Have you ever wished for a list of the BEST forgotten films over the years? Here it is. We list the best movies that have been forgotten over the years. This will give you a great movie to watch on Netflix or Amazon Instant if you have no idea what to watch. Give us a chance to suggest a great film for you.
Steve Martin wrote Three Amigos (1986) (originally called The Three Caballeros) with Saturday Night Live Creator Lorne Michaels and Singer-Songwriter Randy Newman in 1980. Randy Newman also contributed 3 original songs for the film, but to this day, this remains to be the only screenplay he ever co-wrote. They planned on having Martin, Dan Ackroyd and John Belushi play the 3 main roles, but the movie got stuck in the creative process for a few years. Steven Spielberg considered directing this film in 1981, but chose ET instead. His cast would have been Steve Martin, Bill Murray and Robin Williams.John Landis came on board to direct and Chevy Chase and Martin Short were cast. If Martin Short were unable to do it, Landis said that he would have cast Rick Moranis in his place. Landis was a favorite director of Lorne Michaels and had previously directed Saturday Night Live alum movies; Animal House, The Blues Brothers, Trading Places, and Spies Like Us.
The first part of the movie deals with a studio and the 3 amigos being fired. Fran Drescher filmed several scenes for this, but all of them were cut from the final film. Interestingly, there’s some fun references in the film at this time, like when the 3 amigos sneak back into the studio they cross a billboard advertising the movie, The Dueling Cavalier, which is the movie made by Don Lockwood and Lena Lamont in the 1952 classic “Singin’ in the Rain.”
I have to add that the actor who played “El Guapo” was Alfonso Arau, and he is hilarious in the movie. He would actually go on to a successful directing career, directing Like Water For Chocolate, A Walk in the Clouds, and TV versions of Orson Welles’s The Magnificent Ambersons and John Grisham’s A Painted House.
Overall, I love this film, but I do wonder what film we would have had if John Landis were allowed to finish the post production of the film, but the studio was worried about the negative publicity as John Landis was going through court proceedings regarding the deaths of actors Vic Marrow, Renee Chen, and My-ca Dinh Le on the set of Twilight Zone: The Movie. That was an incredibly tragic accident, but I do think John Landis has proven himself to be a fantastic director and would have made an even better version of Three Amigos if he had been able to finish the film himself.
Not a lot of people have seen the movie, Runaway with Tom Selleck, but in my opinion, it’s a very under-rated and fantastic film. I love the high tech science fiction of the movie. It’s got some of the neatest gadgets I’ve ever see. Heat-seeking bullets that fly around buildings, remote control car bombs, and let’s not forget the robot spiders that kill by delivering a lethal dose of poison by syringe. The gadgets are all used by the bad guy, effectively and insanely performed by non-other than the lead singer of KISS himself, Gene Simmons. He’s so creepy in the film. So much so that during filming, an assistant director came up to Gene Simmons during the location shoot and said that one of the off-duty Vancouver police doing crowd control had pointed at Simmons and said, “better get him outta there”. Upon being assured by the assistant director that he was one of the actors, the cop continued, “I don’t know . . . if I shook hands with him, I’d count all my fingers”.
Runaway was directed and written by Best-Selling Novelist, Micheal Crichton, and he does a great job at staying at the fore-front of technology and science. People don’t see him as a film director because of the success of his novels, but he’s actually a really good director. His films include Coma, Westworld, The Great Train Robbery, Looker and my favorite, The 13th Warrior (uncredited).
Tom Selleck does a great job as always, and I have to admit I’ve never seen him do a crappy job acting, he’s incredibly good and consistent. His partner and love interest is played by Cynthia Rhodes, and may not be familiar to you but can also be seen in the movies Dirty Dancing and Staying Alive. She was married to christian rocker Richard Marx for several years and they have children together. I think she could have gone on to do a lot more movies after this one if she didn’t decide to settle down, she’s very good, especially in the scene where Tom Selleck is removing a live explosive bullet from her arm.
The first Highlander should really be considered…the only Highlander. After all…There Can Be Only One. Besides, let’s face it, all the rest of them stink and by association have messed up a perfect thing. The first one was glorious…great directing, great acting, great transitions and cinematography, great script…It’s just a perfect thing, all by itself.
Russell Mulcahy does a fantastic job with the direction of the film and I especially love the transitions from modern day to the past…they really add to the whole mood and atmosphere of the film. He’s got some really cool shots, like the camera swooping into a crowded wrestling arena to focus in on Connor MacLeod. Connor is played by Christopher Lambert and this is by far his best film, although my brother and I really liked him in a very over-looked little film called Fortress. Michael Douglas, Kevin Costner, Sting , Mel Gibson and Patrick Swayze were all considered for the role of Connor Macleod and reportedly, Kurt Russell was actually cast in the role but later dropped out due to the insistence of Goldie Hawn.
Sean Connery does a very good job, as always and is fun as Connor’s mentor Ramirez. Lee Van Cleef, Clint Eastwood, Malcolm McDowell, Gene Hackman, Michael Caine and Peter O’Toole were considered for the role of Ramirez before Sean Connery was cast. Now, the real stand-out in the film is Clancy Brown, who steals every scene he is in and just chews up scenery like nobody I’ve ever seen before. He’s just awesome as The Kurgan, Victor Kruger and is a top favorite actor of my brother and I ever since. When the film was in it’s early development, Scott Glenn and Roy Scheider were the top choices for the role of The Kurgan.
Also, who could forget the amazing music by Queen? Queen originally intended to record only one song for the film, but after viewing footage from the movie, they were inspired to write more. The band members each had a favorite scene and composed songs specifically for them. Brian May wrote “Who Wants to Live Forever” during the cab ride home after seeing the film, and Roger Taylor used the line “It’s a kind of magic” as the basis for the end title song.
This is such an under-rated movie, which is a real bummer, because it is awesome. Watched it again over the weekend and loved it — again. I seem to get more out of the film every time I watch it. This time around I was amazed at how good the driving in the film is. There was this one moment where Tom Cruise is driving up a parking garage and when they reach the top he does a spin and brakes at the same time to land perfectly within the lines of a parking stall. Then he jumps out, sure enough it’s Tom Cruise driving as the moment was all caught in one take. I re-wound it several times, it’s a perfect piece of driving.
I think the film got caught in the vortex that was Oprah’s couch. After he professed his love on national television, there were several years there where the media seemed hell bent on ruining Tom Cruise’s life. He just tried to ignore it and kept pumping out great movies, but there was a significant dip in attendance for his movies, as people on the street fell for the media storm and wrote him off as, “kookie”. I have personally been around Tom Cruise at several different times and always found him to be engaging, authentic and sincere. He’s extremely nice in person and I never felt like the media ever gave him a fair shake. Anyway, he never stopped putting out great movies and his audience is now back up to where it should be and he seems to be doing just fine again.
One thing can definitely be said about Tom, he puts everything he has into his movies and always seems to put out high quality work. No one can ever accuse him of “mailing it in”. Both Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz did a majority of the stunts on their own. Both Cruise and Diaz are avid drivers and have experience in doing sharp turns and 180’s. They trained very hard on the driving as they both share a love of racing. While Cruise and Diaz were promoting this movie they both appeared on the BBC’s Top Gear: Episode #15.5 (2010) where they competed in the traditional speed lap in the “reasonably-priced car.” Their respective time records were 01m:44.2s and 01m:45.2s. Diaz beat every previous time set (by people who weren’t professional racing drivers). Then Cruise drove and beat her time by a second – his car was on only two wheels going around the last corner! His time was equal to some of the F1 drivers who’ve gone around the track (in an ordinary car).
If you haven’t seen the movie, there’s a fantastic stunt on a motorcycle you just have to see. Cruise is driving and Diaz is behind him on the motorcycle and she gets the guns and comes around to face Cruise and shoots behind them at the cars chasing them. They really did this stunt several times for the film, and it’s a great scene. It’s a fun movie with comedy, romance and a lot of action. I highly recommend it and I hope it has a second life as a cult favorite on DVD, digital and Blu-Ray.
Several really great movies had their names changed right before release. Here are a few of my all time favorites: The 13th Warrior, While You Were Sleeping, Field of Dreams and Blade Runner.
The movie based on Michael Crichton’s novel, Eaters of the Dead was changed at the last minute to The 13th Warrior (1999). It’s the best single name change for a movie that I can think of, but to the dismay of the studio, did not help the film at the box office, which is a real shame, because the finished film is fantastic. It’s my favorite viking film ever.
They had a lot of problems with the film in production. The film was directed by John McTiernan, but after they were finished, the film got previewed by an audience and didn’t do well. Michael Crichton then took the film into hand and re-shot many scenes and re-edited the film, even going so far to recast the main villain to be a much younger and deadlier foe. Another thing that was changed completely was the score. The original score was composed by Graeme Revell and the new score was composed by Jerry Goldsmith. The studio lost faith in the film and after a lengthy post production, finally dumped the film into theatres with virtually no marketing. It was held off from release for two years.
The next one that I can definitely appreciate was originally titled Coma Guy and was changed at the last minute to While You Were Sleeping (1995). This one was Sandra Bullock’s breakout role and made her America’s sweetheart. It was a bit of a sleeper hit when it was released and no one was ready for the success of the film. The movie was directed by Jon Turtleltaub.
I love this movie, but I’m not so sure if I would have watched it with the original title, so good move studio. I loved the cast and thought they did a perfect job filling the roles. Early on in the process of casting a lot of famous faces were considered for the main roles of Jack and Lucy. Demi Moore, Julia Roberts, Nicole Kidman, Geena Davis and Jamie Gertz were considered before Sandra Bullock got the role of Lucy. Matthew McConaughey, Russell Crowe, James Spader, Dylan McDermott, Harrison Ford, Patrick Swayze, Dennis Quaid, and Pierce Brosnan were considered for the role of Jack before Bill Pullman was cast.
My 3rd favorite for title change was Shoeless Joe, which was finally changed to Field of Dreams (1989). I don’t think Shoeless Joe was a bad title, but it failed to convey what the film was ultimately about. Field of Dreams was directed by Phil Alden Robinson. Now this one has an unusual story behind the name change. When the studio previewed the film, of course the audience hated the original name, thinking it sounded like a movie about a guy with no shoes. So the studio made the name change to Field of Dreams and called Phil Alden Robinson and let him know. He was upset and called the writer of the book, W.P. Kinsella and “broke” the bad news to him. W.P. Kinsella was thrilled because his original title of the manuscript he turned into the publishers was called, Dream Field! The publishers had changed the title for publication, thinking Dream Field was too vague.
When it comes to underrated films, this would probably top my list, which is fitting because the magazine Premiere named this film as Top Twenty of Most Underrated Films of All Time, but was also included in the list, 1001 Movies You Must See before You Die, by Steven Schneider. Last film to have the legendary Burt Lancaster. What a great movie.
The last title change that I’ll mention is the original Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? which was changed to non-other than Blade Runner (1982). This one is 4th for me because I really do LOVE this title, but it doesn’t fit a movie poster very well. I’ve come to love the title, Blade Runner, over the years. Blade Runner was directed by Ridley Scott, based on a short story of the original title by Phillip K. Dick. I will say there’s a caveat, although because I was NOT a fan of the original film. The studio’s overlay of Harrison Ford’s voice ala’ Film Noir was not necessary. My brother and I prefer the Director’s Cut that came out a decade later.Speaking about the voice-over, for many years Harrison Ford refused to talk about the film, but he did contribute to the 2007 DVD documentary Dangerous Days: Making Blade Runner (2007), claiming he has reconciled with Ridley Scott and made his peace with the film. In fact, Ford says the thing he remembers most is not the grueling shoot or the arguments with his director, but being forced to record the voiceover which executive producers Jerry Perenchio and Bud Yorkin insisted be in the film. Ford doesn’t actually mention any names, but in discussing the voiceover which was used in the theatrical cut, he says it was written by “clowns”. In actual fact, Darryl Ponicsan was initially hired to write it, but his version was tossed out. Then Roland Kibbee was hired and his version is the one that was used.
It may not be a favorite film, because of these things, for Harrison Ford or the director, Ridley Scott, but it is, however the favorite film of Rutger Hauer. This was in part to one of the most brilliant improvised moments ever caught on film. Rutger Hauer’s speech as he “dies” was pieced together by the actor on the spot and is brilliant. Originally, Roy Batty was to have a lengthy monologue just prior to his death, as written by David Webb Peoples. Rutger Hauer felt this didn’t help in creating any dramatic impact in the scene, so he removed much, keeping the pieces he liked, and then added the last two lines, “All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain. Time to die.”
How about the perfect Double Feature…for a comedy set I would enter for consideration, Foul Play (1978) and Seems Like Old Times (1980), both featuring Goldie Hawn and Chevy Chase.
After a pair of successful screenplays like Harold and Maude (1971) and Silver Streak (1976), the studio decided to give Colin Higgens his first shot at directing and he came up with Foul Play. It was a hit and he would go on to have two more soon after with 9 to 5 (1980) and The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas (1982). That’s a pretty good line-up of films for any writer-director in Hollywood, it’s very sad that he died at a young age, as he could have gone on to do so many more great films.
Foul Play made bankable Stars out of Goldie Hawn, Chevy Chase and Dudley Moore. Dudley Moore was not the original choice for Stanley Tibbs as the role was originally written for Tim Conway, but he declined due to the sexual nature of the role. Dudley Moore was thrilled, however, because he was able to shine in the role and it started his American career with later films like 10 (1979), Arthur (1981) and Unfaithfully Yours (1984).
I love everything about this film, including all the music from the Mikado and I also remember that Barry Manilow had a huge hit with “Ready to Take a Chance Again” that is featured at the beginning of the movie. I was interested to learn that Steve Martin originally read for the role of Tony Carlson but lost the role to Chevy Chase. Steve Martin would go on to star with Goldie Hawn in 2 films later; Housesitter (1992), and The Out-of-Towners (1999). The Out-of-Towners is ironic as it was written by Neil Simon, who also wrote, Chevy Chase’s and Goldie Hawn’s next match-up, Seems Like Old Times.
I read a very interesting story on how Neil Simon prefers to work. Since he’s a play writer as well as a screenwriter, he prefers to do all rewrites as the actors rehearse the script/play, giving the actors news scripts before each rehearsal. This movie had a two-week rehearsal period in which during this time writer Neil Simon customized the screenplay to tailor the lead stars’ personalities. During the two-week rehearsal period, Simon observed the needs of his stars and was able to re-write portions of the script to better suit their individual personalities. “There is a terrific quality about Chevy [Chase],” says Simon, “He’s the bad boy in class. You never know what he is going to do. I tried to capture that in the script and in each day’s rewrites”.
This Neil Simon movie was written directly for the screen and was not based on a Neil Simon play as many of his other movies have been. For writer Neil Simon, working with Goldie Hawn, was a delight. Simon said of Hawn that she was a “…rare combination. She can be very funny and very sexy. She has a true appreciation of what’s funny and what’s bleak in life” and “She has the two main ingredients for a film comedienne: she’s funny and very sexy. Audiences respond on two levels to that. They are taken by it. She’s terrific to work with”. It’s interesting to note that Goldie Hawn’s role was originally written for Neil Simon’s wife, Marsha Mason and she was set to do the film originally with Burt Reynolds in the Chevy Chase role.This would be my favorite of the Neil Simon movies, but I very much liked the movies; Murder By Death (1976), The Goodbye Girl (1977), and Chapter Two (1979). Charles Grodin was fantastic in this movie as Goldie Hawn’s husband, and interestingly, has 2 other movies with Neil Simon, The Heartbreak Kid (1972) and The Lonely Guy (1984) which ironically as well, is a film starring Steve Martin.
Emmy Award-winning TV director Jay Sandrich was drawn to Neil Simon’s script because of the finely crafted writing. Sandrich said: “It’s the type of comedy that I had been doing for years, I understood it completely. I think it has a certain flair and the madcap quality that some of those 30’s pictures had, With writing as good as this, I knew that everything else would fall into place. In this particular script, although it’s very farcy and fast-paced, there are times when the relationships are very valid and very human; and that’s the important thing . . . that the audience care about these people and really believe that they can exist. I think Neil’s script is so well crafted that you could take out the jokes and play it as a drama”.
So now if you are wondering what two films to rent for a great double feature (in this day and age, download) try these two, as you won’t be disappointed with either. Great films! I would consider them, modern-day classics.
My brother and I always loved The Last Starfighter (1984). We re-visited it again last night in his backyard when we did the Sunday Night Outdoor Movie Night…really long title for a three family event that just consists of a Mickey Mouse Movie Screen, a digital project, DVD player, a boatload of chairs and a LOT of blankets. Anyway, it reminded me how much I really enjoyed this little film over the years and I really think it’s an overlooked and forgotten gem for family fare.
I will admit up front that a few of the scenes don’t hold up 30 years later like everyone coming to see Alex Rogan break the Starfighter record on their local trailer park arcade game. We kinda chuckled at that happening in real life. I think what we liked about the film when we were kids was the theme of being special and “the one” that permeates many of the films over the last couple of decades. It’s a simple theme, but resonates in just about all cultures over time.
The graphics don’t hold up as well either, but aren’t hard to watch like some of the other movies from this decade, and was the first film to have all the graphics produced through a computer. The real joy in the movie is the fantastic casting of the four main leads, Robert Preston, Lance Guest, Catherine Mary Stewart and Dan O’Herlihy all doing fantastic in their roles. Also, I think it’s the best film Nick Castle has ever directed but I love The Boy Who Could Fly (1986) and Tap (1989) as well.
The score of the film really stands out, by Craig Safan, and we both really love it. I have it in my playlist on my phone and Adam’s used it as his ringtone for years. You can recognize the main theme nowadays if you’ve ever been to Disney’s California Adventure and rode the Soaring Over California ride as it is the main theme of that ride now.Rumor has it that Nick Castle has been pushing for a sequel of the film for the past couple of years. I would be very interested in that. I think they should make sure that Alex Rogan and Maggie Gordon are still in it and maybe they are the ones that are training a “new” bunch of recruits to fight against the KoDan Armada. I would definitely see that movie.
Let’s just say up front, that I’m a big fan of how this group of guys made it into Hollywood. Sam Raimi, Bruce Campbell and Rob Tapert, being the main 3 went out and raised money from family and friends then went out to a cabin in the middle of nowhere and shot the original Evil Dead. As a young filmmaker I loved the idea of just getting a bunch of my buddies together and shooting horror or action and just having a blast and then…poof, magically a movie is made, released and successful our careers are on jet boosters…
Now, with that said, I know that’s not exactly what happened. They had a struggle with every part of that movie, especially after it was shot and put into post and then trying to get it out to the public. And at some point after all the struggle, they probably wished they had a lot more money and time and support to go back and do the movie the way that they would have preferred, after the first experience and then guess what? They were given that EXACT opportunity and the second time around they decided to not make a sequel…really, but a remake…as a comedy, this time. And they did it and the result is Evil Dead 2: Dead Before Dawn…which is a BRILLIANT and INCREDIBLE movie. It’s so fun, scary, crazy and everything great.
So again, it’s successful and the audience grows and gets even bigger on Video, so a company comes to them again and they are given an opportunity to do a direct sequel this time, and what do they do? They go out and add 2 more genres! The original was straight horror. The second was horror, comedy. The third they added Science Fiction (time travel) and Fantasy (witches, magic, demons) to go along with the comedy and horror. And guess what? They end up calling it, Army of Darkness. It works again! It’s both BRILLIANT and INCREDIBLE! Fantastic in all ways and so, so, so much fun.
Now the first one, I love the “making of” story about kids making their first movie and by itself is a very scary movie, but not a top favorite of mine. But those other two, Evil Dead 2 and Army of Darkness, together is some great crazy film-making at it’s best. Films, I would add, that would NEVER be made today. Studios wouldn’t know how to categorize them and wouldn’t know how to market them in today’s system. But they are crazy good.
Who do we have to thank for the making of 2 and 3? None-other than Stephen King! He liked the original so much, that not only did he give a quote for the marketing of the film, which also helped to sell it, he also convinced Dino De Laurentis to finance the making of number 2. Now the only reason I’m calling this a remake (there’s been a debate rolling for years) is simply because they replay the entire first movie in the first 10 minutes of #2 and mainly because it is a deep departure in tone by adding a great deal of comedy in the second one.
Now a side note about the title of the 3rd movie…they didn’t want to name it Evil Dead 3 for some reason and toyed around with calling it Medieval Dead (which I like a lot actually) but ended up putting Army of Darkness on all the marketing and posters and stuff and in the movie itself has the title come up with…”Bruce Campbell vs.” and then another title card comes up with, “The Army of Darkness.” Why didn’t the posters call it Ash vs. The Army of Darkness? Great title and is another reason I’m so glad that the new Starz series is called Ash vs. Evil Dead. Ties it back in together and truthfully I’m still a big fan, the series is great fun and to be honest, they can still go into the realm of Science Fiction and Fantasy if and when the series really gets rolling, which I would totally embrace. Right now it’s straight comedy-horror, but the possibilities are endless. Let’s see what season 2 gives us.
As for my thoughts on season 1, there were some great moments and ASH was by far the best thing about the series. Bruce Campbell is a personal favorite of mine, my brother and I have met and spoken to the actor on 3 separate occasions and on each one, we walked away bigger fans of his than going in. He’s a really top-notch person in real life and drop-dead hilarious and fantastic with people. If he ran for president, I’m serious, he would give anyone a run for their money, he’s than engaging, down-to-earth and likable. He was everything you’d want in a 50 year old Ash and more, and I found the series to be a great extension to the whole Franchise. Thank you for making it guys and for keeping the fans happy, we all appreciate it!
Adam and I have always been fascinated with and loved the move, The Thing by John Carpenter. The things we especially loved about it was the isolated feeling of the movie, the distrust between characters, the paranoia that creeps in and the ultimate scenarios that play out throughout the film to ferret out who is a “Thing” and who isn’t. It really ratchets up the tension in the film.
So with this in mind, I felt compelled to write down and share our experience with, or I should say our near-experience with the making of what was to be a prequel of sorts, but with what ended up with an identical title, (so as to confuse the audience even more; is it a prequel or is it a remake?!?) ultimately released to theaters in 2011.
Anyway, the film was released with some real nifty marketing posters by a young Drew Struzan who would gain fame with the Star Wars, Indiana Jones and Harry Potter posters he would paint later. It had some strong competition that year, but really grew an audience on video and my brother and I loved it right away and to this day I think it’s the best horror film ever made.
(Original Drew Struzan Concept For the Poster 1982)
So skip forward a couple of decades and Adam and I have written several screenplays by this time, written several book to script adaptations, and made a few films and even won an Emmy; generally seeing a spark of success which is very fleeting in Hollywood. Overall, feeling pretty good, getting our feet wet and having fun. In 2008, a company convinces Universal to let them produce a sequel to The Thing and posts in the trades a search for pitches and treatments for the production.
I have to admit, we got very excited about putting together a pitch for submission to see if we could possibly convince them to let us write the script. We do a lot of research when we do a script and this treatment was no different. We researched the location, the original film and story it’s based on and elements we wanted to put in our “prequel”. Our idea was pretty similar to what was eventually put onscreen when it comes to general plot. We loved the idea of telling the story of what happened at the original Norwegian Station that was a catalyst for bringing the “Thing” to Kurt Russell’s movie in the beginning. We also were excited to be able to make it possible to bridge the first film with a “third” film by providing a way for the “Thing” to hit the mainland at the end of our treatment.
We quickly outlined what we loved about the Carpenter movie; the isolation, the desperation, the paranoia, the suspicions and key scenarios playing out pitting different groups of people against each other, in this case the different nationalities that were at work within our version. I think the key thing that the new version got wrong was having a woman in the mix, I just didn’t think that worked and if we wanted to stay within the confines of the Carpenter version, we decided to keep it an all male cast.
Anyway, I’m going to let you choose for yourselves, if you think our version would have made for a fantastic companion to the Carpenter film, as I think it does. I’m going to print it here in it’s entirety. Now, just for history’s sake, you know up front they didn’t pick ours. We’re not even sure if we were in the running as we were never notified and none of our real elements seemed to make it into the film they ultimately made. Right or wrong they went on to make the film they decided would do best, but ultimately I think they made another mistake by naming it the same name as the Carpenter film. They should have added, The Thing: Exodus or something.
The Thing Prequel (Treatment by Adam Montierth and Donovan Montierth, All Rights Reserved 2008-2016)
ANTARCTICA – 1982
On a routine reconnaissance mission under the Ronne Ice Shelf, HMS VALIANT, a British Nuclear Submarine discovers an anomaly of dense mass hidden under the ice in the Antarctic. CAPTAIN JAMES MUNRO, a veteran of the British Fleet is notified as he feeds his pet mice. The Sub receives orders to investigate.
They drift along the Bentley Subglacial Trench at the lowest point of Antarctica and find a place thin enough for them to break through the ice and exit through the conning tower. As soon as the sub has settled, LIEUTENANT GILBRETSON, a big bear of a man, stations himself outside the sub and chain-smokes his way through several cigarettes.
A group of five MEN, including Captain James Munro, and Roald Amundsen, a reluctant midshipman recruited as an interpreter, leave Lieutenant Gilbretson, as well as the remaining 122 crew members, and hike five kilometers to the geological research facility owned and operated by the Norwegian Polar Research Establishment with eight current occupants; six NORWEGIAN, one GERMAN and one ITALIAN SCIENTISTS.
They convince the scientists to go out and do some core samples where they find a spaceship buried in the ice. Captain Munro, concerned, ventures back to the Sub to receive his orders. Meanwhile, the scientists celebrate the historic discovery with a video camera and prepare to take samples from the spaceship.
Waiting for orders, Amundsen discovers an alien creature, the THING, frozen in the ice not far from the spaceship. Under protest from Amundsen, the scientists cut the block of ice containing the Thing out of the frozen tundra and drag it back to the research station using a snow tractor. KEEGAN GYLDEN, a top Norwegian scientist cuts a thin sample from the skin of The Thing and places it in a plastic container.
Captain Munro returns from the sub with an armed force of ten GUARDS to secure the station and to prevent the release of information regarding the spaceship. His orders are to retain all scientists and to collect all data, samples and specimens from the craft, until a proper research team can be deployed from Great Britain to examine the find properly.
The scientists are prevented from communicating back to their headquarters and are confined to the facility. Mistrust and anger, begin to grow between the two groups. The scientists continue to examine what materials they have from the craft, while the guards keep watch over them from room to room.
The Thing from the ice block, given time to thaw, slowly comes back to life and takes his first victim, WILLIAMSON, a guard passing between rooms.
In the lab, Keegan removes the thin sample of The Thing and places it carefully on a slide and onto a microscope. He looks into the microscope. The sample appears to be moving. Keegan rubs his eyes and looks back into the lens when a shout is heard from the next room. Keegan and the GERMAN rush out of the room to see what is going on.
It is the room with the block of ice, now empty. ALBIN, one of the Norwegians, is yelling at two guards and pointing to the empty block. As scientists and guards enter the room they become angry over the missing creature. The scientists accuse the guards of stealing the Thing from the ice block and the guards are suspicious of the scientists regarding the missing guard. Tempers rage and the scientists are sent to their sleeping quarters. As they sleep, the Thing, as Williamson, visits several men in their rooms.
Williamson Thing reappears the next morning, seemingly normal, except for slightly odd behavior, Amundsen notices. This doesn’t seem to mend the friction between the two groups but the scientists are allowed to continue their research. The language barrier enhances the groups frustrations as Amundsen is the only one who can speak Norwegian and it becomes increasingly difficult for him to mediate between the scientists and the guards.
Captain Munro takes a few men to go and examine the spacecraft a little closer. They get down to the ship and crack open a hatch in the top and go in. In the dark, they turn on the flashlights and make their way down several corridors. The ship is a frozen disaster. The inside of the ship lay in ruins, wreckage everywhere.
They find what appears to be a corridor with cells. Heavy iron doors with locks on the outside and little glass windows. One of the cells is busted outward, as if something massive broke through the door. A few dead bodies lay scattered about, ripped and frozen. Red ice glints off the floors and walls. Frozen blood everywhere. Captain Munro looks at the familiar body pieces and gasps when he realizes…they’re human.
Back at the lab, the scientists go back to their work. The Italian, complaining about the working conditions, helps GUSTAV, a Norwegian, carry a metal panel from the ship over to a table just as Keegan gets back to his microscope. Keegan yells at the Italian to keep his voice down and peers down into the lenses just as the skin slice of the Thing explodes upward through the microscope and into Keegan’s eye.
Keegan’s head snaps back as the microscope explodes and he falls to the floor, dead. The Italian and Norwegian yell and scramble over to Keegan. Keegan’s eye dangles from the socket and blood pours from his head. A few scientists and guards rush in. Confusion erupts as the Italian attacks the guards thinking they have sabotaged their equipment and killed his colleague. They manage to subdue the Italian and handcuff him and Gustav.
The guards take the Italian and Gustav to another building and lock them into a room by themselves. Williamson stays to watch over them. Keegan’s body is taken to a room and covered with a sheet.
Captain Munro gets back from the spaceship and seems shaken. To try to ease tension, he sends a group of guards back to the Sub. Amundsen pulls him aside to let him know what’s happened. He takes him to view Keegan and then tells him that the men’s nerves are at their breaking points.
Meanwhile, in the room with the two handcuffed men, Williamson paces back and forth nervously as the Italian continues to barrage him with Italian insults. Gustav tries to calm him, but finally Williamson walks over to the Italian and faces him. The Italian shuts up. Just as he thinks Williamson is going to walk away, he opens his mouth and a long tentacle comes out and wraps around the surprised Italian’s head. The Thing starts to assimilate the Italian. Gustav freaks out and starts yelling at the top of his lungs.
A guard runs over from the other building and throws the doors open to find Williamson Thing and the Italian melted together. Gustav runs over to the guard and tries to pull a grenade from the guard’s belt, but Gustav’s handcuffs make it difficult for him to grab the grenade, and in his haste manages to only pull off the pin. When he realizes, he dives outside into the snow, leaving the guard fumbling with his belt to get the grenade off. A few seconds later the building explodes from the inside.
Captain Munro and Amundsen run outside just as the building bursts into a fireball. The remaining scientists and guards filter outside to see the aftermath. The scientists are asking Amundsen what is going on and the guards are all in shock. Confusion erupts as they grill Gustav as to what was happening. Capt. Munro stands in shock looking at the fire, when he notices Keegan Thing standing next to him looking at the fire as well.
Keegan Thing turns to face Captain Munro and reveals his eye still sitting on his cheek, but acting as if everything is normal. The guards and scientists all look at Captain Munro when he yells in surprise. Keegan Thing looks around as if confused as to what is wrong with him. Amundsen points at his face and mentions the eye.
When he does this, recognition sets into Keegan Thing’s face and the eye on his cheek looks up and then juts up from the socket on it’s own accord and begins to look where Keegan Thing’s normal eye looks. At this, a few of the guards pull their guns from their holsters. Keegan Thing’s not getting the response he’s expecting so the eye plunges back into his head, then he looks around again as if to say, “Is this right?”. The men back away.
Finally not getting anywhere, Keegan Thing’s head cracks open into a giant mouth and launches out at Gustav. The Thing quickly overtakes Gustav as he screams in sheer terror. After the guards overcome their surprise they open fire at the Thing. Wounded, it busts through the door and back through the building. The guards chase it into the main room, but the Thing disappears into the ceiling.
Everyone comes running back outside to get answers from Captain Munro. Captain Munro tries to calm everyone down and explains as best as he can that the alien from the spaceship must have been alive but dormant from his frozen state. Everyone, visibly shaken and upset, argues and rambles about what to do. Amundsen tries to interpret as best as he can to the Norwegians and the German. They all decide that they need to track the Thing down. They assign pairs of men, pass out guns and grenades and spread out to look.
Each pair of men take different areas of the station to try and find the Thing. They look down every corridor, store room and work shed, but find nothing. A man yells from the kennels and shots are fired. The guards and the scientists all run to the kennels to find the Thing in the middle of the room assimilating dogs. They open fire on the Thing and it stops moving as if dead.
Albin speaks to Amundsen that they should pull the Thing out to the snow and burn it. Amundsen translates to the group and they all agree. They get the snow tractor and pull the Thing out to the snow and pour fuel on it. As they all stand around watching, Captain Munro lights a match and the Thing goes up in flames.
Confused, the scientists and guards argue about what to do next. Amundsen mediates as best as he can when he realizes that MIKAHIL, one of the Norwegians is speaking perfect English. He asks him how he’s able to speak English fluently. The group gets quiet and stare at Mikhail Thing. The other Norwegians and the German all back up, scared. The guards take their lead and everyone distances themselves from Mikhail Thing and pull out their guns.
Mikhail Thing tries to explain himself, but nobody believes him. They know that he’s the Thing. He gets angry and lashes out at Albin and one of the guards shoots him. Mikhail Thing, jumps at Albin and he falls into the fire, screaming. The men scatter, afraid. The two remaining Norwegians and the German run into the main room, then the German gets into one of the labs by himself and barricades the door.
Amundsen runs out of bullets as they fight Mikhail Thing. He runs inside and finds an axe. Mikhail Thing disappears behind one of the buildings. Inside, the Norwegians step toward Amundsen and he threatens them not knowing who to trust. The guards and Captain Munro come inside and try to calm Amundsen down. He looks at everyone as if they could be the Thing. The guards rush him, trying to get the axe away from him. Amundsen swings the axe and hacks one of the guards in the leg, he goes down on the ground screaming.
HAYES, a guard, grabs Amundsen. Amundsen chop one of Hayes hands off. The hand hits the ground and Hayes holds his amputated arm in pain. The Captain holds the men off and tries to reason with Amundsen that their fight is not with each other but with the creature. Amundsen argues that anyone can be the creature, how can they trust anyone. Captain Munro talks to Amundsen to try and keep him busy while the guards step closer and closer. Finally they all jump on Amundsen and he takes one last swing and embeds the axe in the door.
They hold Amundsen on the floor until they realize that Hayes, who just moments ago got his hand amputated, now has two hands again. He is helping to hold Amundsen down. The guards look at his two hands then look at his third amputated hand on the ground. They look back up at him and Hayes Thing gives them a “what?” look. The amputated hand suddenly grows spider legs out of the fingers and two eyes pop out of the back of the hand. It crawls frantically towards the guard that is laying down bleeding profusely from his leg.
The guards all jump up and pull out their guns and point them at the Hayes Thing on Amundsen. Hayes Thing immediately runs out of the room and the men follow, firing. The man on the ground bleeding, screams as the spider-hand crawls over and embeds itself into his bleeding leg. His leg and the spider-hand fuse together as one, as the Thing attempts to assimilate him. Captain Munro shoots the bleeding man dead. His leg continues to move. Munro drags the body outside and throws it into the fire.
The guards come back and shake their head as if to say the Thing is gone. All men become paranoid and point guns at each other suspecting everyone of being the Thing. The Norwegians try to calm everyone down. They speak as Amundsen translates. They explain that the Thing is learning how to act human. He mentions that they can identify the men that are the Thing, by amputating fingers and seeing who’s grows back.
Reluctantly, everyone agrees. The Norwegians get a surgical kit out and with scalpels cut a finger off of everyone’s hand one by one. They all hold up their bloody hands to show that none have grown back. The remaining men; four guards, two Norwegians, Captain Munro and Amundsen are all human.
The lights and heaters in the facility go out. They run outside to the generators to find Hayes Thing and Mikhail Thing are destroying the generators together. The men open fire at the Things and they both go down as if killed. To make sure they pour fuels on the bodies and burn them in the snow as the Norwegians check the generators.
They explain to Amundsen that they are not repairable and only have a few hours left before everything at the station freezes. A dog comes around the side of the building and everyone realizes that they haven’t killed all of the Thing. The dog runs away. The Norwegians tell Amundsen that they can’t let the Thing live and that they will use the helicopter to find it and kill it. After they are done, they will fly to the nearest city. Captain Munro lets them know that the rest of them are going back to the sub to report what has happened at the station. The Norwegians take their guns and grenades and start the Helicopter. Captain Munro, Amundsen, and the rest raise their amputated hands in a four finger salute, signifying still human. The Norwegians return salute and fly away.
The four remaining guards, Captain Munro and Amundsen head out to the sub. Forgotten and barricaded in the lab, the German cuts his wrists knowing that the cold will kill him soon. Sadly, he cuts his own throat.
The men get back to the sub to find Lieutenant Gilbretson back outside waiting for them. Amundsen notices that he is not chain-smoking and casually asks him about it. Gilbretson looks at him confused. This alarms Amundsen and the guards all pull their guns on Gilbretson. Captain Munro tells Gilbretson that they will have to cut a finger off to prove he is human. Just as a guard goes to cut his finger off, Gilbretson Thing morphs into a GIANT THING and grabs the surprised guard and tears him in half.
The guards open fire on the Giant Thing and Captain Munro and Amundsen throw grenades at it. They find cover just as the grenades go off and open a fissure in the ice. The Giant Thing slips into the water and screams like a banshee. The salt water reacts as acid to the Giant Thing and it foams up and dies horribly, sliding back into the sea.
The three remaining guards, Captain Munro, and Amundsen enter the sub to find it a ghost ship, everyone is gone and the communications boards are destroyed. They are concerned but relieved that they are back aboard and seal the sub back up and make arrangements to go home. Captain Munro leaves one of the guards in charge and goes to get some sleep in his cabin. He finds his mice alright and feeds them. Just as Captain Munro lays down, one of the mice grows tentacles and lashes out.
Amundsen, still unnerved from his ordeal, seals himself in his room and begins to record his fresh thoughts into a tape recorder. Later, he makes his way back to the navigation room. The three guards and Captain Munro are busy at the controls of the sub. They all ignore Amundsen as he enters and they stare at a TV monitor which shows them what is outside the sub.
Amundsen, curious, peers to see what they are looking at. Underwater, outside the sub, they are scanning another spaceship. As the sub moves further, Amundsen sees more ships and what appears to be a spaceship graveyard. Deathly, dark and sinister ghost spaceships lay scattered along the bottom of the sea where they have fallen.
Amundsen looks at Captain Munro and notices that he has all of his fingers again. Smiling, Captain Munro Thing looks directly at Amundsen and begins to explain that he was a captive on a ship headed for another place long ago. He managed to take over the ship, but crashed here in the process.
Amundsen looks at the guards to see if they notice that the Captain is now the Thing. All of the guards turn to face Amundsen. Eerily, they all stare at him along with Captain Munro Thing, and speak to him in perfect unison.
They explain that they sent a distress signal and had wondered what happened to those that followed. They now realize that they landed here and the sea swallowed them up.
After sending the signal, when they couldn’t wait any longer, they exited the spaceship and the weather was too much for them and they froze. Until Amundsen came and found them in the ice. They tell him that now they will survive and take over the planet, thanks to Amundsen.
Amundsen pulls out a gun and points it at Captain Munro Thing, who smiles and says that it won’t be long before he joins them. Instead of shooting Captain Munro Thing, Amundsen quickly aims at the pipes above their heads and a stream of salt water fills the cabin. The Things all scream together and scramble to reach Amundsen and find cover. Amundsen seals them in the room and soon the Things foam up once again in a horrible death, ending Amundsen’s worst nightmare.
Beaten and worn, Amundsen quickly programs the subs computers to the nearest port. Soon the sub reaches land and is seen entering Christchurch, New Zealand harbor.
Off in the small confines of the sub, a small Mouse Thing grows tentacles and lashes out.
Now you can see from our version that we got some inspiration from Ice Station Zebra (1968), as they are also on a mission to get to one of the Science Stations, in that one under the guise of a rescue mission in ours, an exploration mission. This is great because we can now explore more of what’s underneath the ice, we maintain the claustrophobic feeling and now we also have a vehicle that can take the danger to the mainland for the possible 3rd movie.
Anyway, we would have loved to see our version as I think it really had a chance of creating a new Franchise for the film series and I for one would have LOVED to see the possible 3rd movie where the THING hits a population and then really can do some damage. Oh, well, I hope you liked our version too, we can only hope that someone somewhere gets the idea to keep this film series going again.
These are two of my favorite films of all time, and the saddest thing is that no-one seems to know about them! I mention them to people and no-one has ever watched the films. They’ve been overlooked and forgotten over time.
Peter Bogdanovich, being a huge film fan, loved the screwball comedies of old. A very good example of this type of film is Bringing Up Baby (1938) which has 5 main elements that make for a very successful screwball comedy; Cary Grant, the bumbling absentminded professor type, Katherine Hepburn, the smart crafty and manipulative woman that wants the Cary Grant character to fall in love with her at all costs, the object the Cary Grant character is after, in this case, a dinosaur bone, this is where number four comes in, the giant mix-up (helps to have a dog and leopard for this) and then last is very fast dialogue.
This formula has been repeated multiple times since and soon after developed it’s own genre within comedy, the screwball. I would argue that this wasn’t the first screwball comedy, Twentieth Century (1934) may have been first, but I’m not entirely sure if all the elements were in place. I will give credit to figuring out the formula to Howard Hawks, who really seemed to be great at putting together the right elements, just think about how he changed the Hildy Johnson role in the play The Front Page into a woman (Hildebrand turned into Hildegard) instead of a man and turned it into another fantastic film, His Girl Friday (1940) as an example of truly how good he was at it. I’m giving credit to the term screwball comedy due to the fact that to even be considered to be a so-called “screwball comedy” director Howard Hawks thought there couldn’t be any “normal” people in the movie, and that everyone had to be a “screwball.”
Now, let me take the opportunity to say that these elements are my opinion, but to me, seemed to be the five elements that make for a successful screwball comedy. If a screwball comedy is missing one of these items, it can still be a screwball but will be less successful.
All these elements are in What’s Up, Doc? and it’s no surprise that the title even includes “up” in both movies. The bumbling absent-minded professor is Ryan O’Neal,Barbra Streisand is the smart crafty manipulative woman, the object Ryan is after is a suitcase full of igneous rocks, the mix-up includes 3 other identical suitcases that include secret documents, diamonds, or just plain clothes, and finally it also has the incredibly fast dialogue.
As a side note, Barbra Streisand has gone on record to say she didn’t get this movie at all and thought the comedy wouldn’t work, she said she never knew what was really going on. She said recently, “I was just a hired actress on that film. Just following orders.” Which is truly a shame, because I think she was brilliant in this movie and really is a natural at comedy! Her instincts are dead on and she could have had a huge career in the comedy genre, but since she always felt a little awkward in the genre, concentrated on drama and thus we only have her in a handful of comedies. I think she could have rivaled Lucille Ball at comedy if she would have decided to go that way early on in her career. Not to say it hurt her at all, she’s a fantastic dramatic actor as well, I just wish we had more comedies from her.
It’s interesting to me that Katherine Hepburn had a similar experience on her film, Bringing Up Baby. She initially was so bad at comedy it drove Howard Hawkes crazy. They brought several people in to help her with her comedic timing, including Walter Catlett and even silent film comedian Harold Lloyd. She was a very fast learner, although, and Howard Hawks grew to respect Katharine Hepburn tremendously for her comic timing, ad-libbing skills and physical control. He would tell the press, “She has an amazing body – like a boxer. It’s hard for her to make a wrong turn. She’s always in perfect balance. She has that beautiful coordination that allows you to stop and make a turn and never fall off balance. This gives her an amazing sense of timing. I’ve never seen a girl that had that odd rhythm and control.”
As for Ryan O’Neal, his character being inspired by the stuffy professor played by Cary Grant in Bringing Up Baby, Ryan O’Neal had a chance to meet and speak with Grant. They had a great time talking, but the only advice he received in shooting the movie was to wear silk underpants. Both Grant’s and O’Neal’s characters were visually modeled after the silent film comedian Harold Lloyd. Another interesting note is Christopher Reeve based his performance as Clark Kent in four “Superman” movies on Cary Grant’s “David Huxley” from Bringing Up Baby, so you can make an argument that Clark Kent is also Harold Lloyd.
The final chase scene, an idea they had because of the one from the then recent movie Bullitt (1968) which was also filmed in San Francisco, cost $1 million to shoot (a quarter of the total budget), 19 days to shoot requiring 32 stuntmen resulting in 11 minutes of screen time. The segment with the giant pane of glass alone took four or five days to film. The plate glass bit was filmed at the junction of Balboa and 23rd Avenue in San Francisco’s Richmond District.
The fender bender Judy causes as she crosses the street to the Bristol Hotel was added on the spur of the moment. When no stunt cars were available, Peter Bogdanovich instructed a crew member to rent two cars and make sure he got collision insurance. Then he staged the wreck before returning the battered cars. If you see the moment in the film, it’s actually really scary to think how close they could have come to hitting Barbra, if they were just off by a few seconds.
This film has been given recognition as the first American film to have the stunt people listed in the credits at the end of the movie (the first film over all to have done this is the British movie, Moonraker). I’m not sure if this is entirely correct, as the stunt people over the years have just been given different credits as actors or such, but as for the actual “Stunts” credit, this may be true.
Now for the initial releases of these movies, Bringing Up Baby, was an unmitigated flop, going so far as to have Katherine Hepburn branded “Box Office Poison” the next year, but has since gained a following and made it’s money back. It’s now considered by many to be Howard Hawk’s best film. What’s Up, Doc? itself, was incredibly successful the year it was released, coming in third to The Godfather and The Poseidon Adventure, but sadly has been virtually forgotten over time.