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7 Movies With Backstage Antics That Inspired Other Films

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1. Plan 9 From Outer Space (1957) / Ed Wood (1994)

By any standard, Edward Wood, Jr. was not a particularly good filmmaker. His films had highly noticeable continuity errors, backgrounds that wouldn't stay still, and flying saucers that were clearly made of cardboard. He would have died in obscurity had it not been for the irony that his movies achieved cult status thanks to their sheer awfulness. Film critic siblings Harry and Michael Medved pronounced Plan 9 from Outer Space the worst film of all time, and David Letterman got laughs from his audiences simply by running clips from the film during the early days of his show.

Made with the last remaining footage of his late friend Bela Lugosi, Ed Wood's dogged pursuit to make Plan 9 From Outer Space is the subject of Tim Burton's 1994 movie Ed Wood. Johnny Depp plays the title character and Martin Landau plays Lugosi (he received the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for the role). Burton paints Wood as not just a sympathetic figure but as the embodiment of a true auteur. Wood's complete obliviousness to his lack of talent, and his unwavering optimism in the face of it, is seen as his biggest strength; it's what wins the hearts of those around him and the audience. In fact, the film never allows Ed Wood to learn the reaction to his film: As Wood is walking out of the premiere of his film, he asks his girlfriend to elope with him instead of sticking around to hear critical opinion (which likely would have been negative). Both Tim Burton and Johnny Depp count Ed Wood among their greatest films.

2. Nosferatu (1922) / Shadow of the Vampire (2000)

F.W. Murnau's Nosferatu, one of the landmark films of the silent era, is the first of a great many films to be based on Bram Stoker's famous novel Dracula. Without Nosferatu demonstrating the popularity of the vampire genre, we wouldn't have Twilight, True Blood, or The Vampire Diaries. The film almost got shut down, however, because Stoker's widow sued the studio over the unauthorized use of her husband's novel (written in 1897). Murnau persisted with different names for his characters.

The most chilling aspect of the film is Max Schreck's portrayal of the Dracula stand-in (dubbed "Count Orlock"). Because audiences in 1922 were so new to the horror genre, Schreck's striking facial features made quite an impression on audiences, and rumors fueled among audiences at the time that Schreck was an actual vampire. It also helped that Schreck didn't do a lot of acting afterwards (although a closer look at his filmography shows he did do a number of less notable films).

In the 2000 film Shadow of a Vampire, director E. Elias Merhige and writer Steven Katz do a backstage film about Nosterafu with a twist: In this fictionalized account, director F.W. Murnau's (John Malkovich) film is such a success because he finds an actual vampire to play the role of the Count.

3. African Queen (1951) / White Hunter Black Heart (1990)

Many of acclaimed director John Huston's films were adventure stories that were shot on location, which was something few studios allowed directors to do at that time. The Treasure of the Sierra Madre was shot in Mexico, Beat the Devil was shot in East Africa, and The Man Who Would Be King was shot in Morocco—but his most extreme location shoot was for the African Queen. The film, about a missionary (Katharine Hepburn) and a disheveled riverboat captain (Humphrey Bogart) travelling down Africa's Zambezi River in World War I, was shot in a previously unmapped location in the Belgian Congo.

Pretty much the entire cast and crew got sick from dysentery, malaria, and snake bites. It didn't help that Huston was a stubborn and strong-willed man who had a penchant for indulging in adventures. "He had a habit of losing interest in a project halfway through, and he indulged his passions for horses, drink, gambling and women as if he had the divine right to be supplied endlessly with same," wrote Roger Ebert. In this particular case, Huston's adventure of choice was shooting an elephant. When Huston first arrived in the Congo, he delayed production so he could go on a safari. When he failed to shoot an elephant on that outing, he refused to continue production until he succeeded in shooting one. Hepburn wrote in her autobiography that Huston convinced her to go hunting and inadvertently led her to a herd of wild animals from which the two were lucky to escape alive. She was among a number of people who theorized that Huston signed on to the movie just so he could go on safari.

Among those who got sick was screenwriter James Agee. A German-born screenwriter named Peter Viertel was sent to Africa as Agee's replacement. Upon witnessing first-hand Huston's mad quest to shoot an elephant, Viertel was inspired to write a semi-biographical novel about Huston centered around that experience. The novel was made into a movie by Clint Eastwood, who directed and starred as stubborn director John Wilson. Despite the name changes, the film sticks pretty close to the novel.

4. The Man Who Killed Don Quixote (2000) / Lost in La Mancha (2002)

Director Terry Gilliam (originally of Monty Python fame) is no doubt an artistic visionary, but is also known throughout the industry to be pig-headed and immature. Among his more famous battles against studio overlords were refusing to continue production on The Brothers Grimm for two weeks because of disagreements over casting, and taking out a full-page ad attacking Universal Studios after they made unauthorized edits on Brazil. (The resulting director's cut resulted in his only Oscar nomination, so he might have been onto something.)

When Gilliam shot his 1995 film 12 Monkeys in Philadelphia, Temple University film students Keith Fulton and Louis Pepe were given permission to shadow the director. And when he decided to make his next film The Man Who Killed Don Quixote, Fulton and Pepe set out to shoot a behind-the-scenes observational documentary.

Then disaster struck: Star Jean Rochefort got sick, the crew let production fall behind schedule, and flash floods destroyed the sets. Within the first week, production was seriously in jeopardy, and the movie was eventually canceled. Meanwhile, Pepe and Fulton started to feel that it might be exploitative to continue filming such a doomed situation. Gilliam insisted they continue shooting the film, however.

As Fulton said in an interview with Moviemaker Magazine: "At this point, we called Terry and told him that we were uncomfortable shooting; that it seemed unethical to continue making a documentary about his misery. He replied, 'Screw ethics! Someone's got to get a film out of all this mess, and it doesn't look like it's going to be me. So it had better be you. Keep shooting!' That was pretty much the blessing we needed."

The end-result is an insightful look at the harsh realities of filmmaking.

5. & 6. Psycho (1960) / Hitchcock (2012) and The Birds (1963) / The Girl (2012)

Those wishing to see both the good and the ugly sides of famed director Alfred Hitchcock are in luck this year—two films have just been released that tell drastically different stories about the man.

Hitchcock tells the story of the director's (Anthony Hopkins) struggle to maintain the career high he had just set for himself with North by Northwest with a risky adaptation of Psycho.

The film is based on Stephen Rebello's book Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho, which argues that Hitchcock's wife of 53 years, Alma Reville (played by Helen Mirren in the film), played a major creative role in his films, and the story centers largely around how the two sustained a loving marriage through their collaboration.

In contrast, the HBO film The Girl showcases Hitchcock's (this time played by Toby Jones) dark side: specifically, the way he became obssessed with his leading ladies. The Girl tells the story of disenfranchised Swedish actress Tippi Hedren (played by Siena Miller), whose experience filming The Birds served as the most extreme example of this abuse.

According to multiple sources, Hitchcock propositioned Hedren and, when she refused his advances, threatened to blackball her from show business. A headstrong woman, Hedren still refused, and Hitchcock responded by making her time on set miserable: He ordered his staff to follow her around at all times, and instead of using mechanical birds during the attack scene, as he told her he would, he hurled live birds at the actress, subjecting her to a barrage of claw marks and bird feces for five days. Even worse, Hitchcock succeeded in ruining Hedren's career by holding her to an ironclad contract that wouldn't let her act in any films not directed by him. When she was finally released from her contract, demand died down to the point where she couldn't recover.

As for the inseparable love between Hitch and his wife? According to Hedren (who attended the premiere of The Girl and gave interviews), Alma knew about Hitchcock's obsession with her the whole time and wouldn't intervene.

7. A Trip to the Moon (1903) / Hugo (2011)

When he was 27, George Méliès sold his share in the family shoe business and used the money to buy a theater where he could put on shows. He created 30 new dramatic illusions for his act—and when he saw the first screening of the legendary first films shot by the Lumiere brothers in Paris in 1895, he became immediately enchanted and decided to use the moving image as a way to enhance his magic. In his attempts to create cinematic illusions, he inadvertently became the first filmmaker to master multiple exposures, time-lapse photography, and dissolves. Because of this, Méliès is sometimes referred to as the "cinemagician."

Méliès' landmark film A Trip to the Moon is considered cinema's first foray into science fiction. Based on two different sources—From the Earth to the Moon and The First Men in the Moon by H.G. Wells—the film was only 14 minutes long but took four months to make and cost 10,000 francs. Despite being 110 years old, the film holds up surprisingly well today.

When acclaimed director Martin Scorsese isn't making movies, he's busy indulging in his passion for film history, whether serving as a contributor to Turner Classic Movies, aiding in film restoration, or making documentaries on subjects as wide-ranging as director Elia Kazan to film critic Roger Ebert. This made him the perfect candidate to make Hugo.

Scorsese's film (based on Brian_Selznick's The Invention of Hugo Cabret) is set in 1920s Paris, and revolves around the friendship that forms between the orphaned 11-year-old boy (Asa Butterfield) who lives in a train station's clock tower and a jaded George Méliès (played by Ben Kingsley), who is resigned to managing a toy store after his film career declined during the Great War. The idea of Méliès working at a toy store in obscurity was true to life. During World War I, many of his films were burnt for ammunition or lost, and he was discovered working in a toy store, which prompted a film society to give him a retrospective and rent-free apartment.

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Samsung’s Star Wars Vacuums Offer Everything You Want in a Droid
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Hate housecleaning but love Star Wars? Samsung’s got the solution. In anticipation of December’s Star Wars: The Last Jedi, the newest film in the Star Wars saga, Samsung has transformed a limited number of its VR7000 POWERbot robot vacuum cleaners into two familiar faces from George Lucas’s legendary space opera: a Stormtrooper and Darth Vader (which comes with Wi-Fi connectivity and a remote control).

In order to create a unique device that would truly thrill Star Wars aficionados, Samsung consulted with fans of the film throughout each stage of the process. The result is a pair of custom-crafted robo-vacuums that fill your home with the sounds of a galaxy far, far away as they clean (when you turn Darth Vader on, for example, you'll hear his iconic breathing).

“We are very pleased to be part of the excitement leading up to the release of The Last Jedi and to be launching our limited edition POWERbot in partnership with Star Wars fans,” B.S. Suh, Samsung’s executive vice president, said in a press statement. “From its industry-leading suction power, slim design, and smart features, to the wonderful character-themed voice feedback and sound effects, we are confident the Star Wars limited edition of the VR7000 will be a big hit.”

Be warned that this kind of power suction doesn’t come cheap: while the Stormtrooper POWERbot will set you back $696, the Darth Vader vacuum retails for $798. Who knew the Dark Side was so sparkling clean?


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30 Facts About Your Favorite Martin Scorsese Movies
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In the pantheon of iconic American film giants, Martin Scorsese gets to sit at the head of the table and carve the turkey. In a career spanning 50 years, he has created some of the most visually spectacular and quote-worthy material ever put on celluloid. To celebrate the auteur’s 75th birthday, here are 30 facts about some of your favorite Scorsese movies. Ready? Great… now go home and get your #@$%ing shinebox!

1. MUCH OF THE MEAN STREETS BUDGET WENT TO ITS SOUNDTRACK.

Clearing songs for 1973's Mean Streets ate up almost half of the film's $500,000 budget. Staying true to his well-documented love of rock, Scorsese used tunes by The Ronettes, Eric Clapton, and The Rolling Stones for the soundtrack. “For me, the whole movie was 'Jumping Jack Flash' and 'Be My Baby,'" the director said in Scorsese on Scorsese.

2. LAURA DERN HAD A TINY ROLE IN ALICE DOESN’T LIVE HERE ANYMORE.

Future Oscar nominee Laura Dern made one of her earliest, albeit uncredited, appearances toward the end of Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore. Working alongside her mother, Diane Ladd, Dern—who was seven years old at the time—played a little girl eating a banana-flavored ice cream cone at Mel’s Diner. It took 19 takes to get the shot, which required Dern to consume 19 ice cream cones. Impressed by the budding actress, Scorsese told Ladd that “if she doesn’t throw up after [19 takes’ worth of cones], this girl is ready to be an actress.”

3. THE “YOU TALKIN’ TO ME?” SCENE FROM TAXI DRIVER CAME FROM BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN.

Robert De Niro improvised that whole paranoid monologue, including what would become the movie’s most famous line. (The film's screenwriter, Paul Schrader, later said, “It’s the best thing in the movie, and I didn’t write it.”) De Niro got the line from Bruce Springsteen, whom he’d seen perform in Greenwich Village just days earlier, at one in a series of concerts leading up to the release of Born to Run. When the audience called out his name, The Boss did a bit where he feigned humility and said, “You talkin’ to me?” Apparently it stuck in De Niro’s mind.

4. MUCH OF NEW YORK, NEW YORK WAS IMPROVISED (WHICH MAY HAVE BEEN ITS DOWNFALL).

In 1977, Scorsese released New York, New York. What was meant to be an epic musical turned out to be one of the director’s biggest bombs, due partly to the fact that the normally very regimented director decided to take a more improvisational approach to the film. “I tried to have no idea at all what I was going to do, as much as possible, on the day of shooting—as opposed to having a fairly strong idea of what I was going to do,” he said. “I was really testing the limits … I had a very chaotic style, on purpose, on New York, New York. And I found it didn't work for me."

5. A LOT OF FAMOUS CINEMATOGRAPHERS WERE INVOLVED IN THE MAKING OF THE LAST WALTZ.

The seven 35mm camera operators who shot The Last Waltz, Scorsese's 1978 concert documentary, included Michael Chapman (Taxi Driver, Raging Bull), Vilmos Zsigmond (Close Encounters of the Third Kind, The Deer Hunter), and László Kovács (Easy Rider, Five Easy Pieces). Scorsese and Robbie Robertson (who also served as a producer) came up with a 300-page shooting script of diagrams and text that assigned the camera positions with the music lyrics and cues. According to the film's production notes, it was the first music documentary made on 35mm.

6. JOE PESCI WAS RUNNING AN ITALIAN RESTAURANT WHEN SCORSESE AND ROBERT DE NIRO APPROACHED HIM ABOUT RAGING BULL.

Joe Pesci had been a professional actor and musician (he sang and played guitar) off and on since childhood, but he called it quits in the 1970s. His 1975 Broadway show with comedy partner Frank Vincent (whom he would later recruit to play Salvy in Raging Bull) had closed after a week, and his first movie, 1976’s The Death Collector (also featuring Vincent), was a flop. But Robert De Niro happened to see that film in 1978, and was so impressed by Pesci’s performance that he pitched him to Scorsese. The two tracked Pesci down and called him at his restaurant to coax him out of showbiz retirement to co-star in Raging Bull.

7. SCORSESE INITIALLY DIDN’T SEE HOW THE SCRIPT FOR THE KING OF COMEDY WOULD WORK AS A MOVIE.

Robert De Niro passed Paul D. Zimmerman’s script for The King of Comedy on to Scorsese, hoping that he could interest him in directing it. "I didn't get it," Scorsese later admitted. "The script is hilarious. But the movie was just a one-line gag: You won't let me go on the show, so I'll kidnap you and you'll put me on the show.” Eventually, he came to see how it could be turned into a feature.

8. GRIFFIN DUNNE HAD TO GIVE UP, WELL, PRETTY MUCH EVERYTHING TO STAR IN AFTER HOURS.

In order to capture the desperation and paranoia to play word processor Paul Hackett in After Hours (1985), Scorsese gave star Griffin Dunne some very specific instructions. “I was at a symposium with Marty Scorsese and he said, ‘I really had to be hard on Griffin for this part. I said, no sex, no going out, none of it,’” Cher told People at the movie’s after-party. “It must have worked,” she added. “He’s so good at being frustrated.”

9. IT WAS PAUL NEWMAN WHO APPROACHED SCORSESE ABOUT THE COLOR OF MONEY.

Walter Tevis had written the book The Hustler and its sequel, The Color of Money, yet Paul Newman didn’t care for the adapted screenplay to the latter. So Newman went to Scorsese, as he was a fan of his work, particularly Raging Bull, which he felt had a similar tone to what The Color of Money should be.

10. SCORSESE GOT THE IDEA FOR GOODFELLAS WHILE SHOOTING THE COLOR OF MONEY.

In a rare moment of downtime on The Color of Money set, "I read a review of [Nicholas Pileggi's] Wiseguy ... and it said something about this character Henry Hill having access to many different levels of organized crime because he was somewhat of an outsider," Scorsese told Rolling Stone. "He looked a little nicer. He was able to be a better frontman and speak a little better. I thought that was interesting, because you could get a cross section of the layers of organized crime—from his point of view, of course. So I got the book, started reading it and was fascinated by the narrative ability of it."

11. THE FAMOUS “FUNNY HOW?” SCENE IN GOODFELLAS WASN’T IN THE SCRIPT.

The most famous (and certainly the most quoted) scene in Goodfellas comes at the beginning, when Pesci's Tommy DeVito jokingly-yet-uncomfortably accosts Henry Hill (Ray Liotta) for calling him "funny." In addition to being the driving force behind the scene on screen, Pesci is also responsible for coming up with the premise.  

While working in a restaurant, a young Pesci apparently told a mobster that he was funny—a compliment that was met with a less-than-enthusiastic response. Pesci relayed the anecdote to Scorsese, who decided to include it in the film. Scorsese didn't include the scene in the shooting script so that Pesci and Liotta’s interactions would elicit genuinely surprised reactions from the supporting cast.

12. STEVEN SPIELBERG TRADED CAPE FEAR TO MARTIN SCORSESE FOR THE RIGHTS TO SCHINDLER'S LIST.

Scorsese was set to direct Schindler's List, but was apprehensive about making it after the controversy surrounding his previous two films, Goodfellas and The Last Temptation of Christ. At the same time, Steven Spielberg was set to make Cape Fear, but decided that he "wasn't in the mood" to make a movie about a "maniac." So they traded projects. Spielberg had Bill Murray in mind to play Max Cady. Scorsese had other ideas.

13. THE CASINO OPENING TITLES WERE DESIGNED BY THE LEGENDARY SAUL BASS.

Saul Bass is certainly the most famous (and possibly the only) well-known designer of opening credit sequences, with more than 50 to his name. If there was a movie in the '50s or '60s with distinctive opening titles, odds are good that it was Bass's work, often in conjunction with his wife, Elaine. (Among them: Vertigo, Psycho, North by Northwest, West Side Story, Spartacus, and It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.) Bass did the titles for Scorsese's Goodfellas, Cape Fear, The Age of Innocence, and Casino, which turned out to be the final film of his career. He died five months after the film opened, at the age of 75. 

14. GANGS OF NEW YORK WAS 32 YEARS IN THE MAKING.

Scorsese read Herbert Asbury’s 1928 nonfiction book The Gangs of New York: An Informal History of the Underworld in 1970 and immediately thought it would make a good movie. He didn’t have any money or clout yet though, so he had to wait. He bought the movie rights to the book in 1979, and even got a screenplay written around that time, then spent the next 20 years trying to get the project off the ground.

15. THE DEPARTED IS A REMAKE.

While Scorsese and screenwriter William Monahan claim they did not watch the 2002 Hong Kong action movie Infernal Affairs before making The Departed, the two films share more than a few similarities. Infernal Affairs director Andy Lau unsurprisingly prefers his own film, saying of The Departed, “Of course I think the version I made is better, but the Hollywood version is pretty good too.” 

16. “GIMME SHELTER” IS SCORSESE’S UNOFFICIAL GANGSTER THEME SONG.

Before The Departed, Scorsese had previously used the Rolling Stones song in Goodfellas and Casino. It seems Billy Costigan loves the Stones, too; the CD that he mails to Sullivan is housed in the case for the Rolling Stones album Exile on Main Street.

17. MEAN STREETS TOOK ITS TITLE FROM A RAYMOND CHANDLER ESSAY.

Originally titled Season of the Witch, the film’s name was changed to Mean Streets from a line from Raymond Chandler’s 1944 essay “The Simple Art of Murder.” Writing about the art of storytelling and plumbing the depths of humanity, Chandler wrote. “In everything that can be called art there is a quality of redemption. It may be pure tragedy, if it is high tragedy, and it may be pity and irony, and it may be the raucous laughter of the strong man. But down these mean streets a man must go who is not himself mean, who is neither tarnished nor afraid.”

18. DE NIRO WANTED TO MAKE RAGING BULL AS A PLAY, TOO.

This was in early 1978, before it was even written as a movie yet, when De Niro was collaborating with Mardik Martin to adapt LaMotta’s memoir, while simultaneously trying to convince a noncommittal and increasingly drug-addled Scorsese to take on the project. De Niro’s idea was to stage it as a Broadway play (to be directed by Scorsese), and then, during the run of the show, spend the daylight hours shooting the movie. De Niro liked the idea of the day’s filming influencing the way they performed the play that night. But Martin’s script wasn’t yet ready for either medium, and Scorsese was in no shape to do it then anyway. 

19. SCORSESE WAS WORKING ON NEW YORK, NEW YORK AT THE SAME TIME HE WAS MAKING THE LAST WALTZ.

Scorsese was supposed to be in New York editing the Liza Minnelli/Robert De Niro musical drama when he was in San Francisco preparing and shooting The Last Waltz. According to Scorsese, New York, New York producer Irwin Winkler was "very upset" when he learned this.

20. CHANDELIERS FROM GONE WITH THE WIND WERE USED ON THE LAST WALTZ.

The performance recorded for The Last Waltz was designed by Boris Leven, who has served as production designer on West Side Story (1961) and The Sound of Music (1965). Leven created a backdrop inspired by the films of Luchino Visconti (Death In Venice, The Leopard), borrowing props from the San Francisco Opera's production of La Traviata and chandeliers designed for Gone with the Wind. Robertson wasn't sold on the elaborate decor. He told Leven, "Chandeliers? I don't think that's going to go over with Neil or Bob or the rest of the musicians. These people don't do chandeliers, Boris."

21. THE FIRST SCENE SHOT FOR GOODFELLAS WASN’T DIRECTED BY SCORSESE. 

As you might know, the business of filming is rarely chronological—directors tend to jump scenes for cost, scheduling, and efficiency reasons. For Goodfellas, the scene that broke shooting ground was the intentionally low-budget Morrie’s Wigs commercial, which plays just before Henry and Jimmy hassle Morrie about a debt near the beginning of the film. To get the feel of the commercial right, Scorsese contacted Stephen R. Pacca, who had created his own ultra low-budget ads for his replacement window company, to write and direct the Morrie’s Wigs ad. 

22. REESE WITHERSPOON BLEW HER CAPE FEAR AUDITION. SO DID DREW BARRYMORE.

"It was my second audition ever," Witherspoon said in 1999. "My agent told me I'd be meeting Martin Scorsese. I said, 'Who is he?' Then he mentioned the name Robert De Niro. I said, 'Never heard of him.' When I walked in I did recognize De Niro, and I just lost it. My hand was shaking and I was a blubbering idiot.''

Drew Barrymore auditioned for the role, too, but believed she overacted for one of Scorsese's assistants. In 2000, she called the audition "the biggest disaster" of her life and said that Scorsese thinks she's "dog doo-doo" because of it.

23. GEORGE LUCAS HELPED WITH SCORSESE OUT WITH AN ELEPHANT PROBLEM FOR GANGS OF NEW YORK.


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The Star Wars creator, then working on Attack of the Clones, had visited the massive set in Rome and told Scorsese that it was probably the last of its kind, that such large re-creations would be done on computers now to save money. Lucas’s know-how in such matters came in handy later, when Gangs needed an elephant and none of the animal wranglers in Italy were able to produce one in time. So Scorsese called his old friend Lucas and asked for help: “We’re effed," Scorsese told Lucas. "We don’t have [an] elephant! Tell us how to shoot it!” Lucas, an old pro at such things, guided them through the process of filming without the elephant and having it digitally created later. It’s the only thing in the movie that’s completely computer-generated. 

24. SCORSESE WAS INSPIRED TO CAST GWEN STEFANI IN THE AVIATOR AFTER SEEING HER PICTURE ON THE SIDE OF A BUS SHELTER.

The Marilyn Monroe-inspired pictures, taken by Herb Ritts for a Teen Vogue cover, caught Scorsese's eye. Stefani told MTV the story, as she heard it from DiCaprio. “Martin Scorsese’s driving in New York City and he sees my Teen Vogue cover on the side of a bus stop shelter. And he’s like, ’Who’s that girl? Let’s get her!’ I had Leonardo DiCaprio tell me the whole story in Martin Scorsese’s voice, so it was pretty bizarre.” Stefani portrayed Jean Harlow; it was her first film role. 

25. BERNARD HERRMANN DIED JUST A FEW HOURS AFTER RECORDING THE MUSIC FOR TAXI DRIVER.

Scorsese was lucky to get Bernard Herrmann, a Hollywood legend who had scored Citizen Kane, Psycho, Cape Fear, North by Northwest, and dozens of others. Herrmann wrote the Taxi Driver score and conducted the recording sessions himself, finishing in Los Angeles on the evening of December 23, 1975. He retired to his hotel and died sometime during the night, officially Christmas Eve morning, at the age of 64. He was posthumously nominated for an Oscar. 

26. DANIEL DAY-LEWIS WAS TRAINED BY REAL BUTCHERS FOR GANGS OF NEW YORK, BECAUSE OF COURSE HE WAS.


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Ever the Method actor, Day-Lewis first took lessons from two Argentine brothers with a butcher shop in Queens, then from a master butcher specially flown in from London.

27. SCORSESE THREATENED TO TAKE HIS NAME OFF OF RAGING BULL OVER ONE MINOR SOUND ISSUE. 

Very late in the post-production process, when the film was due to premiere soon and Scorsese was still tinkering with the final sound mix, producer Irwin Winkler gave him a drop deadline: All work would cease at midnight on a certain night, and that would be it. When the hour arrived, Scorsese was obsessing over one minor line of dialogue someone says to a bartender —“Cutty Sark, please”—which he didn’t think was audible. Winkler told him too bad, we’ve got to send this thing out. Scorsese declared that if Winkler released the film this way, he wanted his name taken off it as director, because it no longer reflected his vision. Winkler said, “So be it.” Like all good producers, he knew that sometimes you have to let an overtired director throw a tantrum and say things he doesn’t really mean. Sure enough, Scorsese recanted sometime later.

28. SCORSESE AVOIDED AN X RATING ON TAXI DRIVER BY MAKING THE BLOOD LOOK MORE BROWN THAN RED. 

Scorsese desaturated the color in the film’s gorier scenes, rendering the blood less realistic and more like a black-and-white tabloid newspaper (without actually being black-and-white). Not only did it fit the lurid tone he was going for, it soothed the nerves of the ratings board. 

29. CATE BLANCHETT DID HER HOMEWORK FOR THE AVIATOR.


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At Scorsese's request, Blanchett watched all of Hepburn's first 15 movies for The Aviator. Blanchett also screened Hepburn's 1973 interview with Dick Cavett, read a memoir about her, took golf and tennis lessons, and took cold baths just like Hepburn. On June 29, 2003—the same day that Blanchett arrived on set for the first time—Hepburn passed away. "I picked up the paper thinking, 'Isn't it odd that Katharine Hepburn's on the cover?'" Blanchett recalled. "She had such a remarkable life, and then with her death, she was even more present in everyone's mind."

30. WE MAY NEVER KNOW WHAT THE REAL SAM “ACE” ROTHSTEIN ACTUALLY THOUGHT OF CASINO.

Lefty Rosenthal—the inspiration for Sam Rothstein, who died in 2008—said he only ever saw Casino once. If that's true, it was the screening of a rough cut that was also attended by Nicholas Pileggi. Pileggi sat with Rosenthal—they were the only ones in the screening room—and said Rosenthal's reaction was positive. But near the end of his life, when an interviewer mentioned that, "You only saw Casino once—and you don't like the movie," Rosenthal replied that "It lacked the detail of what I did. There are scenes where the Rosenthal character repeated the same thing twice. I would only tell you to do something one time—that's all I needed. And there was that scene that still angers me when I think of it—I never juggled on The Frank Rosenthal Show. I resent that scene. It makes me look foolish. And I only did that TV show [at] the behest of the chairman of the board of the Stardust so that the public would realize I was a decent guy and not a mobster as portrayed by the media covering us at the time.” Did Rosenthal change his mind over time? Did Pileggi misinterpret his initial reaction? We'll never know.

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