Search this Site

Only days left until the
2020 Festival.

September 25, 26, 27, 2020

Print/Mail this page

Click the settings icon wheel-icon to access the print and email icons to print or email this page.

During intervals between movies at the 2013 Festival, a slide show was presented which included "trivia" about the films on the program. These were not reproduced in the book so are not otherwise available.

However, they are reproduced below. A thank you to Cathie Houston who uncovered these nuggets.

prince-achmed-posterThe Adventures of Prince Achmed

  • The Adventures of Prince Achmed  released in 1926 is one of the earliest feature-length animated films.
  • Only two Argentinean films, both now lost, predate it.
  • Creator Lotte Reiniger was born in 1899 in Berlin.  As a child she was fascinated with the Chinese art of silhouette puppetry.  She was only 23 years old when she made The Adventures of Prince Achmed.
  • In this film, Reiniger features a silhouette animation technique she had invented which involved manipulated cutouts made from cardboard and thin sheets of lead under a camera
  • Several avant-garde animators worked on The Adventures of Prince Achmed with Lotte Reiniger.  These included Walter Ruttmann, Berthold Bartosch and Carl Koch (her husband).
  • Reiniger was unusual in making conventional fairy tales rather than the more experimental or political works favoured by fellow members of the avant-garde.
  • In fact, her animation assistant Walter Ruttmann asked her why she did not make more political films
  • She replied “I believe more in the truth of fairy tales, than that found in newspapers.”
  • The story of The Adventures of Prince Achmed is based on elements taken from the collection of “1001 Arabian Nights,” specifically “The Story of Prince Achmed and the Fairy Paribanou” featured in Andrew Lang’s “The Blue Fairy Book.”
  • Lotte Reiniger required several years from 1923 to 1926 to make this film. 
  • Each frame had to be painstakingly filmed, and 24 frames were needed per second.
  • The Adventures of Prince Achmed was restored during 1998 and 1999 to its original colour tinting, and given a new orchestral recording of a compelling 1926 score by Wolfgang Zeller.

Follow the FleetPoster---Follow-the-Fleet

  • Follow the Fleet  was based on the very popular 1922 Broadway play “Shore Leave”  by Hubert Osborne.
  • This film was the fifth (of ten) dancing partnerships of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.
  • For the dance number “Let Yourself Go,” choreographer Hermes Pan scouted several talented amateurs from Los Angeles dance halls.  The best couple was spliced into the routine.
  • Follow the Fleet  was extremely successful at the box office and during 1936, Astaire’s recorded versions of “Let Yourself Go”, “I’m Putting All My Eggs in One Basket”, and “Let’s Face the Music and Dance” reached their highest positions of 3rd, 2nd, 3rd respectively in the U.S. Hit Parade.
  • Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers borrowed the most popular elements from their previous pictures together, but with enough variations to make Follow The Fleet  their second highest grossing film ever (next to Top Hat).
  • Follow The Fleet  made a profit of $945,000.
  • As was his custom, Fred Astaire began working on the choreography for Follow The Fleet  (along with Hermes Pan), months before filming started.
  • The comic dance duel “I’m Putting All My Eggs in One Basket” was created to replace a scene in which the stars were to insult each other while practicing a dance routine.
  • Instead, Astaire and Rogers developed a genial collection of dance mistakes that make it one of the screens best comic dance numbers ever!
  • During the fight scene in Follow The Fleet between Fred Astaire and Randolph Scott, Astaire, not skilled in movie fight scenes accidentally bloodied Scott’s nose. 
  • Astaire was mortified, but Scott remained pointedly nonchalant.
  • During the final dance sequences on the boat, it is possible to see Fred Astaire hit in the face by Ginger Rogers beaded sleeve.
  • The sequence was shot again 23 times in hope of capturing the magic of the take without the accident, but it wasn’t to be and the original take was used.

Disney Cartoons

  • The Band Concert (1935), was the first Mickey Mouse cartoon in colour.
  • The tune that Donald  Duck plays in this cartoon short, “Turkey in the Straw,” is the same tune that was played by Mickey Mouse in his first release, Steamboat Willie.
  • Donald’s sailor outfit has a total of 45 flutes.
  • In animation historian Jerry Beck’s 1994 poll of animators, film historians and directors, The Band Concert  was rated the third greatest cartoon of all time (the highest ranked Disney cartoon on the list).
  • In Mickey’s Rival (1936), the heart of Minnie Mouse is the prize in a feud between Mickey and Mortimer Mouse (a new rival for her affections).  Mortimer Mouse was designed to resemble Walt Disney himself.
  • Alice’s Wonderland (1923)  is Walt Disney’s short silent film in black and white, produced in Kansas City, Missouri, starring Virginia Davis.
  • This short was the first of Walt Disney’s famous “Alice Comedies.”  The film was never shown theatrically, but was instead shown to prospective film distributors.
  • Since the last part of the only known print of Alice’s Wonderland  is missing, composer Alexander Rannie created a conjectural ending, adding an additional 30 seconds to the film and returning Alice safely home to her mother.
  • Alice’s Wonderland  was Walt Disney’s first appearance on film.
  • In Mickey’s Circus (1936),  Mickey is a ringmaster of a circus for orphans.  Donald has a trained seal act with a baby sea lion who steals both the fish and the show.
  • This is Salty the Seal’s first appearance.
  • Mickey’s Garden (1935), is a highly imaginative little cartoon that almost becomes a horror film, what with its menacing menagerie of mini-monsters chasing Mickey and Pluto.
  • In Thru The Mirror (1936), Mickey has been reading Alice in Wonderland and falls asleep.  He finds himself on the other side of the mirror, where the furniture is alive, and dances with a pair of gloves and a pack of cards.
  • In Hawaiian Holiday (1937) the gang is on vacation and Goofy has some surfing problems. 
  • Brave Little Tailor (1938) contains the popular 1930s expression “Jiminy Cricket!,” a polite euphemism for “Jesus Christ!.” This expression would become the name of the legendary Walt Disney spokes-character who first appeared in “Pinocchio”.
  • Ferdinand The Bull was a short story written in 1936 by American author Munro Leaf.  Walt Disney adapted this story as a short animated film Ferdinand The Bull (1938), which won the 1938 Academy Award for Best Short Subject (Cartoon).

The Call of the WildCall Wild POSTER

  • The Call of the Wild  was the last film released under the 20th Century Pictures banner before it merged with the Fox Film Corporation to create 20th Century Fox.
  • Madeleine Carroll was originally slated for the female lead but she abruptly moved back to England and the role was given to 22 year old Loretta Young.
  • Like many  wilderness films of the era, the production was originally slated to film in the Southern Sierra Nevada near Sonora.
  • In fact, production had already begun when a warm front melted the snow and forced a hasty and expensive move to Washington state at the base of Mount Baker to resume filming.
  • The eighty members of cast and crew spent nearly a month on the site, battling several blizzards.
  • It was so cold that the oil in the cameras froze.
  • Food and tempers ran short during the filming of Call of the Wild.  Clark Gable became uncharacteristically careless about his punctuality on the set and his lines.  Gable and director William Wellman nearly came to blows during one on-set argument.
  • The married Gable found solace in the arms of his divorced and now single co-star, Loretta Young.
  • When Young discovered she was pregnant, Gable was discreetly told, and then Young’s mother Gladys went into full cover-up mode.  She whisked her daughter off to Europe on a “much needed vacation.”
  • Returning to America, Loretta was secluded in a small house in Venice California, while the family doctor gave notice to the studio that she was too ill to work.
  • The subterfuge was necessary because of the “morality clauses” that all stars had to sign with the studios.  Moreover, Loretta Young was known as one of the leading Catholics in Hollywood.
  • Mary Judith Clark was born November 6, 1935 and transferred to an orphanage.  Nineteen months later Loretta Young “adopted” the baby girl.
  • Judy was not told who her father was until 1966, and Loretta never publicly admitted the truth during her lifetime.
  • The world premiere of Call of the Wild was held at the Carthay Circle Theatre in Los Angeles and the audience were asked to give their opinion of the film.
  • This first preview audience would not accept the killing of Jack Oakie at the end of the film, so a new ending keeping Oakie alive was filmed before the national release of the film.
  • William Augustus Wellman (1896-1975) (who directed Call of the Wild), began his film career as an actor.
  • He worked on over 80 films as director, producer and consultant, notable for his work in crime, adventure and action genre films, often focusing on aviation themes, a particular passion.
  • Wellman directed the 1927 film Wings, one of two films to win the very first Academy Award for Best Picture.
  • Many actors disliked working with him, because he bullied them to get the performance he wanted.

Wuthering Heightswuthering-heights-poster

  • Samuel Goldwyn’s film Wuthering Heights is based on Emily Bronte’s classic English novel published in 1847.
  • The movie covers roughly the first 16 of the book’s 34 chapters.
  • Samuel Goldwyn claimed this film was his favourite production.
  • Wuthering Heights  (the film) was not a big financial success when it was first released.  It had to be re-released years later to earn a profit.
  • Goldwyn sent a film crew to northern England for images of the Yorkshire moors to help set designers recreate the story’s setting.
  • He also had them bring back heather plants to be replanted in California to give the film a more realistic “English moors” look.
  • The heather thrived in the California sunshine and grew to twice the height it would have in England.
  • Vivien Leigh desperately wanted to play the lead role of “Cathy”  in Wuthering Heights alongside of her then lover and future husband Laurence Olivier, but studio executives decided the role should go to Merle Oberon.
  • They offered Leigh the part of Isabelle Linton, but she declined and Geraldine Fitzgerald was cast.
  • Vivien Leigh accompanied Olivier to Hollywood while he filmed Wuthering Heights
  • Myron Selznick met her at his office and immediately arranged a dinner with Leigh, Olivier and his brother David O. Selznick.  Myron suggested Vivien might make a perfect Scarlett in his brother’s mega production Gone With The Wind, a role she secured, and for which she won her first Academy Award.
  • Merle Oberon and Laurence Olivier apparently detested each other.
  • Legend has it that when director William Wyler yelled “CUT!” after a particularly romantic scene, Oberon shouted back “Tell him (Olivier) to stop spitting on me!”
  • Olivier found the filming of Wuthering Heights to be difficult, but it proved to be a turning point for him, both in his success in the United States, which had eluded him until then, and also in his attitude to film, which he had regarded as an inferior medium to theatre.
  • The film's producer, Samuel Goldwyn, was highly dissatisfied with Olivier's overstated performance after several weeks of filming and threatened to dismiss him. Olivier had grown to regard the film's female lead, Merle Oberon, as an amateur; however, when he stated his opinion to Goldwyn, he was reminded that Oberon was the star of the film and a well-known name in American cinema.
  • Olivier was told that he was dispensable and would be required to be more tolerant of Oberon.
  • Laurence Olivier’s first takes were full of overacting and extravagant gestures.  Director Wyler stopped him and asked, “Do you think you are at the Opera House in Manchester?”  Olivier answered  with all his disdain for films, “I suppose this anemic little medium can’t take great acting.”
  • He was humbled when the entire cast and crew, including Wyler, burst out laughing.

Midnightmidnight-poster

  • Barbara Stanwyck was originally slated for the role of Eve Peabody, but was replaced by Claudette Colbert because of scheduling problems.
  • Mary Astor was a few months pregnant at the time of the shoot, forcing re-write to keep her off-screen or partially hidden.
  • Director Mitchell Leisen enjoyed working with Claudette Colbert, saying she “had elegant taste,” but he had to give in to her demand that she not be photographed from the right. 
  • “She had a crazy idea that her nose was crooked on that side.  I could never see the difference, but she was adamant about it.” This required elaborate blocking of cameras and actors. 
  • When John Barrymore was cast in the role as “Georges Flammarion” in Midnight, it was well known that his alcoholism would necessitate some accommodation.
  • This accounted for the presence in the cast of his young wife, Elaine Barrie,  in the role of “Simone.”
  • When he could not remember some of his lines, they were written out on blackboards just off camera.  Both Barrymore’s  legendary irascibility and sense of humour were well in evidence during the making of Midnight.
  • At one point a female assistant on set went into the ladies room, only to be confronted by the sight of Barrymore, his back turned, relieving himself.
  • “You can’t be in here,” she protested, “It’s just for ladies.”  He turned around and retorted, “So’s this!” 
  • The film Midnight is a concoction, light and airy as a classic French soufflé, and was the second screenplay by the great screenwriting team of Billy Wilder and Charles Brackett.
  • Later, when Wilder became a director, the two would write such classic, but serious films as Double Indemnity (1944), The Lost Weekend (1945), and Sunset Boulevard (1950).
  • Mitchell Leisen, one of Paramount’s most celebrated directors having helmed hits like Death Takes a Holiday (1934) and Easy Living (1937), was chosen as director of Midnight.
  • His popularity did not matter to Billy Wilder who was so incensed about Leisen having the temerity to change a word of his dialogue that he later insisted on directing all his screenplays himself.
  • Until the end of his life, an easy way to get Wilder mad was to mention Leisen’s name.

My Gal Salmy-gal-sal-poster

  • My Gal Sal is a highly fictionalized biopic of Gay-Nineties era songwriter Paul Dresser (1857 – 1906), the brother of celebrated novelist Theodore Dreiser (An American Tragedy, Sister Carrie).
  • Studio head Darryl F. Zanuck originally wanted Carole Landis to play Sally Elliot, but she refused to dye her hair red and declared she would only play the role as a blonde.
  • The movie mogul promptly moved her to a secondary role and borrowed Rita Hayworth from Columbia.
  • My Gal Sal established Rita Hayworth as a musical star and the movies leading “Love Goddess.”
  • Trained to be a dancer from childhood, Rita Hayworth moves through her movie musicals with dazzling confidence (Fred Astaire named her his favourite dancing partner).
  • Hayworth’s dancing partner in the number “On the Gay White Way” in My Gal Sal, is none other than Hermes Pan, the choreographer on the film.
  • My Gal Sal won the 1942 Oscar for Best Art Direction – Interior Decoration, Color, and was nominated for Best Music, Scoring of a Musical Picture.
  • In reality the “Sal” of My Gal Sal was based on Annie Brace, proprietor of a leading brothel in Evansville, Indiana, who was professionally known as “Sallie Walker.”
  • According to some historians, she and the colourful Paul Dresser had a love affair that lasted for many years until she became resentful of his relationships with other women.
  • Rita Hayworth and Victor Mature (who plays Paul Dresser in the film) had met a year earlier at work on the film Blood and Sand.
  • During the filming of My Gal Sal these married-but-separated lead actors, began a love affair.
  • Hollywood’s new “Dream Team” were expected to wed once their divorces came through.
  • Victor Mature however, was called into service by the Coast Guard, and while he was serving, Hayworth surprised everyone by marrying Orson Welles in 1943.

The Battleship Potemkinpotemkin-poster

  • The Battleship Potemkin was recognized from the start as a landmark work, both for its innovative use of montage and for its sheer power as propaganda.
  • The film is divided into five acts – “Men and Worms,” “Drama on the Quarterdeck,” “An Appeal from the Dead,” “The Odessa Steps,” and “Meeting the Squadron” – its structure deliberately recalling classical tragedy.
  • In addition to its innovative and much analyzed photography and editing, the film is noteworthy for its unusual mix of professional and non-professional actors, based on the principal of “typage” or casting primarily according to physical types.
  • Both Charlie Chaplin and Billy Wilder claimed The Battleship Potemkin was their favourite all-time film.
  • The Battleship Potemkin premieredat the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow in December 1925. 
  • The theatre exterior was decorated to resemble a battleship and the staff were dressed in sailor’s outfits.
  • The Battleship Potemkin was competing at the box office with Robin Hood (1922), an American movie, starring Douglas Fairbanks.
  • The Soviet government hoped Potemkin would earn more than Robin Hood in it’s opening week, as this would be a symbol of the revitalization of Russian arts after the Revolution.
  • Robin Hood won, but it was a close race.
  • Director of The Battleship Potemkin
  • Sergei M. Eisenstein (1889 – 1948)
  • The son of an affluent architect, Eisenstein attended the Institution of Civil Engineering in Petrograd as a young man.  With the fall of the Tsar in 1917, he worked as an engineer for the Red Army.
  • In the following years Eisenstein joined up with the Moscow Proletkult Theatre as a set designer, and then director.
  • Actor Konstantin Feldman, who played the part of the “student agitator” in The Battleship Potemkin, was actually a Menshevik activist in Odessa at the time of the mutiny, and was present on the ship during the later part of the mutiny.
  • He died in the Stalinist purges of the 1930s.

The Ringring-poster2

  • The Ring is one of Alfred Hitchcock’s nine surviving silent films.
  • This film was made at Elstree Studios, London by the newly established British International Pictures.  It was also the first film to be released by B.I.P.
  • Alfred Hitchcock was 28 years old when he directed The Ring.  It was his fourth film and his only original screenplay.
  • After directing two films that were adapted from stage plays, Hitchcock was frustrated and jumped at the chance to develop an idea of his own.
  • Alfred Hitchcock regularly attended boxing matches in London, England where he lived, and noticed that a good number of the spectators appeared to come from affluent backgrounds, dressing fashionably, mainly in white.
  • He also noticed that the fighters were sprinkled with champagne at the end of each round.
  • These were the two details that intrigued young Hitchcock and persuaded him to start work on The Ring.
  • The film’s title The Ring refers not only to the boxing arena, but also to the “wedding ring,” and to a suggestive snake “bracelet” which becomes the symbol of the love triangle at the centre of the film.
  • Lillian Hall-Davis was born in 1898, the daughter of a London cab driver.  She became a British actress during the silent era and featured in major roles in English films (she made two with Hitchcock – The Ring and The Farmer’s Daughter), and a number of German, French and Italian films.
  • Hall-Davis was not successful in making the transition to “talkies.” In 1933 her career had declined and she had numerous health problems.  She committed suicide that year at the age of 35.
  • Carl Brisson, born Carl Frederik Enja Pedersen in 1893 was a Danish film actor and singer.  He appeared in 12 films between 1918 and 1935 including two silent films with Hitchcock – The Ring and The Manxman.
  • He was married to Cleo Willard Brisson from 1915 to his  death in 1958, and was father of producer Frederick Brisson  and father-in-law of Frederick’s wife, actress Rosalind   Russell.

The Lady Vanisheslady vanishes-poster

  • To achieve a realistic effect, Alfred Hitchcock insisted that there should be no background music in The Lady Vanishes except for the beginning of the film, and at the end of the film.
  • The Lady Vanishes is the film debut of both Michael Redgrave and Catherine Lacey.
  • Acclaimed film-maker Francois Truffaut claimed The Lady Vanishes was his favourite Hitchcock film and the best representation of Alfred Hitchcock’s work.
  • In an interview with director Peter Bogdanovich, Alfred Hitchcock revealed that The Lady Vanishes was inspired by the legend of an Englishwoman who went with her daughter to the Palace Hotel in Paris in the 1880's, at the time of the Great Exposition.
  • The woman was taken sick and they sent the girl across Paris to get some medicine, in a horse-drawn vehicle, so it took about four hours, and when she came back she asked, "How's my mother?" "What mother?" "My mother. She's here, she's in her room. Room 22." They go up there. Different room, different wallpaper, everything.
  • And the payoff of the whole story is, so the legend goes, that the woman had Bubonic plague and they dare not let anybody know she died, otherwise all of Paris would have emptied.
  • Legendary writer, director, producer Orson Welles was so intrigued with The Lady Vanishes, he reportedly saw the film eleven times.
  • The Lady Vanishes was Hitchcock’s penultimate film made in the U.K. before his move to the United States.
  • Following three films that did not do well at the box office, the success of The Lady Vanishes confirmed the opinion of American producer David O. Selznick that Hitchcock indeed, had a future in making films in Hollywood.
  • The tune that Gilbert (Michael Redgrave) is humming in The Lady Vanishes is the “Colonel Bogie March,” made famous in the 1957 blockbuster The Bridge on the River Kwai.

Notoriousnotorious-poster

  • Alfred Hitchcock claimed that the FBI had him under surveillance for three months because Notorious  dealt with uranium.
  • The legendary on-again, off-again kiss between Cary Grant  and Ingrid Bergman was designed to skirt the Hayes Code that restricted kisses to no more than three seconds each.
  • Notorious was the first true love story Hitchcock made, rich in passion, deception, reversals, and obsession.  It was the significant start of his exploration of the themes, relationships, and techniques that would mark his mature work for the remainder of his career.
  • After the filming of Notorious had ended, Cary Grant kept the famous UNICA key.
  • A few years later he gave the key to his great friend and co-star Ingrid Bergman, saying that the key had given him luck and he hoped it would do the same for her.
  • Decades later at a tribute to their director, Alfred Hitchcock, Bergman went off script and presented the key to Hitch, to his surprise and delight.
  • Claude Rains at 5 feet 6 inches had to stand on a box for several of his scenes with Ingrid Bergman who was 5 feet 8 inches, and Cary Grant who was 6 feet 1 inch in height.
  • Always a manipulator of audience perceptions and expectations, director Alfred Hitchcock did a pretty audacious thing for 1945 (the year production on Notorious began) - right at the end of World War II, he created a sympathetic Nazi character in a romantic thriller involving German fascists living secretly in South America.
  • Not that Hitchcock portrays the activities and philosophies of the Nazis in a positive light or makes Sebastian (played by Claude Rains) the "hero" of the story. That distinction goes to Cary Grant as FBI agent T.R. Devlin, and there again, our sympathies are toyed with.
  • Assigned to enlist the American-born daughter (Ingrid Bergman) of a Nazi war criminal in a plot to trap the Germans, Devlin often appears cagey, tight, bitter, and apparently insensitive to the young woman's feelings and the danger she's in.
  • On the other hand, Sebastian is shown to be a cultured man who truly loves her, a put-upon, almost tender man with a domineering mother, fatally betrayed by the one person he cares most about. At the end of the movie, you almost feel sorry for the Nazi.
  • The domineering mother in Notorious prefigures many such figures in Hitchcock’s films, including Psycho (1960), The Birds (1963) and Marnie (1964).

Vertigovertigo-poster

  • Vertigo is based on the novel “D’Entre les Morts” (From Among the Dead) which was written specifically for Alfred Hitchcock by Pierre Boileau and Thomas Narcejac.
  • Vertigo  was poorly received by U.S. critics on its release. This film is now hailed as Alfred Hitchcock’s masterpiece.
  • Alfred Hitchcock was embittered at the critical and commercial failure of Vertigo  in 1958.  He blamed James Stewart for “looking too old” to attract audiences anymore.  Hitchcock never worked with Stewart, previously one of his favourite collaborators, again.
  • In 2012, Vertigo  replaced Citizen Kane in Sight & Sound critics’ poll as “the greatest film of all time.”
  • The word “vertigo” is only spoken once in the movie, towards the beginning by Scottie to Midge.  After that it is never mentioned again.
  • The words “power and freedom” are repeated three times in the film Vertigo:
    1. At the beginning Madeleine’s husband longs for the old San Francisco because there was more “power and freedom.”
    2. At the Argosy book store, Pop Leibel explains in Carlotta’s time a man could just throw a woman away because he had more “power and freedom.”
    3. During the climax of the movie, John suggests that after the murder was completed, Gavin left Judy because he had more “power and freedom.”
  • The flower shop featured prominently in the film, “Podesta Baldocchi,” has been in business in San Francisco since 1871.
  • San Juan Batista, the Spanish mission which features in key scenes in Vertigo doesn’t actually have a bell-tower – it was added with trick photography.
  •  Hitchcock reportedly spent a week filming a brief scene in the film where Madeleine stares at a portrait in the Palace of the Legion of Honor, just to get the lighting right.
  • Uncredited, second-unit cameraman Irmin Roberts invented the famous “zoom out and track in” shot (now called “contra-zoom” or “trombone shot”) to convey the sense of vertigo to the audience.
  • Costume designer Edith Head and director Alfred Hitchcock, worked together to give Madeleine’s clothing an eerie appearance.
  • Her trademark grey suit was chosen for its colour because they thought it seemed odd for a blonde woman to be wearing all grey.