No matter how hard we try to pretend that TMZ writers would be out of job in the classic days of Hollywood, the fact remains that the movie industry has always been filled with insufferable assholes. Some of those assholes produced your favorite movie moments ever -- and some of them did that while putting their cast and crew through relentlessly horrible experiences, which they didn't always survive.
Alfred Hitchcock was a genius, and by all accounts it was amazing to work with him ... as long as you were a dude.
Grace Kelly had to stand during Rear Window, while James Stewart just lounged around all day.
Hitchcock had a thing for the ladies, and it wasn't a healthy "thing." Even if you don't read anything into the fact that young, attractive blondes were continuously getting slashed, tortured or harassed in his films, his treatment of them off-camera was just slightly less deranged.
For instance, Hitchcock cast an unknown called Tippi Hedren in the lead role for The Birds -- presumably because he knew that a famous star wouldn't be quite as receptive to having massive piles of crap unleashed on her. Bird crap, to be more specific: For five days of filming, Hitchcock would throw live birds directly at the actress, peck, scratch and shit all over her. Not satisfied with the resulting terror, he ordered that the birds be physically tied to her, and one of them just missed clawing her eye out.
"Can you do that one again?"
All those scenes of the girl losing it in The Birds? She really is that scared, and since this was her big break, she didn't dare saying anything. The whole thing reduced Hedren to tears.
And then things got worse: Hitchcock became infatuated with Hedren, which he demonstrated by paying staff to follow her on her time off and sexually propositioning her (because chicks love guys who throw birds at them). When Hedren refused and demanded to be let out of her contract, the director vowed to ruin her career. And he did: For the next few years, Hedren remained under contract but made no movies. When she was finally released, demand for her had died down, and she spent the remainder of her acting career in relative obscurity.
Today this woman is better known as the mother of Melanie Griffith. Think about that for a second.
So what -- he had a weird relationship with one actress. We've all been there, right? Well, another of Hitchcock's victims was the lead actress of The 39 Steps. He'd shout "Bring on the Birmingham tart!" when calling for her on the set, and at one point he left her handcuffed to her male costar for hours until she developed bruises. Then in one scene, he needed a "shocked" reaction from her, so he started unbuttoning his pants as if he was going to whip out his cock.
For the love of God, DON'T PAN DOWN.
Decades before Charlie Sheen lost his mind in front of a camera, his father, Martin, was doing the same thing in Francis Ford Coppola's classic Apocalypse Now. Martin Sheen's breakdown at the beginning of the movie is one of the most memorable opening sequences ever filmed. This impressive performance was fueled by rich source material, Sheen's need to exorcise his personal demons and Coppola's being an irresponsible jackass.
Geez guy, simmer down. It's just 'Nam, not a real war like Grenada.
Sheen almost didn't survive it.
Apocalypse Now is famous for being plagued with production problems, not the least of which involved its being filmed in the middle of an actual war zone. Coppola had agreed to shoot the movie in the Philippines knowing the country was in a state of civil war, because the president offered to support the production and lend them some military equipment (including helicopters). Coppola and his crew were there faster than you can say "tax break incentive."
Most people saw a horrible, divisive war. Coppola saw an opportunity to save some money for his wine business.
At one point, Coppola had to give back some helicopters because the government needed them for, you know, blowing up insurgents. The cast and crew could hear gunshots and explosions in the distance -- real ones -- but Coppola's main preoccupation at this point was about to adjust his schedule to accommodate the Philippine army's needs.
But apparently Martin Sheen didn't take things so calmly, because he suffered a heart attack in the middle of the jungle.
The horror was too much for him.
Sheen staggered a quarter of a mile through the jungle before reaching help. How did Coppola react? He was terrified ... that the producers might insist on transferring Sheen to an American hospital. So he quashed the "rumors" of a heart attack by claiming Sheen had suffered heat exhaustion, and had him back on the set a month later. Hell, we're surprised he didn't offer him to the Philippine government to help it fight in its war.
Stanley Kubrick is one of the great undisputed geniuses of cinema. If every shot, every action, and every line of dialogue in his films seems perfectly staged and delivered, that's because, well ... they damned well had to be, otherwise no one was going home.
Stanley Kubrick: Master of the self-indulgent profile pic 50 years before the creation of Facebook.
Just to be clear, we're not criticizing him for being a perfectionist. Lots of people like to make sure shit is done just right. But at some point, you go past "perfectionist" into "obsessive-compulsive." Beyond that on the spectrum, you have "insane," "a danger to himself and others" and finally a category that experts have simply named, "Stanley Kubrick."
Kubrick is the rape-eyed photographer back there. In case you couldn't fucking tell.
So, for example, in Eyes Wide Shut, there was a totally inconsequential scene where Sydney Pollack had to get up from his chair, walk and open a door. That's all. There was no dialogue. Kubrick forced the actor to perform the same scene, walking from chair to door, over and over and over and over, for two straight days.
"You will never see your family EVER AGAIN."
But when it comes to Kubrickian acting marathons, nothing beats The Shining. The shoot was originally scheduled to take 17 weeks, but the director's insane perfectionism stretched it into a full year. Why? Well, remember the classic scene where a horrified Shelley Duvall swings a bat at an insane Jack Nicholson? That moment alone took 127 takes, which, according to Wikipedia, broke the record for "most retakes of a single movie scene with spoken dialogue."
It also holds the record for "most times an actress secretly wished a director would just fucking die."
The whole shoot was one hellish year of doing the same shots over and over again. Nobody suffered that year worse than Duvall -- Kubrick's constant screams and demands made her so stressed that her hair began to fall out. She became physically ill from being yelled at too much by Kubrick, which, by the end of the shoot, qualified as a real medical condition.
Apparently, Kubrick intentionally created a hostile atmosphere toward Duvall (as seen in the Making of ... documentary) in order to get a better performance out of her. How else was he supposed to get an authentic "HELP I AM TRAPPED HERE WITH A GODDAMN PSYCHOPATH" reaction from an actress?
Jack Nicholson just wasn't creepy enough on his own.
Most people associate The Wizard of Oz with psychedelic color schemes, Pink Floyd conspiracies and big crowds of the happiest goddamn little people you ever saw. Rumors that one of those little guys hanged himself on-screen have been thoroughly debunked -- so really, the only reason we're including the movie on this list is that they kept almost killing people, and also setting their faces on fire.
We still say there's somebody hanging in those woods.
Filming The Wizard of Oz wasn't as fun as it looked. The Technicolor process was expensive and time-consuming, so to cut down costs, the producers pushed the actors through 16-hour days, six days a week, on brightly lit soundstages that quickly reached more than 100 degrees Fahrenheit (and that was outside the carpeted lion suit).
The mask was specifically designed so you couldn't tell how much he was suffering.
But hey, we've all worked long hours, and probably for less pay. So how bad could it have been?
For one thing, the aluminum-powder makeup used for the Tin Man almost killed the first actor cast on the role. An allergic reaction gave him breathing problems and horrible body cramps that made him wake up at night screaming in panic, but the studio heads didn't really believe anything was wrong until they saw him lying on a bed, connected to an artificial lung. So they recast the part and changed the makeup to something less dangerous -- which then infected the eye of the new actor. The Wicked Witch had it pretty rough, too: Her makeup was so heavy that, for 16 hours a day, she could eat only through a straw. That distinctive green color was actually copper -- which is unfortunate, because copper happens to be an excellent conductive metal, and that's not something you wanna have all over your face when people are shooting fire all around you.
Imagine how permanently and irrevocably different your life would have been with this Tin Man.
In an early scene, the filmmakers made fire erupt from the ground to conceal the witch's exit as she was lowered by an elevator, but then the mechanism jammed and she caught on fire.
She's burning to death underneath that orange smoke.
The copper on her face made treating her burns all the more difficult. After being rushed to the hospital, the actress insisted on a stunt double for the next scene involving pyrotechnics. Given that the stunt double was also badly burned, we're going to go ahead and say she made the right call there.