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Previews & Reviews that are Z's Views

27 Things We Learned from George Miller’s “The Road Warrior” Commentary

Rob Hunter and Film School Rejects present 27 Things We Learned from George Miller’s The Road Warrior Commentary. Here are three are my favorites…

3. For as much as the film is known for its vehicular action, Semler says they simulated a lot of travel too. “If you can see the road moving behind, we’re moving. If you don’t see anything moving behind, we’re not moving.”

16. Miller loves the bit with the mechanic (Steve J. Spears) in the swing evaluating the truck the engine and the blond guy repeating it much louder. It wasn’t planned, and the pair just started doing it on their own. “This is nice,” says Semler. Miller agrees saying it’s one of the lighter moments in the movie. On that same topic the duo count how many times Max smiles throughout the film, and they get as high as three.

22. The compound explosion was so big that they had to notify airlines in advance in case of any jets passing overhead.

15 Epic Facts About “Gladiator”

Roger Cormier and Mental_Floss present 15 Epic Facts About Gladiator. Here are three are my favorites…

1. STEVEN SPIELBERG GREENLIT THE MOVIE AFTER ASKING THREE QUESTIONS.

Screenwriter David Franzoni received a three-picture deal with Dreamworks SKG after writing the script for Amistad. During a “surprisingly brief” pitch meeting with Spielberg for what would become Gladiator, Franzoni told the Writers Guild of America that the director “really had three basic questions. My gladiator movie, it was about ancient Roman gladiators—not American, Japanese, whatever else? Yes, I said. Taking place in the ancient Coliseum? Yes. Fighting with swords and animals to the death and such? Yes. Great, let’s make the movie.”

10. CROWE WASN’T THRILLED WITH THE SCRIPT (OR LACK THEREOF).

While appearing on Inside the Actors Studio, Crowe said that only 32 pages of the script were completed when shooting commenced. Co-writer William Nicholson recounted how Crowe once told him, “Your lines are garbage but I’m the greatest actor in the world, and I can make even garbage sound good.” Initially, Crowe didn’t care for the now-famous line “And I will have my vengeance, in this life or the next,” but repeatedly failed to ad-lib anything better.

13. JOHNNY CASH WAS A FAN OF THE FILM.

Before he was hired to play the legendary singer in Walk the LinePhoenix recalled to The Guardian how he once met Johnny Cash by pure coincidence, and how he “started quoting to me the most sadistic dialogue from Gladiator with obvious relish.”

Eight Bizarre Facts About Rod Serling and “The Twilight Zone”

Jake Rosen and Mental_Floss present Eight Bizarre Facts About Rod Serling and The Twilight Zone. Here are three are my favorites…

2. The Episode That Won an Oscar
When Serling’s budget for the series tightened in the fifth and final season, he decided on an unusual cost-cutting measure: the writer paid $10,000 (by some accounts, $25,000) for the rights to broadcast An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge, a French short based on the Ambrose Bierce story about a Confederate sympathizer who escapes the hangman’s noose at the end of the Civil War. No dubbing was needed: the short was virtually silent, and its haunting cinematography was a perfect fit for the show. The year prior, it had won an Oscar for Best Short Subject. Bierce’s story was also adapted into an episode of the other popular anthology of the day, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, marking the only time the two series used the same source material.

4. Six Dimensions
When Serling recorded his famous opening narration for the pilot episode in 1959, he began by intoning that there was “a sixth dimension” to explore. A CBS executive heard it and asked the writer why he had skipped a fifth dimension—weren’t there only four? Serling, puzzled, hadn’t really considered it. “Oh,” he said. “Aren’t there five?” The narration was re-recorded before any angry letters from physicists poured in.

8. God Complex
Though he spoke fondly of Serling through his entire career, Zone teleplay writer Richard Matheson (“Steel,” “The Invaders”) found one mandate puzzling: According to Matheson, only Serling could use the word “God” in his teleplays. It was off-limits to the rest of the writing team. “I used to get ticked off at Rod because he could put ‘God’ in all his scripts,” Matheson said. “If I did it, they’d cross it out.” Matheson never asked, and was never told, the reason behind the rule. Chalk it up to a mystery worthy of The Twilight Zone.

Star Trek: 57 Nerdy Things About the Original Crew Films

Sven Harvey and Den of Geek present Star Trek: 57 Nerdy Things About the Original Crew Films.  Here are three are my favorites…

13. Khan Noonian Singh is, of course, the same character as the Khan from the original series second season episode, “Space Seed.” His wife was Lt McGivers, who became enamoured with him in the original episode.

The late Ricardo Montalban reprised his role from the original episode, and as a genetically enhanced human or “augment” it was these performances that led to more episodes on the same theme.

14. The character of Lt Marla McGivers was supposed to originally be in Star Trek II, but the actress, Madyln Rhue, had been confined to a wheelchair.

Rather than recasting, which executive producer Harve Bennett thought unfair, the character was written out. That said, the filmed line confirming her as Khan’s dead wife was cut.

31. Hello computer?!? The Apple Mac wasn’t supposed to be in the factory, and the original Commodore Amiga model was originally supposed to be in its place. Commodore Business Machines refused to send a sample machine for filming and simply told the film crew that they had to buy one. Apple just sent a machine and a member of staff to help out.

Commodore also stated it didn’t want to be associated with Star Trek. Facepalm…

15 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About “American History X”

Sean Hutchinson and Mental_Floss present 15 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About American History X.   Here are three are my favorites…

2. TONY KAYE [Director] TRIED TO DISOWN THE FILM.

Kaye was unsatisfied with the final cut of the movie, so he tried to use Alan Smithee—the official pseudonym (coined in 1969 and discontinued in 2000) for directors looking to disown their projects—in the credits. The Directors Guild of America blocked the effort, however, because DGA guidelines stipulated that directors could only use the Smithee pseudonym if they agreed not to publicly disparage the film, something the overly vocal Kaye had already done.

5. EDWARD NORTON WAS ALLEGEDLY CAST WITHOUT KAYE’S APPROVAL.

Norton stepped in when Phoenix passed on the project—reportedly against Tony Kaye’s wishes. Kaye wanted to find another actor, but let Norton keep the part because Kaye simply couldn’t find anyone better prior to the start of shooting.

9. NORTON TURNED DOWN A ROLE IN SAVING PRIVATE RYAN FOR AMERICAN HISTORY X.

He would have played Private Ryan (Matt Damon got the part instead).

 

7 Things We Learned About “Breaking Bad” from Vince Gilligan

Jennifer M. Wood and Mental_Floss present 7 Things We Learned About Breaking Bad from Vince Gilligan’s AMA. Here are three of my favorites.

1. ON THE SET OF BREAKING BAD, BRYAN CRANSTON WOULD REGULARLY TELL AARON PAUL THAT JESSE PINKMAN WAS BEING KILLED OFF.

“He loved to tease Aaron Paul mercilessly,” explained Gilligan. “This came about after I told Aaron Paul early in the series that I had planned to kill off his character. From then on, every time a new script came out, Bryan would hurry to read it first so he could put on a sorrowful face and say to Aaron, ‘Gee buddy, I’m so sorry. You’re going out with a bang, at least.’ And Aaron, God bless him, seemed to fall for it every time.”

3. WALTER WHITE WAS THE HARDEST CHARACTER TO KILL OFF.

“I have to say the death of Walter White affected me the most,” admitted Gilligan, “because what it represented was the end of the story and the completion of this seven-year journey we had taken together—the cast, crew, writers and directors of Breaking Bad. That was the most affecting death to write. I actually teared up when I wrote it. I think a close second was the death of Mike Ehrmantraut.”

4. YOU MAY VERY WELL BE ABLE TO EAT AT LOS POLLOS HERMANOS IN THE NEAR FUTURE.

Gus Fring’s fictional chicken joint may become a nonfictional chicken joint. “Believe it or not, there is talk of a Pollos Hermanos becoming a real restaurant,” confirmed Gilligan. “This is not an idea that I generated personally. But it’s one that’s been presented to me, through the good folks at Sony, and the idea came to them from a businessman who has an interest in doing just that. Speaking for myself, I’d love to see that happen!”

15 Things You Might Not Know About “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”

Michael Arbeiter and Mental_Floss present 15 Things You Might Not Know About One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.  Listed below are three of my favorites…

7. MANY SCENES WERE SHOT WITHOUT THE ACTORS’ KNOWLEDGE.

To complete this realistic immersion, Forman led his performers in unscripted group therapy sessions in which he directed the actors to develop their characters’ psychological maladies organically. He would often capture footage of the actors, both in and out of character, without explicitly mentioning that the cameras were rolling. The film’s final cut includes a shot of a visibly irritated Fletcher reacting to a piece of direction fed to her by Forman.

8. FORMAN AND NICHOLSON HAD A TREMENDOUS SPAT OVER THE FILM’S PLOT.

While the intensity of the turmoil varies from rumor to rumor, reports from the set were consistent on one fact: The star refused to speak with Forman for a large chunk of the production process. Nicholson took issue with Forman’s suggestion that the hospital inmates would be an unruly bunch upon the initial arrival of McMurphy. Instead, the actor insisted that such disavowal of the medical staff’s authority should only begin after the introduction of McMurphy into their lives and routines.

Although the version of the story that we see in the film today is more closely associated with Nicholson’s alleged reading, suggesting that Forman ultimately took his advice, Nicholson refused to interact with his director from that point forward. When the star and Forman needed to communicate with one another, they used cinematographer Bill Butler as a middleman.

13. ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST WAS THE FIRST FILM TO WIN ALL “BIG FIVE” ACADEMY AWARDS IN 41 YEARS.

Not since 1934’s It Happened One Night swept the Oscars had a film walked away with awards for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, and Best Screenplay. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest took home the lot, with Nicholson and Fletcher winning the top acting awards. The feat would not be matched again for another 16 years, with Silence of the Lambs becoming the next (and last to date) movie to earn the distinction.

21 Facts About “The Matrix” That Will Blow Your Mind

Hollywood.com presents 21 Facts About The Matrix That Will Blow Your Mind.  Here are three of my favorites…

2. The film differentiates the Matrix and the real world through color.

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The scenes that take place within the Matrix are tinted green; those that happen in the real world have more of a normal coloring. The fight scene between Neo and Morpheus has a yellow tint, since it takes place in neither.

7. Morpheus, in Greek mythology, is the god of dreams.

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Which is ironic, since he’s the man who wakes people from their dream states and introduces them to reality.

8. Keanu Reeves only has 80 lines in the first 45 minutes of the film.

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Of those 80 lines, 44 are questions. That’s over his half his dialogue, and it amounts to about one question per minute.

15 Things You Might Not Know About “Dr. Strangelove”

Michael Arbeiter and Mental_Floss present 15 Things You Might Not Know About  Dr. Strangelove.   Here are three of my favorites…

1. THE MOVIE WAS SUPPOSED TO BE A DRAMA.
The international climate of the early 1960s piqued Stanley Kubrick’s interest in writing and directing a nuclear war thriller. Kubrick began consuming piles of literature on the topic until he came across former Royal Air Force office Peter George’s dramatic novel Red Alert. Columbia Pictures optioned the book, and Kubrick began translating the bulk of the novel into a script.

During the writing process, however, the director found himself struggling to escape a persistent comedic overtone because he found the vast majority of the political calamities described in the story to be inherently funny. Eventually, Kubrick abandoned the idea of fighting the adaptation’s dark sense of humor and embraced it wholeheartedly. Tone aside, the plot of Dr. Strangelove is strikingly similar to that of George’s novel. There’s one notable exception: Dr. Strangelove doesn’t appear in the novel—Kubrick and writer Terry Southern created the new character.

3. TWO OTHER FAMOUS COWBOYS WERE APPROACHED TO PLAY KONG.
Before landing on Pickens, the production team sought fellow Western mainstays John Wayne and Bonanza star Dan Blocker for the part of Major Kong. Wayne never replied to Kubrick’s messages, and Blocker’s agent passed on the project. Co-writer Southern later remembered the agent sending a telegram that read, “Thanks a lot, but the material is too pinko for Dan. Or anyone else we know for that matter.”

4. NOBODY TOLD PICKENS ABOUT THE CHANGE IN TONE.
Before being cast as Dr. Strangelove’s gung-ho bomber pilot Major. T. J. Kong, actor Slim Pickens had starred almost exclusively in Westerns, with nary a comedy part to his name (much less a political satire). This didn’t pose much of a problem, however, as Kubrick deemed the actor’s natural cadence and decorum to be perfect for the cowboy soldier.

Kubrick led Pickens to believe that the film was supposed to be a serious war drama, prompting him to carry himself as he might in any of his Western pictures. Furthermore, according to James Earl Jones (who made his film debut in Dr. Strangelove) and Kubrick biographer John Baxter, Pickens behaved, and dressed, identically onscreen and off…not because he was “staying in character,” but because he apparently always acted like that.