The 10 Biggest Misconceptions Held About Movies
The rumour mill runs twice as fast in Hollywood, and false information has a tendency to take hold and not let go. There are some straight up wrong information and ideas about movies and their productions that people adamantly believe to be true. Time to set some records straight.
The King Kong vs Godzilla Duel Endings
Godzilla and King Kong are more than giant monsters, they’re representative of their respective culture’s film industries. Kong was a massive draw in the early days of the studio system and Godzilla is iconic in every meaning of the world. In 1962 the Toho Studio of Japan pitted the two characters against each other, the film ending with them fighting under water and Kong emerging as winner. The persistent rumour is that two versions of the movie were made, with only American and Western audience seeing the victorious Kong version whilst in Japan they got a version where Godzilla wins the battle.
Although there are some minor differences in the edit between the Japanese and international versions of the show there is no alternate ending available. The myth started with misinformation being published in ‘Spaceman’ magazine, and with little opportunity for audiences to see both versions at the time the idea stuck in the public consciousness.
The Citizen Kane Plot Hole
Considered one of the most important and innovative movies in cinematic history, Citizen Kane is about the rise and fall of media mogul Kane, the story framed around a journalist trying to decipher his last words: ‘rosebud’. At the end of the day the revelation that it was his childhood sleigh is unimportant, it’s just a framing device, but some have been quick to point out that there wasn’t anyone in the room to hear Kane whisper this important McGuffin. Whoops.
Actually, that’s not the case. The character of Kane’s butler was present for it but through enthusiastic editing he’s not visible in the final version. I guess this only counts as half a misconception because it didn’t make the final cut, leaving audiences confused. Bit of a screw-up.
The Director of A Nightmare Before Christmas
This one is a personal gripe, and if any of my film students are reading this is one of the biggest reasons I hate you. Now go and study, you have a test on Friday. Due to the unique gothic style and the name ‘Tim Burton’ sitting above the title on the posters many believe that Tim Burton directed the film, or at least written by him. Burton can’t take credit for either, as he came up with the characters and concept and handed the project on to others. Henry Selick takes credit for directing this cult classic.
Being a small but extremely wide spread misconception, this may not seem like a big deal. Burton did come up with the idea after all. But this movie has gone on to be massively popular and brings in a fair sized chunk of marketing money. I believe that it’s important to give credit where credit is due. Just to twist the knife a bit more, people often also mistake Selick’s other popular film Coraline for being Burton’s.
The Golden Girl Suffocated
It’s weird when a story like this manages to last in the face of clear bloody evidence to the contrary. Shirley Eaton became a pop-culture icon when she was covered in gold paint for the third (and best) Bond film, Goldfinger. Within the story she was found with her neck snapped and painted gold as a warning to Bond, with a line in the film suggesting that she suffered ‘skin suffocation’ due to the paint. Rumour was that the actress did accidentally die during the filming of the scene after being covered with gold paint.
This rumour persistent in spite of Eaton appearing on numerous magazine covers painted gold in the subsequent months, needing to breath through the skin not actually a thing and Eaton not being completely painted with her stomach remaining unpainted just in case. Oh, and she’s STILL alive to this day.
The Joker Killed Heath Ledger
The death of actor Heath Ledger at such a young age was sudden and tragic. It took particular hold of the media at the time as Ledger was just about to hit the peak of his career with an Oscar winning performance as comic book villain The Joker. Along with The Dark Knight‘s director Christopher Nolan, Ledger turned in a mesmerising and horrifying performance, with stories of how he spent days in a hotel room working on the character’s mannerisms driving the hype. Then a story that his involvement in the role led to his death started doing the rounds and it never seemed to go away. He got too deep into the role, it was too dark and he couldn’t let it go.
Ledger’s death was ruled accidental, so I think we can scratch out any intentional behaviour. Plus it had been the best part of a year since he’d played the character, and he’d been playing a different character in Terry Gilliam’s The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus in the interim. Why this role wasn’t blamed for his death is beyond me, it is the one he was actually involved with at the time of his death. Then there’s the reports from his The Dark Knight co-stars claiming he didn’t stay in character in between takes, and would drop the Joker routine immediately to hang out with his peers. Bale said they couldn’t stop laughing at themselves in costume during the super-intense interrogation scene filming – this hardly sounds like someone who was taking a role so seriously it would kill him a year later.
I think this bugs me because it takes away from Ledger’s talent as an actor, that he could simply act in a role without turning himself into it. It also contributes to all that bullshit around Jared Leto’s “method” while filming Suicide Squad.
Fargo and The Blair Witch Project Actually Happened
Well, to be fair both movies make the claim in their prologue. In terms of the Blair Witch this was an amazingly effective marketing technique, one that’s been repeated often enough that it wouldn’t work in this age. Some people bought into it enough that it took the actors making public appearances to clue people in.
Fargo is a stranger case because there’s no specific true story behind the film, rather a criminal case the Coen’s wrote a fictional story around. The claim it’s a true story seems to be the Coen Brother’s being odd and muddying the waters between fiction and reality. Still, that didn’t stop Takako Konishi freezing to death looking for the suitcase of money buried in the snow during the movie.
Oh wait…that story is a misconception as well? Never mind, then.
George Lucas Masterminded Star Wars
There’s something to be said for the trend of cinematic auteurs. Those talented buggers like Wes Anderson and Quentin Tarantino who have distinct visual and thematic styles and have clear authorship over their work, writing and directing and editing and acting and whatever else. They make going to the movies worthwhile. But George Lucas, the man credited with creating Star Wars, isn’t one of them.
Although he’s held aloft as a genius creator he doesn’t have many fingerprints on the original trilogy, even the one he wrote and directed. His original script had to be edited down with a threshing machine to about a quarter of the length and was largely a rewrite of The Hidden Fortress from legendary film maker Akira Kurosawa. The original draft is actually funny to read as it’s more obsessed with Japanese culture than a basement dwelling neckbeard. Much of the iconic imagery, such as Darth Vader’s appearance, the lightsabers, the Death Star being shaped like a planet and Han Solo came from concept designer Ralph McQuarrie and studio notes. When Lucas did turn in his final cut of the film it was promptly taken away from him and given to a competent editor who would make a version that didn’t put people to sleep.
Lucas’ scripts were handed on to other directors for the superior sequels, and they underwent rewrites before cameras rolled. Yes, what Lucas made went on to spawn the most lucrative movie franchise in history but he’s pretty damn far from the singular genius he’s considered to be. There are many other artists involved who contributed as much to the success of the series as Lucas. Want proof? Four of the five Star Wars he made are the four worst in the series – the three prequels and the ‘Holiday Special’. The less involvement from an overbearing studio, the worse the film.
The Suicidal Munchkin
This is easily the longest running myth on the list, coming from a film released in 1939. After Dorothy (the lowest paid actor in the film), her dog Toto (the second lowest paid actor in the film) and the Scarecrow have met and befriended the Tin Man they go skipping off down the Yellow Brick Road. Eagle eyed viewers noticed something sinister though…a shadowy figure moving around in the background. Many claim this is a dwarf actor who played a munchkin hanging themselves in the back of the set. No, it isn’t. Although people are still creating youtube videos to ‘prove’ it. There have been official statements about the munchkin actors not being on set that day. Plus in the digitally restored DVD and Blu-Ray releases it is VERY CLEARLY some weird bird thing.
Marilyn Monroe’s Dress Size
In the current culture body shaming and fitness dominate social media. One thing that comes up time and time again by critics/supporters of body shaming/pride (I’m just covering the bases here) is sex idol Marilyn Monroe being on the heavy side and still being considered beautiful. Didn’t you know she’s a size 16?! There’s no way a size 16 girl could be a sex symbol nowadays!
Except…that’s wrong. Let’s ignore the fact that dress sizes have changed over the decades and are different from country to country and just go with the facts. Monroe would easily fit a modern US size 4 or 6 dress, was 2-3 inches smaller around the waist than the average woman in the ’50s and substantially smaller than the average woman in 2016. What makes this acceptance of this urban legend about Monroe being a plus-sized sex symbol even more perplexing is the many, many, many pictures of her all over the damned place! We know what she looked like!
The Day the Clown Cried Was Hidden For Being Terrible
If you don’t know about this infamous film, then strap yourself in. Famous comedian and member of the Rat Pack Jerry Lewis would often try his hand at a dramatic role, and with this project he felt he had a dramatic role that also accommodated his goofish humour. The Day the Clown Cried was directed by Lewis and starred him as a clown who led children who…wait for it…lead children into the gas chambers as Auschwitz. The subsequent movie, which Lewis felt could have been an Oscar contender, never saw the light of day. Apparently it was such a perfect, misguided mess that Lewis locked all copies in his safe and would only occasionally screen it for close friends.
Sadly it’s nothing so dramatic. They didn’t pay rights holder Joan O’Brien the full amount they owed her, so they legally couldn’t release it. Half an hour has turned up online recently though.
What did we miss? What other myths and rumours won’t go away? Fire off in the comments and maybe we’ll get another ten out of it!