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15 Burning Facts About St. Elmo's Fire

Released a little over two weeks after the infamous New York Magazine article that dubbed its cast “The Brat Pack," St. Elmo’s Fire was the 1985 coming-of-age movie featuring Emilio Estevez, Ally Sheedy, and Judd Nelson that wasn’t The Breakfast Club.  It was the one about the uncertainty of life right after college, not the teenage angst of high school. It also was the one not made by John Hughes. On the occasion of its 30th anniversary, here are 15 things you might not know about St. Elmo's Fire.

1. IT WAS WRITTEN BY JOEL SCHUMACHER AND HIS ASSISTANT.

Carl Kurlander suffered from unrequited love with a waitress one summer while working as a bellhop at Chautauqua, New York’s St. Elmo hotel. He eventually turned the experience into a short story, which his college professor suggested he title St. Elmo’s Fire. By the time Kurlander had become writer-director Joel Schumacher’s assistant, he had turned it into a screenplay. The two then worked together to rewrite it.

2. THE STUDIO HATED THE TITLE.

Columbia Pictures ended up producing the movie, and sent a 35-page memo listing all of their issues with the proposed title and suggesting such alternatives as The Real World and Sparks.

3. ANTHONY EDWARDS AND LEA THOMPSON AUDITIONED.

The future stars had to find their fame a little later. Most young actors weren’t turned off by the script, even though one major studio head allegedly called the seven main characters "the most loathsome humans he had ever read on the page.”

4. JOHN HUGHES WAS A BIG HELP IN THE CASTING PROCESS, BOTH ON PURPOSE AND BY ACCIDENT.

Emilio Estevez, Ally Sheedy, and Judd Nelson were all strongly recommended for the movie by their Breakfast Club director. Schumacher “discovered” Demi Moore when she rushed past his office one day after Hughes stood her up for a meeting. Schumacher asked Kurlander to follow her to find out if she was an actress, believing she looked just like what the character of Jules should look like. Fortunately for them, she was; she had just spent a season on General Hospital.

5. MOORE AND ROB LOWE HAD MEMORABLE AUDITIONS.

Moore came in on a motorcycle for hers, with the tags still on her clothes. Lowe walked into his audition for Billy Hicks with a six-pack of Corona.

6. EMILIO ESTEVEZ WANTED TO PLAY BILLY HICKS.

He settled for playing Kirby Keger and dating Moore.

7. DEMI MOORE HAD TO GO TO REHAB BEFORE SHOOTING.

When she started showing up high for clothes fittings, Schumacher demanded that she get clean from drugs and alcohol to play Jules, who of course had a coke problem.

8. GETTING CAST AS DALE BIBERMAN JUMPSTARTED ANDIE MACDOWELL’S FILM CAREER.

Though the former model had appeared in 1984's Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes, she was never actually heard, as Glenn Close dubbed all of her dialogue. Schumacher hired her anyway, which she said changed her life.

9. MARE WINNINGHAM PLAYED A VIRGIN WHILE SHE WAS PREGNANT.

The 26-year-old actress was actually pregnant with her third child when she played Wendy Beamish. Winningham’s brother, Patrick, was also in the film; he played a member of Billy's band, The New Breed.

10. WENDY’S PARENTS WERE A DIVORCED COUPLE.

Martin Balsam and Joyce Van Patten, who played Wendy's parents in the movie, were actually married from 1957 to 1962. Their daughter, Talia Balsam, is also a noted actress who appeared on Mad Men with her husband, John Slattery. Balsam also holds the distinction of being the first Mrs. George Clooney (they married in 1989 and were divorced less than four years later).

11. “ST. ELMO’S FIRE (MAN IN MOTION)” WAS WRITTEN ABOUT A PARALYZED ATHLETE.

David Foster and John Parr were attempting to write a theme song for the film, but Parr wasn’t motivated enough by it to write lyrics. Foster brought the story of athlete Rick Hansen—who was traveling the world in his wheelchair in his “Man in Motion Tour” to promote spinal cord injury awareness—to Parr’s attention. Parr wrote the words to promote Hansen, but made it ambiguous enough so that it could also work for the movie.

12. GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY WOULDN’T ALLOW ANY FILMING ON ITS CAMPUS.

While the story was about a bunch of Georgetown grads, the university read the script and declined the production's request to shoot on campus. But the nearby University of Maryland stepped in and said yes. Still, the St. Elmo’s Bar is known to be based on The Tombs, a popular bar for Georgetown students.

13. JULES DID HAVE A FULL NAME.

According to the screenplay, it was meant to be Julianna VanPatten.

14. ANDREW MCCARTHY WASN’T MUCH OF A JOINER.

He spent his downtime listening to Bruce Springsteen on his Walkman. Estevez wrote screenplays during his breaks. Judd Nelson read Billy Budd while he was on set.

15. ALLY SHEEDY WAS "HORRIFIED" BY HER SEX SCENE.

It wasn't until the day of filming her steamy scene with McCarthy that Sheedy realized it wouldn’t be a simple fade out before any of the naked stuff happened (she wore a body suit). But both McCarthy and Schumacher made the process more comfortable. "He knew I felt awkward, and he shot it fast," Sheedy said of her director. "He didn't draw it out into this painful exercise at all." And a mishap actually added some laughter to the scene; when the shower door was pushed out of frame, it was an accident that stayed in the film, much like Sheedy’s reaction: "It was my real laugh there," she says.

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7 Things You Might Not Know About Audrey Hepburn
Hulton Archive, Getty Images
Hulton Archive, Getty Images

Though she’ll always be known as the little-black-dress-wearing big-screen incarnation of Holly Golightly from Breakfast at Tiffany’s, there’s probably a lot you don’t know about Audrey Hepburn, who passed away in Switzerland on January 20, 1993.

1. HER FIRST ROLE WAS IN AN EDUCATIONAL FILM.

Though 1948’s Dutch in Seven Lessons is classified as a “documentary” on IMDb, it’s really more of an educational travel film, in which Hepburn appears as an airline attendant. If you don’t speak Dutch, it might not make a whole lot of sense to you, but you can watch it above anyway.

2. GREGORY PECK WAS AFRAID SHE’D MAKE HIM LOOK LIKE A JERK.

Hepburn was an unknown actress when she was handed the starring role of Princess Ann opposite Gregory Peck in 1953’s Roman Holiday. As such, Peck was going to be the only star listed, with Hepburn relegated to a smaller font and an “introducing” credit. But Peck insisted, “You've got to change that because she'll be a big star and I'll look like a big jerk.” Hepburn ended up winning her first and only Oscar for the role (Peck wasn’t even nominated).

3. SHE’S AN EGOT.

In 1954, the same year she won the Oscar for Roman Holiday, Hepburn accepted a Tony Award for her title role in Ondine on Broadway. Hepburn is one of only 12 EGOTs, meaning that she has won all of the four major creative awards: an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony. Unfortunately, the honor came to Hepburn posthumously; her 1994 Grammy for the children’s album Audrey Hepburn’s Enchanted Tales and her 1993 Emmy for Gardens of the World with Audrey Hepburn were both awarded following her passing in early 1993.

4. TRUMAN CAPOTE HATED HER AS HOLLY GOLIGHTLY.

Blake Edwards’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s may be one of the most iconic films in Hollywood history, but it’s a miracle that the film ever got made at all. Particularly if you listened to Truman Capote, who wrote the novella upon which it was based, and saw only one actress in the lead: Marilyn Monroe. When asked what he thought was wrong with the film, which downplayed the more tawdry aspects of the fact that Ms. Golightly makes her living as a call girl (Hepburn had told the producers, “I can’t play a hooker”), Capote replied, “Oh, God, just everything. It was the most miscast film I’ve ever seen. It made me want to throw up.”

5. HOLLY GOLIGHTLY’S LITTLE BLACK DRESS SOLD FOR NEARLY $1 MILLION.

Audrey Hepburn in 'Breakfast at Tiffany's'
Keystone Features, Getty Images

In 2006, Christie’s auctioned off the iconic Givenchy-designed little black dress that Hepburn wore in Breakfast at Tiffany’s for a whopping $923,187 (pre-auction numbers estimated that it would go for between $98,800 and $138,320). It was a record-setting amount at the time, until Marilyn Monroe’s white “subway dress” from The Seven Year Itch sold for $5.6 million in 2006.

6. SHE SANG “HAPPY BIRTHDAY” TO JFK IN 1963.

One year after Marilyn Monroe’s sultry birthday serenade to John F. Kennedy in 1962, Hepburn paid a musical tribute to the President at a private party in 1963, on what would be his final birthday.

7. THERE’S A RARE TULIP NAMED AFTER HER.

Photo of Audrey Hepburn
Hulton Archive, Getty Images

In 1990, a rare white tulip hybrid was named after the actress and humanitarian, and dedicated to her at her family’s former estate in Holland.

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Why the Film You're Watching on HBO Might Not Be the Whole Movie
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iStock

In the days before widescreen televisions, most of the movies you watched on VHS or on cable looked a little different than their big-screen versions. The sides of the image had to be cropped out so that you could watch a movie made for a rectangular screen on the small screen. Today, those little black bars on the top and bottom of the screen that allow you to watch the same movie scaled to any shape of screen are everywhere. But it turns out, cropping for aspect ratios is alive and well—on HBO, as YouTube film vlogger Patrick Willems explains.

In his latest video, which we spotted on Digg, Willems explains why aspect ratios matter, and how the commonly used aspect ratios can fundamentally change a movie.

Most old-school televisions have 4:3 aspect ratios, meaning movies had to be significantly cropped to fit wide-screen films on the small screen. Now, most computers and televisions use 16:9 aspect ratios, which is approximately the same as the one used for movies, typically 1.85:1, so many movies expand to fit TV screens perfectly. The catch: Some Hollywood movies are shot with even wider angles to show even more of an image at once. And even though viewers are familiar with the sight of those black bars, it seems the streaming sites are determined to limit their use, even for movies that don’t fit on a normal screen. As a result, you may only be seeing the central part of the image, not the whole thing. You could be missing characters, action, and landscape that’s happening on the far sides of the screen.

Since 1993, the Motion Picture Association of America has mandated that any film that’s been altered in a way that changes the original vision of its creators—say, to edit out swear words, adjust the run time, or to make it fit a certain screen—run with a disclaimer that says as much. That’s why before movies run on TV, they usually show a note that says something like “This film has been modified from its original version. It has been formatted to fit this screen.” But this doesn’t seem to apply to streaming.

In 2013, Netflix was accused of cropping films, too, showing wide-angle movies to fit the standard 16:9 screen instead of running the original version with black bars. The streaming giant claimed it was a mistake due to distributors sending them the cropped version, and those films would be replaced with the originals. However, as of 2015, users were still complaining of the problem. According to Willems, it’s a problem that still plagues not just HBO, but Starz and Hulu, too, and there isn’t any clear rationale for it other than that perhaps people don’t like looking at black bars. But frankly, that seems better than seeing a version of a film that the director never intended.

You can get all the details in the video below:

[h/t Digg]

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