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12 Directors Who Hated Their Own Movies

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This weekend's Fantastic Four reboot may have won its opening night box office, but the movie's bigger story has been the distance director Josh Trank has very publicly placed between himself and the final product. He's not alone. Just because a director works on a movie for months, or even years, doesn’t mean he or she will love the end product.

1. Tony Kaye // American History X (1998)

British director Tony Kaye has a reputation in the film industry as a perfectionist. While studio executives at New Line Cinema were happy with early cuts of American History X, Kaye wanted more time to refine it. New Line gave Kaye an additional eight weeks to deliver the film, which he used to cut the movie down to 87 minutes. The studio decided to release a longer 119-minute final cut of the film, with help from star Edward Norton.

Outraged by the changes, Kaye disowned the film and publicly attacked American History X during its initial theatrical run. Kaye has tried to take his name off the film, suggesting that the Directors Guild of America use the pseudonym Alan Smithee or Humpty Dumpty to replace his director’s credit.

2. Woody Allen // Annie Hall (1977)

Although it won four Academy Awards (including Best Picture) and is widely considered his finest work, Woody Allen thought his romantic comedy Annie Hall was a big disappointment. "The film was supposed to be what happens in a guy’s mind, and you were supposed to see a stream of consciousness in his mind and I did the film and it was completely incoherent," Allen said. "Nobody understood anything that went on and the relationship between myself and Diane Keaton was all anyone cared about. That was not what I cared about."

3. David Lynch // Dune (1984)

In 1984, after the box office and critical success of The Elephant Man, David Lynch took a job directing the film adaptation of Frank Herbert’s novel Dune for producer Dino De Laurentiis. The project was the third attempt to bring Dune to the big screen after ambitious but failed efforts from producer Arthor P. Jacobs and visionary Chilean filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky. Lynch’s experience making Dune was a long and painful one, overshadowed by the belief that the source material was unfilmable. With the size of the production and its hefty budget, Lynch was unable to retain artistic and creative control while filming, and he slowly distanced himself from Dune.

Currently, there are a number of different cuts of Dune floating around. Some versions replace David Lynch’s director’s credit with the pseudonym Alan Smithee, the false name the Directors Guild of America uses for directors who don't want to be associated with a film.

4. Joel Schumacher // Batman & Robin (1997)

Director Joel Schumacher made it a point throughout his career to never direct a sequel if one of his movies found success, but he broke his own rule to direct 1997's Batman & Robin. "I always knew that if you get lucky, walk away," Schumacher later said. "But I was shooting A Time To Kill and the studio had been very generous to me, and much was expected of me by the toy manufacturers and the Warner Bros. stores." The final result is considered one of the worst comic book movies ever made. Batman & Robin ended the Batman gravy train for Warner Bros. and DC Comics Entertainment (at least until director Christopher Nolan stepped in eight years later to deliver Batman Begins), and Schumacher has publicly apologized for disappointing fans.

5. Alfred Hitchcock // Rope (1948)

Alfred Hitchcock’s Rope was an ambitious effort from The Master of Suspense. It’s based on a 1929 stage play of the same name and is presented in real-time with a number of continuous takes stitched together to appear as one long shot. Hitchcock wanted the film adaptation to follow the same structure and presentation as the original play, but ultimately felt Rope was too self-indulgent and bloated. The director called it "an experiment that didn't work out."

Despite critical and commercial acclaim, Hitchcock bought up its film rights with the hope that Rope would never be seen or heard from again. However, upon his death in 1980, Rope was re-released in theaters.

6. Dennis Hopper // Catchfire (1990)

In 1990, Dennis Hopper directed a thriller starring Jodie Foster called Catchfire. During production, Vestron Pictures, the film’s distributors, were unhappy with the way Catchfire was coming together, so they re-edited it to a digestible 98 minutes without Hopper’s approval. Enraged with the studio’s theatrical cut, Dennis Hopper left the project before it was released. "Alan Smithee" was credited with directing the film.

When Catchfire was released for cable television, Hopper re-edited the film with a 116-minute director’s cut and titled it Backtrack.

7. Stanley Kubrick // Fear and Desire (1953)

Stanley Kubrick is considered one of the greatest directors in cinema history, but he was no fan of his 1953 debut, Fear and Desire. He described it as "a bumbling amateur film exercise." Kubrick had even gone as far as to buy Fear and Desire’s original negatives and all available prints to ensure that it would never see the light of day again.

There was only one legal print of Fear and Desire at the George Eastman House, Kodak's archive, and it received a restoration and re-release in 2012.

8. Steven Soderbergh // The Underneath (1995)

Six years after the success of his debut feature sex, lies, and videotape, Steven Soderbergh released The Underneath, a film noir starring Peter Gallagher. The Underneath remains a low point for the director, despite moderate critical acclaim. Soderbergh has called the film “kind of a mess” and “dead on arrival” and admits that he made the film at a challenging time in his career and that his "heart wasn't in it." It is currently available through the Criterion Collection as a bonus feature to the DVD release of his 1993 film King of the Hill.

9. Michael Bay // Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009)

Despite its box office success, one of action director Michael Bay’s worst films is Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. While the film lacked a certain punch seen in other Bay efforts like The Rock, Armageddon, and the first Transformers movie, Revenge of the Fallen suffered from its lack of script. The film was made during the Writers Guild of America strike of 2007 and 2008, so Michael Bay only had a few pages to build a feature around. Since its release, Bay has called Revenge of the Fallen "crap."

10. Jerry Lewis // The Day the Clown Cried (1972)

In 1972, Jerry Lewis directed The Day the Clown Cried, which was about a circus clown who is sent to a concentration camp and leads children to the gas chambers. The film never got past the rough edit stages of post-production and The Day the Clown Cried was never released in theaters. Only two known prints of the film exist, and are both under lock and key. Stockholm Studios retains a copy of the film under copyright law, while Jerry Lewis owns a version in his personal film archive. Lewis admitted that, “In terms of that film, I was embarrassed. I was ashamed of the work and I was grateful that I had the power to contain it all and never let anyone see it. It was bad, bad, bad.” Though Lewis had hoped the film would never be seen by audiences, the Library of Congress recently announced that it has added the film to its collection with plans to release it ... in 10 years.

11. David Fincher // Alien 3 (1992)

After a career directing music videos, David Fincher took on his first feature film with Alien 3. The third installment of the highly profitable film franchise experienced many woes during production. Fincher started shooting Alien 3 without a completed screenplay, which was constantly being rewritten, and he had to answer to so many producers and studio executives that it almost turned him off of filmmaking entirely. Eventually, Fincher left the project before the film went into post-production. In 2003, when the Alien “Quadrilogy” DVD set was released, he was the only director in the franchise who did not participate in its production or release. It got better for Fincher, and ever since Alien 3, he has had complete control and final cut over all his films.

12. Arthur Hiller // An Alan Smithee Film: Burn Hollywood Burn (1997)

Director Arthur Hiller attempted to make a post-modern satire about the film industry called Burn Hollywood Burn. It follows a director named Alan Smithee who makes a film, which the movie studio takes away and re-cuts for the theatrical release. The director asks to take his name off the project, but the only pseudonym he could use was “Alan Smithee.” He later steals the film and threatens to burn it.

In a postmodern example of life imitating art, the end result was so bad that Arthur Hiller took his name off the project and actually used the pseudonym Alan Smithee as his director’s credit. Critics and general audiences didn’t get the inside joke, and Burn Hollywood Burn bombed at the box office. It won five Golden Raspberry Awards in 1998, including Worst Screenplay for Joe Eszterhas and Worst Picture.

The Directors Guild of America discontinued the Alan Smithee pseudonym a few years later in 2000.

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12 Surprising Facts About Bela Lugosi
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On October 20, 1882—135 years ago today—one of the world's most gifted performers was born. In his heyday, Bela Lugosi was hailed as the undisputed king of horror. Eighty-five years after he first donned a vampire’s cape, Lugosi's take on Count Dracula is still widely hailed as the definitive portrayal of the legendary fiend. But who was the man behind the monster?

1. HE WORKED WITH THE NATIONAL THEATER OF HUNGARY.

To the chagrin of his biographers, the details concerning Bela Lugosi’s youth have been clouded in mystery. (In a 1929 interview, he straight-up admitted “for purposes of simplification, I have always thought it better to tell [lies] about the early years of my life.”) That said, we do know that he was born as Béla Ferenc Dezső Blaskó on October 20, 1882 in Lugoj, Hungary (now part of Romania). We also know that his professional stage debut came at some point in either 1901 or 1902. By 1903, Lugosi had begun to find steady work with traveling theater companies, through which he took part in operas, operettas, and stage plays. In 1913, Lugosi caught a major break when the most prestigious performing arts venue in his native country—the Budapest-based National Theater of Hungary—cast him in no less than 34 shows. Most of the characters that he played there were small Shakespearean roles such as Rosencrantz in Hamlet and Sir Walter Herbert in Richard III.

2. HE FOUGHT IN WORLD WAR I.

The so-called war to end all wars put Lugosi’s dramatic aspirations on hold. Although being a member of the National Theater exempted him from military service, he voluntarily enlisted in the Austro-Hungarian Army in 1914. Over the next year and a half, he fought against Russian forces as a lieutenant with the 43rd Royal Hungarian Infantry. While serving in the Carpathian mountains, Lugosi was wounded on three separate occasions. Upon healing from his injuries, he left the armed forces in 1916 and gratefully resumed his work with the National Theater.

3. WHEN HE MADE HIS BROADWAY DEBUT, LUGOSI BARELY KNEW ANY ENGLISH.

In December 1920, Lugosi boarded a cargo boat and emigrated to the United States. Two years later, audiences on the Great White Way got their first look at this charismatic stage veteran. Lugosi was cast as Fernando—a suave, Latin lover—in the 1922 Broadway stage play The Red Poppy. At the time, his grasp of the English language was practically nonexistent. Undaunted, Lugosi went over all of his lines with a tutor. Although he couldn’t comprehend their meaning, the actor managed to memorize and phonetically reproduce every single syllable that he was supposed to deliver on stage.

4. UNIVERSAL DIDN’T WANT TO CAST HIM AS COUNT DRACULA.

The year 1927 saw Bela Lugosi sink his teeth into the role of a lifetime. A play based on the novel Dracula by Bram Stoker had opened in London in 1924. Sensing its potential, Horace Liveright, an American producer, decided to create an U.S. version of the show. Over the summer of 1927, Lugosi was cast as the blood-sucking Count Dracula. For him, the part represented a real challenge. In Lugosi’s own words, “It was a complete change from the usual romantic characters I was playing, but it was a success.” It certainly was. Enhanced by his presence, the American Dracula remained on Broadway for a full year, then spent two years touring the country.

Impressed by its box office prowess, Universal decided to adapt the show into a major motion picture in 1930. Horror fans might be surprised to learn that when the studio began the process of casting this movie’s vampiric villain, Lugosi was not their first choice. At the time, Lugosi was still a relative unknown, which made director Tod Browning more than a little hesitant to offer him the job. A number of established actors were all considered before the man who’d played Dracula on Broadway was tapped to immortalize his biting performance on film.

5. MOST OF HIS DRACULA-RELATED FAN MAIL CAME FROM WOMEN.

The recent Twilight phenomenon is not without historical precedent. Lugosi estimated that, while he was playing the Count on Broadway, more than 97 percent of the fan letters he received were penned by female admirers. A 1932 Universal press book quotes him as saying, “When I was on the stage in Dracula, my audiences were composed mostly of women.” Moreover, Lugosi contended that most of the men who’d attended his show had merely been dragged there by female companions.   

6. HE TURNED DOWN THE ROLE OF FRANKENSTEIN’S MONSTER.

Released in 1931, Dracula quickly became one of the year's biggest hits for Universal (some film historians even argue that the movie single-handedly rescued the ailing studio from bankruptcy). Furthermore, its astronomical success transformed Lugosi into a household name for the first time in his career. Regrettably for him, though, he’d soon miss the chance to star in another smash. Pleased by Dracula’s box office showing, Universal green-lit a new cinematic adaptation of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Lugosi seemed like the natural choice to play the monster, but because the poor brute had few lines and would be caked in layers of thick makeup, the actor rejected the job offer. As far as Lugosi was concerned, the character was better suited for some “half-wit extra” than a serious actor. Once the superstar tossed Frankenstein aside, the part was given to a little-known actor named Boris Karloff.

Moviegoers eventually did get to see Lugosi play the bolt-necked corpse in the 1943 cult classic Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man. According to some sources, he strongly detested the guttural scream that the script forced him to emit at regular intervals. “That yell is the worst thing about the part. You feel like a big jerk every time you do it!” Lugosi allegedly complained.

7. LUGOSI’S RELATIONSHIP WITH BORIS KARLOFF WAS MORE CORDIAL THAN IT’S USUALLY MADE OUT TO BE.

It’s often reported that the two horror icons were embittered rivals. In reality, however, Karloff and Lugosi seemed to have harbored some mutual respect—and perhaps even affection for one another. The dynamic duo co-starred in five films together, the first of which was 1934’s The Black Cat; Karloff claimed that, on set, Lugosi was “Suspicious of tricks, fearful of what he regarded as scene stealing. Later on, when he realized I didn’t go in for such nonsense, we became friends.” During one of their later collaborations, Lugosi told the press “we laughed over my sad mistake and his good fortune as Frankenstein is concerned.”

That being said, Lugosi probably didn’t appreciate the fact that in every single film which featured both actors, Karloff got top billing. Also, he once privately remarked, “If it hadn’t been for Boris Karloff, I could have had a corner on the horror market.”

8. HE LOVED SOCCER.

In 1935, Lugosi was named Honorary President of the Los Angeles Soccer League. An avid fan, he was regularly seen at Loyola Stadium, where he’d occasionally kick off the first ball during games held there. Also, on top of donating funds to certain Hungarian teams, Lugosi helped finance the Los Angeles Magyar soccer club. When the team won a state championship in 1935, one newspaper wrote that the players were “headed back to Dracula’s castle with the state cup.” [PDF]

9. HE WAS A HARDCORE STAMP COLLECTOR.

Lugosi's fourth wife, Lillian Arch, claimed that Lugosi maintained a collection of more than 150,000 stamps. Once, on a 1944 trip to Boston, he told the press that he intended to visit all 18 of the city's resident philately dealers. “Stamp collecting,” Lugosi declared, “is a hobby which may cost you as much as 10 percent of your investment. You can always sell your stamps with not more than a 10 percent loss. Sometimes, you can even make money.” Fittingly enough, the image of Lugosi’s iconic Dracula appeared on a commemorative stamp issued by the post office in 1997.

10. LUGOSI ALMOST DIDN’T APPEAR IN ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN—BECAUSE THE STUDIO THOUGHT HE WAS DEAD.

The role of Count Dracula in this 1948 blockbuster was nearly given to Ian Keith—who was considered for the same role in the 1931 Dracula movie. Being a good sport, Lugosi helped promote the horror-comedy by making a special guest appearance on The Abbott and Costello Show. While playing himself in one memorable sketch, the famed actor claimed to eat rattlesnake burgers for dinner and “shrouded wheat” for breakfast.

11. A CHIROPRACTOR FILLED IN FOR HIM IN PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE.

Toward the end of his life, Lugosi worked on three ultra-low-budget science fiction pictures with Ed Wood, a man who’s been posthumously embraced as the worst director of all time. In the 1953 transvestite picture Glen or Glenda?, Lugosi plays a cryptic narrator who offers such random and unsolicited bits of advice as “Beware of the big, green dragon who sits on your doorstep.” Then came 1955’s Bride of the Monster, in which Lugosi played a mad scientist who ends up doing battle with a (suspiciously limp) giant octopus.

Before long, Wood had cooked up around half a dozen concepts for new films, all starring Lugosi. At some point in the spring of 1956, the director shot some quick footage of the actor wandering around a suburban neighborhood, clad in a baggy cloak. This proved to be the last time that the star would ever appear on film. Lugosi died of a heart attack on August 16, 1956;  he was 73 years old.

Three years after Lugosi's passing, this footage was spliced into a cult classic that Wood came to regard as his “pride and joy.” Plan 9 From Outer Space tells the twisted tale of extraterrestrial environmentalists who turn newly-deceased human beings into murderous zombies. Since Lugosi could obviously no longer play his character, Wood hired a stand-in for some additional scenes. Unfortunately, the man who was given this job—California chiropractor Tom Mason—was several inches taller than Lugosi. In an attempt to hide the height difference, Wood instructed Mason to constantly hunch over. Also, Mason always kept his face hidden behind a cloak.

12. HE WAS BURIED IN HIS DRACULA CAPE.

Although Lugosi resented the years of typecasting that followed his breakout performance in Dracula, he asked to be laid to rest wearing the Count’s signature garment. Lugosi was buried under a simple tombstone at California's Holy Cross Cemetery.

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The First Known Uses of 6 Common Typographic Symbols
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Many of the most common symbols on our keyboards have fascinating origin stories. Some, such as the zero, we now take for granted—yet the idea of denoting an absence of value was not present in Western mathematics until introduced from the East. Other symbols, such as the hashtag or at-sign, had a variety of uses until the internet ushered in a new way of communicating and fixed them with the meanings we know today. Below are six examples of the first known usage and subsequent history of some of the most common typographic symbols.

1. AT SIGN // @

The @ (or at-sign) is usually dated to 1536 in a letter from a Florentine merchant, Francesco Lapi, who used it to mean a unit of wine called “amphorae.” But a Spanish researcher claims to have found an even earlier usage in a 1448 document, where the symbol also referred to a unit of measurement (even today, Spaniards call the @ symbol arroba, which is also a unit of weight, and some other Romance languages have similar dual meanings). Either way, the researchers think that the symbol then moved to Northern Europe, where it eventually gained the meaning of “at the price.” Other explanations have also been offered, but whatever the exact root of the symbol, its meaning eventually became known as shorthand for at, and it was generally used in written financial transactions—for example, in noting “Bob sells James 4 apples @ $1.”

The sign had largely fallen out of use by the early 1970s, when computer scientist Ray Tomlinson was working at what is now BBN Technologies, in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Tomlinson, who was working for the government on a forerunner of the internet, was trying to figure out how to address messages sent from one computer to another when he noticed the little-used @ on his computer keyboard, and used it to send a prototype email. This precedent was soon adopted as the internet developed, and the at-sign is now, of course, central to our lives.

2. ZERO // 0

The absence of a value is a complex concept, one that many ancient civilizations struggled with. The idea of a zero ultimately came to the West from the mathematicians of India, where, as in a few other cultures, zero was initially used as a placeholder, for example to indicate a lack of units, as in the number 101.

The earliest surviving usage of a zero in India has been traced to an ancient mathematical text known as the Bakhshali manuscript, which is held at Oxford’s Bodleian Library. In September 2017, radiocarbon dating indicated that the manuscript was produced as early as the 3rd or 4th century—providing us with the first known usage of zero some 500 years earlier than previously thought. As Oxford’s Bodleian Library says, “the symbol in the Bakhshali manuscript is particularly significant for two reasons. Firstly, it is this dot that evolved to have a hollow centre and became the symbol that we use as zero today. Secondly, it was only in India that this zero developed into a number in its own right, hence creating the concept and the number zero that we understand today."

The manuscript itself was discovered buried in a field in 1881 in what is today Pakistan. Written on 70 delicate leaves of birch bark, historians think it represents a training manual for Silk Road traders, teaching them concepts of arithmetic.

3. HASHTAG // #

Hashtag on an old typewriter key
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The origin of the hashtag (or pound sign as it's traditionally known in the U.S.) comes from scribes writing shorthand for the Latin libra pondo, which translates as "pound by weight." The abbreviation they used was lb, which was sometimes misread as 16. So, scribes took to drawing a line through the top of the two letters, which over time developed into the now familiar #. In the 1960s, the pound sign was chosen by Bell Laboratories to be a function key on their newly designed telephone keypad. (The Bell Labs team fondly nicknamed the symbol the “octothorpe,” possibly in honor of athlete Jim Thorpe.) Fast-forward to 2007, when early Twitter users wanted to be able to group and filter their feeds, so developer Chris Messina suggested they appropriate the method used in IRC (Internet Relay Chat) whereby users employed the pound sign or "hashtag" to signpost what they were chatting about. (Programmers knew the symbol as the hash, which was now being used to "tag" content.) This simple method soon caught on, and today the hashtag has become indelibly linked to the rise of social media.

4. ELLIPSIS // …

Originally, periods of silence were marked textually with a series of hyphens, but today the symbol of choice is the , a.k.a. the ellipsis. Dr. Anne Toner of Cambridge University spent years researching the ellipsis and finally discovered what she thinks is its first use—an English translation of Roman dramatist Terence’s play Andria printed in 1588. Although the play used hyphens instead of dots, the general idea caught on rapidly. (Toner notes that although there are only four “ellipses” in the 1588 translation, there are 29 in the 1627 version.) By the 18th century, dots started to replace the dashes, which an assistant professor from Southeastern University suggests may be connected to a medieval piece of punctuation called subpuncting or underdotting, which generally indicated something was incorrectly copied.

5. AMPERSAND // &

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The ampersand originated in Latin when the word et (meaning and) was written in cursive script as a ligature (in which one or more letters are written together as a single glyph). One of the earliest examples was found daubed in graffiti on the walls of a house in Pompeii, where it was preserved by the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 CE. By the 8th century the ampersand became a recognizably distinct character, but the word ampersand did not come into use until the late 18th/19th century, when English school children would recite "and per se and" meaning “and by itself means and” to help remember the symbol (per se being Latin for "by itself"). One of the most thorough investigations into the typographic history of the ampersand comes courtesy of German graphic designer Jan Tschichold, who in 1953 published The am­persand: its ori­gin and de­vel­op­ment, in which he collected numerous examples of the ampersand from the 1st century onwards, visually charting its developing form.

6. PLUS SIGN // +

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The plus sign used for addition in mathematics likely derives from a shorthand ligature for the Latin et meaning “and” and was probably in use for a long time before a surviving example appeared in print. One candidate for the earliest surviving usage is in French philosopher and polymath Nicole Oresme's Algorismus proportionum, a manuscript handwritten between 1356 and 1361, although scholars debate whether it's a true plus symbol. The first use of a plus sign in a printed book is more definitive, and can be found in a 1489 edition of Johannes Widmann’s Mercantile Arithmetic. Widmann also uses the minus sign for the first time in print in this volume—although both plus and minus signs relate not to addition and subtraction but to surpluses and deficits in business accounting. After this usage, the plus sign began to appear more frequently in German mathematical texts, and first appeared in an English text in 1557 in Robert Recorde’s The Whetstone of Witte—which also introduced the equals sign.

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