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14 Running Facts About Chasing Amy

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Chasing Amy, the third installment of writer/director Kevin Smith's legendary New Jersey series, starred future Batman Ben Affleck in his first notable lead role (with all due respect to Glory Daze) as Bluntman and Chronic comic book artist Holden McNeil. McNeil falls for another comic book artist, Alyssa Jones (Joey Lauren Adams), to the annoyance of his writing partner, Banky Edwards (Jason Lee). Complicating matters further is the fact that Alyssa is a lesbian. Here are 14 fascinating facts about Chasing Amy, to commemorate its 20th anniversary.

1. ONE OF KEVIN SMITH'S KEY INSPIRATIONS FOR THE MOVIE WAS HIS RELATIONSHIP WITH JOEY LAUREN ADAMS.

The inspiration for Chasing Amy came out of Kevin Smith's two-year romantic relationship with its star, Joey Lauren Adams. "The character of Holden is the closest to me I’ve ever written (casting Ben was aesthetically wishful thinking perhaps), and Alyssa is actually my voice of reason that I’d never listen to (I knew what I was doing/feeling was immature, but you just can’t fight City Hall, sometimes)," Smith wrote about the biographical nature of Chasing Amy. He said that Chasing Amy "is me on a slab, laid out for the world to see."

Adams was aware of this. "He didn't really leave New Jersey and ... I had traveled," she said in 2016. "He saw me as more worldly. It just created these insecurities and fights and problems. A lot of the scenes, he would write and give to me, and I knew they were apologies."

2. ACTRESS GUINEVERE TURNER WAS ANOTHER INSPIRATION.

Guinevere Turner starred and co-wrote 1994's Go Fish, which The Advocate called a "sassy, sexy, irreverent lesbian movie." Turner, a lesbian, and Smith became friends, and Smith was admittedly "obsessed" with Turner's former romantic relationship with her Go Fish director Rose Troche. Turner also befriended Clerks producer and co-editor Scott Mosier. Smith wondered what would happen if the two fell in love. He urged Mosier to write a movie about that idea, and when he didn't, Smith did. When he finished his script, he gave it to Turner to proofread.

3. TURNER'S MANAGER DIDN'T WANT HER TO MAKE HER CAMEO.

Turner made a small cameo in the film, despite the advice of her manager, who was worried that his client would ruin her career if she kept playing lesbians. When Turner's manager finally saw the movie at Sundance, he said, “I’m so glad we decided you should do that movie—that’s a great movie!”

4. IT WAS ORIGINALLY GOING TO BE A PG-13 MOVIE SET IN HIGH SCHOOL.

The studio initially suggested to Smith that he make Chasing Amy as a PG-13 high school movie. Smith thought about it for a time and wrote some scenes. Ethan Suplee was going to play one of the main characters, but then Smith changed his mind. "A week later, I was like, 'No,'" Smith told The A.V. Club. "Then the movie [Mallrats] tanked, and that sealed the deal. It was just like, that's the last movie I make that doesn't have anything on its mind."

5. MIRAMAX WANTED JON STEWART, DAVID SCHWIMMER, AND DREW BARRYMORE TO STAR.

Smith wrote Holden, Banky, and Alyssa with Affleck, Lee, and Adams in mind, but the studio wanted bigger names—so they came to a compromise. Instead of Miramax footing a $2 million budgetwith the actors they wanted, Smith suggested they only pay $250,000, with his actors, and if Bob and Harvey Weinstein liked what they saw, they could buy it for distribution.

6. BEN AFFLECK WAS INVOLVED IN EVERY STEP OF THE WRITING PROCESS.

Smith referred to Mallrats as something that "turned into a $6 million casting call for Chasing Amy." It was on the set of that movie where Smith got to know Affleck, who played Shannon Hamilton. "It was really in hanging out with Ben off camera that I discovered what a charming, insightful, and funny guy he actually is," Smith said. "I saw in him leading man potential."

"He called me up and said, 'Hey, I'm writing this movie about a guy who falls in love with this woman who's gay and I want you to play the guy,'" Affleck recalled. "I said, 'Well, I'd love to.' He sent it to me as he was writing it. It was really nice to be involved from the beginning, for somebody to put that much faith in me."

7. MIRAMAX WANTED SMITH TO "OPEN UP A BIT."

In the original draft of the script, Holden confronts Alyssa about her threesome heterosexual past over dinner in an apartment. Miramax sent a note suggesting to Smith to "open it up a bit." So instead, the confrontation took place at a hockey rink.

8. IT WAS SHOT IN 20 DAYS.

According to Jason Lee, there were four five-day weeks of rehearsal, followed by four five-day weeks of shooting. Lee said it was "one of the smoothest" productions he had ever been a part of.

9. ONE MEMORABLE SCENE WAS ORIGINALLY WRITTEN FOR MALLRATS.

To Smith, Chasing Amy's "Jaws scene," in which Alyssa and Banky compare sex scars, represented "everything that is great about independent film: edgy and smart content that a studio would ax early on in the development stage (and I know whereof I speak—there was a version of this scene in [Mallrats], and the studio made me take it out)."

Another scene—in which Holden and Alyssa talk about true love while playing darts—had originally been written as a conversation between Dante and Randal in Clerks, but Smith lost the notebook he wrote it in and had forgotten about it until finding the notebook again.

10. ALYSSA HAS TWO SISTERS WHO APPEARED IN THE OTHER NEW JERSEY MOVIES.

One of Alyssa Jones' sisters, according to Smith's View Askew Productions' official synopsis of Chasing Amy, is Heather Jones (Kimberly Loughran), the woman in Clerks who asks Rick Derris (Ernest O'Donnell) for a ride to the beach from the Quick Stop. Alyssa's youngest sister is Tricia Jones (Renee Humphrey), the 15-year-old sex book author in Mallrats. Tricia had sex with Affleck's character Shannon Hamilton in the movie. Alyssa, in Chasing Amy, says she had sex with Shannon Hamilton when she was in college.

11. JASON LEE NEEDED SOME TIME TO CHANNEL BANKY.

"There's a moment in Chasing Amy where I do the thing where I bring my fingers together to Ben Affleck, and we shot it kind of early on," Lee told IGN in 2000. "I was basically asking him with my gesture, 'Are you and her going to hook up? What's the deal?' But I don't say anything. I wasn't finding it for some reason, and Kevin pulled me aside and said, 'This movie is more than Mallrats. It's going to require more thinking, and I want you to feel what's going on a little bit more than you had to do with Brodie in Mallrats. This is that kind of acting as well as dialogue acting.' And I thought, 'Wow. OK.' So then I went back in and found that moment through that, by relating to it and doing whatever you do as an actor to find those moments."

12. JASON MEWES WAS REALLY EATING SUGAR WHILE SILENT BOB MADE HIS SPEECH.

"There was a scene cut out of Clerks," Jason Mewes (Jay) explained. "Remember Kevin [Smith] bought a box of sugar? Well, he bought a box of sugar then I was eating sugar in Clerks. But they cut that out. So, I was like, 'I'm just sitting there doing nothing. What should I do?' He was like, 'I don't know.' I was like, 'How about the sugar?' And he was like, 'Yeah, do the sugar. It'll make up for when we did it in Clerks.' So then I did that." That scene needed "11 or 12" takes, in Mewes' estimation. "Yeah, I ate lots of sugar."

Affleck shrugged it off when a reporter said the sugar eating distracted him from the important scene. "Gave him something to do in the scene, I guess. It is kind of nasty. I said, 'Wow, that's a lot of refined sugar.'"

13. AFFLECK WASN'T READY TO SHOW IT TO ALL OF HIS FAMILY.

"It may alienate some people," Affleck believed. "My mother's best friend said she felt generationally challenged. This is not a movie I would particularly want my grandparents to see. The irony is that nobody has sex on camera and nobody gets killed. You have a movie with people talking the entire time. Yet, there's definitely a segment of the population that will find it just ... bothersome."

14. SMITH WAS MOST SURPRISED BY JOEY LAUREN ADAMS' PERFORMANCE.

"I mean, God, I know the girl personally very, very well, and in the two years we've been dating I've never, ever heard her be emotionally vocal," Smith told The A.V. Club. "The girl doesn't yell. If we fight, she doesn't yell. So when I watch that scene outside the hockey rink, and she's launching into her tirade, that is such a performance, because that's not her."

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10 Regional Twists on Trick-or-Treating
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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.

1. PANGANGALULUWA // THE PHILIPPINES

Rice cakes wrapped in leaves.
Suman

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

Raw dough.
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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

Kids trick-or-treating.
iStock

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.

4. ST. MARTIN'S DAY // THE NETHERLANDS

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.

5. A PENNY FOR THE GUY // THE UK

Guy Fawkes Night celebration.

Peter Trimming, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 2.0

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

Kids knocking on a door in costume.
iStock

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

Sugar skulls with decoration.
iStock

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

Kids dressed up for Halloween.
iStock

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

Little girl trick-or-treating.
iStock

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.

10. TRIQUI, TRIQUI HALLOWEEN // COLOMBIA

Kids dressed up for Halloween.
Rubí Flórez, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

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

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11 Thrilling Facts About Dial M for Murder
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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.

Grace Kelly in 'Dial M for Murder' (1954)
Warner Home Video

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.

Michael Douglas and Gwyneth Paltrow in 'A Perfect Murder' (1998)
Warner Bros.

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.

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