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In the novel on which the 1982 movie First Blood is based, Rambo kills eighteen people, among them Deputy Sargent Galt, whose stomach he slices open with a razor! Even though most critics found the film to be ‘too violent’, it is interesting to note that Rambo (Sylvester Stallone) does not kill anyone, not even Galt, in the whole movie. In fact, Galt is the solitary fatality in the entire picture. He falls out of a helicopter after foolishly unfastening his own safety belt


If you ever happen to see the Tony Curtis costumer The Black Shield of Falworth (1954), you will probably be looking forward to hearing him deliver the now legendary line, ‘Yonda stands the castle of my fodda’, in his thick Bronx accent. Well, you will be disappointed – because he never said it. Not in this picture, nor in any other. The line is said to have come from a remark made by Debbie Reynolds on a television talk show and poor Tony then spent the rest of his life denying he ever uttered it.


Interestingly, of the five Best Actor nominations for 1983, only Robert Duvall (for Tender Mercies) was an American The other four, Michael Caine, Tom Conti, Albert Finney and Tom Courtenay, were all British. Duvall won. Caine has always felt his Educating Rita performance was the best of his career, the one of which he is most proud, yet he claims he knew he was not going to win that night when he saw he was seated far from the front row at the ceremony. In 2007, he described Educating Rita as the last good picture he was in before he mentally retired.


                         Tatum O’Neal & Michael Jackson

Tatum O’Neal wrote in her autobiography of first meeting Michael Jackson in 1975. It was at ‘On the Rox’, a club on the Sunset Strip. Michael was 17 and Tatum was 12. ‘He gave me his number’, she wrote, ‘and we began talking every day – long drawn-out phone conversations…His usual subject was sex. Of course, at twelve I didn’t have much to say about sex. But Michael was intensely curious about anything and everything sexual.’ He once came to her house and asked to come upstairs because he’d never been in a girl’s bedroom before. ‘He sat on my bed and we kissed very briefly, but it was terribly awkward. I was just twelve and not at all ready for a real-life encounter. So I said, ‘I can’t.’ He jumped up nervously and said, ‘Uh…gotta go.’

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Timothy Hutton had divorced from Debra Winger when he met Uma Thurman on the set of Beautiful Girls in 1996. Perhaps, it was his resemblance to her ex-husband, Gary Oldman, that attracted Uma to him, but they commenced a whirlwind romance for about six months before it fizzled out. Soon afterwards, she was linked with Robert Downey Jr and then Nicolas Cage, and was photographed passionately kissing the aging rock star Mick Jagger in the Viper Room in Los Angeles. His long-time partner Jerry Hall saw the picture and seriously considered splitting from him. Eventually she would.

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Elizabeth Taylor & Stewart Granger in Beau Brummell

The US censors found several troubling issues regarding the 1954 film Beau Brummell, foremost among them the immoral relationship between the Prince Regent and Mrs. Fitzherbert. They also contended that a steward at the gentlemen’s club had what they described as ‘the manner of a sex pervert’, although they did not go into details. Then, when the Prince actually checked the gender of a dog, the censors almost had apoplexy. The use of the word ‘damn’ perturbed them enormously as well. Changes had to be made.

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        Gary Cooper, Denise Darcel & Burt Lancaster in Vera Cruz

Vera Cruz (1954) was the first Hollywood movie shot entirely in Mexico. It starred the aging Gary Cooper and the box-office hot-shot Burt Lancaster, whose company produced it. Mamie Van Doren complained that Lancaster interviewed her for the part of the Countess and attempted to seduce her in the process. She refused his advances and the part went to French beauty Denise Darcel. It is doubtful he tried the same thing on her, however. Denise’s very short movie career was almost certainly curtailed because she rejected heated advances from both Columbia mogul Harry Cohn and billionaire producer Howard Hughes.

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Winning an Oscar usually gets down to being lucky enough to strike the right year. Take Bing Crosby’s win for Going My Way (1944) for example. The other four nominees were Barry Fitzgerald, (his own co-star in that picture), Cary Grant (even he thought he was too old at forty to play a teenager in None but the Lonely Heart), Charles Boyer (downright boring in Gaslight) and Alexander Knox for Wilson (a dull biopic scarcely seen by anyone). In short, ‘The Bingo’ won by default. His best ever acting performance, however, as a drunk in The Country Girl (1954), found him up against Marlon Brando’s On the Waterfront! No contest. As I said – it often depends on the year.

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The highly erotic sex scene in the 1973 thriller Don’t Look Now was the very first piece shot by director Nicolas Roeg and it took most of the day to complete. Stars Julie Christie and Donald Sutherland met for the first time on the set of this picture and Julie was terrified of doing the scene with him. Donald recalled the entire exercise as anything but sensual or erotic, as Roeg began shouting directions: ‘Lick her nipples’, ‘Put your hand between her legs’, Get on top’, etc. A rumour that the love-making was for real has since been universally dismissed.

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The sci-fi feature The Thing (1982) did poorly at the box-office, critics claiming it was a ‘blood-fest’ and violent, simply for the sake of violence. It is certainly not for the squeamish, but its poor box-office returns seem to have been seriously affected by another sci-fi outing released a few weeks earlier. The phenomenally successful E.T. – the Extra-Terrestrial was a ‘cutesy’ approach to an alien visitation that producers of The Thing believe impacted unfavourably on the public’s perception of their movie. They may well be right, for their film is more appreciated today than it was when first released. Director John Carpenter still considers The Thing to be his best work.





  1. Alan, I’m going to do a little research to determine why no women and also to find out if there were any more films of that era with a MEN ONLY sign on the employment office door. I’ll let you know what I uncover. Again, let me express how much I love your great column–well-written, provocative and full of historical information necessary for anyone who loves movies.

      • Surprisingly (at least to me) there are quite a few films without women in the cast: Lawrence of Arabia (hahahaha no surprise there!!!!), Billy Budd, Glengarry Glen Ross, Sleuth (the original), Lord of the Flies, 12 Angry Men and The Great Escape come to mind. The only film I can think of without men is The Women (the original) which Meryl Streep had considered remaking. She gave up on the project because of its sexism. The rights ended up in the talent-free hands of Meg Ryan. (Who really rose to fame not because of Sleepless in Seattle but because of her role as the fellatio-giving girlfriend of Jim Morrison in The Doors.) Oh–I completely forgot about Goodnight, Mother–an astonishingly overlooked indie about a young woman (Sissy Spacek) intent on suicide and her mother’s (Anne Bancroft) desperate attempts to keep her alive. I think I’m one of the five people who saw it. A very great film and no one saw it.

        • At the risk of being branded ‘picky’, Max, there were women in ‘Lawrence’. Just two scenes. Arab women trilling from the cliffs as their men headed off to battle, and some female victims of the Turkish column. ‘The Great Escape’ and ’12 Angry Men’ were women-free, of course, although there may have been a few walking about in the towns as the escapees took trains and rode bikes to freedom in ‘The Great Escape’. I must watch it again and take a look.

          • You’re right. Of course, I saw LOA on TV slashed to ribbons–never saw it in the theater so I’m not even certain the reels were in the right order. I think that movies, no matter how “socially realistic”, continue to offer audiences a passage to a surreal universe. If LOA was remade today, I wonder what it would look like? And if T.E,’s sadomasochism would feature as part of his character development? I’d gladly buy a ticket to watch THAT!

          • Off topic: does anyone out there loathe Meg Ryan as much as I do? MADTV used to tear her apart and one skit even portrayed her as borderline retarded. Why is she in movies?

  2. James Arness was “The Thing” in the original film. That movie struck me oddly because as I recall there were no women in it. Another horror movie released around the same time was GORGO. The only female in THAT film was Gorgo’s mother. What I’m trying to say, in other words, is that both of those films left me freaked out because where were the women? In GORGO, London itself is full of men and only men. What? What? One can feel the absence of any female cast members profoundly. Were the choices deliberate? If so, why? When you make a monster movie and the monster attacks the city, the fleeing crowds should be made up of a varied selection of people–women and children included. I found it bizarre in the extreme to watch an entire city full of men and only men flee the two monsters. (They had put Gorgo in a big cage and set him on display in some tent show circus. His enraged mother came to his rescue and wrecked a lot of buildings in the process.) I noticed this absence even at the age of ten when I first saw GORGO. THE THING offered the same strange vibe–it wasn’t even sexism–it went beyond that; there were simply no women in the universes these movies created. Anyone care to offer a theory? Has anyone seen other horror movies (or movies of any kind besides DAS BOOT) that don’t feature any women at all? I look forward to responses.

    • I must admit, Max, that I never shared the fascination with B-schlockers that many movie buffs had, so I never did get to see ‘Gorgo’ or the first version of ‘The Thing’. The ‘no women’ observation is amazing. Why on Earth would the director do that? Were female extras more expensive than males? I doubt it. Children could create problems, particularly regarding the hours they were allowed to work. Budgets were tiny for these pictures so the lack of kids can possibly be explained, but the ‘no women’ is intriguing. Hopefully, someone will write in and provide us with the answer.

  3. Perhaps if Roeg had let Christie and Sutherland “figure out” what to do, scene would have
    been sensual. Who likes instructions! I only saw Stallone in one of he “Rocky’s.”
    He doesn’t interest me. I believe I saw an original “The Thing,” from the 50’s?

    • Evidently, Eastwood gives very little instruction to actors, mostly relying on their ability as actors to interpret scenes convincingly. Hence, he is a very popular director to work for. Like you, Shiela, I have no interest in Stallone at all.

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