Hollywood movies and their unusual stories

November 29, 2020

Author Simon Brew’s latest offering covers over 100 moments of screen history that you might have missed!

Every Hollywood buff knows that the shark in Jaws wasn’t real and that there were two different actresses who played Jennifer in the Back To The Future franchise, but how many of you know that William Shatner (uncredited and unseen) and Al Pacino shared the screen in Frankie and Johnny or that Dustin Hoffman and Robert Redford memorized each other’s dialogues in All The President’s Men so their interruptions came out as authentic. Not many people did. Not until I got my hands on Simon Brew’s The Secret Life of Movies, that is all about those movie things that most of us either missed or don’t know about.

Before you read this book, there is something you should know about Simon Brew, the author and founder of the Den of Geek website. He’s someone who is your go-to guy when it comes to stuff you didn’t know about movies, especially those flicks that you believe you have mastered through repeated viewings. Each instance in this book will make you drop your jaw in shock, because it will tell you things that were right in front of you on the screen, but you never noticed! From alternate endings to replaced actors, from writers’ and directors’ cameo appearances to films that helped create new laws, everything hush hush about Hollywood finds a place in these pages.

According to this well-researched treasure trove of ‘Hidden Hints, Motifs, References and Background Detail’, every great Hollywood film has a story. Steve McQueen had issues with his co-stars in The Great Escape, Stuart Little featured a long-lost painting that was worth more than the film and director Richard Donner held back the reveal of the pirate ship to get genuine reactions from the cast of The Goonies. Don’t be surprised to learn that Harold Abrahams never attempted the ‘Great Court Run’ as shown in Oscar-winning Chariots of Fire, or that the makers of Gone with the Wind chose Vivien Leigh’s double for the ‘Burning of Atlanta’ scene long before the actress was cast as Scarlett!

This is how Hollywood worked in the past and this is how they continue to make movies even today; before this book was published, people had no medium to confirm their suspicions but now they do. It tells the readers that there have been films that had deliberately hidden plot giveaways on-screen, but nobody noticed them until it was too late! Divided into many chapters, this book also covers stuff that was fixed in post-production (like the Superman mustache), on-set moments (smoking marijuana in Easy Rider), and crossovers (the Danny Glover-Mel Gibson one in Maverick) that you might have seen but don’t remember.

From discussing the exact time when something was done for the first time (the dolly zoom method was introduced in Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo), to presenting the missing link between Aliens and Batman, everything that you should know about Hollywood can be found within this book. You will also get to know how actress Julie Andrews won her battle against a helicopter in The Sound of Music, why actors’ movements in Baby Driver are in sync with the soundtrack, and why The Three Stooges’ cameo in It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad World is so shocking. Not only will this book make you re-watch your favorite film but the simple narrative will bring a smile to your lips, mostly for missing the obvious.

The author must be commended for compiling a perfect book that features the surprising, the accidental, the incidental, and even the damn right bizarre moments captured on film. After going through it, you would be able to discuss with friends the names of those movies that played with the studio’s logo, the inspiration behind the vault heist scene in Mission Impossible and the reason why the building destruction in the opening sequence of Lethal Weapon 3 looked so real.

If you are a movie buff then this is one book that should be part of your collection. From small references to visible clues, from reused sets to fictional places that don’t exist, this book covers everything you didn’t think was important enough to follow up on.


Omair Alavi is a broadcast journalist who can be contacted at [email protected]By Omair Alavi

Hollywood movies and their unusual stories