9 Pieces of Famous Movie Trivia That Just Aren't True
You'd think, what with us all having Google at our fingertips, that easily dismissed myths would have died a death by now. But no: the internet has paradoxically made it all that much easier to spread utter nonsense as though it were fact.
This is rumor control. These are the facts.
1| "You can see a dead munchkin in The Wizard Of Oz"
The oldest movie myth of them all is responsible for countless blogs, hundreds of YouTube videos, one Irvine Welsh play and more misuse of a DVD pause button than Basic Instinct. Stop the film at just the right time and you can see "the shadow of a depressed dwarf swinging from a tree above the Yellow Brick Road". The only problem is, the scene was filmed before the munchkins were even hired. Also, it's quite clearly a pelican. (No, really: there were a few birds on set, and they weren't especially well contained.)
2| "There's a ghost visible in Three Men And A Baby"
No one noticed the ghostly figure on the cinematic release, but when the film was released on home video, viewers spotted a blurry figure standing by the window of the men and baby's house and obviously assumed he was the ghost of a small boy who killed himself with a shotgun (before haunting the set of a family comedy?). But no, it's just a promotional cardboard standee of Ted Danson's actor character. It was part of a storyline about a dogfood commercial he was filming that was later (mostly) cut from the film.
3| "A stunt man died during the chariot race in Ben Hur"
This one isn't quite so easy to debunk. While it's true that no stunt men were harmed during Charlton Heston's chariot race (or this year's remake for that matter), most of the rumors probably stem from the original Ben Hur movie made in 1925—when quite a lot of stunt men were harmed. It was a nightmare shoot from start to finish: horses were shot, real fights broke out, people were set on fire and one rider was crushed to death during the hellishly violent chariot race scene.
4| "People who saw the first moving picture of a train ran out of the theater screaming"
Remember the first time you saw a 3D movie? Or an IMAX film? You probably looked at whoever you were sitting next to and said, "This is cool, isn't it?". The exact same thing happened in Paris in 1895 when audiences watched the first grainy, shaky footage of L'Arrivée d'un Train en Gare de la Ciotat, but bad history and really good PR has since turned their perfectly normal reactions into shouting, screaming and running for the hills.
5| "The gunshot that killed Brandon Lee is in The Crow"
Possibly the most unbelievable of all movie myths, yet if you were a gothy type back in the '90s it was a stone cold fact that The Crow contained the actual moment when Brandon Lee was killed by a misfiring prop gun. The real footage was turned over to the police for investigation—who concluded that it was a horrible accident (and not an elaborate murder plot by the Chinese mafia, as some idiots still believe).
6| "Walt Disney's head is cryogenically frozen under Disneyland"
Weirdly, not everything that happens in Futurama is based on actual fact. Walt Disney did, apparently, express an interest in cryogenic freezing but he forgot to tell his family, who assumed that he'd rather be cremated and left in an urn in the middle of an LA cemetery. The only thing buried under Disneyland is George Clooney's secret teleportation portal to the top of the Eiffel Tower from Tomorrowland.
7| The rain in Singin' In The Rain was actually milk
Water never shows up too well on camera, so it stands to reason that a few tricks were used for the most famous rain scene in movie history. Giant arc lamps were brought in to backlight the sprinklers, and poor old Gene Kelly spent so long perfecting the same puddle splash that he ended up singin' with a 103°F fever. Milk, though, was never added to the water to make it more visible. That's just disgusting. Here's director Stanley Donen with the last word: "There have been a lot of stories about how we put milk in the water so you could see the rain. It's not true."
8| A Japanese woman died looking for the Fargo money
Fargo isn't a true story. It's an easy mistake to make, particularly as the opening line literally reads, "This is a true story". So when Takako Konishi lost her job in Tokyo, booked a holiday to Minnesota (where she had previously travelled with an ex-lover), downed two bottles of champagne and decided to kill herself in a snowdrift, the press thought that her death was just too Coen-esque not to be related to the film, even though she left a suicide note in her hotel. Lies were told, myths were believed and families were devastated – but at least we got a really good indie film out of it (Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter).
9| The MGM lion killed a bunch of people after shooting the ident
It's a great story: Alfred Hitchcock was filming a ferocious lion for the famous MGM logo when two burglars broke onto the movie set. The animal looked at the camera, roared with rage, and jumped out of frame to rip the crooks to shreds. The truth is a bit less great: Hitchcock had nothing to do with it, a total of seven tame lions have been used for the ident over the years and none of them have ever ripped anything to shreds. In fact, the first one (1924-1928) didn't even bother roaring.
This story originally appeared on Esquire.co.uk.
* Minor edits have been made by the Esquiremag.ph editors.