Was There a Lesbian Romance Cut From Love Actually?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about movies and whether they are true or false. Click here to see all the Movie urban legends featured so far.

MOVIE URBAN LEGEND: There was a lesbian romance cut out of “Love Actually”.

Today, we take a look at a legend from a modern Christmas classic, 2003’s “Love Actually”.

The film (written and directed by Richard Curtis) follows a disparate (but, as it slowly turns out, all somewhat interconnected) group of British people who are dealing with all sorts of dramas involving love around the Christmas season – familial love, unrequited love, illicit love, platonic love, it’s all covered in the film. One area, though, that the film did not get into was same sex love. However, originally that was not the case! Read on to learn about the lesbian romance that was cut out of “Love Actually”!
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Was ‘Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas’ Almost Too Depressing to Exist?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about movies and whether they are true or false. Click here to see all the Movie urban legends featured so far.

MOVIE URBAN LEGEND: “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” nearly never existed because it was too depressing.

It comes as little surprise to any moviegoer out there that the soundtrack to a film musical plays a major role in how the story of the film is presented. We’ve discussed in the past how the song “Let it Go” literally changed the whole focus of Disney’s hit film, Frozen, turning Elsa from a villain to a hero. Similarly, though, if you don’t want to change the story of your film, then you will have problems if the songs you are given don’t fit the story of the film. This was the key conflict that very nearly led to the classic Christmas song, “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” never being released.

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Were Tom and Jerry Inspired By….Tom and Jerry?!

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about movies and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the Movie urban legends featured so far.

MOVIE LEGEND: Tom and Jerry were named after a cartoon featuring human characters named Tom and Jerry that Tom and Jerry co-creator, Joe Barbera, had worked on earlier.

Created for MGM in 1940 (well, technically 1941, as you’ll see later on in this story), the Tom and Jerry characters were William Hanna and Joe Barbera’s first huge hit working together, as they worked on the cartoons (which aired as film shorts) for nearly 20 years, picking up a pile of Academy Awards for their work. MGM eventually decided that it was cheaper to just re-air old cartoons than make new ones, so they shut down their entire cartoon division.

Luckily, Hanna and Barbera then teamed up to form a cartoon studio that made cartoons for television and, well, I think you know how well THAT turned out.

In any event, my friend Chris N. wrote to me to ask if Tom and Jerry were inspired by an old 1930s cartoon duo, a human team who were ALSO called Tom and Jerry!

Created by Amadee J. Van Beuren’s New York studio, Joe Barbera even WORKED for Van Beueren it the early 1930s (after the original Tom and Jerry cartoons had debuted, though)! So, is there a connection?

Oddly enough, it doesn’t appear to be one, no.

Tom and Jerry is credited as being introduced in 1940, but in reality, the 1940 story that introduced the characters, “Puss Gets the Boot,” technically starred two OTHER characters, Jasper and Jinx, who had slightly different designs…

MGM originally did not like Hanna and Barbera’s idea of doing another cat and mouse cartoon right after “Puss Gets the Boot” (which was nominated for an Academy Award), but they eventually let the pair go with their idea to do more stories featuring the characters. However, now that they were going to be a regular thing, Hanna and Barbera wanted to both tweak their design and come up with a new name for the pair. So they had a contest with the animators at MGM to name the pair.

Animator Jack Carr won the contest. He suggested “Tom and Jerry,” Tom and Jerry were characters in an old Pierre Egan play, but by the 20th Century, they had become much more familiar as both the name of a drink (a Christmastime drink involving eggnog, rum and brandy – also devised by Egan) and as the slang term people used to describe British and German soldiers (Tom and Jerry, respectively) during World War I. So the phrase was a common one, and when you add in the double meaning of “tomcat,” it just made sense. Hanna and Barbera weren’t thrilled with naming their characters after a phrase then most popular as being a drink name, but they went with it, and obviously the cartoon ended up taking over the name (by the way, when the original Tom and Jerry cartoon aired on TV years later, they obviously had to change their names, so they went with Dick and Harry).

So there does not appear to be any connection to the original Tom and Jerry cartoon, so I’m going with the legend as…

STATUS: False

Thanks to Chris for the question!

Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is bcronin@legendsrevealed.com.

Were Gary Cooper’s Batting Scenes Reversed in Pride of the Yankees?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about movies and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the Movie urban legends featured so far.

MOVIE LEGEND: Gary Cooper batting right-handed led to them reversing the film in Pride of the Yankees to make it look like he was batting left-handed

The Pride of the Yankees is a 1942 hit film (also a critically acclaimed film) about the life of New York Yankee great, Lou Gehrig.

Lou Gehrig had a Hall of Fame career as the “2” half of the 1/2 punch that was Ruth and Gehrig in the 1920s’ Yankee lineup, with Babe Ruth batting 3rd in the lineup and Gehrig batting 4th (they helped make up the so-called “Murderer’s Row” of the 1927 Yankees, also containing Hall of Famers Earle Combs and Tony Lazzeri batting at the 1st and sixth positions – #5 hitter Bob Meusel actually led the league in home runs in 1923!).

In the film, Gehrig, who retired at the age of 36 because of a debilitating disease (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), which is now most commonly known as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease”) that killed him two years later, was played by screen idol, Gary Cooper.

The only problem was, Lou Gehrig batted and threw with his left hand.

Cooper, though, was right-handed.

It seemed like a pretty mighty fine impasse (as recreations for the film would be obvious that the person hitting the ball was not Cooper), until director Sam Wood came up with an ingenious solution. He would simply flip the shots, with Cooper wearing a jersey with the team name written in reverse on his chest.

However, those were only used in certain close-ups and in scenes where Cooper threw the ball. As Cooper recalled years later, “To remedy this in close-ups, the letters on my uniform were reversed as in mirror writing, and the film was processed with the back side to the front. My right hand thus appeared to be my left.”

The batting scenes, however, were NOT done in that fashion. Cooper just faked batting left-handed as best as he could.

As it turns out, while you can passably learn how to hit a ball left-handed if you bat right-handed, you really can’t fake throwing it. So it was just in the THROWING scenes that they reversed the film. The batting scenes were all done like normal filmed scenes (no reversed jersey numbers or anything).

So the legend is surprisingly, for the most accepted version of the story…

STATUS: False (just with some truthiness mixed in there)

Thanks to Tom Shieber for doing the research and discovering the truth on this one. Check out his extensive research here.

Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is bcronin@legendsrevealed.com.

Did Major League Include a Line in Their Trailer to Mislead Audiences?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about movies and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the Movie urban legends featured so far.

MOVIE URBAN LEGEND: Major League included a line in the original trailer designed to mislead viewers as to what happened at the end of the movie.

Sadly for Cleveland fans, the Indians lost the World Series last night to the Chicago Cubs, so 1948 remains the last time (for now) that the Indians have won the World Series. After playing well through the mid-1950s, the Indians then entered a long slump as a franchise, which was used as the basis for the hit 1989 comedy film, Major League, which is about a hapless Cleveland Indians franchise suddenly becoming good after the owner cut salary dramatically and only had walk-ons and has-beens on the team.

A while back, I discussed how the owner in the movie originally was secretly the HERO of the film! Today, based on a suggestion from reader Gage, we look at whether a famous line from the film’s trailer was inserted into the trailer (and not the actual movie) in an attempt to mislead audiences as to how the film would end!
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How Winston Was Marginalized In the Original Ghostbusters

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about movies and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the Movie urban legends featured so far.

MOVIE URBAN LEGEND: Winston Zeddemore was a much different character in the original Ghostbusters script.

When you look at the history of American films, you can see why some actors are so highly paid, as many of the most successful films each year are based on “star power.” That’s why so many scripts are rewritten to tailor to certain stars, because the studios know the actors often more important to the film’s success than remaining faithful to the original script.

That’s why we’ve seen a script for a Brandon Lee movie rewritten into a “Lethal Weapon” movie rewritten into a “Die Hard” movie, or the classic story of how “Beverly Hills Cop” was a vehicle for Sylvester Stallone before it was retooled for Eddie Murphy.

When it came to 1984’s “Ghostbusters,” the importance of certain characters increased and decreased in based on which actor was going to play the roles. That’s how Winston Zeddemore’s role changed dramatically until it ended up being one that has (pardon the pun) haunted Ernie Hudson for years.

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Did Harrison Ford Improvise His Famous “I Know” Line From Empire Strikes Back?

MOVIE URBAN LEGEND: Harrison Ford’s famous “I know” line in “Empire Strikes Back” was improvised.

When it comes time to actually translate movie screenplays into finished films, there are always going to be situations where things change base on circumstances. Sometimes problems that are beyond anyone’s control. There’s a famous scene in the screenplay for “Fast Times in Ridgement High” where two characters listen to a song from Led Zeppelin’s fourth album. Well, what do you do when Led Zeppelin won’t let you use any songs from their fourth album? These sorts of issues came up frequently in the filming of the first few “Star Wars” films, as George Lucas and company would often find themselves debating between multiple options with where to go with the screenplay. Kill off Obi-Wan Kenobi or let him live? Have Han shoot Greedo first or have Greedo take the first shot?

A similar debate came up during the filming of “Empire Strikes Back” in the scene where Han Solo and Leia say heartfelt goodbyes to each other before Han is encased in Carbonite. Leia professes her love and Han, in response, tells her, “I know.”

It’s a great line, and legend has it that Han’s portrayer, Harrison Ford, improvised the line on the spot and the film’s director, Irving Kershner, kept it in the film.

It’s a very popular legend. But is it true?
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Did Albert Finney Have A Hilarious Cameo as a Woman in Miller’s Crossing?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about movies and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the Movie urban legends featured so far.

MOVIE URBAN LEGEND: Albert Finney had a bizarrely hilarious hidden cameo as a woman within his own film, Miller’s Crossing.

Miller’s Crossing is a 1990 gangster film by the Coen Brothers…

In it, Gabriel Byrne plays the right-hand man to an Irish-American mob boss (played by Albert Finney) while also having an affair with his boss’s girlfriend (played by Marcia Gay Harden).

While everyone in the film is quite good, Finney’s Leo O’Bannon is certainly a stand out, especially a wonderful sequence where he fights off an assassination attempt while in his home in a robe listening to “Danny Boy.”

However, amusingly enough, this is not the only character Finney plays in the film!

In one of the early scenes in the film, Byrne’s Tom Reagan storms into a ladies’ restroom to confront Harden’s Verna Bernbaum.

This naturally offends the ladies within the room at the time.

Check out who one of the ladies is…

Yep, it is Finney dressed as a woman (click here for a larger version of the image)

I don’t know WHY he did it, but it sure is hilarious (and I assume that this is all the reason needed – that it was a funny bit)!

The legend is…

STATUS: True

Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is bcronin@legendsrevealed.com.

Was Good Will Hunting Originally an Action Thriller?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about movies and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the Movie urban legends featured so far.

MOVIE URBAN LEGEND: “Good Will Hunting” was originally an action thriller.

When it comes to films from original screenplays, it is sometimes shocking just how different the finished film looks from what was originally envisioned in the first draft of the screenplay. The Ghostbusters were originally time travelers, E.T. was originally a killer alien, “Snakes on a Plane” was originally a serious thriller, “Die Hard With a Vengeance” was once both “Lethal Weapon 4” and an original Brandon Lee starring vehicle!

That was the case for 1997’s “Good Will Hunting,” the smart and touching story about a math genius with a tortured past being forced to see a therapist and work through his many issues. Written by Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, the film ended up becoming a major hit and won its young writers (who also starred in the film) the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay.


However, amazingly enough, when Damon and Affleck first wrote the film, it was an action thriller! Read on to see how it all happened…
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What Surprising Film Got the Original Star Wars Into More Theaters Than Expected at First?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about movies and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the Movie urban legends featured so far.

MOVIE URBAN LEGEND: Fox made any theater that wanted to show the film The Other Side of Midnight agree to also show Star Wars.

As we have noted a few times over the years, like when George Lucas hired Alan Dean Foster to write a cheap sequel to Star Wars or when Lucas talked about how he was fine with killing Darth Vader because he didn’t think he was all that great of a character, in the time between the completion of the original Star Wars film and the release of the movie, there really was no way to know that the movie would be one of the most successful films of all-time.

The closer the film came to actually being released, it was more and more apparent that the film WOULD be successful, although no one knew just HOW popular it would become. However, that was long after they had to make their initial sales of the film to the theaters of the United States. When they did the initial sales of the movie, Fox did not know if they had a hit or not, so they actually made an unusual deal where they paired Star Wars with another film, a very different type of film called The Other Side of Midnight.
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