On-Set Mistakes That Led To Great Movie Scenes
Faithful Cracked readers know that we owe things like penicillin, pacemakers, and even America to dumb-ass accidents. But what about the stuff that's truly important? Like, you know, a bunch of cool movie scenes? Well, it turns out that, much like how a healthy number of us wouldn't exist if it wasn't for boxed wine, Prince's Parade, and off-brand prophylactics, a number of classic movie moments were spawned thanks to ineptitude and/or randomness.
Yes, believe it or not, sometimes Hollywood doesn't know what the fuck it's doing. And sometimes that works out for the best, like when ...
The Star Wars Lightsaber Sound Was Discovered Thanks To A Broken Mic Cable
There's almost no element of the original Star Wars that hasn't become an integral part of the fabric of our culture ... with the possible exception of that werewolf guy at the cantina. Seriously, what's with that guy? Did George Lucas just swing by a Halloween Superstore on the way to the set?
But one thing we can all agree on is that lightsabers are fucking awesome. Whether it's being used to battle the forces of evil in an epic duel or merely amputate bothersome bar patrons, the lightsaber is one of the all-time great movie weapons. A big reason for that is the instantly-recognizable "KKSHHHWOOOON" sound effect it makes. But originally, the lightsaber had no sound, unless you count the one made by two middle-aged British men whacking each other with wooden dowels.
Since that's not very exciting, someone had to invent a sound for the lightsaber at some point -- a task which fell to sound designer Ben Burtt. If you don't know that name, you should. He's the pop culture hero who came up with the Star Wars blaster noise by hitting cables with a hammer, and Chewbacca's growl by taking a mic to a goddamn live bear.
You'd think the most ubiquitous sound effect in one of the greatest movies ever wouldn't have come from a dumb accident, but it did. According to Burtt, he was carrying a tape recorder with a "broken mic cable ... the shielding had come off of it." Luckily, instead of electrocuting himself (which would presumably have given him the power to read women's minds), he inadvertently stumbled upon the sound of your childhood.
As he walked past the TV in his apartment, it "picked up the hum from the picture tube directly into the broken wire," and like a 12-pack of Miller Lite, it "made a buzz." Burtt thought it sounded appropriately space-wizard-like and used it as the basis for the lightsaber's sound. He probably could have gotten some sweet audio for the Emperor's finger-zapping power by taking a bath with a toaster, but luckily he never went that far.
Related: Disney Says They Made Working 'Star Wars' Lightsaber, Sets Opening Date For Disneyland Avengers Campus
The Most Famous Line In Jaws Was A Running Joke That Made It Into The Movie
Steven Spielberg's Jaws is considered both one of the greatest American films of all time and the first summer blockbuster. So, oddly, it's both high art and the reason Michael Bay is a multi-millionaire. By now it's become well-known that the suspense generated by the mostly unseen shark was due to the fact that the robot shark they built was a real piece of shit, making film history while ensuring that the violent Robo-Shark uprising won't happen for at least another century or so.
But perhaps the most iconic moment in Jaws similarly comes from a random bit of luck. When Sheriff Brody (played by Roy Scheider) spies the shark for the first time, instead of more realistically filling the soundtrack with the sound of diarrhea on denim, he delivers the classic line "You're gonna need a bigger boat."
According to co-writer Carl Gottlieb, the line came from a running joke amongst the crew. Apparently, the film's cheap-ass producers didn't hire a big enough boat to tow the giant barge full of lights, camera equipment, and craft services for filming at sea. So "You're gonna need a bigger boat" became a "catchphrase for anytime anything went wrong." Whenever something screwed up, someone would inevitably shout the line. Eventually, it got to the point where even Scheider jumped on the bandwagon (tugboat?) and started ad-libbing the line at different points in his performance.
Thanks to the film's editor, one moment where he dropped the in-joke made for one of the most memorable quotes in film history. That's like if it turned out that "I'm gonna make him an offer he can't refuse" happened because Marlon Brando refused to stop quoting a local carpet commercial during The Godfather -- which, now that we think of it, is a scenario well within the realms of possibility.
The Iconic Scream Mask Was Randomly Found In Some Old Lady's House
Before every horror movie was about pointing out how stupid horror movies are, Wes Craven's Scream stood as a true original. It was smart, funny, and made us think about important topics, like how batshit crazy it is that someone actually named their child "Skeet."
The breakthrough star of the series, though, is Ghostface, the deadly killer who looks like Skeletor reacting to his parents telling him there's no Santa Claus.
While the Ghostface mask has become iconic, it wasn't always a part of Scream. In fact, the screenplay only goes so far as to describe it as "a ghostly white mask," which could be anything from some Casper The Friendly Ghost merchandise to a rubber mask of deceased soul legend Barry White. This left the film's design team to try to create a mask for the killer, and most of what they came up with was objectively dumb as hell:
As the start of filming loomed (and characters from the underside of a 13-year-old's skateboard were being considered for the villain's face), producers were scouting locations. While examining an elderly woman's house to see if it would be an appropriate place for teenagers to fuck and disembowel each other, one of them randomly came across the ghost mask. According to the old lady, her husband "used to collect masks," and definitely wasn't a serial killer who was never caught. She let the Scream people take the mask with them, presumably in exchange for not asking any further questions.
At first, Craven's crew tried to make their own legally dissimilar version, but since even that turned out looking like the product of a county fair cartoonist on crystal meth, they ended up ponying up the money to pay the Halloween costume company.
The Ending Of The Graduate Happened Because The Director Forgot To Yell "Cut"
The Graduate is proof that even the skeezy story of a guy boning his girlfriend's mom can become a cherished classic when paired with the dulcet melodies of Simon and Garfunkel. A big reason it works so well is the ending, in which Benjamin (Dustin Hoffman) breaks up the aforementioned girlfriend's wedding to another guy, and the two thumb their noses at the establishment as they run off together, barricading the church with a crucifix.
The key moment comes when the two hop on a public bus, and after a moment of elation, the shot lingers, revealing the awkwardness and uncertainty of their future.
The ambiguity and melancholy of the ending is what makes the movie, but it wasn't scripted that way. Originally, the film was going to end with the lovebirds holding hands, and the final shot was of a gang of irate wedding guests congregating outside the church, presumably while shaking their fists and vowing to get revenge on that meddling kid.
According to a new interview with Bobbie O'Steen, a film historian and wife of The Graduate's editor, the definitive ending was a total accident. Her husband was asked by director Mike Nichols to stand in for him on the bus, and essentially be the director for that scene. Since the guy was an editor and "wasn't an experienced director, he forgot to yell 'cut.'"
Naturally, Hoffman and Katharine Ross "didn't know what to do and they weren't going to break character so they just kept sitting there." So while the ending was interpreted as two young people not knowing what to do with the rest of their lives, it was really two actors wondering why the scene was over but they were still stuck in the back of a smelly bus. It wasn't until the director and editor saw the dailies that they realized they'd fallen ass-backwards into a moment of cinematic genius.
The Beautiful Ending Of The Last Temptation Of Christ Was A Camera Fuck-Up
Long before Mel Gibson took a stab, a beating, and several thousand lashes at the story of Jesus, acclaimed director Martin Scorsese made The Last Temptation Of Christ. The film was highly controversial at the time, mostly because of its depiction of Jesus as a human being susceptible to desire, but also due to the heavy implication that Pontius Pilate was secretly the Goblin King in disguise.
One of the most memorable parts of Last Temptation is the ending, in which Christ's death is conveyed in a hauntingly beautiful final shot -- again reinforcing that this is the Jesus movie made by one of the greatest directors in history, and not the one from the star of What Women Want. After Jesus overcomes the temptation to live a mortal life, he finds himself (spoiler alert) nailed to a cross, and as he closes his eyes and fulfills his destiny, the image gives way to a flickering ethereal light:
It's cool how they made it look like the camera screwed up at the very last moment, right? Yeah, but that's because that's exactly what happened. Scorsese saved the shots of Willem Dafoe dying on the cross for last, and as they were shooting perhaps the most important part of the movie, the film was "accidentally exposed by some kid" (as in, light got inside the camera and ruined the celluloid). According to one report, no one realized what had happened until they were back in New York editing the movie. Editor Thelma Schoonmaker thought Scorsese was gonna freak out when he saw the mistake and go Taxi Driver on some motherfuckers.
However, Scorsese "fell in love with the image," and had to convince Schoonmaker that leaving the mistake in made for an awesome ending. That's pretty ingenious, when you think about it. Had a boom mic bobbed into frame, Scorsese probably could have convinced us all it was just God's finger, and no one would have said shit.
Modern Movie Violence Was Created By A Faulty Hose
Legendary Japanese director Akira Kurosawa sure got ripped off a lot, from A Fistful Of Dollars (aka the unauthorized Western remake of his movie Yojimbo) to Star Wars itself (which was basically The Hidden Fortress set in space).
One of the biggest contributions Kurosawa ever made to modern movies, though, is gratuitous violence. The final duel of Sanjuro (the sequel to Yojimbo) culminates in an aggressive gush of blood, in a way that had never been seen before:
The Super Soaker approach to violence would end up being copied in many ensuing Samurai movies, a slew of spaghetti westerns, and the work of Quentin Tarantino -- who, as we all know, uses stylish movie tropes the way a wedding DJ uses ABBA mp3s.
Kurosawa's original effect, though, was totally unintentional. There was supposed to be blood, yes, but not the ridiculous geyser that flooded out of the actor as if his armpit was the elevator at the Overlook Hotel. However, the compressor hose attached to the actor blew a coupling, and the blast was so crazy strong that it almost lifted him off the ground -- meaning Kurosawa revolutionized movie violence and nearly invented those stupid hydro jetpacks at the same time.
Which Sci-Fi Trope Would You Bring To The Real World And Why?: Every summer we're treated to the same buffet of three or four science-fiction movies with the same basic conceits. There's man vs. aliens, man vs. robots; man vs. army of clones; and man vs. complicated time travel rules. With virtual reality and self-driving cars fast approaching, it's time to consider what type of sci-fi movie we want to be living in for the rest of our lives. Co-hosts Jack O'Brien and Adam Tod Brown are joined by Cracked's Tom Reimann and Josh Sargent and comedians David Huntsberger, Adam Newman and Caitlin Gill to figure out which sci-fi trope would be the best to make a reality. Get your tickets to this live podcast here!
For awesome things given to us by mistake, check out 8 Amazing Video Game Moments That Happened By Accident and 6 Iconic Movie Scenes That Happened by Accident.
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