen film is set in Fountains Abbey, a venerated Christian church in Yorkshire).

Rob Halliday

Answer: It may be similar to myths around vampires. In many variations, their fear of crucifixes is purely psychological. As a child, Damian may have feared the symbolism of the church, but as he grew he realised it had no actual power over him.

Jason Hoffman

Answer: There's no clear-cut answer. The first film was intended as a stand-alone movie. When the later sequels were made, the plot details were changed or otherwise adapted to fit a new story line.

raywest Premium member

26th Aug 2018

The Stranger (1946)

Question: At the end, Orson Welles is wounded, and flees up a ladder out onto the face of the church clock. The clock contains an automata of statues that move in front of the clock face. One of the statues holds a sword which impales Orson Welles. We even have a distance shot in which the sword is seen sticking out of Orson Welles' back. Is such an end feasible? Surely, for a sword to fully pierce a human body it would have to be very sharp, and be driven with incredible force and speed. Would the statue be moving with anything remotely approaching such force and speed? And surely a statue on a clock would not carry a real sword, but a facsimile, meant to look like a weapon from a distance? And, if somebody really was pierced completely through with a sword, could they really press their body forward to fully withdraw the weapon? (01:34:45)

Rob Halliday

Answer: This is a fictional death, and it's unlikely a person could be killed in that manner. The sword might cause a severe wound, but it would take some force to completely impale a body that way. Movies often exaggerate reality to create drama.

raywest Premium member

Question: In this version the Phantom was a highly gifted composer, who, as a grown adult, was horribly disfigured in an accident. Much of the Hammer version centres on the performance of the Phantom's masterpiece, an opera about Joan Of Arc, segments of which are shown during the film. I am not an expert on opera, but it seemed to me that the Phantom's musical take on the Joan Of Arc legend was one of the dullest musical performances I have ever seen, consisting of perfectly ordinary (and uninspiring) dialogue, sung on a single (and rather monotonous) octave. (Imagine some people who can't sing very well singing the text of a second rate historical novel.) Did anybody else who saw this little known film of the classic horror story have any opinion on the Joan Of Arc opera?

Rob Halliday

Answer: This is a British low-budget version of the classic book. Due to its financial restraints, there was less concern about producing a factual or high-quality fictional opera. It is only a backdrop to the story.

raywest Premium member

Question: One of the boys, called Piggy, wears glasses. Piggy's glasses become an important, prized object, because the boys can use the lenses to refract the sun's rays, and thus start fires. It is fairly well established, that, on a hot day, in bright sunshine, one can focus the sun's rays through a magnifying glass to set light to combustible material. (I've done it myself, although it took me rather longer than the book or film suggested, and it only made a very small flame.) But could you use spectacles, that people wear to correct defective vision, to start a fire in this way? Surely, if this was possible, wouldn't it mean that when people who wear glasses went out in hot sunny weather, then they would burn their eyes?

Rob Halliday

Answer: The key factor there is the focus of the light over distance. The light coming through the glass is refracted and focused on a single point. But it's bent like a ribbon. There is a "sweet spot" so to say where you have to hold the magnifying glass or lens at just the right distance and angle from the object to focus the center point of the light on it. Typically, this means holding the glass out a good several inches or even a foot or so away from what you wish to ignite to get the focal point of the light on it. Someone wearing glasses has them pretty much right up to their face. And so the light can't reach a focal point. Also keep in mind that for focusing the light through a lens, it needs to be angled just right for the light to go through it at the optimal angle and focus. Usually this means facing the sun directly. Typically people don't look up directly at the sun, at least not for more than a second. Especially with glasses on.

Quantom X Premium member

Answer: Only convex magnifying lenses can be used to focus the sun's rays in such a way as to start a fire. A convex magnifying lens is bowed outwards on both sides. Such lenses are found in magnifying glasses, binoculars and cameras, for examples. Conventional spectacles to correct vision are convex on one side and concave (bowed inward) on the other side, and so cannot be used to start fires. If Piggy's glasses are used to start fires, then he is wearing convex magnifying lenses (which would only be useful for up-close reading purposes, and they would be utterly useless for any other vision correction) ; and, if indeed he is wearing truly convex magnifying lenses for some reason, then his retinas could certainly be damaged by even glancing at the sun.

Charles Austin Miller

Answer: Lenses for nearsightedness would not work, but they could be corrected for the purpose by filling their concave areas with clear water, which would make the whole object correctly refract sunlight.

dizzyd

That's a reported "survival" trick (placing a drop of clear water in the center of a concave lens so as to focus the sun's rays) ; but I've never had any success with it.

Charles Austin Miller

Question: When Brian is about to be crucified, soldiers arrive with news of his release. The soldiers ask for Brian, and everybody shouts "I'm Brian." Is this a parody of the "I'm Spartacus" episode in the Kirk Douglas/Stanley Kubrick film of "Spartacus"? If so, would this support my feeling that Life Of Brian is primarily a parody of classical/biblical 'epic' films?

Rob Halliday

Answer: The scene is a parody of the scene in "Spartacus" (although they are saying "I am Brian" for completely different reasons.) However, the film is meant to be a satire on religion itself and not a parody of epic films. The Pythons did a lot of research to try and accurately portray 1st century Judea, which is why it may look like a biblical epic, but I can't recall any biblical epics they parodied. At the time it was considered blasphemous, and not a parody, and banned in several areas in the UK and some countries. Although the Pythons argued it's not blasphemy but heresy.

Bishop73

Answer: Actually, no, the primary goal of "Life of Brian" was not to parody biblical films. Terry Gilliam has stated that the "important" objective of the movie was "to offend a lot of people," particularly "Jews and Christians, because they're easy to push around." Gilliam further said that, at the same time, they were "very cautious not to offend Muslims, because they're the dangerous ones." Both Gilliam and John Cleese have also said that, while the Pythons took care to avoid blasphemy (not directly mocking Jesus of Nazareth, with whom the Pythons had no quarrel), they fully intended that the film be heretical (in defiance of Catholic Church doctrine and dogma). Make no mistake, "Life of Brian" is not supposed to be a lighthearted parody of biblical films; it's supposed to be a sharp stick in the eye to the Roman Catholic Church.

Charles Austin Miller

Answer: You are indeed correct. It is a parody of the "Spartacus" scene and also of historical films.

raywest Premium member

Perhaps not so much a parody of "Spartacus" as a tribute to Stanley Kubrick. Monty Python writer Terry Gilliam was very much a fan of Kubrick films and became friends with Kubrick in the 1980s. Gilliam claimed that Kubrick had even spoken with him about making a sequel to Kubrick's "Dr. Strangelove" (with Gilliam as director). Chances are, the "Spartacus" allusion was part of Gilliam's contribution to the "Life of Brian" screenplay, a tip-o-the-hat to Stanley Kubrick.

Charles Austin Miller

6th Aug 2018

Rocky III (1982)

Question: At the start of Rocky III he is the undisputed world heavyweight champion, who has successfully defended his title 10 times. I thought the point of the first Rocky film was that he was a 'no hoper' who gets a shot at the title. At the start of the first Rocky film he is an 'over-the-hill', outsider, still strong and hard hitting, but past his peak fitness, beginning to age and lose his speed. Rocky is a fictional character, but he still has a wikipedia entry, which says that he was 30 at the time of his fight with Apollo Creed, by which time his record is 44 wins and 20 losses. What is the possibility of a boxing outsider aged over 30 having a turnaround in his career and becoming a successful world champion?

Rob Halliday

Answer: I think the point was that Apollo Creed didn't take him seriously, that he wasn't a serious competitor for him, didn't train hard enough for the fight whilst Rocky fought every chance he got. His way of fighting, not giving up, good chin and deadly punches gives him the ability to got toe to toe and later beat Apollo Creed in Rocky II where Apollo trains way better but wastes time with a smear campaign and still can't beat Rocky's spirit and chin, next to that Rocky trains way better too and has a good mental focus in time for the fight. The later fights when he is champion, as Rocky's trainer Mickey explains, are not real competitors, just show fights to keep the money coming in and keep Rocky healthy. Clubber Lang is the first real competitor after Creed, and he nearly kills him.

lionhead

6th Aug 2018

The Long Ships (1964)

Factual error: This film is about the search for a great golden bell, 'The Mother Of All Voices' that rings incredibly loudly. A bell has a free-standing metal 'clapper' inside, the bell rings when it is moved to make the clapper hit the sides. When they find 'The Mother Of All Voices' it has no clapper, so how can it ring? (The ringing was obviously dubbed in after the film was made). Bells are made of a strong, hardwearing alloy of tin and lead, which reverberates when hit to make a ringing noise. Gold is among the softest of metals. A bell made of gold would never ring, when it was struck the gold would just bend and twist. After its discovery the bell falls off a high cliff, but it is not even dented, in reality anything made of gold would be knocked completely out of shape by such a fall.

Rob Halliday

31st Jul 2018

Cat People (1942)

Factual error: Irena, the central character of Cat People, says she is of Serbian ancestry, and that her ancestors fought the Mamluks for their national freedom. Serbia was part of the Islamic Ottoman Empire between the fifteenth and nineteenth centuries. The Mamluks were a military caste who ruled Egypt between 1250 and 1517. To say the Serbs fought the Mamluks for freedom would be comparable to saying that the USA fought the Vikings for independence in 1776.

Rob Halliday

Show generally

Question: At the start of each episode of Mission Impossible Briggs or Phelps received details of the mission from a tape recording that was 'hidden in plain sight', say a telephone booth displaying a poster saying 'Telephone Out Of Order. Do Not Use'. So, what would happen if somebody went into the kiosk before Briggs or Phelps, picked up the telephone and got the secret message ahead of the Mission Impossible team?

Rob Halliday

Answer: We don't know what would happen because the show never addressed this issue. Any answer would be speculation. This is a TV show, and the plot is structured so that only IMF team will retrieve the secret message.

raywest Premium member

Answer: This is not really a serious question. When I posted this question I was fully aware that Mission Impossible is only a television programme. Like many espionage thrillers (Man From Uncle, The Avengers, James Bond) it is meant to entertain, it is never meant to be taken literally seriously. It was essential to the story that Briggs or Phelps received a secret message, which would give them a mission to accomplish. If they did not receive the message you would not have had the story. When I used to watch Mission Impossible it just used to amuse me to wonder what might have happened had somebody picked up the phone containing the secret message ahead of Briggs or Phelps. I even considered writing to a comedian and suggesting that they devise a comedy sketch in which this happened. My question was only meant to be a joke, that I posted to amuse people.

Rob Halliday

Question: Not just this, but every cinema and television adaptation of the legend of The Man In The Iron Mask that I have seen, without exception, has always left me asking the same question. A man is locked up in a lonely prison where his face is hidden by an iron mask. The Three Musketeers or some similar swashbuckling heroes rescue him. He may have worn the iron mask for weeks, months, or even years. So why is it, that, when the iron mask is removed he always emerges clean shaven?

Rob Halliday

Answer: The mask would be periodically removed by the prisoner's attendants to shave his beard and cut his hair. Leaving it on permanently and letting his beard and hair grow endlessly would create physical and medical problems, possibly even suffocating him eventually. The goal was to keep him imprisoned for a long period of time, not to execute him.

raywest Premium member

But isn't he wearing the mask so that nobody will know who he is? If the prison staff keep removing the mask to shave him and cut his hair then they will all know exactly what he looks like, and they will be able to identiry him. In many versions of the story he has to wear the mask so that nobody will recognise him as the king's twin brother. If the prison guards remove the mask won't they see how he resembles the king? Alternatively, if the prison guards already know that he is the king's twin brother, then why bother to mask his face?

Rob Halliday

Anyone who was guarding and/or attending to the prisoner would be loyal to the king, acting as his agents, and sworn to keep his secrets. Not doing so would be treason. They would likely have minimal knowledge of who this person was, nor would it matter to them. They may or may not notice any resemblance to the king. In the prisoner's disheveled and weakened conditioned, it would not be obvious that he is an identical twin. Also, few people in pre-mass media times, knew what royals looked like, probably only catching occasional glimpses of them from far away, if ever at all.

raywest Premium member

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