Over 100 million people watch the Super Bowl each year ... and some of them don't give a flying pigskin about football. Here are some facts to tide them over until halftime.
1. Halftime performers don't actually get paid for performing. Instead, they get production expenses covered and enjoy a boost in record sales and media buzz, positive or negative.
2. Halftime hasn't always been about pop music headliners. It used to be a Broadway musical-style production, often designed to cover the field. Past performers included Carol Channing, George Burns, and a lot of college marching bands.
3. Another performer you wouldn't normally associate with football: jazz legend Ella Fitzgerald. In 1972, she was the first African-American woman to sing during the halftime show.
4. Some musical acts have a cult following, and some might just be cults. The folk group Up With People performed at the most Super Bowls—four halftime shows between 1976 and 1986—despite being one of the least popular acts ever. The group formed in the 1960s to counter immoral hippie subculture and received funding from Halliburton, Exxon, and General Motors.
5. Complain about Bruno Mars all you want—at least it's not 1989, when an Elvis impersonator/magician named Elvis Presto took to the stage to perform the world's largest card trick. But wait, it's even cheesier than it sounds.
6. The appearance of New Kids on the Block at Super Bowl XXV was supposed to usher in a new era of pop star-studded halftime shows. But oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, they didn't have the right stuff. It was 1991, and the halftime show was shown after the game to make room for Desert Storm news coverage.
7. Michael Jackson's 1993 Super Bowl performance was the real game changer. It was the first time network ratings went up during halftime. Viewers used to disappear during the break in the game. Now Jackson was the one disappearing ... and re-appearing in the middle of the field!
8. No Super Bowl halftime list would be complete without mentioning Nipplegate at Super Bowl XXXVIII in 2004. When Justin Timberlake "accidentally" exposed Janet Jackson's right breast, the two made history. "Wardrobe malfunction" became part of the lexicon. For the next two years, "Janet Jackson" was the most searched term, event, and image on the Internet.
9. Unfortunately, Janet Jackson suffered more backlash after Nipplegate than Justin Timberlake. (Not to mention that seven years passed before another woman performed at halftime.) Meanwhile, the FCC fined CBS a record $550,000 that was later appealed and voided. Technology companies were the ultimate victor of the stunt, debacle, or whatever it was. The extra-revealing halftime show finale was the most watched, recorded, and replayed moment in TiVo history—and later credited with bringing in at least 35,000 new subscriptions. The scramble for online footage of Janet Jackson's "wardrobe malfunction" also inspired the creation of YouTube and the video hosting service Vevo. The founders aren't ashamed to admit it.
10. Currently, the most-watched halftime show in history was the one headlined by Madonna in 2012. Some 111 million people watched the New York Giants play the New England Patriots, but 114 million viewers tuned in just for the Queen of Pop. Beyoncé's performance last year was the second most viewed halftime performance ever. And this year? We'll have to wait and see, but we're pretty sure the Red Hot Chili Peppers are keeping all their clothes on.
Walk around any given American neighborhood on the night of October 31, and you’ll likely hear choruses of "trick-or-treat" chiming through the area. The sing-songy phrase is synonymous with Halloween in some parts of the world, but it's not the only way kids get sweets from their neighbors this time of year. From the Philippines to the American Midwest, here are some regional door-to-door traditions you may not have heard of.
The earliest form of trick-or-treating on Halloween can be traced back to Europe in the Middle Ages. Kids would don costumes and go door-to-door offering prayers for dead relatives in exchange for snacks called "soul cakes." When the cake was eaten, tradition held that a soul was ferried from purgatory into heaven. Souling has disappeared from Ireland and the UK, but a version of it lives on halfway across the world in the Philippines. During All Saints Day on November 1, Filipino children taking part in Pangangaluluwa will visit local houses and sing hymns for alms. The songs often relate to souls in purgatory, and carolers will play the part of the souls by asking for prayers. Kids are sometimes given rice cakes called suman, a callback to the soul cakes from centuries past.
2. PÃO-POR-DEUS // PORTUGAL
Instead of trick-or-treating, kids in Portugal go door-to-door saying pão-por-deus ("bread for god") in exchange for goodies on All Saints Day. Some homeowners give out money or candy, while others offer actual baked goods.
3. HALLOWEEN APPLES // WESTERN CANADA
If they're not calling out "trick-or-treat" on their neighbors’ doorsteps on Halloween night, you may hear children in western Canada saying "Halloween apples!" The phrase is left over from a time when apples were a common Halloween treat and giving out loose items on the holiday wasn't considered taboo.
The Dutch wait several days after Halloween to do their own take on trick-or-treating. On the night of November 11, St. Martin's Day, children in the Netherlands take to the streets with their homemade lanterns in hand. These lanterns were traditionally carved from beets or turnips, but today they’re most commonly made from paper. And the kids who partake don’t get away with shouting a few words at each home they visit—they’re expected to sing songs to receive their sugary rewards.
Guy Fawkes Night is seen by some as the English Protestants’ answer to the Catholic holidays associated with Halloween, so it makes sense that it has its own spin on trick-or-treating. November 5 marks the day of Guy Fawkes’s failed assassination attempt on King James as part of the Gunpowder Plot. To celebrate the occasion, children will tour the neighborhood asking for "a penny for the guy." Sometimes they’ll carry pictures of the would-be-assassin which are burned in the bonfires lit later at night.
6. TRICKS FOR TREATS // ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI
If kids in the St. Louis area hope to go home with a full bag of candy on Halloween, they must be willing to tickle some funny bones. Saying "tricks-for-treats" followed by a joke replaces the classic trick-or-treat mantra in this Midwestern city. There’s no criteria for the quality or the subject of the joke, but spooky material (What’s a skeleton’s favorite instrument? The trombone!) earns brownie points.
7. ME DA PARA MI CALAVERITA // MEXICO
While Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is completely separate from Halloween, the two holidays share a few things in common. Mexicans celebrate the day by dressing up, eating sweet treats, and in some parts of the country, going house-to-house. Children knocking on doors will say "me da para mi calaverita" or "give me money for my little skull," a reference to the decorated sugar skulls sold in markets at this time of year.
8. HALLOWEEN! // QUEBEC, CANADA
Trick-or-treaters like to keep things simple in the Canadian province of Quebec. In place of the alliterative exclamation, they shout “Halloween!” at each home they visit. Adults local to the area might remember saying "la charité s’il-vous-plaît "(French for “charity, please”) when going door-to-door on Halloween, but this saying has largely fallen out of fashion.
9. SWEET OR SOUR // GERMANY
Halloween is only just beginning to gain popularity in Germany. Where it is celebrated, the holiday looks a lot like it does in America, but Germans have managed to inject some local character into their version of trick-or-treat. In exchange for candy, kids sometimes sing out "süß oder saures"—or "sweet and sour" in English.
Kids in Colombia anticipate dressing up and prowling the streets on Halloween just as much as kids do in the States. There are a few significant variations on the annual tradition: Instead of visiting private residencies, they're more likely to ask for candy from store owners and the security guards of apartment buildings. And instead of saying trick-or-treat, they recite this Spanish rhyme:
Triqui triqui Halloween Quiero dulces para mí Si no hay dulces para mí Se le crece la naríz
In short, it means that if the grownups don't give the kids the candy they're asking for, their noses will grow. Tricky, tricky indeed!
In 1953 Alfred Hitchcock was looking for a new project after a film he’d been developing fell through. Sensing a need to go back to his safe space of murderous thrillers, he opted to adapt a stage play that had already proved to be a hit on British television. Though he had no particular attachment to the project, Dial M for Murder would ultimately become one of Hitchcock’s best-known—and best-loved—classics.
From the film’s use of 3D to the debut of Grace Kelly in Hitchcock’s filmography to a pivotal murder sequence that made the director lose weight from stress, here are 11 facts about Dial M for Murder.
1. IT’S BASED ON A STAGE PLAY.
Dial M for Murder is, in terms of locations and number of characters, a relatively sparse film that barely leaves its primary set. This is because it was based on a stage play by Frederick Knott, which premiered as a BBC TV special in 1952 and later opened at London’s Westminster Theater and, eventually, Broadway. After seeing the BBC production, producer Sir Alexander Korda purchased the rights to make the film version, and later sold them to Warner Bros. for $75,000.
2. ALFRED HITCHCOCK THOUGHT HE WAS “COASTING” WHEN HE MADE THE FILM.
By 1953, when Dial M for Murder arrived at Warner Bros., Hitchcock was developing a project called The Bramble Bush, the story of a man who steals another man’s passport, only to find out that the original owner is wanted for murder. Hitchcock wrestled with the story for a while, but was never satisfied with it. When Dial M for Murder landed at the studio, Hitchcock knew the play had been a hit, and opted to direct it. As he later told fellow director François Truffaut, he found the film to be “coasting, playing it safe,” as he was already known as a thriller filmmaker.
3. IT’S HITCHCOCK’S ONLY 3D FILM.
In the early 1950s, the 3D movie craze was raging, and Warner Bros. was eager to pair it with the fame of Hitchcock. So, the director was ordered to use the process on Dial M for Murder. This meant Hitchcock had to work with the giant cameras necessary for the process, but there was also a trade-off that makes the film fascinating—even in 2D. In order to make the film look appropriately interesting in 3D, Hitchcock added a pit into the floor of the set, so the camera could move at lower angles and captures objects like lamps in the foreground. As a result, the film looks like no other Hitchcock ever shot, particularly for the infamous scissors murder that’s the film's thrilling centerpiece. Unfortunately, by the time Dial M for Murder was released in 1954, the 3D fad was dying out, so the film was shown in 2D at most screenings.
4. IT WAS HITCHCOCK’S FIRST FILM WITH GRACE KELLY.
Of all of the iconic blonde stars Hitchcock cast in his films, the most famous is almost undoubtedly Grace Kelly, the actress-turned-princess who first joined him for this film. Hitchcock once described Kelly as a "rare thing in movies ... fit for any leading-lady part,” and it was said he had the easiest working relationship with her of any star. They worked so well together that they went on to make two more films, Rear Window in 1954 and To Catch a Thief in 1955.
5. IT TAKES PLACE ALMOST ENTIRELY INDOORS.
Because Dial M for Murder is based on a stage play, the original script had very little in the way of outdoor set pieces. Hitchcock wanted to keep it that way, as he later explained to Truffaut:
“I’ve got a theory on the way they make pictures based on stage plays; they did it with silent pictures, too. Many filmmakers would take a stage play and say, ‘I’m going to make this into a film.’ Then they would begin to ‘open it up.’ In other words, on the stage it was all confined to one set, and the idea was to do something that would take it away from the confined stage setting.”
Hitchcock wanted to keep the confinement intact, so almost all of the action in the film takes place indoors, largely in the Wendices' apartment. This adds to the intimacy and tension.
6. HITCHCOCK PERSONALLY CHOSE EVERY PROP.
Hitchcock was always known as a meticulous director obsessed with detail, but on Dial M for Murder he was particularly detail-oriented, in part because the 3D cameras were going to capture objects in a way his other films hadn’t. As a result, he selected all of the objects in the Wendice apartment himself, and even had a giant false telephone dial made for the famous “M” close-up in the title sequence.
7. KELLY’S WARDROBE GROWS DARKER ON PURPOSE.
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Hitchcock’s exacting eye also led to an elaborate “color experiment” to portray the psychological condition of Kelly’s character. As the film begins, the colors she wears are all very bright, suggesting a happy life in which she doesn’t suspect anything is wrong. As the film grows darker for her, to the point that she’s framed for murder, the wardrobe grows darker and “more somber,” as Hitchcock put it.
8. KELLY WON A PARTICULAR WARDROBE ARGUMENT.
For the scene in which Swann (Anthony Dawson) attempts to murder Margot (Kelly) by strangling her (until she manages to stab him with a pair of scissors), Hitchcock had another exacting wardrobe request. He had an elegant velvet robe made for Kelly, hoping to create interesting textural effects as the lights and shadows played off the fabric while she fought for her life. Kelly reasoned that, since Margot was alone in the apartment (as far as she knew) and was only getting out of bed to answer the phone, she wouldn’t bother to put on a robe.
“I said I wouldn't put on anything at all, that I'd just get up and go to the phone in my nightgown. And [Hitchcock] admitted that was better, and that's the way it was done,” Kelly later recalled.
9. HITCHCOCK WAS SO NERVOUS ABOUT THE PIVOTAL SCENE THAT HE LOST WEIGHT.
Dial M for Murder was shot in just 36 days, but the director took special care with one scene in particular: the murder sequence in which Margot stabs Swann with the scissors. Not only was it a key scene in the film, but it was also a moment that required particular care to make the 3D effects work. Hitchcock agonized over the scene to such a degree that he apparently lost 20 pounds during filming.
"This is nicely done but there wasn't enough gleam to the scissors, and a murder without gleaming scissors is like asparagus without the hollandaise sauce—tasteless,” he reportedly said after one take.
10. HITCHCOCK MAKES HIS CAMEO IN A PHOTOGRAPH.
Hitchcock became known throughout his career for making cameos in his films, ranging from the very subtle (you can see his silhouette in neon outside the window in Rope) to the more elaborate (missing the bus in the opening sequence of North by Northwest). In Dial M for Murder, his cameo falls somewhere in between. He appears in a class reunion photo in the Wendice apartment, seated at a banquet table among other men.
11. IT’S BEEN REMADE FOUR TIMES.
Dial M for Murder was a film adaptation of a stage play that had also already been adapted for television in Britain, and it proved popular enough that four more adaptations followed. In 1958, NBC broadcast a Hallmark Hall of Fame production, in which both Anthony Dawson and John Williams returned to play Swann and Chief Inspector Hubbard, respectively. A 1967 ABC television production of the play co-starred Laurence Harvey and Diane Cilento. A television movie starring Angie Dickinson and Christopher Plummer was produced in 1981, and in 1998 the play served as the inspiration for the film A Perfect Murder, starring Michael Douglas and Gwyneth Paltrow.