WASHINGTON, June 22, 2012 — Everyone loves a blooper and some humdingers have been made on TV, but the movies have their fair share as well. Here are six of my Favorite Flick Flubs. Feel free to share any gaffes you may have seen on the silver screen in the Comments section, but real ones, please, and not from books or search engines
Here, then, is …
6. The Invisible Man (1933) starring Claude Rains and Gloria Stuart. In this, his first motion picture, Claude Rains proves himself a marvelous actor. He did not, however, let himself get locked into sci-fi or monster movies. He would go on to deliver outstanding performances in such films as “Casablanca,” “Notorious” and “Mr. Skeffington.” The actress, Gloria Stuart, is best known for the 1997 blockbuster, Titanic. Amazingly, between these two motion pictures lies 64 years.
In “The Invisible Man,” a scientist discovers how to make himself invisible. But he slowly goes insane. (We know he’s insane because, although invisible, he never once visits the dressing room of the Rockettes like any normal invisible man would.)
At the end of the film when “they” are coming for him, he wants to get away. So he strips himself of all clothing and bandages. Unfortunately, he forgets that snow covers the ground, and thus he leaves imprints with each step.
Flick Flub: The imprints he leaves behind in the snow are not those of feet. Rather, even though he had removed all his clothing, they are shoe prints.
5. Spartacus (1960) starring Kirk Douglas and Jean Simmons. A powerful motion picture with a cast of thousands and great scenes such as, “I’m Spartacus,” “I’m Spartacus,” “I’m Spartacus,” etc. If you don’t know the scene, you need to see the movie again or watch the video below. No money was spared in accurately depicting the historic period. And yet, an extra dab of makeup was not implemented.
In one scene, the handsome Kirk Douglas and the lovely Jean Simmons visit in a prison dungeon, with the beautiful “Love Theme” playing in the background. Something very much amiss is in evidence, however, upon her person. (Note: I was privileged to meet Ms. Simmons during the World premiere of “Spartacus” in its restored version, in 1991, at the Uptown Theatre in Washington, D.C. )
Flick Flub: On her left arm can be seen an obvious vaccination mark. In keeping with her natural beauty, it is perfectly shaped. Nevertheless, if you don’t know what’s wrong with a vaccination in the days of the Roman Empire, you might want to read the biography of Louis Pasteur and watch Dr. Oz for two weeks.
4. North By Northwest (1959) starring Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint. In one of Hitchcock’s unique scenes (not the one on Mt. Rushmore), Mr. Grant is being pursued by a crop-duster plane. He is wearing a gray suit. When he runs from the diving plane, he is wearing a gray suit. When he hides in a cornfield he is wearing a gray suit. When he tries to stop a tanker truck bearing down on him, he is wearing a gray suit.
Flick Flub: When the truck knocks him down (or, rather, knocks down his stand-in) and he jumps up, he is wearing a brown suit. One has to wonder how he was able to change suits so quickly beneath the oil tanker. Sorry, Hitch, we all make mistakes, but this one is for “the Birds.”
3. Casablanca (1943) starring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman. One of the greatest and most popular movies of all time. But there are a few missteps along the way. The most glaring to me is when Rick (Bogart) recalls to Ilsa (Bergman) the day the Germans marched into Paris. “I remember every detail. The German’s wore gray, you wore blue.” Ilsa replies, “Yes. I put that dress away. When the Germans march out, I’ll wear it again.”
So we know that Ilsa has been saving a blue dress. Later in the film, we see a flashback to that seminal day at La Belle Aurore. And there is Rick in a dark suit, and there is Ilsa in a light…suit.
Flick Flub: She describes a dress she has been saving when, in actuality, it would have been a suit. (Jeers to Ted Turner for colorizing this classic film, but cheers to him for at least giving her suit blue.)
2. Bullitt (1972) starring Steve McQueen. The three best auto chases in film are in “The French Connection,” 1971, set in New York; “The Seven Ups,” 1973, set in New York; and “Bullitt,” set in San Francisco. Many movie fans would put “Bullitt” in the No. One spot. But once you’ve checked and seen what I’m going to tell you, it’ll bring a smile to your face and, most likely, drop the movie lower on your “cut to the chase” chart.
Flick Flub: McQueen’s green 1968 V-8 Ford Maverick, in this famous chase, passes the same little green putt-putt VW four times.
1. The Goodbye Girl (1978) starring Richard Dreyfuss and Marsha Mason. A classic in the tradition of the romantic comedy. After the inspiring actor, Elliott Garfield (Dreyfuss) had to play Richard III as a gay misfit, he staggers home drunk. He feels he has made a mockery of the great Shakespearean play and of himself. In his drunken angst, he says he wants to kill himself and lunges toward the window and opens it.
Flick Flub: In the process, he bumps into a large table, which holds all sorts of objects, including a typewriter. Everything, including the typewriter, falls off the table and onto the floor with a resounding crash. The camera shoots to the window where Marsha is focused entirely on dragging him back inside. And when we see her pull him inside, everything is neatly on the table, including the typewriter.
To me this is the most glaring of my Favorite Flick Flubs. The “continuity girl,” as they were called at that time, undoubtedly fell asleep on this one.
Much as I love the movies, one little eye in the back of my brain is always looking out for a gaffe, an inconsistency, an incongruity, an anachronism…a fun flick flub.
Vance Garnett’s writings have appeared in major newspapers and magazines. They have won the praise of such luminaries as Paul Harvey, William Safire, and Shirley Povich. Vance has shared his life experiences and knowledge of D.C. with the Washington Historical Society, the Kiwanis clubs of the Washington area, and on WAMU’s “Kojo Nnamdi Show.”
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