Previews & Reviews that are Z's Views

10 Final Messages From People Facing Certain Death

Final wills are interesting because they give insight into what a dying person finds important.  Usually the person plans out their final will with the hope that it won’t be used any time soon.

That is not what Alan Boyle’s 10 Final Messages From People Facing Certain Death  is about.  Instead, his piece looks at, well, here’s how he describes it…

Death can take us at any time. But when you realize you have only hours or minutes left to live, you get a chance to deliver a final message to the world. Perhaps it’ll be a phone call or a text message or even just a note scratched into a nearby surface. They’ll be your last words. Make them count.


21 Wonderful Facts About “The Wizard of Oz”

 Cory Mahoney and  have posted 21 Wonderful Facts About The Wizard of Oz.  There are some new [at least to me] facts and here are three of my favorites…

1. The snow the wakes Dorothy up from the poppy field was 100% asbestos. 

Even though the health hazards had been known for years. [Hey – that is not a wonderful fact! – Craig]

4. And that horse [the horse of a different color see in Oz] originally had a much larger part in the film. The horse, which was originally a striped with different colors and could speak, joined the Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Cowardly Lion, along with the Wizard, to save Dorothy from the Witch.

6. Because Margaret Hamilton’s performance as the Wicked Witch of the West was so frightening, many of her scenes were trimmed or deleted entirely. 

They were thought to be too frightening.

17 Things You Might Not Know About “Scarface”

Sean Hutchinson and Mental_Floss have posted 17 Things You Might Not Know About Scarface.  Here are three of my favorites…

5. A budding screenwriting star brought De Palma back.
Producer Bregman offered relative newcomer Oliver Stone a chance to overhaul the screenplay, and Stone agreed to do the movie for two reasons. First, his 1981 film The Hand had bombed at the box office, so he needed the work. He also wanted to work with Lumet, who eventually dropped out of the project because he felt Stone’s screenplay became too over the top and too violent. De Palma, who had moved on to potentially direct Flashdance, then read Stone’s script and loved how exaggerated it was, so he dropped Flashdance and rejoined Scarface.

10. Tony is only referred to as “Scarface” once, and it’s in Spanish.
Hector, the Colombian gangster who threatens Tony with the chainsaw, refers to him as “cara cicatriz,” meaning “scar face” in Spanish.

14. Steven Spielberg directed a single shot.
De Palma and Spielberg had been friends since the two began making studio movies in the mid ‘70s, and they made a habit of visiting each other’s sets. Spielberg was on hand for one of the days of shooting the Colombians’ initial attack on Tony Montana’s house at the end of the movie, so De Palma let Spielberg direct the low angle shot where the attackers first enter the house.

15 Things You Didn’t Know About The Stand

Erik van Rheenen and Mental_Floss have posted 15 Things You Didn’t Know About The Stand.  As is our tradition, here are three of my favorites…

6. Christian Radio Made a Contribution As Well

King revealed a third inspiration for The Stand in Danse Macabre: A single line he heard in a radio broadcast of a sermon when he was living in Colorado. The line “Once in every generation the plague will fall among them” made such an impression on King that he wrote it down and pinned it over his typewriter. Later, when the author was struggling to write a fictionalized account of the Patty Hearst kidnapping (the unpublished The House on Value Street), he saw the gloomy quote and found the inspiration to start a new project that became The Stand.

8. The Extreme Length Led to Logistical Problems

The 1,200-page novel presented a serious problem – King’s publisher, Doubleday, couldn’t print a novel that long. Literally. In addition to whatever qualms the publisher might have had about trying to sell such a hefty book, its printing presses couldn’t create it. As King explained to Time in 2009, “Doubleday had a physically limiting factor in those days because they used a glue binding instead of a cloth binding, and the way it was explained to me was that they had so much of a thickness they could do before the glue just fell apart.”

10. The Cut Pages Weren’t Lost

Of course, when your fans are as rabid as King’s, it’s hard for lost pages to stay lost. In 1990 King restored the text he had hacked away to create The Stand: The Complete & Uncut Edition. King didn’t just slip all the cut pages back into the original manuscript, though – he retyped each one. He told Time he “had the manuscript on one side of an IBM Selectric typewriter and I had the pages of a book that I had torn out of the binding on the other side.” The restored edition had another quirk – King also updated the setting of the novel to the then-present day and included references to cultural touchstones like Freddy Krueger that had not existed in 1978.

21 Facts About the Movie “Goodfellas” You Never Knew

Corey Mahoney and present 21 Facts About the Movie Goodfellas You Never Knew.  Here are three of my favorites…

5. When Joe Pesci was younger, he told a mobster that he was funny. The gangster’s ensuing anger was never forgotten and ended up inspiring Pesci to ask Scorsese to include it.
The director allowed Pesci and Liotta to improvise the now iconic “funny how?” scene. The other actors weren’t aware of the plan, so their reactions are genuine.

6. The now legendary Steadicam shot through the kitchen of the nightclub was unplanned.
Scorsese was denied permission to use the front entrance, and the alternative is now film history.

9. And while filming Spider’s death scene, actor Michael Imperioli had to be rushed to the hospital for breaking a glass in his hand; the doctors, however, attempted to treat what appeared to be a gunshot wound to his chest. 
When they learned the real reason behind his hospital visit, he was forced to wait three hours before he was treated. Scorsese told Imperioli that he would one day share the story on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, and, ten years after the film’s release, in 2000, Imperioli did just that.

A Few More Things About Abraham Lincoln

Eddie Deezen at Neatorama posts A Few More Things About Abraham Lincoln.  Here are three of my favorites…

  • When Lincoln was nine, a horse kicked him in the forehead while he was in the middle of a sentence. He fell unconscious for several hours and when he awoke, his first words were the completion of the sentence he had been saying when the horse kicked him.
  • The tall, black stovepipe hat that Lincoln used to wear was more than just a hat. Lincoln used it as a portable filing cabinet and kept notes, money and letters in it.
  • Lincoln once left the stage during a political rally because he spotted one of his supporters being beaten. He picked up the assailant by his trousers and physically hurled him twelve feet away.

15 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About “Predator”

Sean Hutchinson at Mental_Floss is back with 15 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Predator.   Here are three of my favorites…

The screenwriters pitched Predator to studios as “Rocky meets Alien.”

Black, who plays Hawkins, had previously written the screenplay for Lethal Weapon; he was covertly cast in the film so that he would be available to make on-the-fly and uncredited script changes while on set. Most famously, Black would later write and direct Iron Man 3.

Hawkins can be seen reading a Sgt. Rock comic in the end credits.

15 Things You Didn’t Know About “The Godfather”

Sean Hutchinson at Mental_Floss presents 15 Things You Didn’t Know About The Godfather.   My three favorites are…

Lenny Montana, who played Luca Brasi, was a professional wrestler before becoming an actor. He was so nervous delivering his lines to a legend like Brando during the scene in the Godfather’s study that he didn’t give one good take during an entire day’s shoot. Because he didn’t have time to reshoot the scene, Coppola added a new scene of Luca Brasi rehearsing his lines before seeing the Godfather to make Montana’s bad takes seem like Brasi was simply nervous to talk to the Godfather.

The line in the script only had actor Richard Castellano as Clemenza say “Leave the gun” after the hit on the mobster who ratted on the Corleones. He was inspired to make the sweet addition after Coppola inserted a line in which the character’s wife asks him to buy cannoli for dessert.

Coppola (who got the job because of his previous movie, The Rain People) wasn’t the first director Paramount Pictures had in mind for The Godfather (Elia Kazan, Arthur Penn, Richard Brooks, and Costa-Gavras all turned the job down), and after filming began, executives didn’t like the brooding, talky drama that Coppola was shooting.

The studio wanted a more salacious gangster movie, so it constantly threatened to fire Coppola (even going so far as to have stand-in directors waiting on set). Coppola was reportedly getting the ax until he shot the scene where Michael kills Solozzo and McCluskey, which the executives saw and loved.

14 Things You Might Not Know About “Se7en”

Jake Rosen lists 14 Things You Might Not Know About Se7en.  Here are three of my favorites…

1. From the Mind of a Record Store Employee

Screenwriter Andrew Kevin Walker was a graduate of Penn State’s film program. Several years later, however, he was no closer to achieving his goal of working in the industry. Making ends meet at a New York City Tower Records store, Walker was so depressed that he wrote a bleak and oppressive script about the hunt for a killer who uses the seven deadly sins as inspiration for his crimes.

Satisfied with the outcome, he sent it to professional writer David Koepp, and then followed up with a phone call. Koepp agreed to send it to his agent, who found a buyer in New Line Cinema. (After reading it, Koepp also advised Walker that he “needed professional help.”)

3. Brad Pitt Worked Himself to the Bone

During a scene in which Pitt’s character, Detective David Mills, is chasing the killer through a perpetually rainy backdrop, Pitt slipped and drove his arm through a windshield. The resulting injury (a severed tendon) was so deep it went down to the bone. Pitt had to wear a cast for the rest of filming, which was written into the script; for scenes that had to be shot that took place earlier than the chase, the actor had to conceal his arm as best he could.

4. Kevin Spacey Got No Credit

When Fincher hired Kevin Spacey to portray killer John Doe, Spacey thought it would be more interesting to keep his involvement a secret, figuring that if he were to be billed then it would be obvious who the “mysterious” antagonist was. As a result, Spacey—who had just become a hot commodity for his work in The Usual Suspects—did not appear in any advertising, nor was his name included in the opening credits. While the studio disliked the idea, the part was late to be cast and, in Spacey’s words, “I was either going to be on a plane to shoot the movie or I wasn’t.” He got his wish.

Source: Mental_Floss.

10 Things We Learned About Evel Knievel from Being Evel, the New Documentary About the Daredevil’s Unbelievable Life

Esquire recently posted Ryan Bort’s 10 Things We Learned About Evel Knievel from Being Evel, the New Documentary About the Daredevil’s Unbelievable Life.   Here are three of my favorites…

2. He was a legendary insurance salesman.

Knievel’s success was due just as much to his ability to sell himself as it was to his fearlessness. And if he could sell the appeal of a guy running his motorcycle off of ramp, you could damn well bet he could sell some insurance, which he did while still living in Butte, where he famously went into a mental hospital and sold 271 policies. But when he asked the president of the company if he could be the VP if he broke every sales record and the president said no, Knievel quit and moved to Moses Lake, Washington, to sell motorcycles.

4. There’s a story behind his name.

This may come as a shock, but “Evel” is not Knievel’s real name. Born Robert Craig Knievel, the future daredevil once found him in jail with a man named Knofel, where together they became known as “Awful Knofel and Evil Knievel.” The nickname stuck, and Knievel changed the “i” in evil to an “e” because he didn’t want it to sound too evil.

5. He conned his way into his famous jump at Caesar’s Palace.

Before Knievel could jump over the fountains at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas, he was going to have to convince the casino to let him make a spectacle of the death-defying feat on their property. Because at this point no one had heard of him, this was going to be difficult. Before even pitching the event to Caesar’s, Knievel called every news outlet he could think and told them that he’d be jumping the fountains and to make sure they came out and covered the event. Once he had the media interested, he called the casino owner repeatedly, pretending to be a different person clamoring to see the jump each time. Word spread to such a degree that Caesar’s had to let Knievel attempt the jump. He didn’t make it, of course, but in the long run it was for the best; the cringeworthy footage of his body tumbling across the concrete made him famous.

15 Things We Learned from “The Breakfast Club” Commentary

Film School Rejects recently posted Rob Hunter’s 15 Things We Learned from The Breakfast Club CommentaryHere are three of my favorites…

5. Nelson had improv’d the bit where he spits a “loogie” into the air and catches it back in his mouth during rehearsal, and Hughes loved how much it grossed out Ringwald so he added it to the scene.

12. The hallway montage where the kids try to avoid Vernon (Gleason) strikes them as a combination of M.C. Escher and Scooby-Doo in the way the angles, near-misses and obvious playfulness lacks any semblance of logic.

9. Hall and Ringwald were the only two of the five who had to attend actual classes during production.