David Bruce: The Funniest People in Movies — Mishaps

Mishaps

• Jason Mewes is the comedic genius who plays the uninhibited foul-mouthed Jay to movie writer-director-actor Kevin Smith’s Silent Bob in such movies as Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back. Jay and Silent Bob made a short but memorable appearance in the excellent film Chasing Amy. Since Mr. Mewes had not been acting for a while, Mr. Smith worried that he would not have his lines memorized, so Mr. Smith told his crew that they might be working for a while, perhaps filming Mr. Mewes performing one line of dialogue, then pausing as he memorized the next line so he could perform it, and so on. However, when it came time to record the scene, Mr. Mewes sailed through his dialogue with no problem whatsoever, and it was Mr. Smith who kept forgetting his lines. Afterwards, the crew teased Mr. Smith, saying, “Oh, yeah, Kevin, we better watch out for this Mewes character — we’re gonna be here all night.”

• While filming a scene in the movie Awakenings, Robin Williams’ character was required to restrain Robert De Niro’s character. Mr. Williams heard a loud pop, knew that he had accidentally broken Mr. De Niro’s nose, and started exclaiming, “Oh, no! Oh, God! Oh, Jesus!” Director Penny Marshall thought at first that he was overacting, but as soon as she saw the blood streaming down Mr. De Niro’s face, she realized what had happened. Mr. De Niro insisted on filming the scene nine more times, because his doctor wasn’t available yet, and he knew that his face was going to swell up and he wouldn’t be able to film for a week. Of course, Mr. De Niro was annoyed by the accident, but his nose had previously been broken, and Mr. Williams broke his nose in such a way that it was pushed back to where it belonged. The accident actually improved Mr. De Niro’s appearance.

• Hollywood cameraman James “Jimmy” Wong Howe remembers a few bad times involving guns during his long career. Once, he was filming a prison from an airplane. He saw the prison guards pointing their rifles at him but figured that they were simply making the scene more realistic. Later, he learned that they had been shooting at the airplane because the permit allowing him to film the prison had not arrived on time. On another occasion, several Mexican extras were given blank guns to shoot in a battle scene. However, some of the extras didn’t like each other, so they actually put small pellets in the guns — 50 people were hurt.

• Mexico-born Nicholas Magallanes had a few mishaps in his ballet career. While taking a break during the filming of the ballet A Midsummer Night’s Dream, he chewed on a breath mint. When filming resumed, he was instructed to open his mouth wide, which he did. However, the scene had to be filmed again — his tongue was bright green. On another occasion, this time involving live dance, he was engrossed in a game of chess in his dressing room. Having neglected to listen closely to the music during the performance, he was shocked to hear his entrance music coming over the PA system — he flew to the stage.

• Laurel and Hardy’s Big Business is a short film classic. In it, Laurel and Hardy are selling Christmas trees, and they get into an argument with James Finlayson — an argument that results in Laurel and Hardy deliberately destroying Mr. Finlayson’s house. To make the film, producer Hal Roach rented the house of a vacationing family, paying them a large fee for the privilege of wrecking their house. Unfortunately, the film crew went to the wrong address — that of the house of a different vacationing family — so Laurel and Hardy wrecked the wrong house.

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Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

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