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Category: Humor

10 Invasive Facts About “Mars Attacks”

Mark Mancini and Mental_Floss present 10 Invasive Facts About Mars Attacks.  Here are three of my favorites…

2. BURTON WANTED HIS MARTIANS TO BE ANIMATED VIA STOP-MOTION.
The concept of a Mars Attacks! movie first surfaced in 1985, but development wouldn’t begin in earnest until 1994, when screenwriter John Gems and director Tim Burton got involved with the project. To bring the aliens to life, Burton intended to utilize stop-motion animation, something he’s “always [loved] and always will.”

Early in pre-production, a set of 12-inch articulated Martian models were built for testing purposes. At first, Burton’s plan was to have these animated in front of a blue screen. They would then be inserted digitally onto miniature sets by the artists at Industrial Light and Magic (ILM). Ultimately, though, Burton decided to abandon the stop-motion approach when ILM presented him with some impressive screen tests featuring computer-animated aliens.

Despite this, Mars Attacks! still pays tribute to the older effects technique. At Burton’s instruction, ILM animated the digital extraterrestrials as if they were stop motion puppets. This is why the Martians move a bit more rigidly than did most contemporary CG characters, such as the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park (1993).

4. WHY DID SO MANY CELEBRITIES JOIN THE CAST? THANK JACK NICHOLSON.
Let’s do a quick head count. Glenn Close, Martin Short, Pierce Brosnan, Danny DeVito, Michael J. Fox, and Sarah Jessica Parker are just a few of the big names on this movie’s mile-long list of stars. And yet, when the casting process began, Mars Attacks! struggled to attract any players with serious marquee value. Gems blames this on the fact that most of its characters either die in some cartoonish manner or end up disfigured.

“Agents didn’t want to see their star clients playing loser roles, and a lot of big acts passed on the project,” he says. “At one point, we thought we were going to have to cancel the film. The guy who saved our butt was Jack Nicholson.” According to Burton, the Academy Award-winner was enthusiastic about joining Mars Attacks! from the very start. After sending Nicholson the script, Burton gave him a call while location-scouting. “Which part would you like to do?” asked the director. “How about all of them?” Nicholson replied.

In the end, he was double-cast as President Dale and a sleazy Vegas businessman. Once word got around that Nicholson would be involved, other celebs lined up to join the ensemble. “We started getting requests from more stars than there were parts for,” Gems notes. “It was like a tidal wave when Jack came on.”

9. INDEPENDENCE DAY OWES ITS TITLE—AND PART OF ITS PREMISE—TO MARS ATTACKS!
While Burton toiled away on Mars Attacks!, Dean Devlin and Roland Emmerich were writing an alien invasion movie of their own, but theirs was to have a more serious tone. The duo knew that both pictures would be released at some point in the summer of 1996.

“I said to Dean, we can’t do our film after a parody comes out. We had to beat [Burton] to it,” Emmerich recently said in an interview with The Guardian. “If it came out on the 4 July weekend, we would beat Mars Attacks!, which was coming out in August. So we wrote the concept around the release date. Dean said: ‘Let’s just call it Independence Day; we can come up with something better later.” The rest is history.

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Bringing Up Baby (1938)

Bringing Up Baby (1938)

Director: Howard Hawks

Screenplay: Dudley Nichols & Hagar Wilde from a story by Hagar Wilde

Stars: Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant and Charles Ruggles

The Pitch: “Hey, let’s make a screwball romantic comedy!”

Tagline: And so begins the hilarious adventure of Professor David Huxley and Miss Susan Vance, a flutter-brained vixen with love in her heart!

The Overview:  Beware of Spoilers…

From the moment Susan [Hepburn] meets David Huxley [Grant], a mild mannered zoologist who is about to be married, she falls for him.   Hoping the opposites attract, the crazy, fun-loving Susan tricks David into a road trip.

Bringing Up Baby reminded me of an extended episode of I Love Lucy and that’s a good thing.

 

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13 Things You Didn’t Know About “The Dick Van Dyke Show”

Eddie Deezen and Neatorama present 13 Things You Didn’t Know About The Dick Van Dyke Show.  Here are three of my favorites…

4. The show was not successful in its first season and was actually cancelled by CBS. Producer Danny Thomas had to personally go to the network execs and convince (beg) them to leave the show on the air. The show picked up steam during summer reruns that year, remained on the air and became the “classic” series we all know. Ironically, after star Van Dyke decided to end the series after it’s five-year run in 1966, it was the CBS executives who begged him to stay on.

7. Buddy Sorrel, the wise-cracking joke writer played by Morey Amsterdam, was actually based on Mel Brooks, who was originally a comedy writer and worked with the show’s producer Carl Reiner on Sid Caesar’s Your Show of Shows in the 1950s.

9. The show was usually filmed before a studio audience, but was not on at least three occasions. One was on the day of JFK’s assassination- November 22, 1963. On that day, in the middle of rehearsals, the cast heard about the president’s assassination and decided to go ahead and film the episode “Happy Birthday and Too Many More” anyway. However, it was decided that they would do the episode with no studio audience, figuring no one would be in the mood to laugh at such a time.

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In the Money (1958)

In the Money (1958)

Director: William Beaudine

Screenplay: Al Martin

Stars: Huntz Hall, Stanley Clements and Patricia Donahue

The Pitch: “Hey, let’s make another Bowery Boys picture!”

Tagline: Nutnicks on the Loose in old London!

The Overview:  Beware of Spoilers…

 

Satch is hired to be a dog-sitter on a transatlantic cruise; but the reality is that he’s being used as a patsy to smuggle diamonds!

Rating:

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Up in Smoke (1957)

Up in Smoke (1957)

Director: William Beaudine

Screenplay: Jack Townley

Stars: Huntz Hall, Stanley Clements and David Gorcey

The Pitch: “Hey, let’s make another Bowery Boys picture!”

Tagline: HOLY SMOKE! They’re Raisin’ The Devil!…and SATAN’S WAITIN’ to take them BELOW!

The Overview:  Beware of Spoilers…

 

When Satch loses money for a child’s charity, he sells his soul to the devil in order to be able to pick horse race winners for a week.

Rating:

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Looking for Danger (1957)

Looking for Danger (1957)

Director: Austen Jewell

Screenplay: Elwood Ullman

Stars: Huntz Hall, Stanley Clements and Lili Kardell

The Pitch: “Hey, let’s do another Bowery Boys movie!”

Tagline: It’s a royal delight when Sach crashes the Sultan’s harem and teaches the gals with the seven veils to rock ‘n roll!

The Overview:  Beware of Spoilers…

 

The boys remember the time during the war when they were sent to spy behind enemy lines in an Arabian land disguised as Nazis.

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11 Tiny Errors You Never Noticed in “The Andy Griffith Show”

Me-TV presents 11 Tiny Errors You Never Noticed in The Andy Griffith Show.  Here are three of my favorites…

ANDY REFLECTS – “The Bookie Barber”

Outside the barber shop, Andy tells Barney that one of his ears is longer than the other. After the quip, he walks off camera, presumably down the street. However, as soon as he exits the frame, watch the glass of the shop window. In the reflection, you can see Griffith immediately stop and hunch over, presumably under the camera. He awkwardly stands there for the rest of the shot.

TUBA – “The Mayberry Band”

You can see the reflection of the film crew and equipment in Andy’s tuba. Though warped around the curve of the horn, it’s an interesting glimpse at the set, as you can see ladders and rigging.

BARNEY IS PLUGGED IN, TOO – “Opie the Bird Man”

A handful of episodes later, another microphone cable can be spotted, running up Don Knotts’ pant leg. Look for it in an overhead shot, when Andy and Barney talk to Opie, who has climbed up a tree.

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13 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About “Arsenic and Old Lace”

Lou Lumenick and the New York Post present 13 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Arsenic and Old Lace.  Here are three of my favorites…

The Broadway version was too good for his own good

The main draw on Broadway was Boris Karloff as the critic’s homicidal brother, who is described as looking “like Boris Karloff’’ because of botched plastic surgery.

Much to Karloff’s chagrin, the producers insisted that he remain on Broadway while Josephine Hull and Jean Adair, as the aunts, and John Alexander, as their brother who thinks he’s Teddy Roosevelt, reprised their roles in the movie.

Grant almost didn’t have the part

Grant wasn’t the first choice for the film, but Bob Hope wasn’t available because of a schedule conflict (Capra needed to shoot the film just before reporting for World War II military duty).

Grant, who donated his entire $100,000 salary to wartime charities, insisted, “Jimmy Stewart would have been much better [than me] in the film.’’ Stewart later starred opposite Josephine Hull in “Harvey’’ — for which she won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress.

 

An auteur filled Karloff’s shoes

When Karloff left to head up a road company of “Arsenic and Old Lace,’’ he was replaced on Broadway by Erich von Stroheim. Karloff’s rival Bela Lugosi played the part for five weeks onstage in Los Angeles.

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Hold That Hypnotist (1957)

Hold That Hypnotist (1957)

Director: Austen Jewell

Screenplay: Dan Pepper

Stars: Huntz Hall, Stanley Clements and Jane Nigh

The Pitch: “Hey,let’s make another Bowery Boys movie.”

Tagline: They’re HYSTERICAL…They’re HYPNUTICAL!

The Overview:  Beware of Spoilers…

Satch gets hypnotized and has visions of an earlier life when he was a pirate and wakes with the knowledge of a buried treasure.  Less laughs than most Bowery Boys films and one of the weakest in the series.

 

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11 Bam! Pow! Things You Might Not Know About Batman

Me-TV presents 11 Bam! Pow! Things You Might Not Know About Batman.  Here are three of my favorites…

LYLE WAGGONER ALMOST LANDED THE ROLE OF BATMAN
Two screen tests were filmed to decide on the casting of Batman and Robin. One, obviously, featured West and Burt Ward. The other starred Lyle Waggoner and Peter R.J. Deyell, as you can see in the image. While Waggoner would ultimately lose the role to West, he would end up as another prominent DC Comics hero, playing Steve Trevor on Wonder Woman.

BRUCE LEE, SANTA CLAUS AND A CARPET MAGNATE WERE JUST SOME OF THE WACKY WINDOW CAMEOS.
In the reoccurring Bat-climb gimmick, a celebrity would pop his or her head out of a window as Batman and Robin were scaling the side of a building in Gotham. Jerry Lewis was the first, proclaiming, “Holy human flies!” After the comedian, there were window cameos from Dick Clark (pictured), the Green Hornet and Kato, Sammy Davis Jr., Bill “Jose Jimenez” Dana, Sergeant Sam Stone from the series Felony Squad, Colonel Klink from Hogan’s Heroes, Lurch from The Addams Family, Don Ho, Santa Claus, Art Linkletter, Edward G. Robinson, Suzy Knickerbocker, and “The Carpet King.” The latter was a carpet salesman named Cyril Lord with a series of TV ads, who traded Dozier some carpet for the cameo.

 

JERRY “BEAVER” MATHERS HAS AN UNCREDITED ROLE IN “THE GREAT ESCAPE.”
“I’m Pop, the stage doorman!” he proclaims. A grown-up Mathers works the back entrance to the Gotham Opera House in this season three episode. “Pop? You ain’t old enough to drink,” the villain Calamity Jan snorts. “Well, I’m 17,” he replies. At the time, the actor was actually 20.

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Arsenic and Old Lace (1944)

Arsenic and Old Lace (1944)

Director: Frank Capra

Screenplay: Julius J. Epstein and Philip G. Epstein based on the play by Joseph Kesselring

Stars: Cary Grant, Priscilla Lane, Raymond Massey, Jack Carson, Edward Everett Horton, Peter Lorre, James Gleason, Josephine Hull, Jean Adair, John Alexander and Charles Lane.

The Pitch: “Hey, turn Arsenic and Old Lace into a movie!”

Tagline: She Passed Out On Cary! No Wonder . . . She’s just discovered his favorite aunts have poisoned their 13th gentleman friend!

The Overview:  Beware of Spoilers…

As he’s about to leave on his honeymoon, Mortimer Brewster discovers that his dear old Aunts have been poisoning old, lonely men who are without friends or family.  The Aunts have their crazy brother (who thinks he’s Teddy Roosevelt) bury them in the basement.  “Teddy” thinks that they’re victims of malaria and he’s digging the Suez canal.

To complicate maters, Mortimer’s violent criminal brother, Jonathon,  returns after 20 years away.  Jonathon is more than willing to kill Mortimer, the Aunts or anyone who gets in his way.

Arsenic and Old Lace is one of my all-time favorite comedies.  Yes, the comedy is broad and there are double takes and it is all wonderful.

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North by Northwest (1959)

North by Northwest (1959)

Director: Alfred Hitchcock

Screenplay: Ernest Lehman

Stars: Cary Grant, Eva Marie Saint, James Mason, Jessie Royce Landis, Leo G. Carroll, Martin Landau, and Edward Platt


The Pitch: “Hey, Hitchcock wants to make a new movie.”

Tagline: Alfred Hitchcock takes you…. North by Northwest!

The Overview:  Beware of Spoilers…

Roger Thornhill (Grant) is mistaken as a U.S. spy by foreign agents.  Thornhill is kidnapped and brought to  Philip Vandamm (Mason) for questioning.  Thornhill is totally at a loss since he isn’t a spy.  Thinking that he just won’t speak, Vandamm orders his agents to kill Thornhill.

Thornhill escapes and goes to the authorities who don’t believe his story.  Vandamm is a rich, respected man who is scheduled to speak at the United Nations.  Thornhill goes to the U.N. to speak to Thornhill and ends up framed for his murder.  Now on the run from foreign agents and the police, Thornhill led on a cross-country chase to prove his innocence.

North by Northwest has it all: drama, suspense, humor and romance.  A true classic!

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