Fantasy Archives

The Hobbit published September 21, 1937

The Hobbit Book 1937

The Hobbit, or There and Back Again, better known by its abbreviated title The Hobbit, is a fantasy novel and children’s book by J. R. R. Tolkien. It was published on 21 September 1937 to wide critical acclaim, being nominated for the Carnegie Medal and awarded a prize from the New York Herald Tribune for best juvenile fiction. The book remains popular and is recognized as a classic in children’s literature.

Set in a time “Between the Dawn of Færie and the Dominion of Men”, The Hobbit follows the quest of home-loving Bilbo Baggins to win a share of the treasure guarded by the dragon, Smaug. Bilbo’s journey takes him from light-hearted, rural surroundings into darker, deeper territory. The story is told in the form of an episodic quest, and most chapters introduce a specific creature, or type of creature, of Tolkien’s Wilderland. By accepting the disreputable, romantic, fey and adventurous side of his nature (the “Tookish” side) and applying his wits and common sense, Bilbo develops a new level of maturity, competence and wisdom. The story reaches its climax in the Battle of Five Armies, where many of the characters and creatures from earlier chapters re-emerge to engage in conflict.

Themes of personal growth and forms of heroism figure in the story. Along with conflict, these themes lead critics to cite Tolkien’s own experiences, and the those of other writers who fought in World War I, as instrumental in shaping the story. The author’s scholarly knowledge of Anglo-Saxon literature and interest in fairy tales are also often noted as influences.

The work has never been out of print since the paper shortages of the Second World War. Its ongoing legacy encompasses many adaptations for stage, screen, radio, and gaming, both board and video games. Some of these adaptations have received critical recognition of their own, including a video game that won the Golden Joystick Award, a scenario of a war game that won an Origins Award, and an animated picture nominated for a Hugo Award.

Collectors’ market

While reliable figures are difficult to obtain, estimated global sales of The Hobbit run between 35 and 100 million copies since 1937. In the UK The Hobbit has not retreated from the top 5,000 books of Nielsen BookScan since 1995, when the index began, achieving a three-year sales peak rising from 33,084 (2000) to 142,541 (2001), 126,771 (2002) and 61,229 (2003), ranking it at the 3rd position in Nielsens’ “Evergreen” book list. The enduring popularity of The Hobbit makes early printings of the book attractive collectors’ items. The first printing of the first English-language edition can sell for between £6,000 and £20,000 at auction, although the price for a signed first edition has reached over £60,000.

The Wizard of Oz released August 25, 1939

Wizard of Oz

The Wizard of Oz is a 1939 American musical fantasy film directed primarily by Victor Fleming from a script mostly by Noel Langley, Florence Ryerson and Edgar Allan Woolf, with uncredited contributions by others. It was based on the 1900 novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum, who died twenty years before the film was released. It features Judy Garland, Ray Bolger, Jack Haley, Bert Lahr and Frank Morgan, with Billie Burke, Margaret Hamilton, Charles Grapewin, Clara Blandick and the Singer Midgets as the Munchkins. Notable in its use of special effects, use of Technicolor, fantasy storytelling and unusual characters, The Wizard of Oz has become, over the years, one of the best known of all films. However, although it received largely positive reviews and won three Academy Awards, it was not an all-out smash hit at the time of its original release.

In the story, Dorothy Gale, a 12-year-old Kansas farmgirl, is knocked unconscious during a tornado. She, her dog Toto, and the farmhouse are apparently transported to the magical Land of Oz, where she sets out on the yellow brick road to the Emerald City to ask the Wizard of Oz to return her to Kansas. During her journey, she meets a Scarecrow, a Tin Man and a Cowardly Lion, who join her, hoping to receive what they lack themselves (a brain, a heart, and courage, respectively). They are pursued by the Wicked Witch of the West, who wants her dead sister’s magic ruby slippers, now worn by Dorothy. At the end of the film, Dorothy finds herself back in her own bed at the farmhouse, but in Kansas, where her aunt tries to convince her that she dreamt her adventures in Oz.

Initially, The Wizard of Oz made only a small profit due to its enormous budget, despite largely favorable critical reviews. “Over the Rainbow” won the Academy Award for Best Original Song and the film itself received several Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture. Telecasts of the film began in 1956, and because of them the film has found a larger audience—its television screenings were once an annual tradition and have re-introduced the film to the public, making The Wizard of Oz one of the most famous films ever made. The Library of Congress named The Wizard of Oz as the most-watched film in history. It is often ranked among the top ten best movies of all-time in various critics’ and popular polls, and it has provided many memorable quotes.

 

Trivia:

 

The title role was written with W.C. Fields in mind. Producer Mervyn LeRoy wanted Ed Wynn, who turned down the role. MGM executive Arthur Freed wanted Fields, and offered him $75,000. Fields supposedly wanted $100,000. According to a letter from Fields’ agent (which he claimed was written by Fields) Fields turned down the role to devote his time to writing the script for You Can’t Cheat an Honest Man (1939). Since the role was perceived as being too small, additional roles were written for the actor in hopes of balancing the screen time for the actor playing the wizard with that of the rest of the cast. Thus Frank Morgan plays the roles of the Wizard, Professor Marvel, the Gatekeeper, the cab driver with the “horse of a different color” who performs a musical number, and the Wizard’s Guard. It is also possible that Morgan was made up for the spooky projected image of the Wizard’s face transposed on the billowing steam in his Throne Room.


Ray Bolger was originally cast as the Tin Woodsman. However, he insisted that he would rather play the Scarecrow – his childhood idol, Fred Stone had originated that role on stage in 1902. Buddy Ebsen had been cast as the Scarecrow, and now switched roles with Bolger. Unbeknownst to him, however, the make-up for the Tin Man contained aluminum dust, which ended up coating Ebsen’s lungs. He also had an allergic reaction to it. One day he was physically unable to breathe and had to be rushed to hospital. The part was immediately recast and MGM gave no public reason why Ebsen was being replaced. The actor considered this the biggest humiliation he ever endured and a personal affront. When ‘Jack Haley (I)’ took over the part of the Tin Man, he wasn’t told why Ebsen had dropped out (and in the meantime, the Tin Man make-up had changed from aluminum dust to aluminum paste as one of its key components). However, his vocals remain whenever the song “We’re off to see the Wizard” is played. Jack Haley’s vocals were never used during the song, but were used for “If I only had a Heart” and “If I only had the Nerve.” Ebsen’s vocals are also heard in the extended version of “If I were King of the Forest,” though the spoken segment has Jack Haley. Although no Ebsen footage from the film has ever been released, surviving still photos show him taking part in the Wicked Witch’s castle sequence.


The famed Jitterbug number was in actuality a leftover of an abandoned subplot that was discarded in early rewrites of the script. In the original Oz movie there was to be a large subplot involving characters named Princess Betty and the Grand Duke of Oz, to be played by MGM contract players Betty Jaynes and Kenny Baker. Jaynes, known for her refined operatic style of singing, was supposed to offset Judy Garland’s jazz type of singing and a number was devised highlighting the differences. The Jitterbug number was devised by Harold Arlen and ‘E.Y Harburg’ to showcase Garland’s talents. Both Jaynes’ and Baker’s characters were deemed unnecessary in early script rewrites and were removed from the picture, as well as their subplot. However, the Jitterbug number survived in the script and was filmed for the movie, although it too was cut from the picture in early previews. A reference to the Jitterbug number survives in the Wicked Witch’s orders to Nikko, when she tells him to “send the insects on ahead to soften them up” before the Flying Monkeys take off.


Producer Mervyn LeRoy had originally intended to use MGM’s Leo the Lion in the role of the Cowardly Lion and dub an actor’s voice in for the dialogue. However, that idea was dropped when Bert Lahr came up for consideration for the part.


Richard Thorpe, the original director of the film, had shot around two weeks of footage before he was fired. Among the scenes he shot were Dorothy’s meeting of the Scarecrow on the Yellow Brick Road along with his song and dance, as well as all the scenes involving the Wicked Witch’s castle. Thorpe’s footage had a remarkably different look from what was seen in the finished film. Most striking was the look of Judy Garland’s Dorothy, who in Thorpe’s footage had a blonde tousled hairstyle with baby doll make-up. Ray Bolger’s Scarecrow also had different make-up as well as trousers. Margaret Hamilton had different make-up as the Wicked Witch of the West. In addition, Buddy Ebsen was playing the Tin Man. In Thorpe’s footage the Yellow Brick Road also had a different look, as it was not curbed and made up of artificial looking oval bricks, instead of the curbed real rectangular ones in the finished film. Thorpe’s footage has not been seen since it was shot in 1938 but surviving home movies, taken by composer Harold Arlen, shows a few shots of a blonde Garland and Bolger rehearsing their Scarecrow meeting scene, giving the viewer a glimpse of what Thorpe’s Oz would have looked like.


Margaret Hamilton said that whenever she saw the scene where Frank Morgan as the Wizard is giving Dorothy’s friends gifts from his “black bag” (a diploma for the Scarecrow, a ticking heart for the Tin Man, and a medal for the Cowardly Lion), she got teary eyed, because “Frank Morgan was just like that in real life – very generous”.


The first album of songs from the film, issued by Decca in 1940, featured only Judy Garland from the cast. Her only vocal tracks on that album, “Over The Rainbow” and “The Jitterbug” (which featured “Oz” composer Harold Arlen as the Scarecrow, Bud Lyons as the Tin Man and Gurney Bell as the Cowardly Lion), had already been recorded in 1939 and released that year as a 78-RPM single, but they were later included as part of the 1940 album. This was not really a soundtrack recording at all, despite what some websites say, although it did contain the film’s songs. It was, instead, a sort of “cover version” featuring Garland (this procedure was common practice at a time when there really was no such thing as a record album made directly from a movie soundtrack). The other songs on this 1940 Decca album were all sung by the Ken Darby Singers, and in some songs in which Dorothy is featured another vocalist substituted for Garland. It was not until 1956 that an official soundtrack album (featuring the film’s cast, of course) was issued. This 1956 MGM Records album featured extensive dialogue from the film (enough for listeners to follow the story), and was taken directly from the movie’s final printed soundtrack, which meant that it also featured the film’s sound effects. A new, deluxe 2-CD album of the soundtrack, containing all of the songs and music ever recorded for the film (plus demos and outtakes) was issued by Rhino Music in 1995. This album, however, did not contain any of the dialogue, unlike its predecessor.


MGM had originally planned to incorporate a “stencil printing” process when Dorothy runs to open the farmhouse door before the film switches to Technicolor; each frame was to be hand-tinted to keep the inside of the door in sepia tone. This process-cumbersome, expensive, and ineffective-was abandoned in favor of a simpler and more clever alternative (a variation of this process was used, however, in 1939 release prints of The Women (1939)). The inside of the farmhouse was painted sepia, and the Dorothy who opens the door from the inside is not Judy Garland but her stand-in wearing a sepia-rinsed version of the famous gingham dress. Once the door is opened and the camera advances through it, Garland (wearing her bright blue dress) walks through the door and the audience is none the wiser. This effect does not work on older video/TV prints where the Kansas scenes appear in true black and white, as the changeover to color is all too apparent. With the Kansas scenes returned to their original sepia tints, however, they closely match the magical opening door and the effect is powerful.


Judy Garland’s dress and blouse were in reality not white but pale pink. True white did not photograph properly in Technicolor and made the blue of her checked dress seem too bright.


At the time this film was made, film soundtracks were generally quite simple, with most of the sound recorded on the set, with post-production dubbing and looping being used only when necessary. However, due to the large number of special sound effects in this film, it was one of the rare cases in the 1930s of the use of a sound designer (another was Murray Spivack on King Kong (1933)), whose job it was just to work out and design the sound elements of the soundtrack. O.O. Ceccarini (a close friend of Albert Einstein), who occasionally did special sound work at MGM, was brought in to design the soundtrack, with the assistance of special sound effects engineer Franklin Milton (who would later head up the MGM post-production sound department, replacing Douglas Shearer and Wesley C. Miller in the 1950s). Ceccarini was a brilliant mathematician as well, and he applied mathematics to achieving some of the more complicated sound elements.


George Cukor not only changed Judy Garland’s physical appearance in the film to the way it looks in the finished version, but also modified the Scarecrow’s makeup. Later, when Victor Fleming had been assigned to direct, Jack Haley began filming his first scene as the Tin Man, the scene in which Dorothy and the Scarecrow first discover him. Buddy Ebsen, who had been playing the Tin Man, had to back out because of an allergic reaction to his makeup, and never filmed this scene; he had only filmed scenes that take place in the second half of the film, after the four travelers have been to the Wash and Brush Up Co. at the Emerald City. Haley had been filming his first scene for three days before anyone realized that he had no “rust” on his “tin” costume, even though in the story he was supposed to have been standing rusted for an entire year. The rust was immediately applied to it.


The film received a mention in the Guiness Book of World Records as the film to which a live-action sequel was produced after the longest period of time ( Return to Oz (1985) was released 46 years after The Wizard of Oz).


Throughout the rest of his career, Jack Haley denounced the idea that the making of this film was enjoyable. He frequently quipped “Like Hell, it was; it was work!”


Margaret Hamilton, a life-long fan of the Oz books, was ecstatic when she learned the producers were considering her for a part in the film. When she phoned her agent to find out what role she was up for, her agent simply replied, “The witch, who else?”


To compensate for the extreme make-up demands on this film, MGM recruited extra help from the studio mail room and courier service. As most of the Oz extras required prosthetic devices (false ears, noses, etc.), and since application of prosthetics requires extensive training, the recruited make-up artists were each instructed in one area of prosthetic application and then formed an assembly line. Each extra would then move from one station to another to complete make-up application each morning.


Many of the Wicked Witch of the West’s scenes were either trimmed or deleted entirely, as Margaret Hamilton’s performance was thought too frightening for audiences.


When the film proved popular with audiences, MGM considered re-uniting the original cast for a sequel. Plans never got past the development stage, however, when Judy Garland became a major star, Margaret Hamilton expressed hesitation at reprising her role, feeling that the character of the Wicked Witch was already too scary for children, and the extreme budget overruns and production delays making the original film deterred the studio from moving forward.


The movie was named as one of “The 20 Most Overrated Movies Of All Time” by Premiere.


The movie’s line “Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.” was voted as the #24 of “The 100 Greatest Movie Lines” by Premiere in 2007. “There’s no place like home.” was voted #11 in the same. “Toto, I have a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.” was 62.


The film’s running time was originally 120 minutes. Producer Mervyn LeRoy realized that at least 20 minutes of the film needed to be deleted to get it down to a manageable running time. Three sneak previews aided LeRoy in his decision in what to cut. The original film in its entirety was only seen once by an audience in either San Bernadino or Santa Barbara and it was the only time the famed Jitterbug number was seen by the public. After this preview LeRoy cut the aforementioned Jitterbug number and the Scarecrow’s extended dance sequence to “If I Only Had a Brain”. A second preview was held in Pomona, California, where the film ran 112 minutes. After the preview, LeRoy cut Dorothy’s “Over The Rainbow” reprise and a scene in which the Tin Man turned into a human beehive, and the Emerald City reprise of “Ding Dong The Witch is Dead”, as well as a few smaller scenes and dialog, notably two Kansas scenes in which the Hickory character was building a machine to ward off tornadoes, as well as dozens of threatening lines by the Wicked Witch of the West. By the third preview, held in San Luis Obispo, the film finally was down to its 101-minute running time, where it has remained ever since.


A scene was filmed in which the Tin Woodman was turned into a “human beehive” by the Wicked Witch; after he crushes a bee, the tin woodman cries and rusts his jaw shut, then has to be oiled by Dorothy to get his jaw working again. This scene was cut and so the scene of Dorothy and her companions that comes after where the “beehive” scene had to be flipped to match their continuity in the earlier scene, causing them to appear blurred slightly.


Judy Garland had to wear a painful corset-style device around her torso so that she would appear younger and flat-chested.


Charley Grapewin came out of retirement to play Uncle Henry.


During the haunted forest scene, several actors playing the Winged Monkeys were injured when the piano wires suspending them snapped, dropping them several feet to the floor of the sound stage.


Terry (Toto) was stepped on by one of the witch’s guards, and had a double for two weeks. A second double was obtained, because it resembled Toto more closely. Judy Garland very much wanted to adopt Terry after the two spent so much time together shooting the film. Unfortunately, the owner of the dog wouldn’t give her up, and Terry went on to a long career in films. She died in 1945 and was buried in her trainer’s yard.


The original concept for the Wicked Witch of the West was to have her resemble a strikingly beautiful woman much in the same way the Evil Queen in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) was conceived. Producer Mervyn LeRoy originally cast MGM beauty Gale Sondergaard in the role as a sleek, sexy Wicked Witch of the West. However, the presence of a sexy Wicked Witch left a large plot hole within the script, for it played against the idea that bad witches were ugly. Convinced that the point was important, LeRoy retested Sondergaard as an ugly witch. Looking hideous in the make-up, she immediately declined the role and was replaced with Margaret Hamilton.


Although Judy Garland was always the favorite to play Dorothy, there were many other actresses in Hollywood who were also considered to play her. Among them were Shirley Temple, who was closer to the actual age of Dorothy and extremely popular at the time. Since she was under contract to 20th Century Fox, a deal was offered to trade her to MGM in exchange for Clark Gable and Jean Harlow, which was voided by Harlow’s untimely death. Temple’s vocal talents were deemed by producers Mervyn LeRoy and Arthur Freed to be inadequate for the scope of the role. Deanna Durbin, the operatic rival to Garland, was also a consideration, as was Bonita Granville.


Fred Stone, who played the Scarecrow in the 1902 stage musical of “The Wizard of Oz”, was briefly considered for the role in the movie. However, at age 65 in 1938 he was physically not up to the demands of the role.


Ogden Nash wrote an unused screenplay.


According to lead Munchkin Jerry Maren, the “little people” on the set were paid $50 per week for a 6-day work week, while Toto received $125 per week.


“Over the Rainbow” was nearly cut from the film; MGM felt that it made the Kansas sequence too long, as well as being too far over the heads of the children for whom it was intended. The studio also thought that it was degrading for Judy Garland to sing in a barnyard. A reprise of the song was cut: Dorothy sang it to remember Kansas while imprisoned in the Witch’s castle. Judy Garland began to cry, along with the crew, because the song was so sad.


At the end of the sequence in which Dorothy and the Scarecrow first meet the Tin Man, as the three march off singing “We’re Off to See the Wizard”, there is a disturbance in the trees off to the right. This was long rumored to be one of the crew (or, by some accounts, one of the dwarf actors) committing suicide by hanging himself, but it is in fact a large bird stretching its wings.


The Cowardly Lion’s facial makeup included a brown paper bag. Actor Bert Lahr couldn’t eat without ruining his makeup. Tired of eating soup and milkshakes, he decided to eat lunch and have his makeup redone.


When filming first started, Judy Garland wore a blond wig and heavy, “baby-doll” makeup. When George Cukor assumed the role of intermediate director (after MGM fired the original director and before they found a replacement), he got rid of the wig and most of the makeup and told her to just be herself.


The horses in Emerald City palace were colored with Jell-O crystals. The relevant scenes had to be shot quickly, before the horses started to lick it off.


The Munchkins are portrayed by the Singer Midgets, named not for their musical abilities, but rather for Leo Singer, their manager. The troupe came from Europe, and a number of the Munchkins took advantage of the trip to immigrate and escape the Nazis. Professional singers dubbed most of their voices as many of the Midgets couldn’t speak English and/or sing well. Only two are heard speaking with their real-life voices – the ones who give Dorothy flowers after she has climbed into the carriage.


The film had five different directors. Richard Thorpe shot several weeks of material, none of which appears in the final film. The studio found his work unsatisfactory and appointed George Cukor temporarily. Cukor did not actually film any scenes; he merely modified Judy Garland’s and Ray Bolger’s makeup. Victor Fleming took over from him and filmed the bulk of the movie, until he was assigned to Gone with the Wind (1939). King Vidor filmed the remaining sequences, mainly the black and white parts of the film set in Kansas. Producer Mervyn LeRoy also directed some transitional scenes.


The theatrical trailer for the 1998 theatrical re-release (viewable on the 2000 Warner Bros. DVD) features the Kansas footage in black and white instead of its proper sepia tone. The sepia tone footage was restored to the film during its 1988 restoration and was thus available; but Warner Bros. choose to show it in its black and white form for the trailer.


The pre-release 112 minute version was only seen once, while the film was in test showings before its official release.


When MGM bought the rights to L. Frank Baum’s novel, “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz,” it also purchased the rights to the 1902 stage musical by Baum and Paul Tietjen, and the The Wizard of Oz (1925), ‘Larry Semon (I)”s failed silent comedy. From the latter it derived Dorothy’s companions as farmhands she knew in Kansas, and the it-was-all-a-dream ending – an element of fantasy literature Baum decried in several essays but used in his “Laura Bancroft” titles for very young readers. From the former, it took only the snowstorm summoned by the Good Witch of the North to destroy the poppies, which in the play was a huge set piece that concluded Act I. (In the novel, the Scarecrow and the Tin Woodman carry Dorothy out and hoist the Lion onto a truck that is pulled on strings by hundreds of mice.) Lengthy debate occurred at MGM as to whether or not to include the songs from the play, but as the vaudeville-style show mostly included songs of no relevance to plot or characterization, they were replaced with new ones.


In the earlier drafts of the script, the writers often created new incidents to liven up the story. The original idea was to turn the story into a slapstick musical comedy, so there were a few deviations from what was written in the book. Some of the earlier scripts included a son for the Wicked Witch of the West whom she wanted to put on the throne of Oz, a stuck-up niece for Miss Gulch, a rescue from the Wizard’s balloon by the Munchkin fire department, a singing princess and her cowardly suitor who gets transformed into a lion, a rainbow bridge that the witch constructs as a trap for Dorothy, and a romance between Dorothy and one of the farmhands. When the script got too bogged down, however, writers Noel Langley, Florence Ryerson and Edgar Allan Woolf would turn to L. Frank Baum’s book for inspiration, and the result was closer to the whimsical fantasy Baum had written.


A reference to something in the book not included in the script can be seen in the movie. It is the kiss Glinda gives Dorothy on the forehead that protects her from the Wicked Witch, as none dare harm someone who bears the kiss of the Good Witch.


During the “Wash and Brush Up Co.” scene, the lyrics “We can make a dimpled smile out of a frown/Can you even dye my eyes to match my gown” are sung in counterpoint to the orchestra playing “Somewhere Over The Rainbow.”


L. Frank Baum’s novel is considerably more gruesome than MGM’s rendition. For example, “Kalidahs” (tiger-bear hybrids) are dashed to pieces in a crevasse, the Tin Woodman uses his axe to lop off the heads of a wildcat and 40 wolves, bumblebees sting themselves to death against the Scarecrow, and the Wizard orders the 4 to actually kill the Wicked Witch of the West, not simply to retrieve her broomstick.


If you look very closely at the Wicked Witch that Miss Gulch transformed into while Dorothy looks out her bedroom window during the tornado, you will see a shimmer from her shoes-she’s wearing the Ruby Slippers. That means that she is the Wicked Witch of the East, who is soon to be killed when Dorothy’s house falls on her. Margaret Hamilton has never been credited for playing this role (which is practically a cameo). This shimmer from her shoes is even more obvious when watching a better-quality copy of the film, such as the 1989 50th anniversary laserdisc version or the 1999 60th anniversary Warner Bros. DVD restored version.


The color of the yellow brick road first showed up as green in early Technicolor tests. It was adjusted so that it would read properly as yellow in the early 3-strip color process, which in 1938-39, was still in its experimental stage.


The film started shooting on 13 October 1938 and was completed on 16 March 1939 at a then-unheard-of cost of $2,777,000. It earned only $3,000,000 on its initial release.


The ruby slippers were silver (like in the book) until MGM chief Louis B. Mayer realized that the Technicolor production would benefit from the slippers being colored.


Dorothy’s hair changes lengths throughout the course of the film, most noticeably in the Scarecrow cornfield sequence. This was the first sequence to be shot. As production progressed, refinements were made to Judy Garland’s hair and make-up. At the end of filming, reshoots were done of the cornfield sequence and, thus, the shots do not match. The reshoots are believed to have been done by King Vidor, who also directed the Kansas sequences, including “Over the Rainbow”, after director Victor Fleming left the production to direct Gone with the Wind (1939).


The song “Over the Rainbow” was ranked #1 by the American Film Institute in 2004 on the 100 Greatest Songs in American Films list.


Ranked #1 on the American Film Institute’s list of the 10 greatest films in the genre “Fantasy” in June 2008.


In 2007, the American Film Institute ranked this as the #10 Greatest Movie of All Time.


For the film’s 1998 theatrical re-release, Warner Brothers was considering editing the extended Scarecrow “If I Only Had A Brain” sequence into the movie (it was deleted from the film before its 1939 premiere) but ultimately decided not to.It is available as a supplemental feature on the Warner Bros Special Edition DVD of the film.


Ray Bolger, Bert Lahr and Jack Haley had to eat their meals in their dressing rooms, as the make-up they wore frightened the other diners in the MGM cafeteria. Ray Bolger commented in an interview on the reactions that other MGM actors had upon seeing these “weird-looking characters” in the cafeteria.


Bert Lahr’s costume weighed 90 pounds. .


The House of Winston made a pair of real ruby slippers to celebrate the film’s 50th anniversary in 1989. These are valued at $3 million.


Walt Disney was the unwitting impetus behind getting the film started. Louis B. Mayer was determined to come up with something that would equal the success of Disney’s runaway smash, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) which had become the most successful film of all time in a matter of months. Walt originally wanted to make ‘The Wizard Of Oz’ after ‘Snow White’ but MGM owned the rights to the book. In the 80’s the Disney studios made a semi-sequel Return to Oz (1985).


Originally contracted for six weeks, Margaret Hamilton ended up working for 23.


Ultimately it took 14 writers and five directors to bring L. Frank Baum’s story to the screen.


Some see L. Frank Baum’s story containing political and social satire. The little girl from the Midwest (typical American) meets up with a brainless scarecrow (farmers), a tin man with no heart (industry), a cowardly lion (politicians, in particular William Jennings Bryan) and a flashy but ultimately powerless wizard (technology). Although the little people keep telling her to follow the yellow brick road (gold standard), in the end it’s her silver (in the original story) slippers (silver standard) that help her get back to the good old days.


Judy Garland would later refer to the pint-sized Oscar Juvenile Award she won at 1939’s Academy Awards as the Munchkin Award.


Although most of screenwriter Noel Langley’s ideas were used in the finished film, and he is credited as being the principal screenwriter as well as the adaptor, there were some revisions to his material. Langley was incensed that they had been done, and walked out on the project several times, although he was always persuaded to return. He was bitterly resentful of the final screenplay, and is on record as saying that he hated the finished film when he finally saw it.


Multiple styles of ruby slippers were tested by the MGM wardrobe department before they settled on the low schoolgirl-style pumps with bows. One proposed style had curled up toes, known as the “Arabian” slippers (created by designer Adrian), which now belong to Debbie Reynolds. Another proposed style, the “Bugle Bead” shoes, are without bows and have yet to publicly surface. An entire book was published with trivia and history of the numerous test styles: “The Ruby Slippers of Oz” by Rhys Thomas (Tale Weaver Publishers, 1989) Thomas speculates that there were seven pairs, and the whereabouts of five are known. Each has an estimated value of $1.5 million, making them the most expensive Hollywood memorabilia. They have been dubbed by some as “The Holy Grail” of all Hollywood nostalgia. One pair was sold to Hollywood memorabilia collector David Elkouby for $666,000.00 in a May 2000 auction. The pair in the Smithsonian are mismatched.


Glinda’s gown was first used by Jeanette MacDonald in San Francisco (1936).


Rick Polito of the Marin Independent Journal printed in Northern California is locally famous for his droll, single-sentence summations of television programs and movies which the newspaper reports will be broadcast. For the Wizard of Oz, he wrote, “Transported to a surreal landscape, a young girl kills the first person she meets and then teams up with three strangers to kill again.”


MGM paid $75,000 for the film rights to L. Frank Baum’s book, a towering sum at the time.


The steam shooting from the Tin Man’s cap startles Toto, who runs out of the shot.


Meinhardt Raabe, who played the Coroner of Munchkinland, was, at one time, the shortest licensed pilot in the U.S. During WWII, he volunteered for military service and was turned down. He was accepted as a volunteer instructor in the Civil Air Patrol.


A sequence in which Dorothy and her companions make a triumphant return to the Emerald City after melting the Wicked Witch, known as the “restoration scene,” was cut.


Judy Garland’s portrayal of Dorothy was the main inspiration for the character of Mary Ann on “Gilligan’s Island” (1964).


The paint used that was finally used on the bricks for the “Yellow Brick Road” was standard industrial yellow paint that was obtained from a hardware store several blocks away from the studio.


In the song “If I Only Had A Heart”, the girl who says, “Wherefore art thou, Romeo?” is Adriana Caselotti, the voice of Snow White in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937).


The scene in which the wicked witch tries to take off Dorothy’s ruby slippers by using a magic force through her hands is the same scene depicted on the Electric Light Orchestra’s album “Eldorado”, but this album cover version is reversed from the one seen in the film.


When it first opened in 1994, the MGM Grand Casino in Las Vegas had extensive decor related to this film decorating the casino and various parts of the resort, including life-sized statues of the main characters (including Toto) near the casino entrance. In 2000 nearly all of this decor was removed in a major renovation, and the casino is now generically themed around motion pictures.


There are a striking number of coincidences between events in the movie and musical cues (and lyrics) on the 1973 Pink Floyd album, “Dark Side of the Moon”. It is highly improbable that the band had a print of the movie with them at Abbey Road, and few attempt to claim it to have been deliberate (David Gilmour dismisses it as nonsense), but the coincidences are remarkable nonetheless. If you begin the album on the third roar of the MGM lion (using the NTSC version of the movie, not the 25 fps PAL version which runs a little over 4% faster) the coincidences include (but are not limited to): – The line “balanced on the biggest wave” comes as Dorothy balances on the fence. – The song “On the Run” starts as Dorothy falls off the fence. – “The Great Gig in the Sky” begins when the tornado first appears. – The song “Us and Them” is played when Dorothy meets the Wicked Witch of the West. – The line “black and blue” is repeated when they are talking to one another (Dorothy in her blue outfit, the Wicked Witch in black). – The line “the lunatic is on the grass…” coincides with Dorothy meeting the Scarecrow. – When we first see Miss Gulch on her bicycle, the song “Time” starts with its bells and alarms. – Dorothy asks Professor Marvel what else he sees in his crystal ball as the line “thought I’d something more to say” comes along in the song “Time”. – As the Scarecrow sings “If I Only Had a Brain”, Pink Floyd sing “Brain Damage”. – Side 1 of the original vinyl album (up to the end of “The Great Gig in the Sky”) is exactly as long as the black and white portion of the film. – As Dorothy listens to the Tin Man’s chest, the album ends with the famous heartbeat sound effect. This phenomenon is known as “Dark Side of the Rainbow,” “Dark Side of Oz,” and “The Wizard of Floyd.”


The much quoted line “Fly my pretties, fly” doesn’t actually appear in the movie. The Wicked Witch of the West actually says, “Fly, Fly, Fly.”


The movie’s line “I’ll get you, my pretty, and your little dog, too!” was voted as the #99 movie quote by the American Film Institute (out of 100). “Toto, I’ve got a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore” was #4. “There’s no place like home.” was #23.


A small sign to the left of the door of Professor Marvel’s wagon lists “Exhibition Balloonist” as one of his talents.


The music and vocal tracks for all the deleted sequences have survived and can all be heard on Rhino Records’ Deluxe 2-CD soundtrack edition of the film’s songs and score. Every track on that album is heard in the exact order in which it would have appeared in the film had the movie never been edited to its final release length.


When The Witch tries to get off the Ruby Slippers, fire strikes her hands. This “fire” was actually dark apple juice spewing out of the shoes. The film was sped up to make it look like fire.


In the first take of the scene when the Wicked Witch of the West leaves Munchkinland, the smoke that was supposed to go up around her came early, and started forming before she stepped on the platform she was supposed to be on. On the second take, part of Margaret Hamilton’s cape became caught in the platform when the burst of fire appeared. Her make-up heated up causing second- and third-degree burns on her hands and face, and it was later discovered that one of the key components in her make-up was copper. The producers used the first take. You’ll notice the early appearance of the red smoke.


Nikko, the name of the head winged monkey, is the name of the Japanese town which houses the shrine featuring the famous Hear No Evil/See No Evil/Speak No Evil monkeys.


There are many alleged lyrics to the “Winkie Chant” performed by the Witch’s guards, including “All we own, we owe her”, “Oh we love the old one”, and “Oh we loathe the old one”. However, the correct version, seen in the film’s screenplay, is “O-Ee-Yah! Eoh-Ah!” and any other interpretations are simply the result of the listener’s mind treating the chant as an audio ink blot.


The woods where the Tin Man is first discovered is inhabited by a number of exotic birds. Look for a small toucan in the tree (where the Witch is hiding) at the opening of this scene; and at least one (perhaps more) large, crane-like birds in the background of where the Tin Man stands for most of the scene.


The uniforms of the Flying Monkeys match the uniforms worn by the Witch’s castle guards (Winkies).


Herbert Stothart, who scored this film, also scored Marie Antoinette (1938). A recycled piece from that film can be heard during the scene in which Dorothy and her friends attempt an escape from the Witch’s castle.


Frank Morgan posed for a test for The Wizard, made up to look as the Wizard looked in the book; this makeup was discarded and the final look was only reached after at least five more tries. The Wicked Witch has two eyes in the movie and only one eye in the book. In fact, Dorothy and her friends are the only characters who look like the ones in the book, because of changes having to do with the Hays Office.


When Dorothy and her friends are in the Haunted Forest, the Lion has a spray pump with “Witch Remover” printed on it. In the next shot, it’s gone. The reason is because there is a deleted scene in which the lion says that “the Witch Remover doesn’t work but it’s wonderful for threatening with”. Disgusted, the Scarecrow takes the spray pump and throws it away. There is a close shot in which the spray pump hits the ground and vanishes.


The shot of Dorothy’s house falling from the sky was achieved by filming a miniature house being dropped onto a sky painting on the stage floor, then reversing the film to make the house appear to fall towards the camera.


The Tin Woodsman costume worn by Jack Haley was reportedly so stiff that he had to lean against a board to rest. Thirty-eight years later, Anthony Daniels (who played C-3PO in the Star Wars movie series) had the same problem with his costume.


Voted number 10 in channel 4’s (UK) “Greatest Family Films”


The Wizard was originally supposed to have a song routine where he hands out the awards to the Scarecrow, Cowardly Lion, and Tin Woodman. This was scrapped because E.Y. Harburg, the lyricist, felt the scene would work better as a non-musical one, so he translated the lyrics into prose form.


A recent study claimed that this is the most watched movie in film history, largely due to the number of television screenings each year as well as video which has enabled children of every generation to see it.


The Munchkins were awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in November, 2007. Seven of them attended the ceremony: Mickey Carroll, Ruth L. Robinson, Margaret Pellegrini, Meinhardt Raabe, Karl ‘Karchy’ Kosiczky, and August Clarence Swenson.


The movie garnered two more achievements when it was reissued in 1949 (first in a limited release in April, then expanded to a wide release in June). The picture made more money on this release than on its original one, and reassessments by film critics were near-universally adoring. Enthused TIME magazine in its May 9, 1949 edition: “The whimsical gaiety, the lighthearted song and dance, the lavish Hollywood sets and costumes are as fresh and beguiling today as they were ten years ago when the picture was first released. Oldsters over ten who have seen it once will want to see it again. Youngsters not old enough to be frightened out of their wits by the Wicked Witch (Margaret Hamilton) will have the thrill of some first-rate make-believe (‘We’re off to see the Wizard, the Wonderful Wizard of Oz…’).”


In 1939, Montreal lifted its law restricting minors under 16 from admission to theaters, presumably without an accompanying adult. This lift was done exclusively for this film and apparently sent a rush of children to theaters, according to a 1939 issue of Variety. Earlier that year, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) unsuccessfully attempted to lift the ban.


Curly Howard was Bert Lahr’s inspiration for the role of the Lion.


The name for Oz was thought up when the creator, Frank Baum, looked at his filing cabinet and saw A-N, and O-Z, hence “Oz.”


In Jim Steinmeyer’s 2003 book “Hiding the Elephant: How Magicians Invented the Impossible and Learned to Disappear”, Steinmeyer notes of Harry Kellar: “Kellar was almost certainly the inspiration for the wizened Wizard of Oz described by author L. Frank Baum; he was America’s leading magician when Baum’s book was written”.


The location of the Munchkins’ star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame is 6915 Hollywood Blvd.


When the wardrobe department was looking for a coat for Frank Morgan (Professor Marvel / The Wizard), they decided they wanted one that looked like it had once been elegant but had since “gone to seed”. They visited a second-hand store and purchased an entire rack of coats, from which Morgan, the head of the wardrobe department, and director Victor Fleming chose one they felt gave off the perfect appearance of “shabby gentility”. One day, while he was on set in the coat, Morgan idly turned out one of the pockets and discovered a label indicating that the coat had been made for L. Frank Baum. Mary Mayer, a unit publicist for the film, contacted the tailor and Baum’s widow, who both verified that the coat had at one time been owned by the author of the original “Wizard of Oz” books. After the filming was completed, the coat was presented to Mrs. Baum.


In 1898, Dorothy Louise Gage was born to the brother and sister-in-law of Maud Gage Baum, wife of author L. Frank Baum. When little Dorothy died exactly five months later, Maud was heartbroken. Baum was just finishing “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” and, to comfort his wife, named his heroine after Dorothy, changing her last name to Gale in his second book. Dorothy Gage was buried in Evergreen Memorial Cemetery in Bloomington, Illinois, where her grave was forgotten until 1996 when it was rediscovered. When Mickey Carroll, one of the last existing Munchkins from the movie, learned of the discovery, he was eager to replace her deteriorated grave marker with a new one created by his own monument company. The new stone was dedicated in 1997 and the children’s section of the cemetery renamed the Dorothy L. Gage Memorial Garden, in the hope that bereaved families would be comforted in thinking of their lost children as being with Dorothy from “The Wizard of Oz”.


The film rights of L. Frank Baum’s book were initially sold to Samuel Goldwyn in 1933. Goldwyn hoped to have Eddie Cantor star as the Scarecrow with Ed Wynn supporting as the Wizard. Cantor was busy filming Roman Scandals (1933) and Wynn wouldn’t accept a mere “cameo role”, so the property was sold to MGM the following year, where producer Irving Thalberg hoped to get W.C. Fields to play the Wizard (he was about to begin filming The Personal History, Adventures, Experience, & Observation of David Copperfield the Younger (1935)) and Charlotte Henry for Dorothy. But neither were available and the project was shelved again. The following year, there was possibility of loaning out Shirley Temple from 20th Century Fox to play Dorothy in exchange for Clark Gable’s services for The Call of the Wild (1935). Gable was loaned out, but the deal for Temple fell through after vocal arranger Roger Edens screened a preview reel of Temple’s upcoming musicals, unconvinced that she could handle a role such as Dorothy. Yet again, the project was shelved until 1937, when Edens and Arthur Freed began crafting ‘Oz’ as a project for Judy Garland.


Pictured on one of four 25¢ US commemorative postage stamps issued 23 March 1990 honoring classic films released in 1939. The stamps featured Stagecoach (1939), Beau Geste (1939), The Wizard of Oz (1939), and Gone with the Wind (1939).


The title of the movie would become the nickname of St. Louis Cardinals’ Hall-of-Fame Shortstop Ozzie Smith.


While filming the scene where Dorothy slaps the Cowardly Lion, Judy Garland got the giggles so badly that they had to take a break in shooting. The director, Victor Fleming, took her aside, gave her a quick lecture, and then slapped her. She returned to the set and filmed the scene in one take. Fleming was afraid that this would damage his relationship with Garland and even told a co-worker he wished that someone would hit him because of how bad he felt, but Garland overheard the conversation and gave him a kiss on the nose to show that she bore no hard feelings. In the film she can still be seen to be stifling a smile between the lines “Well, of course not” and “My, what a fuss you’re making”.


The film began its legendary run on network television on 3 November 1956, as an the series finale of the anthology series “Ford Star Jubilee” (1955). The broadcast was a smash, but the film was not shown on TV again until 1959. In a programming stroke of genius, it was decided to air it at an earlier hour (6:00 P.M., E.S.T.) as a Christmas season special – independent of any anthology packaging. This broadcast attracted an even wider audience, because children were able to watch, and from this moment on the film began airing annually on television. It was aired both on CBS (primarily in late winter) and NBC (usually in mid-Spring, often on Easter Sunday), but it finished its network run of nearly 40 years on CBS in 1998, after which it was officially integrated into the Turner vault of motion pictures. (It now airs only on Turner-owned networks: WB, TNT, and most prominently Turner Classic Movies.)


The first (and for several years, the only) MGM film to be televised on an entire network, rather than just a local station.


At the time that CBS purchased the television rights to The Wizard of Oz (1939), MGM had sold most of its pre-1950’s film library to individual stations across the U.S. The two major films they had not sold were Gone with the Wind (1939) (which MGM controlled the rights to) and “The Wizard of Oz”. It would be twenty more years before “Gone With the Wind” would come to television.


Although it has been long believed that Lorraine Bridges dubbed Billie Burke’s singing voice in the film, she actually did not. Ms. Burke did her own singing as Glinda, the Good Witch of the North.


The Cowardly Lion’s speech about courage contains the line “What makes the dawn come up like thunder?” This is a reference to a line in the poem “Mandalay” by Rudyard Kipling: “An’ the dawn comes up like thunder outer China ‘crost the Bay!”


The “tornado” was a 35-foot-long muslin stocking, spun around among miniatures of a Kansas farm and fields in a dusty atmosphere.


When Aunt Em tells Hickory that “she saw him tinkering with that contraption” (after Dorothy falls in the pigpen), she’s referring to a wind machine that Hickory is trying to invent, which is focused on in a deleted scene. This machine, consisting of a boiler, funnel, wires, tubes, etc. is intended to break up winds in order to prevent tornadoes.


“Lux Radio Theater” broadcast a 60-minute CBS Radio adaptation of the movie on December 25, 1950 with Judy Garland reprising her film role as Dorothy.


Jack Haley did not use his normal speaking voice when playing the Tin Man, only when playing Hickory, one of the farm hands in Kansas. His normal speaking voice contained none of the almost falsetto-like quality that the Tin Man’s did. This was Haley’s own idea, and he himself said that this was the tone of voice that he used when relating bedtime stories to his then-small son, Jack Haley Jr..

 

Big Trouble in Little China

Big Trouble in Little China (also known as John Carpenter’s Big Trouble in Little China) is a 1986 American action comedy, directed by John Carpenter. It stars Kurt Russell as truck driver Jack Burton, who helps his friend Wang Chi (Dennis Dun) rescue Wang’s green-eyed girlfriend (Suzee Pai) from bandits in San Francisco’s Chinatown. They go into the mysterious underworld beneath Chinatown, where they face an ancient sorcerer named Lo Pan (James Hong).

Although the film was originally envisioned as a Western set in the 1880s, screenwriter W. D. Richter was hired to rewrite the script extensively and modernize everything. The studio hired Carpenter to direct the film and rushed Big Trouble in Little China into production so that it would be released before a similarly themed Eddie Murphy film, The Golden Child, which was slated to come out around the same time. The project fulfilled Carpenter’s long-standing desire to make a martial arts film. The film was a commercial failure, grossing $11.1 million in North America and well below its estimated $25 million budget. It received critically mixed reviews that left Carpenter disillusioned with Hollywood and influenced his decision to return to independent film-making. The film has since gone on to become a cult film due in large part to its success on home video.

Trivia:

The ending song is written and sung by The Coupe De Ville. A band formed with: John Carpenter, Nick Castle and Tommy Lee Wallace (second unit director on this picture).


The Chinese characters in the main title translate to “Evil Spirits Make a Big Scene in Little Spiritual State”.

 


The characters on the front of “Egg” Shen’s bus say, “Uncle Egg’s Tours Guarantee a Good Time”.

 


Although Kurt Russell was John Carpenter’s only choice for the lead role the studio suggested Jack Nicholson or Clint Eastwood. Once they proved unavailable, Carpenter was able to cast Russell.

 


Body count: 46.

 


According to director John Carpenter, the post production process on this movie was merely four months.

 


In the wedding Scene where LoPan is putting the Needle of Love in Miao Yin, James Hong actually jabbed Suzee Pai too hard. You can even see her jump as he puts it in her.

 


According to John Carpenter and Kurt Russell in the DVD Commentary, the story was originally written as a western but Carpenter decided to set it during modern times. They even mention that instead of Jack Burton’s truck being stolen, it was originally his horse.

 


Kurt Russell suffered a bad case of the flu during shooting so the sweat on his body is real, caused by the fever.

 


According to John Carpenter in the DVD Commentary, Carter Wong, who plays Thunder, actually worked as a martial arts instructor with the Hong Kong Police.

 


The Brides of Lo Pan must have green eyes. Yet both Kim Cattrall and Suzee Pai had brown eyes in real life. Both wore green contacts for the movie. This is very obvious in the hi-def version of the movie.

 


The rivalry between the Chang Sing and Wing Kong Tongs is analogous to the famous rivalry between the Hip Sing and On Leong Tongs (even the names rhyme) in early 20th century New York.

 


The short knives wielded by the “Three Storms” warriors, that Thunder calls “Hui Huan Dou” (Soul-Returning Blades) are in fact Nepalese Kukri. These knives were made famous for their usage by the Gurkhas in the British Indian Army.

 


The name of the murdered gang leader, Lem Lee, is probably a reference to Tom Lee, the leader of the On Leong Tong, a crime syndicate in New York’s Chinatown in the early 20th Century that fronted itself as a merchant association.

 


The Truck Driven by Jack (Kurt Russell) – the “Pork Chop Express” – is a Freightliner FLC 120

 


This the last studio film that John Carpenter worked on at the end of the 1980’s due to the problems he’d received during the production of the film with then studio head Lawrence Gordon, who practically interfered with the film up until it’s release date. Prince of Darkness (1987) and They Live (1988) would be made independently through Alive Films without any studio interference and distributed by Universal Pictures.

 


According to John Carpenter on the audio commentary that the opening of the film with Egg Shen (Victor Wong) in the lawyer’s office was added in as a request from 20th Century Fox because to make Kurt Russell’s character Jack Burton to be more heroic. If the scene was not added in, the film would have started with Jack driving to San Francisco.

 


Both John Carpenter and Kurt Russell explain on the audio commentary that the test screening was so overwhelming positive that both of them expected it to be a big hit. However, 20th Century Fox put little into promoting the movie and it ended up being a box office bomb. However, it went on to be a huge cult hit through home video. Carpenter and Russell explained that the reason the studio did little to promote the film was because they didn’t know how to.

 

 Conan the Destroyer

Conan the Destroyer is a 1984 film directed by action/fantasy veteran Richard Fleischer (20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, The Vikings). It is a sequel to Conan the Barbarian, with Arnold Schwarzenegger and Mako returning to resume their roles as Conan and Akiro the wizard (respectively), along with a new cast, such as Grace Jones as Zula. The critical and commercial response was weaker than that for the first film as it was felt by some viewers to have excluded the bloody, brooding ambience of the original John Milius film, instead opting for a more kid-friendly adventure.

Trivia:

Some scenes were filmed in the same location and at the same time as scenes from Dune (1984).


Cameo: [André the Giant] the resurrected horned giant.

 


The part of Malak was originally assigned to David L. Lander. Due to both his deteriorating health from the onset of Multiple Sclerosis, and difficulties with the director, Lander was let go, and the part was recast with Tracey Walter.

 


Writers Roy Thomas and Gerry Conway, who wrote the original story treatment for this movie, were deeply displeased by the final screenplay by Stanley Mann and the finished film, so they made their story into the graphic novel CONAN: THE HORN OF AZOTH, published in 1990, with art by Mike Docherty. The names of the characters were changed to untie the graphic novel from the movie: Dagoth became Azoth, Jehnna became Natari, Zula became Shumballa, Bombaata became Strabo, Toth-Amon became Rammon, and the characters of Queen Taramis and The Leader were combined into sorcerer Karanthes, father of Natari.

 


Wilt Chamberlain’s first and only film role.

 

Labyrinth released June 27, 1986

Labyrinth

Labyrinth is a 1986 British/American fantasy film directed by Jim Henson, produced by George Lucas, and designed by Brian Froud. Henson collaborated on the screenwriting with children’s author Dennis Lee and Monty Python alumnus Terry Jones.

The film stars David Bowie as Jareth the Goblin King, and Jennifer Connelly as Sarah Williams. The plot revolves around Sarah’s quest to rescue her little brother, Toby, from Jareth while trapped in an enormous otherworldly maze. Most of the other significant roles are played by puppets or by a combination of puppetry and human performance. It was shot on location in New York and at Elstree Studios and Hampstead Heath in the UK. It was the last feature film directed by Henson before his death in 1990.

Trivia:

Monty Python member Terry Jones wrote one early version of the script. Little of his material was retained beyond the point where Sarah eats the poisoned peach. The original script ended with Sarah punching and kicking Jareth, then watching him shrink down until he’s becomes a small and “snivelling” goblin. Also, Toby’s name was Freddie in the early drafts of the story. The baby’s name was changed because the infant Toby Froud would only react to his own name.


The full costume for Hoggle was lost for some time. It turns out that it was lost on an airplane and later bought from the airline by ‘The Unclaimed Baggage Center’, a store in Scottsboro Alabama. It is now on display in their museum.

 


The sources of the characters can be seen in Sarah’s bedroom at the beginning of the movie. She has a stuffed animal that looks like Sir Didymus on her dresser, a doll that looks like Ludo on the shelves next to her door, a Firey doll on a shelves next to her bed, bookends with with Goblins reminiscent of Hoggle on her dresser, and figurine of Jareth on the right hand side of her desk. After you see the Hoggle bookend, there is a scrapbook shown. It shows newspaper clippings of Sarah’s famous actress mom with another man, David Bowie. In addition, the dress that she wears in the ballroom scene can also been seen adorning the miniature doll in her music box, and a wooden maze game on her dresser next to her books is reminiscent of the hedge section of the Labyrinth. There is also a small painting on her wall that depicts a contraption much like the one operated by the “Cleaners” that Sarah and Hoggle had to escape from.

 


To help the puppeteer inside him to see, there was a miniature video camera in Ludo’s right horn that fed to a small television monitor mounted inside the puppet’s stomach.

 


The various things that Jareth does with the crystal balls (rolling them around his arms and in his hands and so forth) are not camera tricks or any other kind of special effect. They are actually done by choreographer Michael Moschen, who is an accomplished juggler. Moschen was actually crouched behind Bowie with his arm(s) replacing Bowie’s. Unlike a typical Muppet performance, however, he had no video screen to view his performance. In other words, his manipulations were performed completely blind.

 


The split sculpture was an invention of Jim Henson and Debbie the Roboteer for Labyrinth. It looks simply like a series of rocks until the camera pans to the correct angle, then it resembles Jareth’s face. Developed over several grueling evenings with hot, noisy robots and Plastina Romana at the Robotorium, Inc on Mott Street in NYC during the early-1980s.

 


During the “Escher room” scene there is a sequence when Jareth’s crystal ball seems to bounce up the stairs and into Toby’s hand. This was accomplished by having Toby drop the ball down the stairs, and then reversing the shot.

 


David Bowie did the voice (gurgling) for the baby in the song “Magic Dance”.

 


In the DVD version, there are hidden faces in seven scenes. In general, they resemble the head that Jareth leans against before giving Hoggle the peach (David Bowie’s actual face at that time). The faces can be found: Upper right corner of the [stone] maze, just after the worm shakes its head and says “If she’d have kept on going down that way…” To the right of the screen, after the rung under Hoggle breaks, as he watches it fall. Upper left corner of the hedge maze, as Hoggle is muttering “Get through the labyrinth, get through the labyrinth, one thing’s for sure… ” Lower right corner of the wall bordering the Bog of Eternal Stench, just after the ledge breaks under Sarah and Hoggle for the first time. During the wide shot of the hedge maze in the middle left on the stony floor just after the hat says, “It’s so stimulating being your hat.” In the forest as Sir Didymus says “We should reach the castle well before day.”

 


Director Trademark: [Jim Henson] During the Goblin Battle scene, while Sarah and the gang opens the door to the Goblin Castle, you can see milk bottles near the door.

 


The upside-down room in the Goblin City is directly inspired by a drawing by M.C. Escher (entitled “Relativity”) – which can been seen in Sarah’s room at the beginning of the film.

 


According to the Goblin Companion (a book that gives a description of every goblin in the Labyrinth – written by Brian Froud and Terry Jones) the Junk Lady who carries everything on her back is named Agnas.

 


Sarah’s dog “Merlin” is also used for Sir Didymus’ mount “Ambrosius”. In Lady Mary Stewart’s stories of King Arthur, Merlin is known as “Merlin Ambrosius”

 


In one version of the script, the junk lady was actually a puppet being manipulated by Jareth, and the junkyard was actually a town complete with a bar that Hoggle visits before they find Sarah.

 


The owl in the title sequence is computer generated – the first attempt at a photo-realistic CGI animal character in a feature film.

 


The baby who plays Toby is Toby Froud, son of Brian Froud who was the conceptual designer for both this movie and The Dark Crystal (1982), another Jim Henson production.

 


In the scene where Toby is seated on Jareth’s lap, the baby has a fixed and hypnotized look off-camera as Jareth murmurs evilly into his ear. In fact, Toby screamed so much during the many takes of this scene, that something had to be done to keep him quiet. Fortunately, a crew member had a glove-puppet Sooty. For the duration of Jareth’s speech, David Bowie had the Sooty puppet on one hand (out of shot) gently wiggling to distract Toby. The child was entranced, hence the hypnotic stare, and the perfect silence.

 


After solving the problem of the guards who lie or tell the truth, Sarah falls into an oubliette, which Hoggle describes: “It’s a place where you put people…to forget about ‘em!” Oubliettes were a type of dungeon where the only entry was through an opening high in the ceiling. To leave an oubliette was practically impossible without external assistance. The word “oubliette” comes from the French word “oublier’ meaning ‘to forget”. The basic premise was that an oubliette was a dungeon for prisoners that the captor(s) wished to forget. Prisoners were often left to starve to death in an oubliette.

 


Just after the Junk Lady places “dear old Flopsy” behind Sarah she slips a book titled The Wizard Of Oz behind Flopsy.

 


Two official music videos promoting this title and marrying it to the career of pop artiste David Bowie (who played Jareth the Goblin King) were released. “As the World Falls Down” features scenes from the film itself, not just the ballroom scene, and includes specially filmed scenes of Hoggle together with Bowie. “Underground”, which can be heard as the final credits roll, features many of the films characters again in specially filmed scenes with Bowie.

 

Dragonslayer released June 26, 1981

Dragonslayer

Dragonslayer is a 1981 fantasy movie set in a fictional medieval kingdom, following a young wizard (played by Peter MacNicol) who experiences danger and opposition as he attempts to defeat a dragon.

A co-production between Walt Disney Productions and Paramount Pictures, Dragonslayer was more mature and realistic than other Disney films of the period. Because of audience expectations for a more child-friendly film from Disney, the movie’s violence and adult themes were somewhat controversial at the time – even though Disney did not hold US distribution rights, which were held by Paramount (it was rated PG in the U.S.; TV showings after 1997 have carried a TV-14 rating). Disney later created Touchstone Pictures to produce more mature fare.

The film was directed by Matthew Robbins (later director of *batteries not included), from a screenplay he co-wrote with Hal Barwood. It starred Peter MacNicol, Ralph Richardson, John Hallam, and Caitlin Clarke.

Dragonslayer also featured then-unknown actor Ian McDiarmid as the minor character Brother Jacopus. McDiarmid’s next film role after Dragonslayer would be that of the villain Palpatine in Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi, a role which he would reprise in the subsequent Star Wars films.

The special effects were created at Industrial Light and Magic, where Phil Tippett co-developed an animation technique called go motion for the film. Go motion is a variation on stop-motion animation, and its use in Dragonslayer led to the film’s nomination for the Academy Award for Visual Effects; it lost to Raiders of the Lost Ark (another Paramount film). The film was also nominated for the Academy Award for Original Music Score; Chariots of Fire took the award. Including the hydraulic 40 foot model, 16 dragon puppets were used for the role of Vermithrax, each one made for different movements; flying, crawling, fire breathing etc.

The film was also nominated for a Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation. Once again, it lost to Raiders of the Lost Ark.

In October 2003, Dragonslayer was released on DVD in the U.S. by Paramount Home Video.

Trivia:

To create the dragon fire, the FX team used a pair of military-style flamethrowers.


The entire movie was filmed in natural light.

 


First film to use go-motion, a variant of stop-motion animation in which parts of the model (in this case, the dragon) were mechanized and the movement programmed by computer. During shooting, the computer moves the model while the camera is shooting, resulting in motion blur, which makes the animation more convincing.

 


Filmed as a co-production between Walt Disney Pictures and Paramount. Dragonslayer (1981) was more mature and realistic than most Disney films of the time.

 


Peter MacNicol’s film debut.

 


Shot on location in Wales. But the final scene was shot in Skye, Scotland.

 


Including the hydraulic 40 foot model, 16 dragon puppets were used for the role of Vermithrax, each one made for flying, crawling and breathing fire.

 


The story has many familiar dragon motifs found throughout Western culture. In particular Saint George and the Dragon, in which maiden sacrifices were made to appease a harassing dragon. Saint George’s tale also includes a sacrificial lottery resulting in the surprise condemnation of a princess. Saint George is also frequently depicted with a magic (blessed) lance or a sword.

 


Many town locals were employed in the film as village extras.

 


Peter MacNicol is said to be embarrassed by this film and does not list it on his CV.

 


“Vermithrax Pejorative” roughly translates as “The Worm of Thrace Which Makes Things Worse.”

 

Gremlins 2: The New Batch

Gremlins 2: The New Batch is a 1990 American comedy horror film, and a sequel to Gremlins (1984). It was directed by Joe Dante and written by Charles S. Haas, with creature designs by Rick Baker. It stars Zach Galligan, Phoebe Cates, John Glover, Robert Prosky, Haviland Morris, Dick Miller, Jackie Joseph, Robert Picardo and Christopher Lee; additionally, Frank Welker (who played Stripe in the first film) reprises his role as a gremlin.

The story continues the adventures of the creature Gizmo, who spawns numerous small monsters when wet. In the first film, Gizmo’s offspring had rampaged through a small fictional town. In Gremlins 2, Gizmo multiplies within a skyscraper in New York City. The new creatures thus pose a serious threat to the city should they be able to leave the building, and much of the story involves the human characters’ efforts to prevent this disaster.

Like the first film, Gremlins 2 is a live action comedy-horror film. However, Dante put effort into taking the sequel in new anarchic directions. The film is meant to be more cartoon-like than the darker original, and the violence is fairly slapstick. There are also a number of parodies of other films and stories, most notably Gremlins itself, as well as the Rambo films, The Wizard of Oz, Marathon Man and The Phantom of the Opera.

Trivia:

Joe Dante told Cahiers du Cinéma in 1990, that Warner Bros. opened this movie directly opposite Dick Tracy (1990) in an attempt to keep the box-office record set by Batman (1989) from being broken.


Suggested by Jonathan Kaplan, Joe Dante hired Charles S. Haas to write the screenplay.

 


After Gremlins (1984) became such a surprise success, Warner Bros. immediately wanted a sequel, but director Joe Dante had had enough Gremlins for a while and declined. Work on Gremlins 2 proceeded without him, as the studio approached various directors and writers. Storylines considered included sending the gremlins to cities like Las Vegas or even the planet Mars. After these ideas fell through, the studio finally asked Dante again, who agreed on the condition that he be allowed to do anything he wanted. He also received a bigger budget. In the DVD commentaries for both the original film and the sequel, Dante stated that he felt that Gremlins 2 was a case of waiting too long to capitalize on the success of the original, which hurt the sequel’s chances of success.

 


For the special effects, Joe Dante turned to Rick Baker when Chris Walas and Rob Bottin had to turn it down. Initially, Baker was not interested as he saw this movie as too much work for a project in which he would not be the creator but rather a successor to Walas. He was eventually persuaded to accept the job when it was suggested he could make the Gremlins and Mogwai more diverse.

 


Aside from Mohawk, the other three Mogwai created from Gizmo are called George, Lenny, and Daffy (the first two referring to John Steinbeck’s novel “Of Mice And Men”, the latter referring to Daffy Duck).

 


In the original script, Randall Peltzer was to return after the gremlins were killed at the end, and give to Gizmo his newest “invention”: a wet-suit like thing that would prevent Gizmo from ever getting wet again, therefore preventing any sort of gremlin problems in the future (provided it never ate after midnight). The scene was all set to shoot, and the actor who played Mr. Peltzer, Hoyt Axton, was available to shoot the scene. But, the filmmakers figured that the movie was already running too long, and they’d never use the scene anyway, so it was never shot.

 


When Gremlins 2 made its debut on home video, the filmmakers altered the film-breaking scene, to make it seem as if VCRs had been broken by the gremlins. This time actor John Wayne (in footage from Chisum (1970) forces the gremlins into continuing the film, although voice impersonation was needed since Wayne had been dead since 1979. Wayne’s son, Michael Wayne, recommended Chad Everett for the voice. Notably, a clip from Falling Hare (1943), featuring Bugs Bunny and a different, cartoon gremlin, appears in this version.

 


The uplifting end of the world video scene was included by the filmmakers when they find out that one the news networks actually have such a video prepare to run in case of the end of the world. This video apparently still exists and still ready to run at the final hour.

 


In the scene where Mohawk drinks a potion which enables him to change into a centauroid spider, the pulsating sound effect from Tarantula (1955) can be heard. The effect was originally recorded for the Martian war machines in The War of the Worlds (1953).

 


WILHELM SCREAM: As a victim is covered in gremlins and he falls off of a ledge.

 


Clamp’s automatic office doors open and sound the same as the doors of the Enterprise from “Star Trek” (1966).

 


Most of the scenes where Gizmo (or the other mogwai) were on their own, were filmed with double scale puppets.

 


Robert Picardo controlled Greta, the “female” gremlin when it was attached to him instead of the puppeteers because the puppet had so much contact and movements with his character. This technique is also used in the scene where Daniel Clamp (John Glover) pushes the gremlin in the paper shredder.

 


The opening aerial shot of New York City was stock footage from Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987).

 


In a deleted scene, the Gremlins release all the animals in the “Splice o’ Life” lab. During the filming of this scene, the monkeys in the lab set were genuinely so terrified of the Gremlin puppets, that they refused to leave their cages when their trainers called for them.

 


The mother scolding the theater manager regarding the movie’s inappropriate tone for children was based in fact. During a screening of Gremlins (1984), Joe Dante really was excoriated by a mother who walked out of the theater with her daughter during the infamous kitchen massacre sequence. The daughter begged to be let back in the theater, got free from the mother, and hid in the theater to watch the rest of the film.

 


In a corridor of the Clamp Tower, one nameplate says “Dr. Quatermass”. Quatermass is the main character in a number of British television series and movies, including “The Quatermass Experiment” (1953).

 


Gizmo refers to Mr. Wing as “Keye Luke”, which is, of course, the actor’s real name.

 


At one point, Joe Dante, Michael Finnell, Steven Spielberg and Charles S. Haas thought what the movie needed was some kind of SWAT team character, a soldier of fortune who could come in during the fourth act, and there would be a lot of Road Runner-Coyote gags between this guy and the Gremlins. Charles Napier was their first choice for this character.

 


In the cartoon intro, Daffy Duck says to Bugs: “Fifty years of you hogging the spotlight is enough”. This movie was released the year of Bugs Bunny’s 50th birthday.

 


A billboard of Do the Right Thing (1989) can be seen in the scene in Times Square, next to Burger King.

 


When Kate arrives to Billy’s office looking for Gizmo, she finds mogwai Daffy on the top of the Clamp Tower model playing with some airplane toys located over him. This is an homage to King Kong (1933).

 


The movie that Grandpa Fred presents in his show as “The Attack of the Octopus People” is, in fact, Octaman (1971), which feature the first costume designed by Rick Baker.

 


In a corridor of the Clamp Tower, one nameplate says “Vectorscope Labs”. This is a reference to the movie Innerspace (1987) also directed by Joe Dante.

 


When Christopher Lee was cast in this movie, one of the first things he did was apologize to Joe Dante (who also directed The Howling (1981)) for appearing in Howling II: Stirba – Werewolf Bitch (1985).

 


Originally, Steven Spielberg wanted to cut the scene when a boy crosses the “Police Line” banner outside Clamp Tower. He changed his mind when Joe Dante revealed to him that this boy was his nephew.

 


Leonard Maltin appears as himself repeating his criticisms of Gremlins (1984) while he holds a video version of the movie. However, his rant is cut short when gremlins pounce on him as a result. In his annual Movie Guide he gives Gremlins 2 three stars (out of a possible four) and refers to this scene as a “gratuitous cameo”, though he doesn’t say he’s actually in the movie.

 


The original version of the film was longer, but, Steven Spielberg after the first screening claimed there were too many gremlins and several scenes were cut as a result.

 


Among the changes in the original script was that Daniel Clamp (John Glover) evolved from being the central villain into kind of a nice guy, while the character played by Robert Picardo took over most of the villain’s role.

 


When Billy is trying to explain the rules regarding the mogwai to Forster’s staff, they find them quite absurd and interrogate him on the application of this rules. This scene originates from the fact that the filmmakers themselves saw the rules as irrational, and some questions in the scene were based upon queries raised by fans of Gremlins (1984).

 


There is a sample of the action music from the film The ‘burbs (1989), also directed by Joe Dante and composed by Jerry Goldsmith, when the Bat Gremlin flies out of the Clamp Tower after being injected with the sunblock solution.

 


In a deleted scene, Dr. Catheter examines a bat injected with the sunblock solution. He then says to Wally, “I’m told they sometimes feed on blood”; this is a reference to Christopher Lee’s performances as Count Dracula in the “Hammer” Horror films.

 


For the Italian version of the movie, notorious Italian art critic Vittorio Sgarbi gave his voice to the Brain Gremlin.

 


At one point in the film, Joe Dante attempted to involve his audience in the story by making it seem as if the gremlins had taken over whatever theatre Gremlins 2 would be screened in. This sequence was inspired by a similar stunt in William Castle’s The Tingler (1959). During his DVD commentary for this movie, Dante recalled that Warner Bros. wanted the sequence cut, as they were concerned the audience would believe the film actually had malfunctioned; test screening ultimately proved otherwise. However, the video version caused problems: Instead of film-breaking effects, the scene looked like a VHS malfunctioning. Many rental copies were returned as a result of this, and video mastering houses called the filmmakers to ask them if this was intentional.

 


Several gremlins hiccuping are archive recordings of Mel Blanc’s hiccups from various Looney Tunes shorts.

 


Tim Curry was considered for the voice of the Brain Gremlin.

 


In a deleted scene, three of the main gremlins (George, Lenny and Daffy) sneaking into Grandpa Fred’s studio and “helping” him host, which worked because Grandpa Fred’s show was supposed to be scary. A still from this scene was used on the video cover.

 


Joe Dante claimed that the gremlins musical number is a shameless steal from the film Dames (1934), another Warner Bros. release.

 


John Hora, the Director of Photography (who made his screen acting debut on Innerspace (1987), also directed by Joe Dante), appears briefly in the movie, but his scene was cut.

 


The character of Grandpa Fred is obviously based on Al Lewis’s character (Grandpa Munster) in the television series “The Munsters” (1964).

 


The movie that the gremlins George and Lenny are watching in the systems control center is The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms (1953).

 


The filmmakers chose John Rambo as the character that Gizmo was going to imitate in this movie. The permission for their use was granted by Sylvester Stallone.

 


Unlike the “PG” rated predecessor, the MPAA rated this movie “PG-13″. It should be noted that Gremlins (1984) is one of the movies that helped to create the PG-13 rating.

 


Director Cameo: [Joe Dante] as the director of Grandpa Fred’s show.

 


Cameo: [Charles S. Haas] (The screenwriter) as Casper, Dr. Catheter’s assistant.

 


Cameo: [Jerry Goldsmith] alongside his wife Carol Heather Goldsmith, as customers at the frozen yogurt counter.

 


Cameo: [Henry Gibson] as the employee fired by Forster, for taking an unauthorized break.

 


Cameo: [Julia Sweeney] as Peggy, the “Splice o’ Life” lab receptionist.

 


Cameo: [John Astin] as the janitor, who tries to repair the water fountain.

 


Cameo: [Jason Presson] (one of the stars of Explorers (1985), also directed by Joe Dante), as Alex, the yogurt jerk.

 


Cameo: [Bubba Smith] as Himself, trying to save Dick Butkus who is attacked at the salad bar.

 


After Innerspace (1987), this movie marked the fourth collaboration between Joe Dante and Michael Finnell with Steven Spielberg.

 


Immediately after Billy electrocutes the gremlins in the lobby, a musical quote from the “Dies Irae” (a Latin hymn about the Judgment Day) can be heard in the musical score.

 


Ranked #33 in Empire Magazine’s “50 Greatest Ever Movie Sequels” (2009).

 


As the Bat Gremlin crashes through the wall, escaping into the city, it leaves a hole in the shape of the Batman symbol.

 


Chris Walas, who created the Gremlins in the first film, declined the opportunity to create them again, choosing instead to create the effects for The Fly (1986).

 

Jack the Giant Killer released June 13, 1962

Jack the Giant Killer

Jack the Giant Killer (1962) is a United Artists feature film starring Kerwin Mathews in a fairy tale story about a young man who defends a princess against a sorcerer’s giants and demons. The film was loosely based on the traditional tale “Jack the Giant Killer” and features extensive use of stop motion animation. The film was directed by Nathan H. Juran and later re-edited and re-released as a musical by producer Edward Small.

Trivia:

Producer Edward Small re-released this film as a musical. Songs were dubbed onto the soundtrack. Some of the footage was doctored to make it look like some of the original cast were singing rather than speaking their dialog.
Link this trivia


This was producer Edward Small’s attempt to cash in on the huge success of The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (1958). He even hired the same director (Nathan Juran), hero (Kerwin Mathews) and villain (Torin Thatcher).
Link this trivia

 


The film was unreleased in the UK until 1967 and then received cuts for an ‘A’ certificate to edit the witch attack on the ship, Princess Elaine being attacked by the giant, and Jack’s fight with the dragon.

 

Clash of the Titans 1981

Clash of the Titans is an American 1981 fantasy-adventure film involving the Greco-Roman hero Perseus. It was released on June 12, 1981 and was a box office hit, grossing $41.1 million domestically, on a $16 million budget. It was the 11th highest grossing film of the year.A novelization of the film by Alan Dean Foster was published in 1981.

Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures released a remake of the film in 3-D on April 2, 2010.

Trivia:

The original script called for Perseus to cut off Medusa’s head by throwing his shield at her. Harry Hamlin convinced the producers to let him use his sword, as that was how it happened according to Greek Mythology.


The Kraken was not the name of a titan in Greek mythology, but a sea monster from Scandinavian mythology.

 


Neil McCarthy only played Calibos in head shots and half-body shots. All full body shots of Calibos were played by a stop-motion model.

 


This big budget 1981 release became the last feature film for which Ray Harryhausen created the special effects. It was also the only one in which he had assistants.

 


The last film for Charles H. Schneer.

 


Maggie Smith, who plays Thetis, was married to screenwriter Beverley Cross.

 


The last film of both Flora Robson and Donald Houston.

 


Screenwriter Beverley Cross was a student of mythology and he developed a storyline centering on Perseus and Andromeda which linked together a number of myths. He took the idea to producers Charles H. Schneer and Ray Harryhausen. The story was modified to add more creatures. Cross’s wife, actress Maggie Smith, appeared in the film as Thetis.

 


Originally filmed in 1979.

 


According to mythology after Medusa’s head was severed from her neck, two offspring sprang forth: the winged horse Pegasus and the giant Chrysaor.

 


According to mythology there was Cerberus, the THREE-headed dog but no Dioskilos with two. They asked Ray Harryhausen why he didn’t use a three-headed dog, and he said it takes too much time to animate the extra head.

 


Initially Calibos had no dialogue and was a purely stop motion character. After a rewrite to the script dialogue was added and the role was given to Neil McCarthy.

 

Gremlins released June 8, 1984

Gremlins

Gremlins is an American comedy horror film directed by Joe Dante and released in 1984 by Warner Bros. It is about a young man who receives a strange creature (called a mogwai) named Gizmo as a pet, which then spawns other creatures who transform into small, destructive, evil monsters. This story was continued with a sequel, Gremlins 2: The New Batch, released in 1990. Unlike the lighter sequel, the original Gremlins opts for more black comedy, which is balanced against a Christmas-time setting. Both films were the center of large merchandising campaigns.

Steven Spielberg was the film’s executive producer, with the screenplay written by Chris Columbus. The film stars Zach Galligan and Phoebe Cates, with Howie Mandel providing the voice of Gizmo. The actors had to work alongside numerous puppets, as puppetry was the main form of special effects used to portray Gizmo and the gremlins.

Gremlins was a commercial success and received positive reviews from critics. However, the film has also been heavily criticized for some of its more violent sequences. Critics alleged these scenes made the film inappropriate for younger audiences who could be admitted into theatres under its PG rating. In response to this and to similar complaints about other films, the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) reformed its rating system within two months of its release.

In this film, the Amblin Entertainment logo makes its first on-screen appearance, displayed as “An Amblin Entertainment Presentation” as part of the end credits in place of the original logo.

Trivia:

The idea for these creatures was born in a loft in Manhattan’s garment district that was home to NYU Film School graduate screenwriter Chris Columbus. “By day, it was pleasant enough, but at night, what sounded like a platoon of mice would come out and to hear them skittering around in the blackness was really creepy.” Columbus recalls.


Unbeknownst to Joe Dante and Michael Finnell, Steven Spielberg was a big fan of The Howling (1981). After he came across Chris Columbus’ writing sample, he fell in love with it and bought it. Then he decided that Dante was the guy to make it into a movie, took the project to Warner Bros. and also produced it with his own company, Amblin Entertainment.

 


Originally planned and scheduled for a Christmas release, the film was rushed into production shortly after Warner Bros. found out that it had no major competition against Paramount’s Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984) or Columbia’s Ghost Busters (1984) for the summer movie season.

 


Generally credited (along with Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984)) to influence the MPAA to create the PG-13 rating, as many felt the scenes of violence in both movies were too much for a PG rating, but not enough for an R rating.

 


Chris Columbus’ script went through a few drafts before a shooting script was finalized. His original version had the creatures killing the dog and cutting off the mom’s head and tossing it down the stairs. These elements were never shot due to the fact that both, Joe Dante and Warner Bros. wanted the movie to be more family oriented.

 


In the original draft of the script, instead of Stripe being a Mogwai who becomes a Gremlin, there was no Stripe the Mogwai and Gizmo was supposed to turn into Stripe the Gremlin. Steven Spielberg overruled this plot element because he felt Gizmo was cute and audiences would want him to be present at all stages of the film. This became stressful for Chris Walas who had designed the Gizmo puppet only for the actions that happened in the first half of the movie.

 


In a deleted scene, Billy and Kate discover Gerald in the bank vault. This scene was added to the NBC TV showing.

 


Billy says he bought a comic at Dr. Fantasy’s. Dr. Fantasy is a nickname for executive producer Frank Marshall.

 


Like the Wicked Witch of the West in The Wizard of Oz (1939), Mrs. Deagle has little tolerance for young people and dogs.

 


While Rand Peltzer is talking with his wife at the inventor’s convention, the machine from The Time Machine (1960) can be seen in the background winding up to full power. The scene cuts to the house, and when we cut back again, the machine has gone, leaving only a wisp of colored smoke.

 


Mrs. Deagle, the richest lady in town, has named her cats after different kinds of currency (including Kopeck, Drachma and Dollar Bill).

 


The “Rockin’ Ricky Rialto” billboard shows a man dressed like Indiana Jones, holding a microphone like a whip, and the “Rockin’ Ricky Rialto” logo in the Indiana Jones typeface.

 


This was the first movie in years to use Warner Bros’ “shield” logo

 


In Cantonese Chinese, mogwai means devil, demon or gremlin. The Mandarin pronunciation is mogui.

 


The film that the students are watching in Mr. Hanson’s class is Hemo the Magnificent (1957) (TV), actually an episode of a TV series called “Science” that aired in the late 1950s and was sponsored by the Bell Telephone System (broken up as of January 1984).

 


The movie that Lynn Peltzer is watching in the kitchen is It’s a Wonderful Life (1946).

 


Both Judd Nelson and Emilio Estevez were considered for the role of Billy.

 


There are several references to The Howling (1981), also directed by Joe Dante. The smiley face image on the refrigerator door, some lobby cards from that movie are displayed on the interior of the local theater and most notably the inclusion of the exact same character/actor, the television reporter Lew Landers as portrayed by Jim McKrell.

 


While watching Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) on the local cinema, one of the gremlins wears some Mickey Mouse’s ears.

 


Hoyt Axton was always the foremost choice for Rand Peltzer. Pat Harrington Jr. was also considered. Pat Hingle was said to have delivered the best screen test, but was passed on because it was feared Rand’s character would take over the picture as a result of Hingle’s excellent performance.

 


When the gremlins disrupt Mr. Futterman’s roof television antenna, he changes the channel, and it briefly lands on a scene from Jean Cocteau’s Orphée (1950).

 


Although it is not clearly visible, “Four Magic Moves to Winning Golf”, by Joe Dante (senior) is on Billy’s nightstand. Joe Dante said his father criticized him for not making the title more visible.

 


In Mrs. Deagle’s house, Edward Arnold is shown in a few photographs as Donald Deagle. The permission for their use was granted by his estate.

 


The movie on Billy’s TV when he feeds the mogwais after midnight is Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)

 


The set for Kingston Falls is the same one used for Back to the Future (1985). Both movies were filmed in the Universal Studios backlot.

 


In addition to restoring the classic Warner Brothers logo to the opening of the movie, it was hoped to release the film along with the classic Looney Tunes short, Falling Hare (1943), where Bugs Bunny is harassed by a plane gremlin during WW II. This fell through, but, highlights from the short do appear as part of the Behind the Scenes featurette, that has also been included on the Special Edition DVD.

 


The picture of Rockin’ Ricky Rialto is a picture of Don Steele.

 


Little to no actual dialogue for the Gremlins and Mogwai exists in the script in itself. In addition to several instances of on stage rewrites changing or adding to much of the script, the voiceovers were all mostly ad libs, repeating snippets of just performed dialogue or in reaction to other sound effects or environment. To this end, Howie Mandel recorded Gizmo’s lines phonetically for foreign dubs of the movie, where localized dialogue and in jokes helped make the picture successful with audiences world wide.

 


In the classroom the students are watching Hemo the Magnificent (1957) (TV). The character of Hemo the Magnificent was played by Marvin Miller, who also does the voice of Robby the Robot at the inventor’s convention (and in Forbidden Planet (1956)).

 


It was Frank Welker who suggested Howie Mandel perform in this film.

 


At Dorry’s Tavern, one of the gremlins is playing Star Wars (1983) (VG).

 


Though he followed the basic outline of the script, Hoyt Axton is said to have improvised nearly all his lines.

 


At least one of Phoebe Cates’s screams in the scene at Dorry’s Tavern is genuine. An enormous cockroach crawled out in front of her during one take.

 


During one night shoot, problems with the Gremlin puppets were so severe that the entire cast fell asleep on the set during the delay.

 


The footage of Santa on the roof that Mr. Futterman is watching in his home is of Red Skelton in a Christmas skit from one of his shows.

 


After watching his earlier short films, Steven Spielberg considered Tim Burton to direct the film. But decided against it because at the time Burton had never directed a full feature length film.

 


Jon Pertwee and Mako were both seriously considered for the role of Mr. Wing.

 


In one scene, Billy is trying to play Gizmo’s song on an electric keyboard. In the movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977), the humans try to communicate with the aliens by making music with their computers.

 


The theater that blows up was subsequently involved in another accident when Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) in Back to the Future (1985), smashes into the front entrance at the end of the film. The theater then burned down with the rest of the buildings in the fire that happened right after the filming of Back to the Future Part II (1989).

 


In the scene where Billy shows the newly-spawned batch of mogwais to his father, one of them is playing with a vintage tabletop Donkey Kong game (a toy released to cash in on the then-rampant popularity of the Donkey Kong arcade game).

 


Among others, the voices of the Gremlins were done by Michael Winslow.

 


Kenneth Tobey and Belinda Balaski also appeared in Gremlins 2: The New Batch (1990), playing both a different character.

 


According to Joe Dante and Michael Finnell, the original rough cut of the film ran 2 hours and 40 minutes.

 


In this film, the Amblin Entertainment logo makes its first on-screen appearance.

 


The scene in the department store where Stripe attacks Billy with a chainsaw was not in the script. It was added by Joe Dante and Zach Galligan as a homage to The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974).

 


Edward Andrews, Judge Reinhold and William Schallert received roles that were reduced after the film was edited.

 


Within the story, Gizmo was capable of singing or humming. Jerry Goldsmith wrote Gizmo’s song as well, but Howie Mandel never sang it. A girl member of Goldsmith’s congregation was hired to sing Gizmo’s song, although she had never worked in films before.

 


The movie that Gizmo is watching in Billy’s bedroom is To Please a Lady (1950).

 


After Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983), this movie marked the second collaboration between Joe Dante and Michael Finnell with Steven Spielberg.

 


The last film project of Scott Brady and Edward Andrews.

 

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