From time to time, oversights in the visual production of a movie become legendary. What we call "movie bloopers." This occurred to me a couple of nights ago while I was watching the old movie version of Neil Simon's Biloxi Blues. In a pivotal last scene, Christopher Walken, as the deranged Sgt. Toomey, threatens to kill the lead protagonist (Matthew Broderick). Walken and Broderick have a running commentary, standing outside in the rain, with Sgt. Toomey in his uniform showing a row of ribbons on his shirt, inclusive of the purple heart. Problem is, going back and forth in the discussion between the two, sometimes you see the ribbons on Walken's chest, and sometimes you don't. I imagine they were doing numerous takes and, in-between , the make-up people would put on and take off the ribbons. It became disconcerting. I watched the scene wondering where the ribbons were. How come, during the conversation, sometimes he had them on and sometimes not?
Compared to other movie bloopers, this was minor. I recall when I was in the Marine Corps in Camp Pendleton (California) we always watched one movie that made us go wild, clapping and cheering. That was a Clint Eastwood spaghetti western, For a few Dollars More, where in one scene, Eastwood as the silent, poncho-attired hero meets Lee Van Cleef in a showdown. Just before the gunfight, both men stare at each other in the middle of town, with the Sergio Leone music in the background, ready to draw their guns. And just before the shoot-out, a 727 jet plane flies over Eastwood's right shoulder. We young marines must have watched that movie a dozen times just for that one scene. Imagine, a setting in the Old West in the 1800s with a jet plane flying overhead. Precious.
But the most memorable movie blooper I recall was from the epic, Cleopatra, where Liz Taylor, as the Nile queen, says a tearful goodbye to Julius Caesar (Rex Harrison) just before he departs for Rome. A group of soldiers come to escort Caesar and salute him by snapping a fist to their chests. Well, one of the centurions is wearing a Rolex watch. Priceless. And this 2,000 years before wrist watches were invented.
Recently I discovered they were showing Cleopatra on a movie channel. I told my wife she just had to watch this scene with the Roman soldiers and the watch. Alas, the scene was cut from this version. I imagine, somewhere along the line someone picked up on it. But, once in a while, when a movie blooper like this happens, it just makes my day.
Labels: Biloxi Blues, Christopher Walken, Cleopatra, Clint Eastwood, Julius Caesar, Lee Van Cleef, Matthew Broderick, Sergio Leone