#2. Mr. Magoo: Commie Hunter
You Know Him As:
Created in 1949, the cartoon character Mr. Magoo is a stubborn but kindly older man who constantly gets into trouble because of his poor eyesight. Kind of a one-joke premise, we suppose, but he has remained famous enough to have been portrayed by Leslie Nielsen in the 1997 Mr. Magoo live-action movie that, despite protests from the National Federation of the Blind, made almost three times its budget.
Oh, Magoo, you've done it again! And by "it," we mean "insulted handicapped people for cash!"
But You Almost Knew Him As:
The whole thing was supposed to be a political statement about paranoid red hunters like Joseph McCarthy. The creators wanted Mr. Magoo to be a bitter, mean-spirited asshole, constantly spouting off as many misanthropic political rants as they could get away with. Even his nearsightedness was part of the joke, a metaphor for fanatics who saw only what they wanted to see, without regarding the facts.
To understand the weird-ass early version of the character, you have to know the dark story behind his creation. Mr. Magoo was created by Millard Kaufman and John Hubley near the end of the 1940s, right when the Red Scare was gaining momentum ... and the House Un-American Activities Committee had blacklisted both men. Hubley actually was an ex-communist who participated in labor strikes.
Their McCarthy-like Magoo was a protest of the paranoid politics of the era that turned neighbors and friends against one another. We assume that's also why his head looks like a giant scrotum.
Cutting political commentary.
Eventually, though, Kaufman and Hubley decided their involvement in the project would most likely get it shut down, so they backed away. The production was then handed over completely to Pete Burness, who got rid of all the political stuff and concentrated on making fun of Magoo's failing eyesight and senility, which of course means instant hilarity. The cartoon then won two Academy Awards, in 1955 and 1956.
It ... was a different time.
#1. The Alien: Quite the Talker
You Know It As:
The unstoppable extraterrestrial killing machine from Ridley Scott's Alien franchise and one of the most iconic movie monsters of the modern age. Also, a space rapist.
"You have purty eyes."
But You Almost Knew It As:
The unstoppable extraterrestrial killing machine from Ridley Scott's Alien and one of the most iconic movie monsters of the modern age ... that can freaking talk.
Once again, Mel Brooks was right on the money.
This rumor has persisted on the Internet for some time now and goes back to an alleged Ridley Scott quote where the director discusses his early idea for the first movie's ending. In the version you know, the story ends with the alien creature dead and Ripley putting herself in stasis (and in tiny panties). The original plan, however, was for the alien to bite off Ripley's head, sit in her chair, and record a final entry in the ship's log, imitating Ripley's voice. Then, we assume, lie back as scary music plays and the camera slowly pans to the alien's growing smile right before the end credits roll.
Co-directed by M. Night Shyamalan
Some of you may think that would be just an awesome ending, and some of you probably feel like that would be the most unintentionally hilarious climax outside of Darth Vader's "NOOOOOOOOOOO!!!" at the end of Revenge of the Sith. All we can say is that it's kind of hard to imagine what the subsequent films would have looked like with talking xenomorphs. (If you're not sure what we mean, picture the first huge action scene in Alien, only instead of the aliens creeping silently out of the walls, imagine them talking shit the whole time. With, let's say, thick Wisconsin accents.)
The producers purportedly rejected the ending, not so much because of the talking alien but because they wanted Ripley to survive and take out the alien for the happy ending (and leaving the door open for sequels).
It's too bad Ridley Scott has dropped plans for an Alien prequel/reboot (it will be an original sci-fi film instead). Maybe he was intending to go back to his original vision.
"Ow! That burns! You bitch!"
Cezary Jan Strusiewicz is a freelance online journalist and Japanese-English-Polish translator. Contact him at email@example.com.
Can't get enough of us dropping knowledge all over your face? Then pick up our new book.
For early drafts that make us scratch our heads, check out 7 Shockingly Dark Origins of Lovable Children's Characters and The 7 Most WTF Origins of Iconic Pop Culture Franchises.
And stop by Linkstorm (Updated Today!) to see early drafts of LOLcats.
Do you have an idea in mind that would make a great article? Then sign up for our writers workshop! Do you possess expert skills in image creation and manipulation? Mediocre? Even rudimentary? Are you frightened by MS Paint and simply have a funny idea? You can create an infograpic and you could be on the front page of Cracked.com tomorrow!