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13 Wild Facts About Wild Things

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Set and filmed in South Florida, Wild Things involves two teenagers, Suzie (Neve Campbell) and Kelly (Denise Richards), who accuse their high school guidance counselor, Sam Lombardo (Matt Dillon), of rape. They hire a lawyer (Bill Murray) and a detective (Kevin Bacon) to investigate Lombardo. The events transform into an erotic film noir, as everyone betrays one another.

Richards described the film as “Scream meets Body Heat,” a cross between a whodunit and sleazy cinema. Written by Stephen Peters and directed by John McNaughton, the film is best known for its pool makeout session between Campbell and Richards; for a lurid threesome between Campbell, Richards, and Dillon; and for Bacon showing his, um, full bacon. On March 20, 1998, the movie opened with a $9.6 million opening weekend and went on to gross a tepid $30,147,739. But the film proved popular enough to spawn three straight-to-DVD sequels (none of the original cast members, writer, or director were involved): Wild Things 2 (2004), Wild Things: Diamonds in the Rough (2005), and Wild Things: Foursome (2010). Here are 13 wild facts about the movie.

1. KEVIN BACON THOUGHT THE SCRIPT WAS "THE TRASHIEST PIECE OF CRAP" HE HAD EVER READ.

Kevin Bacon not only has a role in the film but is also one of its producers. “When I first picked up the script, I thought, ‘Oh, my God, this is the trashiest piece of crap I’ve ever read,’” he said to Entertainment Weekly. “But every few pages, I kept discovering that it wasn’t what it seemed. Every few pages, there was another surprise.”

2. ROBERT DOWNEY JR. ALMOST PLAYED THE MATT DILLON ROLE. 

Christopher Polk/Getty Images for PCA

Pre-Iron Man, Robert Downey Jr. had been chosen to play the school counselor, but his drug issues endangered the production. “It was during his rehab, and he’d just been on Diane Sawyer’s show,” John McNaughton told Entertainment Weekly. “And to the people in Hollywood, that was a great career move. That made him hot.” The film’s insurance didn’t want to cover the actor, though, as Downey Jr. was too much of a liability.

3. DENISE RICHARDS DID NOT NAIL HER FIRST AUDITION.

McNaughton told Entertainment Weekly that at her first audition, Richards “was good, but not so good we had to hire her. But when she came back for a second audition, she was a lot better. She’d obviously thought about the character, which we took as a good sign that she could do the role. If worse came to worst, we knew she’d be beautiful.”

4. JOHN MCNAUGHTON PURPOSEFULLY CREATED BEAUTIFUL SURROUNDINGS.

Wild Things ... is a movie about really ugly people in terms of their interiors—there’s almost nobody of any moral value whatsoever in that picture,” McNaughton told Filmmaker Magazine. "So to make their surroundings ugly is telling the joke twice; I wanted it to be beautiful and lush and gorgeous, like the movie was a commercial selling you that world.”

5. BILL MURRAY MISSED OUT ON “THE BIG FUN.”

Bill Murray’s character, lawyer Ken Bowden, doesn’t get to engage in threesomes—or any kind of sex. “Although I’m twisted, I’m about the nicest guy in the thing,” Murray said in a behind-the-scenes segment on the film. “So I don’t get to have the big fun, and no sex at all. It’s like the guy who comes the next morning, to the party—‘What happened? Really? I miss everything.’ But I’m in on it. I’m the only one that gets out unscathed.” 

6. THE CAST HAD TROUBLE KEEPING THE LIES STRAIGHT.

“To determine their motivation in each scene, the cast had to gather with the director, writers, and producers to establish the sequence of events,” Bacon said. “We’d sit in rehearsals trying to piece together what was going on in the script, whom we were lying to about what, and it’d just get so complicated we’d have to stop and rest.”

7. BACON’S FULL-FRONTAL NUDITY WAS ACCIDENTAL.

Bacon didn’t think anyone would see his nether regions, mainly because he thought Dillon was blocking the shot. However, McNaughton explained to The Huffington Post how Bacon’s manhood made an unintentional cameo. “Kevin steps out of the shower and Matt throws him a towel and he catches it and it covers him and he did it in every take but one. It was a little miscue and it didn’t cover him.” The film’s editor, Elena Maganini, convinced McNaughton to use that take. “We called Kevin and he said, ‘How do I look?’ We said, ‘You look good Kevin.’ He goes, ‘No problem.’”

“I didn’t think any more about it so I was shocked, really shocked, when everyone kept on about it after the movie’s release,” Bacon told Total Film. “It really wasn’t that big a deal.” In 2015, Bacon shot a funny “Free the Bacon” PSA (below), encouraging more male actors to do full-frontal movie scenes.

8. BACON AND DILLON WERE SUPPOSED TO DO A SHOWER SCENE TOGETHER.

That already racy scene in which Dillon throws a nude Bacon a towel almost pushed the envelope further. Dillon was supposed to join Bacon in the shower and kiss him, but Dillon was against the idea. “Man, I was relieved when they got rid of that scene,” he told Total Film. “Kevin seemed pretty attached to it through. One twist too many, man, one twist too many."

“I thought it was great because the whole movie is about secrets coming out, right?” Bacon also told Total Film. “As reveals go, that one was just huge [no pun intended]. Unfortunately, the financiers didn’t like the idea of men making out. They felt it went too far. They felt it wasn’t right.”

9. A DEAD BODY FLOATED INTO THE PRODUCTION.

While Campbell and Daphne Rubin-Vega filmed a scene near a swamp, a dead body rose to the surface. “All of a sudden one of the crew says ‘cut’—it was one of the lighting guys—and they said there was a dead body in the water,” Campbell recalled. “And so the cops came by and were like ‘You makin’ a movie?’ And we were like ‘Yeah.’ So they actually—typical Hollywood—held the body next to the dock so it wouldn’t float through the shot so we could finish the scene.”

10. RICHARDS’S BOOBS BECAME THE FOCAL POINT OF MEETINGS.

According to Richards’s memoir, Real Girl Next Door, storyboards of her breasts were passed between her lawyer, the producers, and the director to see what she would be okay with revealing. “At first it was decided that only one [breast] would be filmed, though they eventually filmed both,” The Daily Beast wrote.

11. NEVE CAMPBELL ENJOYED KISSING RICHARDS.

“It was fun,” Campbell told Rolling Stone about the film's most famous scene. “We just sorta went in and did it. Actually, we mixed margaritas and brought a bottle of wine in my trailer and got drunk first.” Campbell wrote in her journal about the experience: “Okay, I’m gonna make out with a girl for the first time in my life. It’s so interesting that a lot of times you learn things about yourself and have new experiences when shooting a scene, because they’re things you wouldn’t normally do in your life.”

But Richards found it all very weird. “At one point during Wild Things, we were shooting at night and I just sat there and thought, ‘It’s four o’clock in the morning. I’m half naked in a swimming pool. I’m making out with Neve Campbell. What am I doing here?”’ she told Entertainment Weekly. Whereas Richards went topless for the scene, Campbell decided to not show anything.

12. BACON THINKS THE MOVIE SHOULDN’T BE TAKEN SO SERIOUSLY.

Is the movie self-aware or is it being serious? “It’s fun for me now to sit back and watch an audience which really doesn’t know what to expect,” Bacon said. “It’s kind of neat, because people are not quite sure what they’re supposed to be thinking and feeling. They kind of go, ‘Am I allowed to laugh at this at all? Or is this just like so bad? Are they serious?’ The other side of that is that it creates certain inherent problems in marketing the picture. I mean, I almost want to put a disclaimer on the poster that says, ‘We don’t take this too seriously, so we hope that you don’t either.'"

13. MCNAUGHTON WANTED TO MAKE A SEQUEL.

In 2013, McNaughton said he wanted to film a sequel called Wild Child Things, focusing on a child Suzie could’ve had. “Do you know the Amanda Knox case? It’s something like that,” he told Hollywood.com. “Something that’s like the child of Suzie Toller. She claimed that Matt Dillon‘s [character] had raped her a long time ago and maybe there is a child and maybe Bill Murray‘s character had a child and they’re exchange students and things get out of hand.” Though three straight-to-DVD sequels have been made, McNaughton has not been involved in any of those.

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U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons
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5 Things You Didn't Know About Sally Ride
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U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

You know Sally Ride as the first American woman to travel into space. But here are five things you might not know about the astronaut, who passed away five years ago today—on July 23, 2012—at the age of 61.

1. SHE PROVED THERE IS SUCH THING AS A STUPID QUESTION.

When Sally Ride made her first space flight in 1983, she was both the first American woman and the youngest American to make the journey to the final frontier. Both of those distinctions show just how qualified and devoted Ride was to her career, but they also opened her up to a slew of absurd questions from the media.

Journalist Michael Ryan recounted some of the sillier questions that had been posed to Ride in a June 1983 profile for People. Among the highlights:

Q: “Will the flight affect your reproductive organs?”
A: “There’s no evidence of that.”

Q: “Do you weep when things go wrong on the job?”
A: “How come nobody ever asks (a male fellow astronaut) those questions?"

Forget going into space; Ride’s most impressive achievement might have been maintaining her composure in the face of such offensive questions.

2. SHE MIGHT HAVE BEEN A TENNIS PRO.

When Ride was growing up near Los Angeles, she played more than a little tennis, and she was seriously good at it. She was a nationally ranked juniors player, and by the time she turned 18 in 1969, she was ranked 18th in the whole country. Tennis legend Billie Jean King personally encouraged Ride to turn pro, but she went to Swarthmore instead before eventually transferring to Stanford to finish her undergrad work, a master’s, and a PhD in physics.

King didn’t forget about the young tennis prodigy she had encouraged, though. In 1984 an interviewer playfully asked the tennis star who she’d take to the moon with her, to which King replied, “Tom Selleck, my family, and Sally Ride to get us all back.”

3. HOME ECONOMICS WAS NOT HER BEST SUBJECT.

After retiring from space flight, Ride became a vocal advocate for math and science education, particularly for girls. In 2001 she founded Sally Ride Science, a San Diego-based company that creates fun and interesting opportunities for elementary and middle school students to learn about math and science.

Though Ride was an iconic female scientist who earned her doctorate in physics, just like so many other youngsters, she did hit some academic road bumps when she was growing up. In a 2006 interview with USA Today, Ride revealed her weakest subject in school: a seventh-grade home economics class that all girls had to take. As Ride put it, "Can you imagine having to cook and eat tuna casserole at 8 a.m.?"

4. SHE HAD A STRONG TIE TO THE CHALLENGER.

Ride’s two space flights were aboard the doomed shuttle Challenger, and she was eight months deep into her training program for a third flight aboard the shuttle when it tragically exploded in 1986. Ride learned of that disaster at the worst possible time: she was on a plane when the pilot announced the news.

Ride later told AARP the Magazine that when she heard the midflight announcement, she got out her NASA badge and went to the cockpit so she could listen to radio reports about the fallen shuttle. The disaster meant that Ride wouldn’t make it back into space, but the personal toll was tough to swallow, too. Four of the lost members of Challenger’s crew had been in Ride’s astronaut training class.

5. SHE DIDN'T SELL OUT.

A 2003 profile in The New York Times called Ride one of the most famous women on Earth after her two space flights, and it was hard to argue with that statement. Ride could easily have cashed in on the slew of endorsements, movie deals, and ghostwritten book offers that came her way, but she passed on most opportunities to turn a quick buck.

Ride later made a few forays into publishing and endorsements, though. She wrote or co-wrote more than a half-dozen children’s books on scientific themes, including To Space and Back, and in 2009 she appeared in a print ad for Louis Vuitton. Even appearing in an ad wasn’t an effort to pad her bank account, though; the ad featured an Annie Leibovitz photo of Ride with fellow astronauts Buzz Aldrin and Jim Lovell gazing at the moon and stars. According to a spokesperson, all three astronauts donated a “significant portion” of their modeling fees to Al Gore’s Climate Project.

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5 Surprising Facts About the Battle of Dunkirk
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With the release of Christopher Nolan’s critically acclaimed Dunkirk, the world’s attention is once again focused on the historic events recounted in the film, when a makeshift fleet of British fishing boats, pleasure yachts, and cargo ships helped save 185,000 British soldiers and 130,000 French soldiers from death or capture by German invaders during the Fall of France in May and June 1940. Here are five surprising facts about those heroic days.

1. THE GERMAN ATTACK WAS SUPPOSED TO BE IMPOSSIBLE.

By Weper Hermann, 13 German Mobile Assault Unit - Imperial War Museums, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

The main reason France collapsed so quickly in 1940 was the element of surprise enjoyed by its German attackers, thanks to General Erich von Manstein, who proposed an invasion route that was widely believed to be impossible. In Manstein’s plan, the main German column of tanks and motorized infantry would force their way through the forests of Ardennes in southeast Belgium and Luxembourg—a thick, hilly woodland which was supposed to be difficult terrain for tanks, requiring at least five days to cross, according to conventional wisdom based on the experience of the First World War. The French and British assumed that little had changed since the previous conflict, but thanks to field studies and updated maps, Manstein and his colleague General Heinz Guderian realized that a new network of narrow, paved roads would allow just enough room for tanks and trucks to squeeze through. As a result the Germans passed through Ardennes into northern France in just two-and-a-half days, threatening to cut off hundreds of thousands of Allied troops, with only one escape route: the sea.

2. ONE FRENCH WORD WAS BURNED INTO WINSTON CHURCHILL’S MEMORY: “AUCUNE.”

Fox Photos/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

The German invasion of France began on May 10, 1940, the same day Winston Churchill became Prime Minister. By May 14, when he paid his first official visit to Britain’s ally, Holland had capitulated and Paris was preparing for evacuation. But an even worse surprise was in store. In one of the most famous passages of military history, Churchill recounted the moment he learned that the French didn’t have any troops in reserve:

"I then asked ‘Where is the strategic reserve?’ and, breaking into French … ‘Ou est la mass de manoeuvre?’ General Gamelin turned to me and, with a shake of the head and a shrug, replied. ‘Aucune.’ [There is none] … I was dumbfounded. What were we to think of the Great French Army and its highest chief? It had never occurred to me than any commanders … would have left themselves unprovided with a mass of manoeuvre … This was one of the greatest surprises I have had in my life.”

3. HITLER MADE A FATAL MISTAKE.

On May 24, 1940, the Allied troops on the French and Belgian coast had been totally surrounded by powerful German tank columns, rendering them essentially defenseless against the impending German onslaught. And then came a brief reprieve, as the attackers suddenly stopped for 48 hours, allowing the British to dig in and create a defensive perimeter, setting the stage for the evacuation.

For reasons that still aren’t clear, Hitler—over the protests of his own generals and to the bafflement of historians—had ordered Guderian to halt for two days to rest and resupply. It’s true the German troops were worn out after two weeks of fighting, and Hitler may have worried about a repeat of 1914, when exhausted German troops were forced to withdraw at the Marne. He may also have been swayed by Hermann Göring, chief of the German Luftwaffe, who boasted that air power alone could destroy the helpless Allied forces at Dunkirk. Less likely is the speculation that Hitler purposefully “let the Allies go” to appear magnanimous or merciful as a prelude to peace negotiations (which was not really in keeping with his character). In the end we will probably never know why Hitler choked.

4. GERMAN DIVE-BOMBERS WERE EQUIPPED WITH SIRENS TO SPREAD TERROR.

Among many examples of Germany’s evil genius for psychological warfare, one of the most famous was the decision to equip its Ju 87 dive bombers with air-powered sirens that emitted a shrieking, unearthly wail as the plane went into attack. The siren, known as the “Jericho Trumpet,” was intended to spread terror among enemy troops and civilians on the ground—and it worked. To this day the Jericho Trumpet is one of the most recognizable, and terrifying, sounds of war. It was certainly one of the lasting impressions of the Dunkirk evacuation for ordinary troops caught beneath the German bombs. Lieutenant Elliman, a British gunner who was waiting to be evacuated on Malo-les-Bains beach, later recalled the Stukas “diving, zooming, screeching, and wheeling over our heads like a flock of huge infernal seagulls.”

5. THE FRENCH FOUGHT A HOPELESS BATTLE TO COVER THE EVACUATION.

By Saidman (Mr), War Office official photographer — Photograph H 1636 from the Imperial War Museums, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

Although Churchill and other Brits were quick to criticize the failure of France’s generals during the Fall of France, many ordinary French soldiers and officers fought bravely and honorably—and one hopeless “last stand” in particular probably helped enable the successful evacuation of Dunkirk.

As British and French troops withdrew to Dunkirk, 40 miles to the southeast French troops in two corps of the French First Army staged a ferocious defense against seven German divisions from May 28 to May 31, 1940, refusing to surrender and mounting several attempts to break out despite being heavily outnumbered (110,000 to 40,000). The valiant French effort, led by General Jean-Baptiste Molinié, helped tie up three German tank divisions under Erwin Rommel, enabling the British Expeditionary Force and the remaining troops of the French First Army to retreat and dig in at Dunkirk, ultimately saving another 100,000 Allied troops.

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