This is the nineteenth in a series of examinations of legends from movies and the people who make them and whether they are true or false.
Click here to view an archive of the previous movie urban legends.
MOVIE LEGEND: A Hard Day’s Night was filmed in black and white to save on costs.
As I mentioned in the most recent edition of Music Legends Revealed, United Artists signed the Beatles to a movie deal mostly so that they could put out a soundtrack, figuring that they’d recoup the costs of the film with sales of the record album based on the movie (an ingenious plan, really) alone, and there was always a chance that the film could be a hit, too!
Of course, the movie ended up becoming a massive hit and United Artists made oodles of cash from both the film AND the soundtrack.
However, before they knew that, United Artists thought that the film was almost an afterthought and the budget reflected this – the entire film was shot on a $500,000 budget, which was small even for 1964.
Based on this fact, many fans have over the years then extrapolated the “fact” that the movie was filmed in black and white was because of this cost-saving approach (as black and white film is significantly cheaper than color film).
That is not so – the director, Richard “Dick” Lester has said for years (and he said at the time, as well) that the black and white approach was one that they went with from the beginning as an artistic approach – the film was to be a mock documentary “day in the life” of the Beatles, and as a result, it called for the same style of ACTUAL documentaries and news coverage of the Beatles which, in 1964, was in black and white.
I’m sure that United Artists was thrilled with the cost benefits of using Lester’s approach, but it was an artistic decision first – not a financial one. With the rate that the Beatles were getting paid and the quick filming schedule, the film could have easily been done for $500,000 with color film being used.
MOVIE LEGEND: A John Wayne anti-Communism film was dubbed in Europe and other places as an anti-drug film.
Only John Wayne could portray a heroic investigator for the House Un-American Activities Committee, busting up Communists trying to “interfere” in labor unions in Hawaii.
And that’s just what he did in Big Jim McLain in 1952.
James Arness co-starred as Wayne’s HUAC partner in the film.
Well, as you might imagine, such a topic would not be as popular in other countries as it would be in the 1950s United States, so in OTHER countries, Big Jim McClain was released instead as…
And here, Wayne and Arness are fighting the illegal drug industry, not Communists.
Pretty funny, huh?
MOVIE LEGEND: Mandy Patinkin’s character in Alien Nation was going to be named George Jetson but a rights issue spoiled the opportunity.
The 1988 film Alien Nation starred James Caan and Mandy Patinkin as human and alien police partners in 1991 Los Angeles.
One of the running gags in the film is the fact that the aliens (who crashlanded on Earth awhile back) all had to be given Earth names before the attempted to assimilate into Earth culture, and since there were over a quarter of a million of them, immigration officials eventually got a bit fast and loose with their names.
Patinkin’s character (seen here with Caan) was given the comical name Sam Francisco.
In the film, though, he’s given the nickname “George.”
This is a reference to his ORIGINAL name in the original screenplay, which was George Jetson!
However, Hanna-Barbara objected to the use of the name (I am not absolutely positive that they HAD to give consent to the use of the name, but I suppose Fox felt that there was a decent chance of some licensing tie-ins with the film, so they figured they’d be better off NOT possibly infringing on a trademark).
It’s too bad – more characters in films should be named George Jetson, I say!
Okay, that’s it for this week!
Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is email@example.com