#2. A Trip to the Moon Made Everyone Rich Except the Director
A Trip to the Moon is a short science fiction film from 110 freaking years ago, back when things like putting people in space or brushing your teeth every day were nothing but crazy futuristic pipe dreams. The short featured mind-blowing visual effects for its time, like this iconic image of the man in the moon with a rocket in his eye:
You don't even want to know what orifice Apollo 11 was aiming for.
Its director, Georges Melies, is held by many as one of the pioneers of cinema -- his influence extends to everyone from Martin Scorsese (who compared him to George Lucas and James Cameron) to the Smashing Pumpkins (who ripped off Melies for the clip of their song "Tonight, Tonight"). Even in its own day, the technical innovation and surreal storytelling made A Trip to the Moon a huge success ...
... for everyone except Georges Melies.
Melies, a Frenchman, had big plans to distribute his film in the growing American movie market for a buttload of cash. Unfortunately, American inventor and Cracked archenemy Thomas Edison had other plans. Keeping with his usual modus operandi of getting rich on other people's ideas, Edison decided to make pirated copies of the film and distribute them without giving Melies any royalties. Oh, did we mention that Edison was a pioneer of copyright law at the same time?
"Hear that deafening rush of air? That's the sound of how much I suck."
The movie was a hit in America, and everyone who showed it made a huge profit from it, while Melies made jack shit. Edison's dickishness had persuaded Melies to create Star Films, his American studio, but when Edison monopolized the film industry with his Motion Picture Patents Company, Melies had to sell Star Films to his rival. Melies struggled with the strong grip Edison had on his company, eventually losing the studio and being forced to abandon filmmaking. His films were melted and turned into shoes, and most of his best work is now lost.
"I've got two right here! Hahahahahahahahaha."
Melies lived the rest of his life in obscurity on a meager income, working at a toy stand at a train station. Fortunately, one day an adventurous young orphan discovered who he was and reunited Melies with a magical robot he created, which ... uh, wait, no, that's the movie Hugo. In reality, Melies did receive some recognition toward the end of his life, but could never make another film again.
#1. The Misfits Ruined (or Ended) Everyone's Lives
You may not have heard of it, but The Misfits has one of the most impressive credits lists of any film ever made: It's written by playwright Arthur Miller (Death of a Salesman), directed by Hollywood royalty John Huston (The Maltese Falcon), and stars ultimate leading man Clark Gable (Gone With the Wind) and Miller's wife at the time, some lady called Marilyn Monroe (One in Every Four Sex Dreams Since 1952).
It was a perfect recipe for a classic, and that's exactly what the movie became -- the writing, directing, and performances are pretty much universally loved, and the movie has a 100 percent Tomatometer rating.
At least until Armond White finds out.
Pretty much everyone who had a hand in this thing ended up miserable or dead. Arthur Miller called it the lowest point of his life -- his marriage to Monroe was falling apart as the movie was shooting, and they divorced before it premiered. Oh, and speaking of Monroe, she had a drug overdose on the set. Huston sent her to detox for two weeks, then resumed shooting, even though she was clearly still a mess. The studio had already invested heavily in the film, so they couldn't let a little thing like their big star almost dying stop the production. As you may know, Monroe fell into a huge depression and finished what she had started a year later. The Misfits was her last film.
New York Daily News
"Marilyn? Marilyn who?"
Huston himself was no saint, though: He often showed up drunk and gambled so much that he ended up losing quite a bit of the production company's funding. Still, he got off easy compared to Clark Gable, who insisted on doing his own physically demanding stunts, including dangerous scenes with horses and being dragged by a truck for 400 feet. He died of a heart attack a few days after filming ended due to the stress.
It was no fucking picnic for the horses, either.
Then there's Montgomery Clift, the third biggest star in the film, who somehow escaped the shooting unharmed and went on to make other films. He avoided the curse of The Misfits! One day, a few years later, his friend informed him that the movie was playing on television and asked if he'd like to watch it. "Absolutely not!" Clift responded. Then he died of a heart attack. He was 45.
But, hey -- at least the movie is pretty cool.
For more celebrities who just sort of lost it, check out 9 Awesome Directors Who Temporarily Lost Their Mind and 12 Classic Movie Moments Made Possible by Abuse and Murder.
If you're pressed for time and just looking for a quick fix, then check out 3 Reasons Real Heroes Tend to be Weirdos.
And stop by LinkSTORM to learn how to walk like Chaplin.
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