Archive for the Trivia category

June 4th, 2008

First Animated Film

Posted in Trivia by DavidE

What was the first animated film? It was probably Emile Cohl’s Fantasmagorie, which premiered on August 17, 1908.

– Source: Variety

October 12th, 2006

Highest Grossing Silent

Posted in Trivia by DavidE

What was the highest grossing silent movie? It was King Vidor’s The Big Parade (1925) with a box-office gross of $22 million.

– Source: Guinness World Records

October 5th, 2006

Disappearing Pliers

Posted in Images, Trivia by DavidE

The Lost World

Poster for The Lost World (1925)

You may have read that King King (1933) was the first movie to use stop motion animation to create its creatures. That isn’t correct. The first one was the silent feature The Lost World (1925).

“While filming one of the stop-motion scenes, the cameraman spotted a pair of pliers in the picture. So as not to draw attention to them by having them suddenly disappear, he moved them a little at a time until they were out of the shot.”

–Source: Internet Movie Database

October 5th, 2006

Blooming Animation

Posted in Trivia by DavidE

Stop-motion animation can be tedious and frustrating. For King Kong (1933), the animators constructed detailed miniatures and moved them slightly for each one or two frames of film. At 24 frames per second, that works out to 1,440 individual frames for each minute of onscreen time.

“The trees and plants in the background on the stop action animation sets were a combination of metal models and real plants. One day during filming, a flower on the miniature set bloomed without anyone noticing. The error in continuity was not noticed until the film was developed and shown. While Kong moved, a time-lapse photograph showed the flower coming into full bloom, and an entire day of animation was lost.”

– Source: Internet Movie Database

October 2nd, 2006

Accidental Director

Posted in Images, Trivia by DavidE

Touch of Evil

Production photo from Touch of Evil (1958)

Orson Welles became the director of Touch of Evil due to a misunderstanding.

“Charlton Heston agreed to appear in a Universal police melodrama, thinking that Welles had been signed to direct it, when actually he had only signed as an actor. The studio, undaunted by Welles’ pariah status in Hollywood, then asked him to direct, perhaps figuring that he couldn’t go too far out of bounds with the material he was given. He accepted with alacrity, and received no salary as writer or director. He never read the source novel, Whit Masterson’s Badge of Evil, but found the studio’s scenario ‘ridiculous,’ and demanded the right to write his own.”

– Source: Orson Welles by Joseph McBride

September 27th, 2006

Inky Rain

Posted in Trivia by DavidE

Sometimes you have to heighten cinematic reality in order to make it seem more natural. That’s what director Akira Kurosawa had to do during the production of Rashomon (1950).

“In the downpour scenes showing the Rashomon Gate, Kurosawa found that the rain in the background simply wouldn’t show up against the light gray backdrop. To solve this problem, the crew ended up tinting the rain by pouring black ink into the tank of the rain machine.”

– Source: Internet Movie Database

September 23rd, 2006

The Wind

Posted in Images, Trivia by DavidE

The Wind

Poster for The Wind (1928)

One of the last great films of the silent era, The Wind (1928) was a difficult production. Filmed on location in the Mojave Desert, the dramatic wind effects were created from the propellers of eight aircraft.

“During filming, temperatures reached 120 degrees Fahrenheit, making life miserable for both cast and crew. The intense heat caused the film stock to warp, and it had to be packed in ice to remain intact. Lillian Gish touched an outside door handle, and was so severely burned that a small part of her palm’s flesh was scalded off.

“The airplane propellers blowing hot air, sand, and smoke were so dangerous that crewmembers were forced to wear long-sleeved clothing (in 120 degree weather), eye goggles, bandanas around their necks, and grease paint on their faces whenever the machines were being run.”

– Source: Internet Movie Database

September 20th, 2006

Betty Boop’s Voice

Posted in Trivia by DavidE

Was Helen Kane the inspiration for Betty Boop’s voice? Yes, though it couldn’t be proved in court.

“In April 1934, Helen Kane, whose popularity had waned since her debut in 1929, filed suit against Max Fleischer, Fleischer Studios and Paramount Pictures for $250,000. She claimed that Betty Boop had stolen her fans. Max Fleischer gave testimony that Betty Boop was not based on Helen Kane (which was untrue since she was one of the main inspirations for Betty). Five of the women who had been the voice for Betty appeared in court to deny that they had attempted to imitate Helen Kane’s voice. The judge watched and compared several of the cartoons with some of Helen Kane’s films. There was testimony that the ‘Boop Oop a Doop’ phrase came long before Helen Kane’s popularity, as one witness claimed to have heard the phrase uttered in an Edith Griffith song. And on May 2nd, Paramount Pictures was able to locate a film clip of another singer, Baby Esther, who used the same phrase in a song in 1928, hence Helen Kane lost her lawsuit.”

– Source:

September 15th, 2006

Title Compression

Posted in Images, Trivia by DavidE


German poster for M (1931)

“Contrary to popular belief, Fritz Lang did not change the title from ‘The Murderers are Among Us’ to ‘M’ due to fear of persecution by the Nazis. He changed the title during filming, influenced by the scene where one of the criminals writes the letter on his hand. Lang thought ‘M’ was a more interesting title.’”

– Source: Internet Movie Database

September 13th, 2006

Silent Footsteps

Posted in Images, Trivia by DavidE

Double Indemnity

Double Indemnity (1944) was based on an actual murder case from 1927. Ruth Snyder took out a large insurance policy on her husband, and then killed him with the help of her boyfriend. The policy had an unusual double indemnity clause.

According to Wikipedia, “Judd Gray, the man on whom MacMurray’s Neff character was loosely based, said when he confessed, after killing Albert Snyder, ‘When I walked I listened for my step — no sound seemed to follow.’ Neff says, ‘I couldn’t hear my footsteps. It was the walk of a dead man.’”

September 9th, 2006

The Music Lives On

Posted in Images, Trivia by DavidE

Max Steiner Stamp

Film composer Max Steiner died on December 28, 1971, but he continued to rack up film credits.

Zorro, the Gay Blade (1981) included some of his music from The Adventures of Don Juan (1948). Creepshow (1982) included music from A Star is Born (1937). Great Balls of Fire! (1989) and UHF (1989) included music from Gone with the Wind (1939). Lost in Yonkers (1993) included music from Now, Voyager (1942). And King Kong (2005) included the fanfare from King Kong (1933).

September 7th, 2006

Food Fight

Posted in Images, Trivia by DavidE

Dr. Strangelove

Production photo from Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)

Stanley Kubrick had originally planned to end Dr. Strangelove with a pie fight in the War Room. Kubrick even went so far as to film the sequence, but changed his mind after viewing the footage. Presumably, he thought the result was too satirical. Only photos remain of that sequence.

“Another reason for cutting the custard pie fight at the end of the film was that at one point, President Muffley took a pie in the face and fell down, prompting Gen. Turgidson to cry, ‘Gentlemen! Our gallant young president has just been struck down in his prime!’ Stanley Kubrick had already decided to cut the pie fight by the time of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination, but this line (or possibly even the whole sequence) would certainly have been cut anyway due to its eerie similarity to real events.”

– Source: Internet Movie Database

September 5th, 2006

First Science-Fiction Film

Posted in Trivia by DavidE

What was the first science-fiction film? It would have to be Le Voyage dans la Lune (A Trip to the Moon), written and directed by Georges Méliès. Released in France in 1902, it even provides a glimpse of the moon’s inhabitants, the insect-like Selenites.

According to Wikipedia, “Méliès had intended on releasing the film into the United States to profit from it; however, Thomas A. Edison’s film technicians had secretly made copies of it and distributed it throughout the country, thus putting money into Edison’s pocket. Méliès never profited from it and eventually went broke.”

September 4th, 2006

Mahatma Kane Jeeves

Posted in Trivia by DavidE

W.C. Fields

Ever see the name Mahatma Kane Jeeves in the credits of a W.C. Fields movie? Fields adopted this strange sounding name, as well as the names of Otis Criblecoblis and Charles Bogle, when he didn’t want to receive credit for writing his own material. “Mahatma Kane Jeeves” is meant to suggest an aristocrat who says to his butler when walking out, “My hat, my cane, Jeeves.”

September 2nd, 2006

Last Hollywood Silent?

Posted in Images, Trivia by DavidE

Modern Times

What was the last Hollywood silent? It depends on how you define a silent film. Sunrise (1927) is considered to be one of the greatest silent films, even though it was released with a synchronized music track.

Because Modern Times (1936) used title cards for its dialogue, you could make a strong case for it being Hollywood’s last major silent production. Chaplin’s Tramp does sing, though in keeping with the silent tradition of the character, the lyrics are unintelligible. The Tramp’s final words in the film are a fitting tribute to the end of an era: Buck up – never say die! We’ll get along.

September 2nd, 2006

Just Borrowing

Posted in Quotes, Trivia by DavidE

“France’s Tobis Studios sued Charles Chaplin for plagiarizing the conveyor belt sequence [in Modern Times] from René Clair’s À nous la liberté (1931) but dropped the suit when Clair declared himself honored by the tribute, saying, ‘I have certainly borrowed enough from him.’”

–Source: Internet Movie Database