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Previews & Reviews that are Z's Views

25 Facts About “Jaws” for Its 40th Anniversary

Sean Hutchinson and Mental_Floss present 25 Facts About Jaws for Its 40th Anniversary.   Here are three of my favorites…

4. THERE’S NOT A LOT OF JAWS IN JAWS.

The shark doesn’t fully appear in a shot until one hour and 21 minutes into the two-hour film. The reason it isn’t shown is because the mechanical shark that was built rarely worked during filming, so Spielberg had to create inventive ways (like Quint’s yellow barrels) to shoot around the non-functional shark.

12. ROBERT SHAW WASN’T THE FIRST CHOICE TO PLAY QUINT.

When actors Lee Marvin and Sterling Hayden—the first and second choices to play the grizzled fisherman Quint, respectively—both turned Spielberg down, producers Zanuck and Brown recommended English actor Robert Shaw, whom they had previously worked with on 1973’s The Sting.

14. GREGORY PECK FORCED A SCENE TO BE CUT FROM THE MOVIE.

In early drafts of the screenplay, Quint was originally introduced while causing a disturbance in a movie theater while watching John Huston’s 1958 adaptation of Moby Dick. The scene was shot, but actor Gregory Peck—who plays Captain Ahab in that movie—owned the rights to the film version of Moby Dick and wouldn’t let the filmmakers on Jaws use the footage, so the sequence was cut.

9 Important Lessons from Cannon Films Documentary

Ben Rawson-Jones and Digital Spy present 9 Important Lessons from Cannon Films Documentary. Here are three of my favorites…

1. FAO Casting Directors – Beware ‘That Stone Woman’!

When looking for a lead actress to cast opposite Richard Chamberlain in the 1985 Indiana Jones knock-off King Solomon’s Mines, producer Menahem Golan proclaimed “I want that Stone woman!” So Sharon Stone was duly given the role. Beyond being hated and soaked in urine on set everything looked great for the future Basic Instinct leg-crosser… until Golan watched the movie and was horrified.

It turns out he was after Kathleen Turner from Romancing the Stone. Oops.

3. Danger! Dolph Dialog!

“You gave that guy lines?”

That was reportedly Sylvester Stallone‘s reaction when he paid a random visit to the Masters Of The Universe set and spotted his Rocky IV nemesis Dolph Lundgren playing the lead role of He-Man. Sly had a point – the movie bombed. Monologues were certainly kept to a minimum for Dolph when the Rambo legend signed him up for his Expendables franchise.

4. Sequels Require No Previous Movie

Signing up iconic martial arts star Chuck Norris was seen as quite a coup by Cannon. They had enough faith to fund the production of two Missing In Action movies featuring Norris as an American prisoner of war in North Vietnam and shoot them back-to-back in 1984. However, they realized the first was an absolute dud. So what did Cannon do? They released the better second movie first to a still overwhelmingly negative critical reception, but found that audiences flocked to see it on the back of the similarly themed First Blood’s success. They then released the intended first film under the guise of a prequel a year later. Amazing.

15 Things You Might Not Know About Schwarzenegger’s “Total Recall”

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

5. THE QUAID/HAUSER CHARACTER WENT THROUGH AN IMAGE OVERHAUL.

Producer De Laurentiis’ initial vision of the film’s hero Douglas Quaid (originally named “Quail”)/Carl Hauser was decidedly more in line with Dick’s short story: A schlubby office drone who dreams of a more exciting life. With this characterization in mind, his first choice for the part was Richard Dreyfuss. Over time, the desired machismo of the film’s leading man increased, prompting suggestions like William Hurt (courtesy of Cronenberg) and Patrick Swayze.

7. TO GET THE PART, SCHWARZENEGGER LED ANOTHER COMPANY TO BUY THE MOVIE.

Schwarzenegger saw an opportunity when De Laurentiis’ production company, De Laurentiis Entertainment Group, went bankrupt. The actor convinced Carolco Pictures, with whom he had recently worked on Red Heat, to purchase the rights to Total Recall.

8. SCHWARZENEGGER HAD AN UNUSUAL AMOUNT OF CONTROL OVER PRODUCTION.

The coveted role of Quaid was not the only thing Schwarzenegger won in the transaction: In addition to being welcome to recruit the director of his choice (as a big fan of RoboCop, he picked Paul Verhoeven), Schwarzenegger maintained authority over all creative aspects of the film, script, production, and even elements of distribution.

For instance, Schwarzenegger took issue with the portrayal of the movie in its TriStar Pictures studio trailer, demanding that the company create and release a preview that better represented Total Recall. Furthermore, when the actor was dissatisfied with the middling public awareness conjured by the movie in the weeks leading up to release, he convinced Carolco to invest more and more money into marketing until virtually everyone had heard of Total Recall.

15 Things You Might Not Know About “Con Air”

Eric D. Snider and Mental_Floss present 15 Things You Might Not Know About Con Air.  Here are three of my favorites…

1. It was director Simon West’s first film, but you’d probably seen his work before.

In fact, you’ve probably seen at least one thing West directed against your will. The Englishman directed many TV commercials for A-list companies like McDonald’s and Pepsi. Before that, he made the video for Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up,” the first few seconds of which have been viewed by anyone who’s ever been Rickrolled.

2. The transport system the movie is about was pretty new at the time.

The Justice Prisoner and Alien Transportation System (or JPATS) was formed in 1995. It combined and simplified systems that were previously run by the U.S. Marshals Service and the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and was immediately nicknamed “Con Air.” Screenwriter Scott Rosenberg tagged along on a few flights for research purposes, and evidently survived the experience. Though he did note that “it was very unsettling, and a bit terrifying.”

12. The Las Vegas climax was originally set at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Bruckheimer said one version of the script had the plane crashing into the White House. “I said the guys would really rather crash into Las Vegas,” Bruckheimer said—which makes more sense anyway, as Vegas is much closer to the plane’s starting point of Oakland.

14 Sizzling Facts About Steak ‘n Shake

Jeff Wells and Mental_Floss present 14 Sizzling Facts About Steak ‘n Shake.  Here are three of my favorites…

1. It started as a gas station serving fried chicken and beer.

Founder Gus Belt and his wife, Edith, feeling squeezed by the Great Depression, began offering fried chicken, fries and coleslaw at their Normal, Illinois Shell station for $.45. Beer was just $.09. After the town council voted 2 to 1 to ban the sale of alcohol, the Belts decided to open a burger restaurant, and in 1934 Steak ‘n Shake was born.

4. Gus wasn’t afraid to get dirty.

According to Robert Cronin, former Steak ‘n Shake CEO and author of Selling Steakburgers, Belt used to go through the restaurant’s trash and returned plates to see what customers weren’t eating. He used his disgusting findings to further hone the menu.

8. Roger Ebert was a huge fan.

The longtime Chicago Sun-Times columnist had his first restaurant meal there as a kid (steakburger, fries and a Coke) and claimed unwavering devotion the rest of his life. He gushed about the chain in a 2009 blog post: “If I were to take President Obama and his family to dinner and the choice were up to me, it would be Steak ‘n Shake—and they would be delighted.”

16 Things You May Not Know About “The Brady Bunch”

Kara Kovalchik and Mental_Floss present 16 Things You May Not Know About The Brady BunchHere are three of my favorites…

4. GENE HACKMAN WAS IN CONTENTION TO PLAY MIKE BRADY.

For the role of Mike Brady (the family’s surname had changed by this time), “there were a number of men I wanted to interview, including Gene Hackman,” recalled Schwartz in Brady, Brady, Brady. “Paramount wouldn’t even okay Gene Hackman for an interview because he had a very low TVQ. (TVQ is a survey that executives use to determine the audience’s familiarity with performances. TV executives have don’t admit to the existence of TVQs, but it is commonly employed in casting.)”

They finally chose Reed because he was already under contract to Paramount, and he had a certain amount of marquee value because of his co-starring role on the popular legal drama series The Defenders. “The year after The Brady Bunch debuted, unknown Gene Hackman with no TVQ starred in The French Connection and won the Academy Award for Best Actor, and has been a major star ever since,” added Schwartz.

14. THE SHOW WAS NEVER A HUGE HIT.

The Brady Bunch was never a huge Nielsen hit during its original run; in fact, it never managed to crack the Top 30 shows. But it did well enough to run for five seasons, which gave Paramount enough episodes to sell as a package for syndication. The syndicated reruns were often shown in the late afternoon, which gave it more exposure to a younger audience. As a result, the show’s fan base grew exponentially after it had ceased production, and continues to grow today as each younger generation discovers it.

15. MANY FLUBS WERE NEVER CORRECTED.

Like most shows of that era, no one who worked on The Brady Bunch thought that the show would still be airing regularly over 40 years later after it had been cancelled. So sometimes little mistakes were left unfixed in the name of finishing an episode on schedule. After all, the show aired in the days before every home had a VCR, so who would notice something like the family leaving the house in a convertible and returning from the same errand in a station wagon? Or Jan’s hair mysteriously switching from a ponytail to loose around her shoulders repeatedly while the kids were building a house of cards? Those flubs and others—like a tired Susan Olsen sticking her tongue out as she exited a scene, thinking it was still a rehearsal—have become part of the show’s legend thanks to syndication, DVRs, and viewers with too much time on their hands.

10 Interesting Facts About Christopher Columbus That You Weren’t Taught in Class

When I was a little kid we were taught that Christopher Columbus discovered America… that he was a hero who went against conventional wisdom in his belief that the world wasn’t flat… and so many other things that were just not true!

Johanna and Top10zen present 10 Interesting Facts About Christopher Columbus That You Weren’t Taught in Class.  Here are three of my favorites…

His real name was not Christopher Columbus

The name Christopher Columbus is actually an Anglicized version of the actual name, Cristoforo Colombo, which he acquired in Genoa, his birthplace. The name has also been translated to other languages, and hence we have instances like the Spanish version Cristóbal Colón and the Swedish version Kristoffer Kolumbus. Strikingly, even the name given to him in Genoa is not definite, as supporting historical credentials are rare.

Columbus was a cheapskate

While embarking on his voyage in 1492, Columbus pledged an award of gold to the person who would be the first to see land. Rodrigo de Triana, a sailor, was the first one to view land on 12th October, 1492. He actually sighted what is presently an island in Bahamas named San Salvador by Columbus. Unfortunately, Rodrigo was never given the reward, because Columbus cleverly kept the gold to himself, telling the others that the previous night, he could see some blurred light but had not revealed it because the light was hazy.

Nobody knows where Columbus’ remains are

Columbus’ death occurred in Spain in the year 1506 where his remains were placed until 1527 when they were moved to Santo Domingo. There his remains were kept until 1795 after which they were allegedly sent to Havana. In the year 1898, the remains were believed to have returned to Spain, but astonishingly, a box bearing the name of Columbus and filled with bones was uncovered in Santo Domingo. Ever since then both Santo Domingo and Seville in Spain claim to possess Columbus’ remains. Interestingly, in each of the cities, the concerned bones have been kept in highly structured mausoleums.

50 Things We Learned from “The Rundown Commentary” with Peter Berg and the Rock

Rob Hunter and Film School Rejects present 50 Things We Learned from The Rundown Commentary with Peter Berg and the RockHere are three of my favorites…

2. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s cameo wasn’t planned, but when he joined Johnson for lunch on set one day Berg was able to “twist his arm” into making a brief appearance. “He flew himself to New Jersey,” says Berg. “And met with the Jamoans,” adds Johnson.

13. Both men express their love for Walken with Berg pointing out that he’s just as much of an entertaining genius off camera. Like Lucking, Walken also apparently scared Scott on occasion. “He kept walking up to Seann,” recalls Berg, “looking at him and kind of getting up close and saying ‘Do you steam? I love to steam. Do you want to steam?’”

23. Johnson says the two parts of the film most mentioned to him in public are the “Option A, option B” bit and Travis’ “Thunder and Lightning” shtick. Berg agrees and shares that he was — surprise — at a high school football game in Texas the week before and witnessed the cheerleaders having a playful “Thunder and Lightning” fight. “Were they paying attention to the game?” asks Johnson.

15 Things You Might Not Know About “Thelma & Louise”

Roger Cormier and Mental_Floss present 15 Things You Might Not Know About Thelma & Louise. Here are three of my favorites…

3. GEORGE CLOONEY AUDITIONED FIVE TIMES TO PLAY J.D.

Clooney was on the short list for the role that eventually went to Brad Pitt, and became his big break. “The funniest thing is, I didn’t watch that movie for a long time,” Clooney admitted during a Q&A at the Telluride Film Festival. “I was really stuck doing a lot of bad TV at that time. And I had auditioned and auditioned, and it got right down to Brad and I, and he got it. And I just couldn’t watch that movie for a couple of years … When I saw it, I thought actually that was the right choice. [Brad] was really good in it…”

4. BRAD PITT WAS PAID $6,000 FOR HIS WORK IN THE FILM.

That was in 1991. Just five years later, he earned $10 million for his work in Barry Levinson’s Sleepers.

8. HOLLY HUNTER, FRANCES MCDORMAND, JODIE FOSTER, MICHELLE PFEIFFER, MERYL STREEP, AND GOLDIE HAWN WERE ALL CONSIDERED FOR THELMA OR LOUISE.

In its early stages, Khouri pictured her movie as a low-budget affair, with Hunter and McDormand as the leads. (In what was probably a coincidence, Hunter and McDormand knew each other from when they were roommates at the Yale School of Drama.) With Ridley Scott as producer, Foster and Pfeiffer were attached, but eventually moved on to do other work. Streep and Hawn met with Scott, with Streep wanting either Thelma or Louise to survive the movie.

15 Things You Might Not Know About “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade”

Michael Arbeiter and Mental_Floss present 15 Things You Might Not Know About Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade Here are three of my favorites…

1. SPIELBERG MADE LAST CRUSADE TO APOLOGIZE FOR TEMPLE OF DOOM.

After the masterpiece of spirited adventure that was Raiders of the Lost Ark, some critics and audience members felt betrayed by the grim and gruesome sequel, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. Director Steven Spielberg was hardly a defender of the movie—in 1989 he admitted, “I wasn’t happy with the second film at all. It was too dark, too subterranean, and much too horrific. I thought it out-poltered Poltergeist. There’s not an ounce of my own personal feeling in Temple of Doom.

Spielberg’s involvement in a third Indiana Jones film sprang from his desire to apologize to viewers for the series’ disappointing second outing, and to revive the earnest spirit of the original. He rehired supporting stars Denholm Elliott and John Rhys-Davies to double down on the Raiders ambiance.

7. A RENOWNED PLAYWRIGHT SECRETLY PENNED THE INDY/HENRY MATERIAL.

Since the relationship between Indy and his estranged father, played by Sean Connery, provided the emotional meat of the story, Spielberg and Lucas hired a ghostwriter to bolster the gravity of the characters’ interactions. Celebrated playwright Tom Stoppard contributed the bulk of the Jones boys’ material but didn’t receive a writing credit.

6. SPIELBERG WAS AFRAID THE MOVIE WOULD REMIND PEOPLE OF MONTY PYTHON.

Last Crusade’s eventual screenwriter Jeffrey Boam held onto the Holy Grail element despite Spielberg’s uncertainty about how it might be received. His apprehensions came from the association of the sacred cup with the 1975 comedy film Monty Python and the Holy Grail. “Of course, I was worried that people would hear ‘Holy Grail,’ and they would immediately think about a white rabbit attacking Monty Python,” Spielberg told Entertainment Weekly. “My first reaction was to say, ‘Everybody run away! Run away!’”

15 Painless Facts About “Road House”

Roger Cormier and Mental_Floss present 15 Painless Facts About Road House. Here are three of my favorites…

12. SAM ELLIOTT SAID HE GETS RECOGNIZED MOST FROM ROAD HOUSE.

Though he has nearly 90 credits to his name, in 2007 Elliott told Collider that he’s most recognized from Road House. Earlier this year, he admitted to Vulture that he “wasn’t so good” in the film. Joel Silver cast him due to his “baggage.”

8. THE DIRECTOR TRIED TO MAKE THE FIGHTS A LITTLE FUNNY.

The movie’s humor is somewhat intentional; director Rowdy Herrington said he wanted to make the fights “like a Keystone Cops melee.”

15. THERE WAS A DIRECT-TO-DVD SEQUEL.

2006’s Road House 2: Last Call killed off Dalton, who was finally stopped by a bullet to the head. It starred Johnathon Schaech as Dalton’s son, D.E.A. agent Shane Tanner, who runs his uncle Nate’s bar the Black Pelican while trying to solve his father’s murder. In 2013, it was reported that a remake of Road House was in the works, directed by original Fast and the Furious director Rob Cohen.

[Did anyone know about the Road House 2: Last Call movie?  Kill off Dalton? Really? – Craig]

10 Famous People Who Were Afraid They’d Be Buried Alive

It’s hard to imagine many things worse than being buried alive.  Thankfully with modern technology the odds of waking up in a coffin six feet under is unlikely.

That wasn’t always the case.

Many famous people [including George Washington, Hans Christain Anderson, Frederick Chopin and others] took great lengths to avoid being buried alive as Bess Lovejoy points out in 10 Famous People Who Were Afraid They’d Be Buried Alive.

Source: Mental Floss.