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30 Fast & Furious Facts for the Ultimate Fan

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Do you live your life a quarter mile at a time, just like Dom Toretto? In celebration of the 15th anniversary of The Fast and the Furious, the first installment in the franchise, here are some facts about the first six adventures of Dom and his crew.

The Fast and the Furious (2001)

1. THE STORY WAS INSPIRED BY A MAGAZINE ARTICLE.

The May 1998 issue of Vibe magazine featured an article by Ken Li titled “Racer X” that chronicled illegal street racing in Queens, New York. Producers optioned the article for a movie adaptation that became The Fast and the Furious.

2. THE FILM'S TITLE WAS PURCHASED FROM LEGENDARY B-MOVIE DIRECTOR ROGER CORMAN.

Throughout filming, the movie had the working title Redline—which in racing refers to the maximum rate of speed a car can go—before the filmmakers settled on calling it The Fast & The Furious. There was only one problem: That title was owned by B-movie director Roger Corman, who produced a racing movie of the same name in 1955. Instead of having the filmmakers pay for the rights to the name, Corman traded the movie title for some stock footage owned by Universal Studios.

3. THE MOVIE HAS GARNERED SOME FAMILIAR AND UNFAMILIAR COMPARISONS.

The filmmakers of The Fast and the Furious pitched the movie as West Side Story with cars instead of singing, and also incorporated themes and situations found in movies like the surfing action classic Point Break and the undercover crime drama Donnie Brasco.

Director Rob Cohen modeled the film’s third act chases through the Los Angeles hills on similar San Francisco-set scenes in the 1968 car-chase classic Bullitt, starring Steve McQueen. Cohen loved the movie so much that he cast actor Paul Walker because he thought he resembled Bullitt’s lead actor.    

FUN FACT: Eagle-eyed fans of this movie and Point Break will notice that Dom and Brian visit a restaurant called Neptune’s Net about midway through the movie. The real-life restaurant, located along Malibu’s Pacific Coast Highway, is the same restaurant where Lori Petty's character, Tyler, works in Point Break

4. THEY USED REAL STREET RACERS FOR MOST OF THE RACE SCENES.

Cohen (who visited real illegal street races in preparation for directing the movie and who can also be seen in a small cameo as the pizza delivery guy trying to get through the crowd of cars during the first racing scene) enlisted the help of 200 souped-up cars driven by actual illegal street racers for the initial racing scenes.

5. THE REAL ACTORS PUT THE PEDAL TO THE METAL … KIND OF.

In order to have the real actors behind the wheel of cars going upwards of 80 to 100 miles per hour, a special rig was built by second unit director and stunt coordinator Mic Rodgers that the filmmakers dubbed the “Mic Rig.” It consisted of a high-powered truck with a long chassis in the back on which the bodies of the custom cars in the movie could be interchanged. A stunt driver drove the high-speed truck while the actors were behind the wheel of the dummy car in back, which made it look like they were really driving at dangerous speeds. 

END CREDIT SEQUENCE: Dom can be seen evading the cops and driving through Baja, Mexico. This footage and the 1970 Chevelle SS he drives will be seen again eight years later in the fourth installment of the franchise, Fast & Furious

2 Fast 2 Furious (2003)

1. IT’S TECHNICALLY THE THIRD MOVIE (CHRONOLOGICALLY).

A six-minute short film called the Turbo-Charged Prelude was made in 2003 and bridges the gap between the events of the first and second movies. The short shows Walker as O’Connor evading police after the first movie and making his way across the country to Miami, winning countless street races along the way. Actress Minka Kelly (in an uncredited role) stars as the woman who helps him.

2. TWO PEOPLE FROM THE FIRST MOVIE DECIDED NOT TO RETURN.

Vin Diesel declined to appear in the sequel despite being offered $25 million to reprise his role because he was not happy with the script. Instead he and director Rob Cohen, who also didn’t return for the sequel, made the 2002 extreme sports star/secret agent movie, xXx. In the final drafts of the script, Dom’s character was refashioned into Tyrese Gibson’s character, Roman Pearce. It’s the only movie in the Fast & Furious franchise in which Diesel does not appear. 

John Singleton, previously known for making movies like Boyz n the Hood and the remake of Shaft, stepped into the director’s seat for 2 Fast 2 Furious, which was his first PG-13-rated movie. Singleton would bring back a few people he had worked with previously: Gibson (who plays Roman) appeared in Singleton’s 2001 movie Baby Boy; Cole Hauser (who plays the villain) appeared in his 1995 movie Higher Learning; and Mark Boone Junior (who has a small role as a corrupt cop) appeared in the 1997 movie Rosewood

3. SINGLETON HAD THREE SPECIFIC INSPIRATIONS FOR HIS SEQUEL.

He attempted to base the tone and the aesthetic of the movie on Japanese anime, an updated version of Speed Racer cartoons from the ‘60s, and the Playstation video game series “Gran Turismo.” 

4. THEY USED SOME PRETTY NOTABLE LOCATIONS.

The movie shot on location in Miami, Florida. The South Beach house owned by Hauser’s villain, Carter Verone, once belonged to Sylvester Stallone. At the time of filming, however, the house was owned by Singleton’s friend, who let the production shoot there for free. 

5. THE ACTORS DID THEIR OWN STUNTS … SOMETIMES.

Paul Walker, who returned as the cop-turned-outlaw Brian O’Connor for the sequel and who goes by the street name “Bullitt” after one of the inspirations for the first installment, actually did some of his own car stunts in the movie. 

The skid into frame in the Nissan Skyline GT-R following his character’s first race at the beginning of the movie was done by Walker himself, and the high-speed 180-degree turn in the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VII during the highway chase at the end of the movie was Walker's work as well. 

FUN FACT: In the highway chase after the Ford Mustang gets crushed by the tractor trailer truck, the Chevy Corvette crashing into the wreckage was a mistake and wasn’t supposed to happen, but they kept it in the movie anyway. 

The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006)

1. IT’S THE THIRD MOVIE IN THE SERIES, BUT THE SIXTH MOVIE CHRONOLOGICALLY.

This may get a little technical here, but real Fastards (a.k.a. Fast fans) know that Tokyo Drift takes place after Fast & Furious 6. The character of Han is introduced and dies in Tokyo Drift, but miraculously shows up alive and well in the subsequent movie, Fast & Furious. This is because the fourth through sixth movies in the series take place chronologically before Tokyo Drift

How do we know? In a bit of retroactive continuity, the mid-credits sequence in Fast & Furious 6 shows Han’s death in the Tokyo streets is actually caused by Deckard Shaw (played by Jason Statham), the brother of the villain in Fast & Furious 6 who is out for revenge for his brother’s death at the hands of Dom and his crew! This means that the chronological order of the feature length movies so far is 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 3, 7. 

2. A NEW DIRECTOR TOOK OVER AND CAST FAMILIAR FACES IN NEW ROLES.

This is director Justin Lin’s first foray into the Fast & Furious saga (he would also go on to direct movies 4 through 6), and the first movie in the series to feature a new cast of characters. Lin, who started out small with his 2002 Sundance hit Better Luck Tomorrow, went on to make his first studio movie in 2006 with Annapolis before getting the Tokyo Drift gig. He populated the new movie with familiar actors: Brian Goodman (who plays Sean’s father) had previously appeared in Annapolis, while Sung Kang (who plays Han) and Jason Tobin (who plays Earl, one of Sean’s friends) both appeared in Better Luck Tomorrow (funnily enough, Annapolis also starred Tyrese Gibson and Jordana Brewster, who also appeared in the previous and subsequent Fast movies).     

3. IT WAS A BIG-BUDGET STUDIO MOVIE THAT USED SOME INDIE TECHNIQUES TO GET CERTAIN SHOTS.

The movie was shot primarily on location in Tokyo, which doesn’t grant filming permits. So for many shots, including the ones of lead actor Lucas Black wandering around highly populated areas like Shibuya Crossing, the director and a minimal crew just shot Black amongst real pedestrians until the police shut the production down. To make sure Lin wouldn’t get into trouble or thrown in jail and have the production halted, he had the production manager trick the police by telling them that he was the director and not Lin. 

4. THE REAL DRIFT KING MAKES A CAMEO.

Although actor Brian Tee plays D.K. (a.k.a. “Drift King”) in the movie, the real-life drift king, Japanese racing legend Keiichi Tsuchiya, makes a small appearance as the fisherman in the blue jacket who makes fun of Sean as he’s learning to drift near the fish market. Tsuchiya himself performed most of the scenes of Sean learning how to drift.

5. VIN DIESEL AGREED TO DO HIS CAMEO FOR FREE, BUT UNDER ONE CONDITION.

Lin convinced Diesel to reprise his role as Dom Toretto after showing Diesel an early rough cut of Tokyo Drift. The actor would ultimately do the cameo for free but made a deal with Universal Studios: in lieu of an acting fee, Universal would have to give him and his production company the rights to the character Riddick from 2000’s Pitch Black and 2004’s The Chronicles of Riddick

Diesel wanted to make a third entry in that franchise, but Universal stalled a new movie because The Chronicles of Riddick bombed at the box office. In the end, Diesel did the cameo, Universal gave him the Riddick rights, Diesel would go on to make a third Riddick movie in 2013, and he would be repositioned as the main character in the Fast franchise from then on. 

Fast & Furious (2009)

1. THEY GOT THE GANG BACK TOGETHER.

2009’s Fast & Furious was the first direct sequel to the events in the first film in the saga. Vin Diesel returned full-time after his cameo in Tokyo Drift, but also picked up the reins as the film’s producer for the first time (he’d go on to produce the subsequent films in the series as well). 

It was also the first time in eight years that Diesel, Walker, and Jordana Brewster had appeared on-screen together as their characters since the first film. Though Michelle Rodriguez returned as Letty Ortiz, Diesel is the only original cast member she shares screen time with, because her character (allegedly) dies off-screen after the opening sequence.

2. IT’S TECHNICALLY THE FIFTH MOVIE CHRONOLOGICALLY.

Diesel himself wrote, produced, directed, and starred in a 20-minute short film entitled Los Bandoleros with Rodriguez, Sun Kang, Tego Calderón, Don Omar, and Mirtha Michelle appearing again as Dom’s gang in the Dominican Republic. The film shows the backstory of how the characters came together, leading into the tanker truck heist that begins Fast & Furious

3. WALKER’S CHARACTER WAS GOING TO BE IN A VERY DIFFERENT SITUATION.

The screenwriters originally envisioned Walker’s cop character, last seen letting Diesel’s character escape police at the end of the first movie, as a convict locked up in jail. His introductory foot chase sequence was going to be a jailbreak before subsequent drafts of the screenplay changed him back into a reformed F.B.I. agent as seen in the final film. 

4. THEY HAD OPEN CASTING CALLS FOR CARS.

On top of regular actor casting calls, director Justin Lin, returning from Tokyo Drift, held open casting calls for cars to potentially appear in the film as well. They would post a meet-up place for people to bring their cars and the filmmakers would select drivers and cars for background sequences as needed. 

5. THERE WERE NO FULLY CGI CARS IN THE TUNNEL CHASE.

Contrary to popular belief, there were no fully-CGI cars in the smuggling sequences, which were inspired by real-life smuggling tunnels used by drug cartels in Guanajuato, Mexico. 

The production actually built out sparse areas to stand in for the tunnels in a large warehouse in San Pedro, California, and blocked out the paths for each actual car using orange road cones. The dirt, walls, and pillars of the smuggling tunnels were then added with CGI in post-production. 

Fast Five (2011)

1. THEY SPENT A LOT OF MONEY ON THE SET PIECES.

With Fast Five, director Justin Lin wanted to transition the series into more action-oriented territory, and wanted to outdo anything already seen in the previous movies by planning out set pieces that cost some serious cash. The train-heist sequence alone cost $25 million to create, and involved the production buying out a 600-yard stretch of train tracks in Arizona (standing in for Brazil) as well as an entire train in order to be able to destroy it.  

The studio initially told Lin the sequence would cost too much and told him to scrap the idea, but he showed them an entirely pre-visualized sequence using storyboards and computer re-creations for them to put up the money to shoot the sequence.

FUN FACT: Han's full name is "Han Seoul-Oh," an obvious nod to the Star Wars character Han Solo. His full name hadn't been previously mentioned before showing up in the background on Hobbs' team's computer screens during Fast Five.

2. LIN GOT HIS ENSEMBLE EXPERIENCE FROM DOING TV.

Though he’d directed ensembles in the previous two Fast & Furious movies and his debut movie Better Luck Tomorrow, Fast Five proved to be Lin’s biggest movie yet in terms of on-screen characters (there are 10 main characters in Dom’s gang alone). Lin attributes directing three episodes of the TV comedy Community in between Fast & Furious and Fast Five with getting him acclimated to being able to successfully shoot and keep track of such a large amount of speaking characters.

3. BRAZIL IS ACTUALLY PUERTO RICO … AND A COUPLE OF OTHER PLACES

Lin wanted to shoot entirely on location in Rio de Janeiro, but it proved too costly and dangerous. Scenes were shot in Rio (most notably the favela chase sequence), but the majority of the scenes that took place in Brazil in the movie were shot in San Juan, Puerto Rico (the vault heist) and in Atlanta (the street races). These cities were not only cheaper to shoot in, but were better suited for the safety regulations and logistical planning the production warranted for its action scenes.

FUN FACT: The setting of Fast Five is foreshadowed in the beginning of Fast & Furious when Letty tells Dom, “I hear Rio is good this time of year,” while the pair ponder where to escape to next. 

4. WE HAVE FACEBOOK TO THANK FOR HELPING CAST DWAYNE “THE ROCK” JOHNSON.

Prior to creating the fifth movie in the franchise, Diesel reached out to fans on his official Facebook page asking for potential ideas of where the story could go, and someone suggested writing a role for Johnson as the bad guy. During the writing phase the filmmakers reached out to Johnson to play Hobbs (he was the only choice to play the role); he agreed to sign on, and the rest is social networking history.    

5. THE PRODUCTION GOT CRAFTY FOR THE VAULT HEIST.

The logistics of the vault heist were so difficult that, like the train sequence, the scene was almost scrapped entirely. To portray a large vault being dragged by Diesel and Walker’s characters on-screen, six separate vaults were built to accommodate certain shots that were needed, including a full-size vault and a lightweight vault that could be easily towed. 

The primary stand-in vault used was actually a shortened pick-up truck chassis with a vault-shaped case that fit over it. In essence the vault was a steerable single-driver mini-car hooked to Walker and Diesel’s cars to make it look like their characters were dragging it. 

END CREDITS SEQUENCE: Eva Mendes reprises her role as U.S. Customs Agent Monica Fuentes from 2 Fast 2 Furious to let Agent Hobbs know that Michelle Rodriguez’s Letty, who was previously thought dead in Fast & Furious, is in fact alive. Rodriguez wasn’t told that her character was going to be resurrected until she saw Fast Five for herself, and the filmmakers called her after the release of the movie to ask if she would reprise her role in the next movie. Good thing she said yes!

Fast & Furious 6 (2013)

1. IT WAS SUPPOSED TO BE THE LAST MOVIE IN AN UNOFFICIAL TRILOGY.

Lin, who returned for the last time as director, and screenwriter Chris Morgan envisioned the sixth installment to be the concluding movie in an unofficial story arc that began with the fourth movie, Fast & Furious. Though the series is usually lampooned because of its irregular naming conventions, they wanted to officially call it Furious Six (after Fast & Furious, and Fast Five) for a cohesive series of titles. The idea was nixed by the studio because of marketing concerns that audiences wouldn’t understand what Furious Six meant, so they made the official title Fast & Furious 6. Lin sort of won out in the end though, as the title card on the movie itself only reads Furious 6

2. IT COULD HAVE BEEN TWO MOVIES.

During early stages of development, Furious 6 was initially going to be split into two installments shot simultaneously with the first entitled The Fast and the second entitled The Furious. The tank sequence would have been the end of The Fast and the plane sequence would have capped off The Furious, but eventually the storyline was whittled down enough to fit into one (extremely action-packed) movie.

3. THE TANK SEQUENCE WAS NEARLY ALL PRACTICAL EFFECTS.

Originally the tank sequence was supposed to take place in the streets of London, and the production planned to re-create 12 city blocks on a soundstage to shoot what they needed (London city officials wouldn’t grant the production access to city roads because the Olympics were happening at the same time they shot the movie, so most of the street scenes were shot in Glasgow, Scotland as a stand-in for the UK capital).

When that proved unfeasible they moved the sequence to Spain when they secured and were given free rein to shoot on a newly built and unopened stretch of highway in Tenerife in the Canary Islands. Ninety percent of the shots of the tank were the real thing; other shots used a lightweight tank with a fake turret, while others used a truck outfitted with fake tank treads to get low angle shots. 

4. THE FINAL PLANE SEQUENCE WAS ALMOST IN FAST FIVE.

The harrowing sequence was originally supposed to be the ending of Fast Five, and got so far into the production process of that movie that is was storyboarded and pre-visualized before being scrapped for budgetary reasons. The leftover storyboards and pre-viz were simply grafted on to Furious 6 and updated to account for new characters and the new movie’s plot. 

5. THE RUNWAY IN THE PLANE SEQUENCE WAS EXTREMELY LONG.

Though the production used movie magic, some suspension of disbelief, and multiple passes over three weeks to shoot the final plane sequence, the runway as is in the final movie would allegedly be 28.829 miles long if calculated out correctly.   

END CREDIT SEQUENCE: Han’s death from Tokyo Drift is caused by Jason Statham’s character, Deckard Shaw, the brother of Luke Evans' Furious 6 villain, Owen Shaw (who previously mentioned his brother in the scene where he confronts Dom after his street race with Letty), which leads directly into the plot of Furious 7

Additional Sources: Blu-ray special features.

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15 Things You Might Not Know About One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
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Milos Forman's One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, which premiered on this day in 1975, won critical acclaim, box office success, and a shelf full of Oscars. But even if you love the complex exploration of life inside a 1960s psychiatric hospital, there are a few things you may not know about its behind-the-scenes story. 

1. CUSTOMS NEARLY DOOMED THE PROJECT. 

Despite the middling success of the 1963 stage adaptation of Ken Kesey’s novel starring Kirk Douglas, Hollywood legend Douglas was dead set on adapting the story for the screen. Douglas contacted Czech director Miloš Forman about the project, promising to send Forman a copy of the book for his perusal. 

Douglas mailed Forman the novel, but the package was confiscated by Czechoslovakian customs and never reached the director. Unaware of the parcel’s fate, the filmmaker resented Douglas’ broken promise, and Douglas thought Forman rude for never bothering to confirm receipt of the novel. It took a decade to sort the mess out, and things only cleared up when Kirk’s son Michael Douglas took another crack at production and contacted Forman once more. 

2. ONE STUDIO WANTED TO CHANGE THE ENDING.

When producers were shopping the picture to studios, 20th Century Fox was interested, but with a catch. Fox would distribute the film, but only if the filmmakers would agree to rewrite the ending; the studio wanted McMurphy to live. Producers Saul Zaentz and Michael Douglas wisely considered this a deal breaker, and United Artists eventually distributed the film.

3. JACK NICHOLSON AND LOUISE FLETCHER WERE NOT THE FIRST CHOICES FOR THEIR CHARACTERS. 


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When Kirk Douglas spearheaded the first attempt to bring One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest to life on the big screen in the 1960s, he had intended to play the Randle Patrick McMurphy role himself, just as he had on stage. When production began in earnest 10 years later, Douglas was too old for the part, leaving director Forman to consider and contact the likes of Gene Hackman, Marlon Brando, and (his personal favorite) Burt Reynolds before finally settling on Jack Nicholson.

A number of different actresses were considered for the role of Nurse Ratched, the film’s central antagonist, as well: Anne Bancroft, Colleen Dewhurst, Geraldine Page, and Angela Lansbury were all in the running, before Louise Fletcher ultimately got the part. 

4. LOUISE FLETCHER CHANGED FORMAN’S VIEW ON THE CHARACTER. 

Forman’s original view of Nurse Ratched was as “the personification of evil,” a characterization that made Louise Fletcher a bad fit for the part in the filmmaker’s mind. As Fletcher pressed for the role, Forman’s perspective of Ratched evolved: “I slowly started to realize that it would be much more powerful if it’s not this visible evil,” he said. “That she’s only an instrument of evil. She doesn’t know that she’s evil. She, as a matter of fact, believes that she’s helping people.” This new take on the character paved the way for the official casting of Fletcher. 

5. SEVERAL OF THE FILM’S STARS WERE NOT ACTORS. 

Following the production team’s decision to use Oregon State Hospital as its shooting location, the producers hit on the idea of casting facility superintendent Dr. Dean Brooks as Dr. John Spivey, the doctor charged with assessing R. P. McMurphy’s psychological health. Brooks agreed to play what turned out to be a sizable role, though it would be the only acting job he would ever take. He also helped secure employment for many of his hospital’s patients as extras and crew members during production. 

Mel Lambert, another non-actor, was wrangled to play the harbormaster who protested McMurphy’s ad hoc fishing trip. What’s more, Lambert—a respected area businessman who had a strong relationship with the local Native American community—introduced the production team to Will Sampson, the 6-foot-5-inch-tall Muscogee painter who would make his acting debut as the major character Chief Bromden. 

6. THE STARS LIVED ON THE WARD DURING PRODUCTION. 


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All of the actors who played patients actually lived on the Oregon State Hospital psychiatric ward throughout production. The men personalized their sleeping quarters, spent their days on campus “get[ting] a sense of what it was to be hospitalized” (as actor Vincent Schiavelli put it), and interacting with real psychiatric patients. 

7. MANY SCENES WERE SHOT WITHOUT THE ACTORS’ KNOWLEDGE. 

To complete this realistic immersion, Forman led his performers in unscripted group therapy sessions in which he directed the actors to develop their characters’ psychological maladies organically. He would often capture footage of the actors, both in and out of character, without explicitly mentioning that the cameras were rolling. The film’s final cut includes a shot of a visibly irritated Fletcher reacting to a piece of direction fed to her by Forman. 

8. FORMAN AND NICHOLSON HAD A TREMENDOUS SPAT OVER THE FILM’S PLOT. 

While the intensity of the turmoil varies from rumor to rumor, reports from the set were consistent on one fact: The star refused to speak with Forman for a large chunk of the production process. Nicholson took issue with Forman’s suggestion that the hospital inmates would be an unruly bunch upon the initial arrival of McMurphy. Instead, the actor insisted that such disavowal of the medical staff’s authority should only begin after the introduction of McMurphy into their lives and routines. 

Although the version of the story that we see in the film today is more closely associated with Nicholson’s alleged reading, suggesting that Forman ultimately took his advice, Nicholson refused to interact with his director from that point forward. When the star and Forman needed to communicate with one another, they used cinematographer Bill Butler as a middleman. 

9. DANNY DEVITO CREATED AN IMAGINARY FRIEND DURING PRODUCTION. 


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Emotionally strained by a demanding shooting schedule that kept him 3000 miles from his future wife, Rhea Perlman, DeVito developed the coping mechanism of an imaginary friend with whom he would have nightly chats. Concerned that his own sanity might be slipping away, DeVito sought the advice of Dr. Brooks, who assured him that there was no reason to worry as long as DeVito could still identify the character as fictional. 

10. THE CREW WAS WORRIED ABOUT THE SANITY OF ONE CAST MEMBER.

While Dr. Brooks had no concerns about DeVito, he echoed the rest of the cast and crew’s apprehensions about the psychological state of Sydney Lassick, who played Charlie Cheswick. Lassick exhibited increasingly unpredictable and emotionally erratic behavior during his time in character, a pattern that culminated in a tearful outburst during his observation of the final scene between Nicholson and Sampson. Lassick became so overwhelmed during the scene that he had to be removed from set. 

11. FLETCHER TOOK OFF HER CLOTHES IN ORDER TO GET FRIENDLIER WITH HER CO-STARS.

Envious of the camaraderie her male costars had forged, and hoping to dispel any associations with her tyrannical character, Fletcher surprised the cast one evening by ripping off her dress on the crowded ward. Years later, the actress laughed about the display, saying, “‘I’ll show them I’m a real woman under here, you know.’ I think that must have been what I was thinking.” 

12. THE FISHING TRIP SCENE BARELY MADE IT INTO THE FILM. 

Initially, Forman was vocally opposed to including a scene that took place beyond the grounds of the hospital out of concerns that a temporary liberation would undercut the dramatic force of the film’s ending. In the end, Zaentz convinced Forman to shoot the fishing trip sequence. It was the final scene filmed and the only piece shot out of chronological order. 

One thing to look for in the fishing scene: A very subtle Anjelica Huston cameo. Huston, who was dating Nicholson during production, has a nonspeaking role as one of the spectators on the dock as McMurphy and his fellow patients steer the stolen boat back to shore. 


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13. ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST WAS THE FIRST FILM TO WIN ALL “BIG FIVE” ACADEMY AWARDS IN 41 YEARS.

Not since 1934's It Happened One Night swept the Oscars had a film walked away with awards for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, and Best Screenplay. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest took home the lot, with Nicholson and Fletcher winning the top acting awards. The feat would not be matched again for another 16 years, with Silence of the Lambs becoming the next (and last to date) movie to earn the distinction. 

14. THE FILM ENJOYED ONE OF THE LONGEST THEATRICAL RUNS IN MOVIE HISTORY. 

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest was revered worldwide, but Swedish viewers developed an especially soft spot for the film. Cuckoo’s Nest remained a regular option for Swedish moviegoers through 1987—11 years after its initial release. 

15. KESEY REFUSED TO SEE THE FILM (BUT MAY HAVE BY ACCIDENT). 

The poster child for the “the book was better” movement, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest author Kesey disapproved of a big screen adaptation of his novel as soon as he found out that the filmmakers had abandoned the use of Chief Bromden as the story’s narrator. Kesey never intended to see the movie, but one story says he inadvertently caught a few moments during a bout of channel surfing one evening. Once Kesey realized what he was watching, he promptly changed stations.

According to fellow novelist Chuck Palahniuk (who has famously praised director David Fincher’s adaptation of his novel Fight Club, plot changes and all), Kesey once stated privately that he did not care for the material.

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The Origins of 10 Thanksgiving Traditions
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There's a lot more to Thanksgiving than just the turkey and the Pilgrims. And though most celebrations will break out the cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie, there are a number of other customs that you might be less aware of (and some that are becoming too ubiquitous to miss).

1. THE TURKEY TROT FOOTRACE

Many towns host brisk morning runs to lessen the guilt about the impending feast (distances and times vary from race to race, but the feel-good endorphins are universal). The oldest known Turkey Trot footrace took place in Buffalo, New York, and has been happening every year since 1896. Nearly 13,000 runners participated in the 4.97 mile race last year.

2. THE GREAT GOBBLER GALLOP IN CUERO, TEXAS

During their annual TurkeyFest in November, they gather a bunch of turkeys and have the "Great Gobbler Gallop," a turkey race. It started in 1908 when a turkey dressing house opened in town. Early in November, farmers would herd their turkeys down the road toward the dressing house so the birds could be prepared for Thanksgiving. As you can imagine, this was quite a spectacle—as many as 20,000 turkeys have been part of this "march". People gathered to watch, and eventually the first official festival was formed around the event in 1912. The final event of the celebration is the Great Gobbler Gallop, a race between the Cuero turkey champ and the champ from Worthington, Minnesota (they have a TurkeyFest as well). Each town holds a heat and the best time between the towns wins. The prize is a four-foot trophy called "The Traveling Turkey Trophy of Tumultuous Triumph."

3. FRANKSGIVING

From 1939 to 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt moved Thanksgiving up by a week. In '39, Thanksgiving, traditionally held on the last Thursday of November, fell on the 30th. Since enough people would wait until after Thanksgiving to start their Christmas shopping, Roosevelt was concerned that having the holiday so late in the month would mess up retail sales at a time when he was trying hard to pull Americans out of the Great Depression. It didn't entirely go over well though—some states observed FDR's change, and others celebrated what was being called the "Republican" Thanksgiving on the traditional, last-Thursday date. Colorado, Mississippi, and Texas all considered both Thanksgivings to be holidays. Today, we've basically split the difference—Thanksgiving is held on the fourth Thursday of November, regardless of whether that's the last Thursday of the month or not.

4. THE PRESIDENTIAL TURKEY PARDON

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The story goes that since at least Harry Truman, it has been tradition for the President of the U.S. to save a couple of birds from becoming someone's feast. Records only go back to George H.W. Bush doing it, though some say the tradition goes all the way back to Abraham Lincoln pardoning his son's pet turkey. (Lincoln is also the President who originally declared that the holiday be held on the last Thursday of November.) In recent years, the public has gotten to name the turkeys in online polls; the paired turkeys (the one you see in pictures and a backup) have gotten creative names such as Stars and Stripes, Biscuit and Gravy, Marshmallow and Yam, Flyer and Fryer, Apple and Cider, and Honest and Abe last year.

5. THANKSGIVING PARADES

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Everyone knows about the Macy's Parade, but for a more historically accurate parade, check out America's Hometown Thanksgiving Parade in Plymouth. The parade starts with a military flyover and continues with floats and costumed people taking the parade-goers from the 17th century to the present time. There are nationally recognized Drum and Bugle Corps, re-enactment units from every period of American history, and military marching units. And military bands play music honoring the men and women who serve in each branch: the Army, the Navy, the Marines, the Air Force, and the Coast Guard.

6. BLACK FRIDAY

Black Friday, of course, is the day-after sales extravaganza that major (and minor) retailers participate in. Most people think that the term comes from the day of the year when retail stores make their profits go from red to black, but other sources have it originating from police officers in Philadelphia. They referred to the day as Black Friday because of the heavy traffic and higher propensity for accidents. Also, just because you hear that it's "the busiest shopping day of the season" on the news, don't believe it. It's one of the busiest days, but typically, it's hardly ever the busiest, though it typically ranks somewhere in the top 10. The busiest shopping day of the year is usually the Saturday before Christmas.

7. CYBER MONDAY

Black Friday is quickly being rivaled in popularity by Cyber Monday. It's a fairly recent phenomenon—it didn't even have a name until 2005. But there's truth to it—77 percent of online retailers at the time reported an increase in sales on that particular day, and as online shopping has continued to grow and become more convenient, retailers have scheduled their promotions to follow suit.

8. BUY NOTHING DAY

And in retaliation for Black Friday, there's Buy Nothing Day. To protest consumerism, many people informally celebrate BND. It was first "celebrated" in 1992, but didn't settle on its day-after-Thanksgiving date until 1997, where it has been ever since. It's also observed internationally, but outside of North America the day of observance is the Saturday after our Thanksgiving.

9. FOOTBALL

JEFF KOWALSKY/AFP/Getty Images

It's a common sight across the U.S.: parents, cousins, aunts, and uncles passed out on the couch watching football after dinner. Well, we have the first Detroit Lions owner, G.A. Richards, to thank for the tradition of Thanksgiving football. He saw it as a way to get people to his games. CBS was the first on the bandwagon when they televised their first Thanksgiving game in 1956. The first color broadcast was in 1965—the Lions vs. the Baltimore Colts. Since the 1960s, the Dallas Cowboys have joined the Lions in hosting Thanksgiving Day games, and the NFL Network now airs a third game on that night.

10. NATIONAL DOG SHOW

Of course, if football isn't your thing, there's always the National Dog Show. It's aired after the Macy's Parade on NBC every year. Good luck telling your dad that he'll be enjoying Springer Spaniels instead of the Lions or Cowboys, though.

A version of this story originally published in 2008.

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