Last Sixteen Insights

The Golden Age of Hollywood Mastodon Mega Movie Poll

Last Sixteen Insights

Citizen Kane is the first movie through to the Last Sixteen.

Many people assumed that the character of Susan Alexander Kane was based on Marion Davies, William Randolph Hearst’s mistress. This assumption was a major reason why Hearst tried to destroy Citizen Kane.

However, Orson Welles denied that the character was based on Davies, whom he called “an extraordinary woman”. He suggested that Susan was based on Ganna Walska, a six-times married opera singer, heavily promoted by her fourth husband, Harold Fowler McCormick.

The Golden Age of Hollywood Mastodon Mega Movie Poll

Dr Strangelove is the second movie through to the Last Sixteen.

It’s been claimed that the character of Dr Strangelove was based on Henry Kissinger, but Stanley Kubrick and Peter Sellers denied this. Sellers said: “Strangelove was never modelled after Kissinger – that’s a popular misconception. It was always Wernher von Braun.” Braun was a central figure in Nazi Germany’s rocket development. The USA recruited him (all sins forgiven) after World War Two.

Lawrence of Arabia is the third movie through to the Last Sixteen.

Albert Finney, virtually unknown at the time, was David Lean’s first choice to play T.E. Lawrence. Finney was cast, then fired after two days for reasons that remain unclear. Other actors considered for the role included: Marlon Brando, Anthony Perkins, Montgomery Clift and Alec Guinness.

Duck Soup is the fourth movie through to the Last Sixteen.

“Duck soup” was slang for “something easy to do.” Conversely, “to duck something” meant to avoid it. When Groucho Marx was asked for an explanation of the title, he quipped, “Take two turkeys, one goose, four cabbages, but no duck, and mix them together. After one taste, you’ll duck soup for the rest of your life.”

Casablanca is the fifth movie through to the Last Sixteen.

The actors did not know until the last day of shooting how the film was going to end. Screenwriter Howard Koch later acknowledged:

“When we began, we didn’t have a finished script. Ingrid Bergman came to me and said, ‘Which man should I love more?’ I said to her, ‘I don’t know, play them both evenly.’ You see we didn’t have an ending, so we didn’t know what was going to happen!”

The Wizard of Oz is the sixth movie through to the Last Sixteen.

Judy Garland suffered during the making of The Wizard of Oz. Various sources, including Time Magazine, reported that the studio gave her Benzedrine tablets to keep her weight down, along with uppers and downers that caused giggling fits. 

The director Victor Fleming slapped Judy during the Cowardly Lion’s introduction scene when Judy could not stop laughing at Bert Lahr’s performance. Once the scene was done, Fleming, reportedly ashamed of himself, ordered the crew to punch him in the face. Judy, however, kissed him instead.

Judy Garland: increased respect ✅

Class ✅

Vertigo is the seventh movie through to the Last Sixteen.

To satisfy the Production Code, a coda to Vertigo was shot by Alfred Hitchcock. The coda showed Midge at her apartment, listening to a radio report describing the pursuit of Gavin Elster across Europe. This coda was added because members of the Production Code said, “It will, of course, be most important that the indication that Elster will be brought back for trial is sufficiently emphasized.”

Hitchcock successfully managed to ditch the coda, but it is available on some DVD versions.

Singin’ in the Rain is the eighth movie through to the Last Sixteen.

The song ‘Singin’ in the Rain’ first appeared in The Hollywood Review of 1929. Performed by Cliff Edwards as “ Ukulele Ike”, the song was reprised at the end of the film by the entire cast in an all-colour sequence. This sequence was a last-minute addition to the film, shot late at night on June 10, 1929, just ten days before the premiere at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, a popular venue for movie premieres.

Some Like it Hot is the ninth movie through to the Last Sixteen.

The film was produced without approval from the Hays Code, a heavy-handed form of censorship that was in force until the mid-1960s. The Code objected to Some Like it Hot’s LGBT-related themes. The overwhelming success of Some Like It Hot is considered one of the reasons behind the retirement of the Hays Code.

The Grapes of Wrath is the tenth movie through to the Last Sixteen.

Executive producer Darryl F. Zanuck was nervous about the left-wing political views expressed in the story, especially the ending. Due to paranoia about anything left-wing, Zanuck sent private investigators to Oklahoma to establish that the movie was based on fact. The investigators discovered that conditions were far worse than those depicted in the film.

To Kill a Mockingbird is the eleventh movie through to the Last Sixteen.

Based on Harper Lee’s novel, To Kill a Mockingbird came to life in December 1949 when friends met at literary agent Michael Brown’s East 50th Street townhouse and gave Harper Lee a gift of a year’s wages with a note: “You have one year off from your job to write whatever you please. Merry Christmas.”

His Girl Friday is twelfth movie through to the Last Sixteen of our poll.

Director Howard Hawks encouraged his actors to be aggressive and spontaneous, and to ad-lib. On several occasions, the actors broke the fourth wall, which Hawks approved of. Using overlapping dialogue, Hawks’ aim was to break the record for the fastest film dialogue, at the time held by The Front Page. To improve her role, Rosalind Russell hired a writer to provide her with ad-libs.

Sunset Boulevard is the thirteenth film through to the Last Sixteen of our Mastodon movie poll.

Before selecting Gloria Swanson, the producers considered a number of actresses for the role of Norma Desmond. They included: Mae West (she didn’t want to portray a has-been), Greta Garbo (not interested), Pola Negri (the producers couldn’t understand her heavy Polish accent), Clara Bow (preferred retirement), Norma Shearer (didn’t like the script), and Mary Pickford (who would have been good, I think).

Personally, I wish that Clara Bow had been in the right frame of mind to accept the part. She would have brought her unique sparkle to the role. Also, it would have placed her at the forefront of the movie community again, and given her overall career the kudos it richly deserved.

2001: A Space Odyssey is the fourteenth film through to the Last Sixteen of our Mastodon movie poll.

Director Stanley Kubrick told author Arthur C. Clarke that he wanted to make a film about “Man’s relationship to the universe”, and was, in Clarke’s words, “determined to create a work of art which would arouse the emotions of wonder, awe and, if appropriate, terror.”

Clarke offered Kubrick six of his short stories, and by May 1964, Kubrick had chosen “The Sentinel” as the source material for the film.

Our fifteenth movie, Double Indemnity, was co-written by Billy Wilder and Raymond Chandler from a James M. Cain novel, which started life as an eight-part serial in Liberty magazine, 1936. Chandler realised that Cain’s dialogue did not translate well to the screen, so most of the dialogue in the movie was written by Chandler. Chandler made a brief appearance in the film, sitting outside an office, reading a newspaper.

Rear Window is the sixteenth film through to the Last Sixteen of our Mastodon movie poll.

Rear Window was shot entirely at Paramount Studios. An enormous indoor set replicated a Greenwich Village courtyard and included a massive drainage system to accommodate the rain sequence in the film. 

The address given in the film is 125 W. Ninth Street in New York’s Greenwich Village. However, the set was actually based on a real courtyard located at 125 Christopher Street.

1920s – 1960s