Mystery Archives

Murder by Death released June 23, 1976

Murder By Death

Murder by Death is a 1976 comedy movie with a star-studded cast, written by Neil Simon and directed by Robert Moore.

The plot is a spoof of the traditional country-house whodunit, familiar to mystery fiction fans from classics such as Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None, a form also parodied for the stage in Tom Stoppard’s The Real Inspector Hound. The cast is an ensemble of British and American actors playing send-ups of well-known fictional sleuths, including Hercule Poirot, Miss Marple, Charlie Chan, Nick and Nora Charles, and Sam Spade.

It also features a rare acting performance by In Cold Blood author Truman Capote. The film was presented at the Venice International Film Festival in 1976.


Orson Welles was originally considered for the role of Inspector Wang but was unable to accept because he was appearing in a play in Italy.

Neil Simon remained on the set to take care of re-writes, as he did with this picture’s sequel, The Cheap Detective (1978). Simon took such a shine to Alec Guinness during the picture’s production that he told him if he did not like anything in the film, he’d immediately rewrite it for him, but Guinness assured him it was great fun for him.


Myrna Loy was originally offered the part of Dora Charleston (a role that was a spoof of the character that she had played in the Thin Man movies) but she declined, later stating that “it would have been ridiculous to have Myrna Loy doing Myrna Loy”. She also stated that she didn’t want her “ass pinched by David Niven”.


During the first scene when Alec Guinness licks the stamps for the invitations, the stamps used were the 8 cent Dwight D. Eisenhower “No Dot”, three-color stamps released in May 1971 and not the more popular 6 cent stamp released nearly a year earlier. First-class postage stamps were up to 13 cents by the time the movie was produced.


It was while working on this film that Alec Guinness received the script for Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (1977). He read it between scenes in his dressing room.


All of the detectives in the film are parodies of the work of three authors: Dashiell Hammett, whose Nick Charles and Sam Spade were the basis for Dick Charleston and Sam Diamond, respectively; Agatha Christie, whose Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple inspired Milo Perrier and Miss Marbles; Earl Derr Biggers Charlie Chan was the basis for Inspector Sidney Wang and his son.


Immediately after completing the film, Peter Sellers was so convinced it was going to bomb, he convinced the producers to buy back his percentage share in the movie, thus depriving himself of a cut of the profits with the film when it went on to be a hit.


The screaming woman sound used as a doorbell is Fay Wray’s screams from King Kong (1933).


Originally Katharine Hepburn was meant to play a character called Dame Abigail Christian (a spin on Agatha Christie). Hepburn dropped out after hearing Myrna Loy would not do the film. The character was changed to Dame Abigail Christmas, and Estelle Winwood took the role. After numerous re-writes Estelle became Nurse Withers to a new character, Elsa Lanchester’s Miss Jessica Marbles.


Nancy Walker’s last movie. Ironic in that she does not utter a single word throughout the entire film.


An interview with writer Neil Simon in a DVD extra Murder by Death: A Conversation with Neil Simon (1999) (V) has him reveal that he and director Robert Moore at one time wished to replace Truman Capote with a real actor in the part of Lionel Twain but ultimately this never eventuated.


Peter Sellers also played a taxi driver, but the scene was deleted.


Peter Sellers reportedly played a number of practical jokes on cast and crew during filming, including once calling Neil Simon up whilst imitating co-star Alec Guinness and demanding a re-write of a key scene in the middle of the night. Neither Guinness nor Simon was amused.


In the opening credits, each character’s eyes move except for Peter Falk’s (which may be an in-joke reference to his glass eye), and Alec Guinness’s blind butler.


David Niven plays Dick Charleston, a role based on Nick Charles which was originated by William Powell in the Thin Man movies. This is the second time Niven has played a role originated by Powell, having also played the titular role in the remake of My Man Godfrey (1936).


Phil Silvers had a small role in this film, but his scenes were deleted in the final release print.


The Deep released June 17, 1977

the deep 1977

The Deep is a 1977 film directed by Peter Yates based on the novel by Peter Benchley. Starring Robert Shaw, Nick Nolte,  Louise Gosset Jr. and Jacqueline Bisset.


The shipwreck featured in the movie is actually the RMS Rhone, which sank in 1867 off the coast of Salt Island in the British Virgin Islands. The ship broke into two pieces during the sinking. This movie was filmed at the bow section of the ship located about 75 feet underwater.

Jacqueline Bissett in The Deep

Jacqueline Bissett in The Deep

In the beginning of the movie while Gail is diving, she reaches under a part of the shipwreck and gets her arm yanked by the giant green moray, which causes her to scream in pain. In real life, her stunt-double, Jackie Kilbride, dislocated her shoulder doing this scene. A diver was told to pull the stick attached to her wrist from inside the wreck. When the stick appeared he pulled with all his might (as instructed). The scene was done in one take with multiple cameras as there was no chance (or need) for repeating it.



Author Peter Benchley can be briefly glimpsed as one of the U-boat shipmates in the prologue of the longer version of the film. The roles of the young Treece and Coffin were played by the sons of Robert Shaw and Eli Wallach.


Ghostbusters released June 8, 1984

ghostbusters 1984

Ghostbusters, titled on-screen as Ghost Busters, is a 1984 American science fiction comedy film written by co-stars Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis about three eccentric New York City parapsychologists-turned-ghost exterminators. The film was released in the United States on June 8, 1984 and like several films of the era, teamed Aykroyd and/or Ramis with headliner Bill Murray. It was produced and directed by Ivan Reitman, who also directed Stripes, and stars Murray, Aykroyd, Ramis, Rick Moranis, Sigourney Weaver, Annie Potts, and Ernie Hudson. The film made $291,632,124 in the United States alone, the equivalent of $538,260,000 in 2010 prices, ranking the film as the 32nd biggest grossing in U.S. Box Office history after adjustment for inflation.

It was followed by a sequel, Ghostbusters II in 1989, and two animated television series, The Real Ghostbusters (later renamed Slimer! And the Real Ghostbusters) and Extreme Ghostbusters. Ramis, who co-wrote the first two films, has confirmed that a script for a potential third film is being developed by Gene Stupnitsky and Lee Eisenberg, the writing team best known for their work on Curb Your Enthusiasm and the American version of The Office. Ramis told a Chicago Tribune columnist in 2008 that the original films’ four main cast members may have minor on-screen roles: “The concept is that the old Ghostbusters would appear in the film in some mentor capacity”. The American Film Institute ranked Ghostbusters 28th in its 100 Years… 100 Laughs list of film comedies.


The role of Louis Tully was originally written for John Candy.

The role of Peter Venkman was originally written for John Belushi.


According to Ivan Reitman and Harold Ramis in the DVD Commentary, in Dan Aykroyd’s original rough draft of the movie, the story was going to take place in the future and that there would be teams of Ghostbusters like there are paramedics and firefighters (thus explaining basing the Ghostbusters HQ in a firehouse). According to Reitman, such a film would cost “at least $300 million in 1984 dollars”. So Harold Ramis was brought in to rewrite the script and bring it into modern times.


The role of Winston was originally written for Eddie Murphy.


Gozer was originally going to be played by Paul Reubens, who turned down the role. In the original script, Gozer appeared as a normal man in a business suit.


Punk rocker Anne Carlisle was originally offered the role of Zuul, but turned it down.


Sandra Bernhard was originally offered the role of Janine.


Dan Aykroyd’s original version of the script began with the Ecto-mobile flying out of Ghostbusters HQ, but director Ivan Reitman suggested that it would be better to show how the team got started.


Dana’s apartment building actually exists at 55 Central Park West in New York City. The building is actually only 20 stories high. For the film, matte paintings and models were used to make the building look bigger and with more floors. According to the commentary on the DVD, the top of the building is modeled after the top of the Continental Life Building in St. Louis, MO.


The Stay-Puft marshmallow man was originally supposed to come up out of the water right next to The Statue of Liberty, to get a contrast of size, but the scene was too hard to shoot.


On the set, Dan Aykroyd referred to the “Slimer” ghost as the ghost of John Belushi.


Though never referred to in the script, the green ghost the guys bust in the hotel was dubbed “Onionhead” by the crew, because of its horrid smell. A scene where the ghost haunts two newlyweds showed this characteristic, but it was cut. Since it was never referred to in the movie, the writers of the animated show came up for a different name for the green ghost: Slimer.


The eggs which fry themselves are sitting next to a package of “Sta-Puft” marshmallows. There is also a large advertisement for “Sta-Puft” marshmallows (complete with the marshmallow man) visible on the side of a building.


Many sequences were shot but removed from the film (a couple of the following were added as extras to the Criterion Collection CAV laserdisc release) : – Several shots in the sequence where Venkman, Stantz, and Spengler are thrown off campus were cut. – Several scenes throughout the film with Janine and Egon were cut. – The first time Venkman leaves Dana’s apartment, he says to Louis “What a woman.” – The “green slimer” ghost is discovered by two newlyweds at the Hotel Sedgewick. Also cut was a Ghostbuster inspection of the room. – A policeman tries to ticket the Ectomobile, but the car won’t let him. – Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd play two bums that witness Louis being chased by the terror dog. – Ray and Winston inspect Fort Detmerring, where Ray dresses in an old General’s coat and falls asleep. When he awakes, he sees a female ghost above his bed. This part of the sequence was kept and used in the montage in the middle of the film. – Louis encounters two muggers in Central Park during the ghost montage. – Venkman and Stantz discuss matters with the mayor outside City Hall. – The Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man sequence ends with his large hat falling to the ground. Some deleted shots appear in the film’s trailers.


In the middle of the film’s initial release, to keep interest going, Ivan Reitman had a trailer run, which was basically the commercial the Ghostbusters’ use in the movie, but with the 555 number replaced with a 1-800 number, allowing people to call. They got a recorded message of Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd saying something to the effect of “Hi. We’re out catching ghosts right now.” They got 1,000 calls per hour, 24 hours a day, for six weeks.


When Alice the librarian is queried as to whether anyone in her family had ever had any history of mental illness, she replies she had an uncle who thought he was St. Jerome. Jerome is the patron saint of librarians.


The demonic voice of Dana/Zuul was performed by director Ivan Reitman. The voice of Gozer was provided by Paddi Edwards.


In rehearsal, Bill Murray (Venkman) teased Czech model Slavitza Jovan (Gozer) about her pronunciation of the line “Choose and Perish”, which sounded to him like “Jews and Berries”(!) and he’d say “There are no Jews and Berries here!”


Most of the deleted scenes are “restored” in the novelized adaptation of Ghost Busters (1984).


The original script had a budding romance between the cynical receptionist Janine and the blissfully out of it Egon, but most of it was edited out of the film. The special edition DVD features a deleted scene of Janine giving Egon a coin for luck before he goes off with the other Ghostbusters to fight Gozer; they are interrupted by Venkman. The relationship between Janine and Egon was explored more in the animated series that followed.


The interiors for the hotel scene were filmed (mostly) at the famous Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles, on the corner of 5th and Grand. This famous location has been used for hundreds of films, TV shows, commercials and even a few music videos. The three doors that the Ghostbusters walk through in the movie are actually located on the entrance on 5th St. The Grand Avenue entrance leads you to the main lobby, which used to be the hotel ballroom, as seen in the film. (The ceiling is a dead give away.) The room’s formerly solid walls have been replaced by glass doors (at the entrance) and archways. The reception desk is where the long banquet table was located in the film. To the right of that would have been the bar that Egon blasts. If you go into the bar to the right of the main lobby, there is a picture of the old ballroom on one of the walls, giving you a better perspective of what the room looked like in the early ’80s.


Flashbulbs were used on the business end of the proton pack weapons so that the special effects creators could properly synch up the effects with the action (most visible in the dining room scene, frame by frame, when capturing Slimer).


All the college scenes were filmed at Columbia University in New York, including the fictional Weaver Hall office/lab interiors. Director Ivan Reitman decided to use an actual on-campus office instead of a soundstage so the film crew could film indoors if the weather turned bad, rather than lose a day’s filming. Columbia University agreed to all this, on the condition the school not be mentioned by name on-camera.


The firehouse set the Ghostbusters use as HQ was remodeled and used once again as the mechanic shop in The Mask (1994).


The original premise of Ghost Busters (1984) had three main characters: John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd and Eddie Murphy. They fought ghosts in S.W.A.T. like suits using wands instead of guns. The ghost named Slimer was known as ‘Onionhead’, and at the end of the movie the Ghostbusters franchise was all over the United States. John Candy also was slated to play Louis. However, with Belushi’s death and characters backing out, the script was rewritten and new actors cast.


Storyboarded but never shot included: – A scene with Egon testing the proton pack, which is charged by being plugged in. The pack melts the plug. – A model’s mink coat comes to life on a runway. Note that this scene does happen in Ghostbusters II (1989) to a woman on the street.


Early publicity for the film was a teaser campaign featuring just the “no ghosts” logo. As the campaign built, the Ectomobile was also driven around the streets of Manhattan.


Exterior scenes of the Ghostbusters headquarters were filmed at the Hook and Ladder #8 Firehouse in the Tribeca section of New York City. Inside the firehouse are a Ghostbusters sign and photos taken with the cast and crew.


After the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man is destroyed there is a shot of a man down on the street being deluged by a huge amount of marshmallow goo. Due to the extreme angle of the shot most viewers don’t realize that this is Walter Peck (William Atherton), until he screams, “I HATE you, Venkman!”. A cut scene (included on the DVD) took place a few moments before, at the same angle, where Peck tells the police to go up to the roof and arrest the Ghostbusters.


The “marshmallow” goo was actually shaving cream. More than fifty gallons was dumped on Walter Peck (William Atherton), almost knocking him to the ground.


The schedule for getting the movie into theatres for its scheduled release date in summer 1984 was so tight, director Ivan Reitman said that the final print included incomplete special effects shots and errors like “wires showing” but, “remarkably, people didn’t care”.


One scene shot for the film but later deleted shows Ray and Winston on a call and Ray ends up in Canadian Mounties outfit. Production stills from this scene appear in the published version of the film script.


Initally, Ray Parker Jr. was having trouble writing the theme song to the film. The problem was solved when he saw the TV commercial for the Ghostbusters business in the film which inspired him to write the song like a advertising jingle for the business. The song was a #1 hit for three weeks.


When Venkman mentions the time Spengler tried to drill a hole in his head, Spengler’s response (“That would have worked if you hadn’t stopped me”) was actually ad-libbed by Harold Ramis.


The Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man suits cost Approximately $20,000 apiece. Three were made and all were destroyed during filming.


The Ectomobile was originally painted black until it was pointed out that most driving would be at night and the car would be difficult to see. It was then repainted white.


The firehouse used is actually two different firehouses that are in two different cities. The exterior is in NY, while the interior is in downtown Los Angeles. The LA firehouse is very popular with filmmakers and has been used in many movies.


Bill Murray agreed to do this movie only on the condition that Columbia finance a remake of The Razor’s Edge (1946) with him as the star. The remake was made (The Razor’s Edge (1984)).


The bum that Bill Murray played in a deleted scene looks and acts just like his character on Caddyshack (1980) (and also sports a golfing cap).


The party scene where Louis Tully (Rick Moranis) mingles with his party guests (commenting on the price of the salmon, and so on) is not only taken in one continuous shot, but is almost entirely improvised.


Huey Lewis and the News turned down an offer to write and record a theme song for Ghostbusters. They later sued Ray Parker Jr. for plagiarism, citing the similarities between his theme song and their earlier hit “I Want a New Drug.”


Lindsey Buckingham was approached to write the theme song to after the successful collaboration for Vacation (1983) (“Holiday Road”). He declined because he didn’t want to get into the rut of being asked to write movie themes.


There was an even more ferocious version of the Librarian Puppet that was going to be used, but it was rejected. However, it was recycled and used in another successful Columbia Pictures film released one year after this one, Fright Night (1985).


Until the release of Home Alone (1990), this was the highest-grossing comedy of all time.


In the original draft for Bill Murray’s character, sexual obscenities were written on Peter Venkman’s door; but Ivan Reitman wanted to make his film a target audience for families so the phrase “Venkman Burn in Hell” was added. In fact, this is a nod to the final scene in Stephen King’s Carrie (1976) – where there is a for-sale sign on the vacant lot where Carrie’s house once stood, and someone has graffitied it with “Carrie Burn in Hell”.


Voted number 28 in channel 4’s (UK) “Greatest Family Films”.


Scenes in the montage sequence of the Ghostbusters running around New York (and also driving in the Ecto-mobile) were done on the first day, largely without film permits. In one scene, someone who looks like they might be a security guard begins chasing after them, and Dan Aykroyd can be seen actually driving the Ecto-mobile.


In the scene when the terror dogs (Zuul and Vince Clorthow) come to life, were actual statue designs on an old church in Philadelphia.


As revealed in an interview with Mix Magazine Online the hit song ‘Ghostbusters’ was created 4:30 in the morning when after almost 2 long days of trying to create a song Ray Parker Jr. saw a commercial for a drain company that reminded him of a scene from the film. That commercial helped him coin the popular line “Who you gonna call?”


The character of Winston was initially written to be a guard at the Ghostbusters firehouse. Also, in earlier drafts of the script, Winston was the one who conjured up the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man.


The phone number for the Ghostbusters as it appears on the television ad that Dana sees in her apartment is 555-2368.


When the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man arrives, Ray says that he remembered the Stay-Puft marshmallows from when he use to go camping at Camp Wauconda. Camp Wauconda is an actual boy scout camp outside of Peoria, IL.


The electric shock experiments that Venkman conducts on the college students parodied the real life Rhine Experiments, which related to ESP. In the early 1930s, Duke psychologist JB Rhine, interested in parapsychology, wanted to test for ESP. Using Zener Cards, a deck of 25 cards with 5 different symbols, test subjects were asked to report what card the test administrator was holding up without being able to see it. Though Rhine reported that one test subject was able to correctly guess all 25 cards correctly, the results have never been duplicated, and Venkman is apparently using electric shocks in an attempt to repeat the original results. Also, the Miligrim experiment was used as an inspiration, where people were asked to give increasing electric shocks to strangers. This experiment was more about seeing how far people would go when being pushed, and the movie used the same premise to see how people would like to have the good guy giving electric shocks unfairly in a test.


Michael Keaton turned down both the roles of Dr. Peter Venkman and Dr. Egon Spengler.


Chevy Chase turned down the role of Dr. Peter Venkman, he claimed that the script used in the movie wasn’t the original script and in the original script was very dark and even more scarier.


The movie’s line “Dogs and cats living together! Mass hysteria!” was voted as the #68 of “The 100 Greatest Movie Lines” by Premiere in 2007.


The movie’s line “Well, there’s something you don’t see every day.” was voted as the #19 of “The 100 Greatest Movie Lines” by Premiere in 2007.


The music video for the song “Ghostbusters” by Ray Parker Jr., directed by Ivan Reitman, featured a number of celebrities who did not appear in the film. This included Chevy Chase, John Candy, Danny DeVito, Peter Falk, Melissa Gilbert, Carly Simon, Teri Garr, Irene Cara and George Wendt. In addition, the Ghostbusters themselves (in costume) danced down Times Square right behind Parker Jr.


The lively chorus shouting the words “Ghostbusters” through the song were made up of the only people Ray Parker Jr. could find quickly enough to help him meet his deadline: his young girlfriend and her friends.


The floating Sigourney Weaver special effect is an actual physical effect, not an optical effect. The actress was put in a full body cast and attached to a post that was hidden in the curtains. According to the commentary, this effect came from director Ivan Reitman’s Broadway experience.


Christopher Walken, John Lithgow, Christopher Lloyd and Jeff Goldblum were all considered for the role of Dr. Egon Spengler.


Harold Ramis really had no intention of starring in the film, only writing it. But he decided to star in this film as Dr. Egon Spengler after he felt he was the best person suited for the role.


The probe Venkman uses in Dana’s apartment is actually a United Technologies/Bacharach 300 Series “Sniffer”, normally used to locate utility gas leaks or low-oxygen hazards. The squeeze-bulb is standard. It is conceivable such a detector could be modified to find other gases-perhaps even paranormal ones.


Jean Kasem’s feature film debut.


Eddie Murphy was to have originally played Winston but did Beverly Hills Cop (1984) instead. That movie ended up beating this one as the year’s highest grossing film.


The name ‘Gozer’ was taken from the much publicized alleged haunting in Amityville.


The term ‘proton pack’ was never actually used until the middle of Ghostbusters II (1989) when Spengler, in the subway tunnel said “before we go any further I think we should get our proton packs.”


Probably by interesting coincidence, the name “Zuul” corresponds to “Zuhl”, an Alien Being George Adamski claimed to have met in his 1955 book “Inside the Space Ships”.


In 1982 producers Ivan Reitman, Joe Medjuck and Michael C. Gross were planning to make a film of the sci-fi novel “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”. Douglas Adams wrote three drafts for them per his contract. In this occasion Medjuck and Gross were considering Bill Murray or Dan Aykroyd to play Ford Prefect, but then Aykroyd sent them his idea for this movie and they decided to do it instead.


At their first brush with a ghost, Peter (Bill Murray) chides Ray (Dan Aykroyd) by calling him “Francine” (“Come here Francine.”). This may have been Murray poking ad-lib fun – or a jibe by the writers, including Aykroyd himself – at Aykroyd’s real-life friendship with Fran Drescher (see her bio).


225 E. 5th Street in Los Angeles, named as one of the locations (Firehouse #23, Ghostbusters HQ interior shots) runs parallel to Winston Street (to the North).


Almost none of the scenes were filmed as scripted and, in fact, almost all of the scenes had at least one or two ad-libs.


Coincidentally with a movie about ghosts and ghost-busting, the filming of the jail scene was actually a prison reported to be haunted, and the dailies had many scratches all over with no apparent physical cause. Ivan Reitman was concerned about returning there, but the crew was very relieved to find enough footage to complete the scene without returning.


Dan Aykroyd’s original title for the film was “Ghost Smashers”.


Had Eddie Murphy accepted the role of Winston, the character was actually meant to appear in more of the film. He was to have joined the team much earlier, and it would have been he who was slimed at the hotel. When Murphy declined the role, the script was re-written to have him appear about half-way through the film.


CNN Host Larry King’s film debut.


In the library scene, as an addition, there is a part where books are stacked, cover to cover, one on top of another. This is discovered with Ray calling it “symmetrical book stacking.” The whole scene was thought up by director Ivan Reitman that very day as he was driving to the set.


In the storyboards for the film (included in a gift booklet for the Ghostbusters two disc set), the guns for the proton packs were actually wands, like magic wands. They were long sticks with a ball on the end. They fired by the Ghostbusters flicking their wrists as a magician would and pointing the wands at the ghosts. The wands were changed to laser guns to fit the idea that the Ghostbusters created their gear from practical equipment.


When Janine is interviewing Winston for the job, the scene originally began with Winston listing his qualifications. According to Ivan Reitman in the DVD commentary, Winston’s qualifications included: An Army veteran (which meant he would have the courage to face ghosts), a former paramedic (which meant he would be able to go on call ‘at a moment’s notice’) and that he was also a construction worker. They decided to open with Janine’s questioning instead as it was considered a funnier opening. Incidentally, in the cartoon series, “The Real Ghost Busters” (1986), there is an episode where the Ghostbusters fight spirits on a construction site run by Winston’s father and he chides Winston for quiting the construction business to become a Ghostbuster.


John Candy quit the role of Louis Tully because his ideas for the character were being rejected. According to Ivan Reitman in the DVD commentary, among Candy’s suggestions he wanted the character to have a German accent and have a pair of schnauzer dogs. No one felt the German accent was appropriate for the character and since there was “dog imagery” in the movie (i.e.: the Terror Dogs), they felt having Tully own dogs was “too much”. So John Candy quit early in production and Rick Moranis was cast at the last minute; Candy and Moranis are both veterans of “Second City TV” (1976), along with Harold Ramis.


According to Harold Ramis, the name “Egon Spengler” is a conglomeration of two people. He went to high school with a foreign exchange student named “Egon” and “Spengler” comes from Oswald Spengler.


In 2010, actor William Atherton recalled to “The A.V. Club” that the shaving cream that was used for the melted “marshmallow” was still quite heavy: “We had the eighth-grade science test. I went under the bag, and I asked, ‘How much shaving cream is in there?’ And they said, ‘Not that much.’ So I said, ‘Well, how much does it weigh?’ ‘It’s about 75 pounds, but it’s shaving cream.’ You know the whole thing about 75 pounds of feathers and 75 pounds of lead? It’s about the same thing. [Laughs.] So can we figure out what’s going to happen with this?” So they put some poor stunt guy underneath to show the sissy actor ‘Okay, nothing’s going to happen.’ So they unleashed it, and it flattened him. So they took out half of the shaving cream, and I went in very happily and was slimed.”


The Hound of the Baskervilles 1959

The Hound of the Baskervilles is a 1959 British detective film produced by Hammer Films and is directed by Terence Fisher.

The film is an adaptation from the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle novel of the same name and stars Peter Cushing as Sherlock Holmes, Christopher Lee as Sir Henry Baskerville and André Morell as Watson. It also starred Marla Landi, Ewen Solon, Francis de Wolff, John Le Mesurier and Miles Malleson.


The first Sherlock Holmes movie to be filmed in color.

This film was planned to be the first in a series of many Sherlock Holmes films starring Peter Cushing, produced by Hammer Films. The audience disapproved of a Hammer film without any monsters and failed to turn up. The planned series was then dropped.


For his role as Sherlock Holmes he of course had to have a pipe but as Peter Cushing was either a non-smoker or didn’t like the taste of the pipe, he kept a glass of milk always to hand to remove the taste.


Feature film debut of Michael Hawkins.


The hound they used was a real dog called Colonel. On the set before the hound attacks Christopher Lee’s character Sir Henry Baskerville, they could not get Colonel to jump on Lee, so they started to ‘prod’ him into action. Lee gave up and suddenly, Colonel lunged on him and bit right through one of his arms.


Christopher Lee readily admits he has a morbid fear of spiders, and the panic on his face during the scene with the tarantula is not due to acting.


Family Plot released April 9, 1976

Famliy Plot

Family Plot is a 1976 dark comedy/thriller film directed by Alfred Hitchcock, his final film. It stars Barbara Harris, Bruce Dern, William Devane and Karen Black. The film was screened at the 1976 Cannes Film Festival, but wasn’t entered into the main competition. There were two working titles: Deceit and Missing Heir.


Director Cameo: [Alfred Hitchcock] in silhouette 45 minutes into the film behind the door at the registrar of births and deaths.

A street sign in the film reads “Bates Ave”. The Bates Motel was the setting for Hitchcock’s earlier film Psycho (1960).

Roy Thinnes was originally hired to play Arthur Adamson, but Hitchcock’s first choice William Devane became available so Hitchcock fired Thinnes without a reason and hired Devane. Some key scenes had been shot prior to this. Everything that had been shot was re-shot except for long shots which to this day remain as Roy Thinnes and not William Devane.

Director Trademark: [Alfred Hitchcock] [bathroom] features a modern chemical toilet.

Alfred Hitchcock was famous for making his actors follow the script to the word, but in this movie he let the characters improvise and use their own dialogue.

Alfred Hitchcock’s final film.

Alfred Hitchcock initially wanted Al Pacino for the role of Lumley. According to an interview on the DVD with Bruce Dern, who ultimately got the part, Pacino’s asking price was too high because of the recent successes he had enjoyed (Serpico (1973), The Godfather (1972), etc.)

The final shot in the movie, a wink by the Barbara Harris character was a jokey reference that was not planned but Alfred Hitchcock decided to leave in.

Lillian Gish wanted to test for the role of Julia Rainbird but the role had been promised to Cathleen Nesbitt.

Jack Nicholson couldn’t accept the role of George Lumley, as he was doing One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975).

Liza Minnelli was originally cast to play the role that later went to Barbara Harris.

Karen Black initially wanted the role of Blanche.

Faye Dunaway was offered the role of Fran.

Hound of the Baskervilles 1939

The Hound of the Baskervilles 1939 mystery film based on the novel of the same name by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and is directed by Sidney Lanfield and produced by 20th Century Fox.

It is the most well-known cinematic adaptation of the book, and is often regarded as one of the better, though very inaccurate, films.

The film stars Basil Rathbone as Sherlock Holmes, Nigel Bruce as Dr. Watson and Richard Greene as Henry Baskerville. Because the studio apparently had no idea that the film would be such a hit, and that Rathbone and Bruce would make many more Sherlock Holmes films and be forever linked with Holmes and Watson, top billing went to Richard Greene, who was the film’s romantic lead. Rathbone was billed second. Wendy Barrie, who played Beryl Stapleton, the woman with whom Greene falls in love, received third billing, and Nigel Bruce, the film’s Dr. Watson, was billed fourth. In all other Holmes films, Rathbone and Bruce would receive first and second billing.

The Hound of the Baskervilles also marks the first of the fourteen Sherlock Holmes movies starring Rathbone and Bruce as the detective duo.


  • In the original novel, and in all later film versions, the butler is named Barrymore. In the 1939 version, this had to be changed to Barryman because the famous Barrymore family was still acting in films.
  • Publicity materials referred to the dog who played the title character as “Chief”. The dog’s actual name was “Blitzen” but this was thought to sound too German.
  • The original title “The Hound of the Baskervilles” refers to a dog that terrorizes a family called “Baskerville”. The German title “Der Hund Von Baskerville”, a mistranslation, refers to a hound, which just lives in “Baskerville”, a town, that does not play a role in the story.
  • After being out of circulation for many years, partly because of the 1959 Hammer remake in Technicolor starring Peter Cushing, this film was restored and re-released to theaters in 1975 with great fanfare, to the point of having the national evening news do a story on it. The film was shown at its full 80-minute length, and newspaper and magazine articles commented on the fact that the line “Oh, Watson, the needle!”, referring to Holmes’ cocaine habit (and usually misquoted as “Quick, Watson, the needle!”) was put back in after having been cut by the censors. As an added attraction, the studio added a rare sound film featurette which showed Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, author of the Sherlock Holmes books, talking about his creation.
  • The first Sherlock Holmes film of Basil Rathbone.
  • The first of fourteen films based on Arthur Conan Doyle’s fictional consulting detective Sherlock Holmes starring Basil Rathbone as Sherlock Holmes and Nigel Bruce as Doctor Watson.
  • Beryl Mercer, who played the medium Jennifer Mortimer in the film, died less than three months after the film’s domestic release and before its international release.

The Bat released March 14, 1926

The Bat 1926

The Bat (1926) is a silent film based on the 1920 hit Broadway play by Mary Roberts Rinehart and Avery Hopwood, directed by Roland West and starring Jack Pickford and Louise Fazenda. The story takes place in an old mansion, where people look for hidden loot while a caped killer (nicknamed “The Bat”) murders them one by one. The film was rediscovered after being thought to have been a lost film for many years.

One of Batman’s greatest trademarks is the bat signal. In the 1926 film, “the Bat” can be seen using the bat signal, although in the film, he uses it to frighten his enemies before he attacks. In later Batman comics, films, etc., the police use it to contact Batman, although modern innovation has taken the signal back to its roots in using it to remind and possibly terrify criminals as to the reality of Batman’s existence.


  • For many years this was regarded as a “lost film” with no known prints or elements existing.
  • This film was highly regarded for its visuals, especially for its cinematography, elaborate sets and special effects. Roland West could only top it by remaking it four years later as The Bat Whispers (1930) with sound and in an early 70mm process.
  • Filming took place almost entirely at night.

Vanishing Point released March 13, 1971

vanishing point

Vanishing Point is a 1971 action-road movie directed by Richard C. Sarafian; starring Barry Newman, Cleavon Little, and Dean Jagger.

Vanishing Point is notable for its scenery from filming locations across the American Southwest and its social commentary on the post-Woodstock mood in the United States. The film is beloved by Mopar auto enthusiasts because it is one of the few movies ever to feature a classic Dodge muscle car. Though there was a 1997 remake, the original 1971 version of Vanishing Point is a considered an American classic.


  • Charlotte Rampling had a role as a hitchhiker whom Kowalski met while en route, but her scenes were deleted before the US release. The scenes were re-inserted for the UK release. The DVD release includes both the US and UK versions.
  • The car featured in the film is a 1970 Dodge Challenger R/T, with a 440 cubic-inch V-8, and not a 426 Hemi V-8 (as is often believed). Eight white Challengers loaned from the Chrysler Corporation were used during the filming.
  • The Challenger had Colorado plates: OA-5599
  • There were actually four 440 Challenger R/Ts and one 383 Challenger R/T, which was an automatic with green interior. This one was used for some exterior shots and it pulled the 1967 Camaro up to speed so the Camaro could hit the bulldozers. As confirmed by property master Dennis J. Parrish, all of the cars were NOT originally white. They were just painted white for the film. During the scene where Kowalski has a flat tire, you can see green paint in the dents.
  • Cameo: [David Gates] The singer/songwriter (of Bread fame) played the piano during the rousing revival in the desert with the J. Hovah singers.
  • The city names on the California Highway Patrol tracking board (where Kowalski never made it) were Stockton, Oakland, Berkeley and San Francisco.
  • Director Richard C. Sarafian’s original choice for the role of Kowalski was Gene Hackman, but the studio, 20th Century Fox, insisted on using Barry Newman if the movie was going to be made.
  • The color white was chosen for the car simply so the car would stand out against the background scenery in the movie. White was not symbolic in any way. The director says this in the DVD commentary.
  • A 1967 Camaro shell (no engine) loaded with explosives was used for the final crash. You can see the “Camaro” fender nameplate upside-down in the lower left corner of the screen after the crash.
  • Kris Kristofferson was considered for a part. His then wife, Rita Coolidge, has a small role in the film.
  • Dean Jagger (the snake charmer/prospector) and Barry Newman (Kowalski) shared the same birthday: November 7th.
  • Director Cameo: Richard C. Sarafian makes a cameo as the portly man in the red hat, holding the fire-hose at the end of the film.

Frantic released February 26, 1988

Frantic 1988

Frantic is a noted 1988 thriller film directed by Roman Polanski and starring Harrison Ford.


  • Director Cameo: [Roman Polanski] the taxi driver who hands over the matches to Dr. Walker. Also, the dubbed voice of the man in the tweed jacket who interrogates Michelle in her apartment.
  • Harrison Ford thought that “Frantic” was a misleading title for the film as the script didn’t have a frantic pace. He suggested that “Moderately Disturbed” would be a more appropriate title. Roman Polanski wasn’t amused.
  • Due to studio pressure, 15 minutes were trimmed from the original running time and a new ending was shot.
  • deadlier than the male

    Deadlier Than the Male is a 1966 British action film featuring the character of Bulldog Drummond. It is one of the many take-offs of James Bond produced during the 1960s but based on an established detective fiction hero. Richard Johnson (Terence Young’s original preference to play James Bond) stars as Hugh ‘Bulldog’ Drummond, updated to a suave Korean War veteran now an insurance investigator trailing a pair of sexy assassins (Elke Sommer and Sylva Koscina) who kill for sport and profit. Drummond’s American nephew, Robert Drummond (Steve Carlson then a Universal Pictures contract star), becomes involved in the intrigue when he comes to visit.

    The title is a reference to the 1911 Rudyard Kipling poem “The Female of the Species,” which includes the line: “The female of the species must be deadlier than the male”, and also refers to Sapper’s earlier Drummond book “The Female of the Species”.

    The movie poster is slightly misleading: Only two female assassins are prominently displayed in the movie. Although three other female assassins are featured briefly in the finale, the brunette, Kitty Swan has a less prominent role in the film but is as prominent as the two leads on the movie poster. Publicity announced the film in December 1964 but it wasn’t filmed until 1966.

    The film was followed by a sequel Some Girls Do in 1969.


    • Sylva Koscina, playing Penelope, was dubbed by Nikki Van der Zyl
    • Virginia North would turn up in the sequel Some Girls Do (1969/I) in a different role.

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