Rob Halliday

13th Sep 2022

Zulu (1964)

Trivia: The film omits George Smith. An assistant army chaplain, at Rourke's Drift he brought ammunition to the defending soldiers at great personal risk throughout the defence. Had he been a member of the armed forces he would have received a Victoria Cross. Technically, he was not a member of the armed forces and therefore could not receive a medal. Instead, in recognition of his service he was promoted to a full military chaplain. After Rourke's Drift he was always called "Ammunition Smith."

Rob Halliday

Trivia: New York Transit Authority has code words for trains going through subways, based on the departure station and time of departure. Pelham One Two Three means the train left Pelham Bay Park Station at 1:23 pm. Ever since the 1974 film was released, New York Transit authority has made a conscious decision to try very hard not to let subway trains leave Pelham Bay Park Station at 1:23 in the morning or afternoon.

Rob Halliday

Trivia: William Alland who produced The Creature From The Black Lagoon, acted in Citizen Kane as the reporter who investigates Kane's career. During the filming Alland met Mexican cinematographer Gabriel Figueroa Mateos, who told him a legend of an amphibious creature who comes out of the River Amazon to seize women. Alland wrote a story based on the legend, which would form the basis of this 1954 horror film.

Rob Halliday

21st Aug 2022

Zulu (1964)

Factual error: Lieutenants Chard (Stanley Baker) and Bromhead (Michael Caine) and nearly all the soldiers defending Rourke's Drift are clean-shaven. Between 1860 and 1916 all British army personnel, from Field Marshall to Private were not allowed to shave their upper lips. The army rigidly enforced this rule. Thus, all the soldiers defending Rourke's Drift sported moustaches. Many had beards, too.

Rob Halliday

11th Aug 2022

Play Misty For Me (1971)

Trivia: In 1957 folk-singer Ewan MacColl wrote "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face." In 1969 Roberta Flack recorded this. In 1971 Clint Eastwood was driving through Los Angeles when he happened to hear the record on his car radio. Eastwood so liked it that he included it in Play Misty For Me. Cinema audiences picked up on it, and it became the best selling US record of 1972, turning Roberta Flack into an international star. However, Ewan MacColl said he always hated Flack's version of his song.

Rob Halliday

Question: The Missouri Breaks starred Jack Nicholson (as Tom Logan, a rustler) and Marlon Brando (as Robert E Lee Clayton, a "regulator" tasked with eliminating him). Yet they never appear together. Brando is absent from over half the scenes featuring Nicholson, and vice-versa. When they do meet, there is a close up of Nicholson speaking to Brando, followed by a close up of Brando replying to Nicholson, and so on. Why do Nicholson and Brando never appear on screen together?

Rob Halliday

Answer: At this point, Brando used cue cards for his dialogue and liked to improvise lines. Nicholson found this difficult and distracting because Brando continually shifted his gaze to the cue card behind the cameraman and went off script. Although Nicholson said Brando was exceedingly cooperative and "gentle as a lamb" on the set, the two actors took an instant dislike to one another. Each actor was filmed separately while reciting their lines.

raywest Premium member

Question: This 1978 comedy take on the Hound Of The Baskervilles featured a stellar cast of British comedy icons: Peter Cook, Dudley Moore, Spike Milligan, Kenneth Williams and Terry Thomas. Yet it was not remotely funny and was a box office bomb. Biographies of cast members say the film was a low point of their careers, their acting lacks conviction, as if they know it isn't funny. So, why did they keep making this film, since, even when it was half completed, everybody knew it would be a total flop?

Rob Halliday

Answer: The actors would have no control over whether a film should continue production, particularly just because they didn't like how it was progressing. They were under contract and paid to act in a movie, regardless of the quality and would be sued if they quit. Movies are financed by studios and investors who expect a monetary return on their investment. Even if the film's quality was considered poor, producers would base their decisions on making a profit or at least recoup the costs. Halting production would be an extreme last resort.

raywest Premium member

Thank you for your informative and interesting points. I read a biography of Peter Cook which said that when the film studio executives saw the finished film they realised it just was not funny or entertaining. There was reluctance to give it a cinema release, as it was thought it would not even recoup distribution costs. It was eventually given a limited release and it bombed. I saw the film once on television, even though I am a fan of many members of the cast, I was wholly unimpressed.

Rob Halliday

17th Sep 2021

Dolittle (2020)

Other mistake: Dolittle starts with a voiceover narrative explaining how Dr Dolittle was deeply in love with a beautiful woman called Lily. On an ocean voyage Lily disappeared and was presumed dead. Dr Dolittle never got over Lily's loss. As a child I recall reading all of Hugh Lofting's Dr Dolittle books (now generally castigated for political incorrectness) and I am 100% certain that Dr Dolittle was unmarried, and never once had the slightest romantic inclinations towards any woman.

Rob Halliday

Factual error: The film was wholly filmed in Morocco, where the scenery, architecture and geography is wholly different to Israel. All the extras are also Moroccans, who look wholly different and wear different clothing to people from Israel (and would have looked equally different in the first century AD). Many extras were members of the Berber community. Berbers have a long tradition of being tattooed, so many extras showed prominent tattoos. But Jews have a traditional aversion to being tattooed, as per Leviticus 19:28.

Rob Halliday

Question: Was Robinson Crusoe On Mars scientifically plausible when it was made in 1964? Aged eight, I watched this movie on release. Even then I knew it was a movie, not a scientific documentary. Nevertheless, I understand that it was once seriously believed there were canals on the surface of Mars. (I even had a children's pictorial encyclopaedia which showed Mars criss-crossed by canals.) After crash-landing on Mars astronaut Kit Draper (Paul Mantee) discovers that the Martian canals were made by intelligent, technologically advanced beings millennia ago. Could anybody in the scientific community have believed this in 1964? Kit Draper discovers ways of creating oxygen, so he does not suffocate; he then finds water sources, vegetation he can eat and a coal like rock that burns to make fires. He witnesses extra-terrestrial aliens visiting Mars in space ships. Was this, by any stretch of the imagination, regarded as even remotely credible in 1964? Or was it pure Hollywood hokum?

Rob Halliday

Answer: This is pure Hollywood fiction, never meant to be science-based fact, and was typical of sci-fi films of that era such as: War of the Worlds, Invaders From Mars, The Martian Chronicles, and others. Many were based on early-to-mid-20th century science-fiction novels when little was scientifically known about any of the planets. Authors imagined what Mars was like purely to entertain readers. After the 1960s, as more was scientifically known about Mars, films became more realistic, although the 2012 Disney film, "John Carter," was a deliberate throwback to that earlier genre. Also, scientists never believed that there were canals on Mars. In the 1870s, Italian astronomer Giovanni Schiaparelli was mapping Mars through a telescope. He described the long, trench-like geographical features as "canali," (Italian for channels). American astronomer Percival Lowell misinterpreted this as "canals" and believed they were of intelligent origin, though other scientists debunked that. Sci-fi writers of the time (H.G. Wells, Edgar Rice Boroughs, et al) incorporated Lowell's published theories into their stories.

raywest Premium member

Question: Why do the humans in "Planet Of The Apes" all wear clothes? I am fully aware that the film was made in 1968, for a general release, permitting it to be shown in cinemas or on television, and 20th Century Fox would never have been allowed to make a movie in which humans all ran around naked. But, since the film is supposed to be set in a post-apocalyptic world, where humans have regressed back to being wild creatures, without language, lacking the skills to make or create anything, where do they get their clothes from? (And their clothes fit, too.) Did anybody ever come up with an answer to this, apart from the obvious reply that they wanted to get the film past the censor?

Rob Halliday

Answer: Unlike other primates, humans walk upright which exposes their genitals. They would instinctively cover them for protection. Humans also have very little body hair, so would cover themselves against the elements. Finally (spoiler alert) as these humans devolved from actual humans, it's likely something they did because their ancestors did it and it's been continued through the generations.

Answer: The humans have become mute, but not regressed to being "wild animals." The apes are the superior species but humans still have a high-level of intelligence, live in a complex, interactive social group, communicate non-verbally, and would have the ability to make simple tools and protective clothing. At the very least they would be equal to Neanderthals, but seem more advanced. The real answer is, of course, it's a 1968 movie when there were more stringent rules regarding nudity in films. If there was any, it likely would have been "X" rated, therefore limiting its audience and in which theaters it could have been shown in.

raywest Premium member

Factual error: The movie's title "The Inn Of The Sixth Happiness" is the name of the mission station that Gladys Aylward/Ingrid Bergman sets up. In reality this was called "The Inn Of The Eighth Happiness." Numerology is popular in China, where eight is regarded as a particularly auspicious number. Apparently the film company thought "sixth" had a better ring to it than "eighth." In the movie it is explained that there are six levels of happiness. This is not a Chinese belief and seems to have been invented for the movie.

Rob Halliday

Trivia: The Inn Of The Sixth Happiness tells the story of Gladys Aylward, an English missionary in China. The casting of Ingrid Bergman in the role was quite amazing, especially considering that Gladys Aylward was still alive at the time. Ingrid Bergman, who exuded glamour throughout the movie, was 5' 9" tall, had blonde hair and retained her native Swedish accent. Gladys Aylward was of rather plain appearance, stood a mere 4' 10" tall, had black hair and spoke with a cockney accent.

Rob Halliday

Answer: During the First World War, pigeons were used to carry messages across the battle lines. Yankee Doodle is carrying some sort of American orders or intelligence.

Brian Katcher

15th Jul 2020

Psycho II (1983)

Question: Spoiler alert: this question gives away much of the first "Psycho" movie. In the original Alfred Hitchcock "Psycho" we witness Norman Bates murdering Janet Leigh/Marion Crane and Martin Balsam/Milton Arbogast, and very narrowly missing killing Vera Miles/Lila Crane. At the end of the movie we discover that Norman Bates had murdered his mother and her lover ten years previously. We are also told that he had killed two female guests at Bates Motel. Norman Bates is therefore guilty of six murders and one attempted murder. In Psycho II we find out that, after his crimes were discovered, Norman Bates was placed in a secure psychiatric institution for the criminally insane. This does seem plausible. But with such a criminal record, would he ever be released from incarceration?

Rob Halliday

Answer: Norman was found "not guilty" by reason of insanity. Therefore, once he is deemed to be no longer a danger to himself, or to others, and is released from the mental institution, there is no crime he can be sent to jail for (i.e. he has no criminal record for the murders). I haven't done enough research to tell you if a serial killer in recent times has ever been found not guilty by reason of insanity and subsequently been released, but there are numerous accounts of people being released from mental institutions after committing murder that are then considered free.

Bishop73

Trivia: The movie tells the story of James Allen/Paul Muni, an unjustly imprisoned convict, who escapes from a brutal chain gang and ends up a frightened, hunted, homeless vagrant. This was based on the life of Robert Elliott Burns, who was unjustly convicted and placed on a chain gang, from which he escaped. Burns wrote a best-selling book about his experiences and advised on the making of the movie. After the movie's release Burns was granted parole and became a free man. "I Am A Fugitive From A Chain gang" may be unique among Hollywood movies, in that, while the movie had a sad ending, the real-life story that inspired it had a happy ending.

Rob Halliday

11th Jul 2020

Tuck Everlasting (2002)

Factual error: Two scenes show aerial views of the cast in a church: this is in fact St Bartholemew The Great in the Smithfield area of London. These show everybody walking on the floor of the church, which is made of Victorian tiles, laid down in the nineteenth century, about 300 years after the age of Queen Elizabeth I (played by Judi Dench) and William Shakespeare.

Rob Halliday

Upvote valid corrections to help move entries into the corrections section.

Suggested correction: It was filmed in St Batholomews but was set in a fictional church somewhere in London. The floor tiles are just part of the fictional setting and are not anachronistic.

8th Jul 2020

Sahara (1943)

Question: Serious spoiler alert: these questions summarise the entire film. During the Second World War Sgt Joe Gunn (Humphrey Bogart) and nine allied soldiers (plus one German and one Italian captive) are crossing the North African Desert. They discover a well, but this has nearly dried up and only provides a small trickle of water, barely enough to keep them alive. They are besieged by over 100 Germans. Since the Germans have no water at all they surrender to Joe Gunn. At this point a stray shell lands in the well. The resulting explosion brings hundreds of gallons of water bubbling up, more than enough for Joe Gunn's company and all the Germans. Two questions. 1. Could a well in the Sahara dry up until it only gave a small trickle of water? 2. Could an explosion really open a water supply like this?

Rob Halliday

Answer: Thank you for that! I always thought the idea of the shell exploding in the well and re-opening the water supply was just Hollywood hokum, but sometimes it is amusing to be proved wrong. You put a smile on my face when you informed me, and quite convincingly too, that the well really could have dried up but then opened up again.

Rob Halliday

Answer: 1. Yes it could, as water flows into the well, it could easily bring sediment and other bits of small debris and eventually block the flow of water resulting in only a trickle. 2. Again, yes. If the explosion weakens the surrounding walls holding the water back, the pressure of the water could easily rupture through the walls and result in the flooding mentioned.

Ssiscool Premium member

4th Jul 2020

The Long Ships (1964)

Factual error: At the end, Rolfe suggests to King Harald that they seek "the three crowns of the Saxon kings." But this lost treasure legend is a modern invention. In 1925 M R James wrote "A Warning To The Curious", which says that the Anglo-Saxon kings of East Anglia buried three crowns near the English coast. Somebody who finds one of these meets a mysterious, sinister death. The legend of the three crowns of the Saxon kings has since appeared in many books about English folklore. But there is no record of this story before 1925 and it is now believed that M R James invented it. Thus the story of the three crowns would not have been known to the Vikings.

Rob Halliday

Upvote valid corrections to help move entries into the corrections section.

Suggested correction: First of all, you state "it is now believed that M R James invented it." So it is not known for certain if he did or not? And if it is doubted now, what about 1964? Something doesn't become a mistake if future discoveries contradict what was known at the time. And finally, whether it was a real legend or not is irrelevant. It is a legend in the world of the movie, just like the legend of the golden bell. If anything this should be listed as trivia.

Well observed, Sir! I concede that you make very valid points. In hindsight, I should not have submitted this as a factual error. I should have worded it as a question. I should have asked if Rolfe's closing lines about "the three crowns of the Saxon kings" alluded, directly or indirectly, to the M R James ghost story "A Warning To The Curious." Maybe it does, maybe it doesn't. But I will have to agree that, if the golden bell is a real object in the cinematic world of "The Long Ships", then the legend of the three crowns of the Saxon kings can be an equally real legend in the cinematic world of this film. I am fully aware that films are not real life and that the internal logic of a film need not follow the logic of real life.

Rob Halliday

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