TMI – Movie Backdrops/Backings

August 1, 2022

Greetings again from the darkness. It’s unusual for a story on movies to mention such dissimilar films as Hitchcock’s NORTH BY NORTHWEST (1959) and the sci-fi cult favorite FORBIDDEN PLANET (1956), or two classics as diverse as SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN (1952) and BEN-HUR (1959). What could these four films, and thousands of others, possibly have in common? The answer is the magic and artistry of backdrops or backings – a history as old as cinema.

This February 2020 segment from CBS Sunday Morning is only about six minutes long, yet provides a nice overview of how these have been used, and are continuing to be used, to create some of the scenery that sets the mood for memorable moments from our favorite movies (as well as those we wish we could forget).

Thanks to reader BG for passing this along:


Update: Parkland trailer

August 21, 2013

The trailer for Parkland (2013) has finally been released.  As expected, the story focuses on the events immediately after the Kennedy assasination, with an emphasis on the hospital where he was treated. You will also note Paul Giamatti as Abraham Zapruder.

Here is my initial report from January of this year:

Watch the trailer:

THE SOUND OF MUSIC cast 1965 and 2013

April 30, 2013

The cast in 1965 and 2013

2/05/2021 UPDATE

Christopher Plummer passed away February 5, 2021 at age 91

Healther Menzies passed away 2017 at age 68

Charmain Carr passed away 2016 at age 73

Eleanor Parker passed away 2013 at age 91

(left to right):

Kym Karath (Gretl), Debbie Turner (Marta), Angela Cartwright (Brigitta), Duane Chase (Kurt), Heather Menzies (Louisa), Nicholas Hammond (Friedrich), Charmain Carr (Leisl), Julie Andrews (Maria), Christopher Plummer (Captain Von Trapp)

Sound of Music - then and now



April 18, 2013

hitch Anyone with an affection for Alfred Hitchcock movies is well aware of his proclivity for personal cameos … often just a quick glimpse of the great director.  He actually makes some type of appearance in 39 of his 52 movies, and the video below edits them together for a 5 minute look … starting with the 1927 silent films.  My personal favorites of these Hitch cameos have always been Lifeboat (1944), Strangers on a Train (1951), and The Birds (1963).

TMI: LIBERACE bio coming soon

March 12, 2013

March 12, 2013

TMI: Today’s Movie Info


liberaceDirector Steven Soderbergh is putting the finishing touches on Behind the Candelabra, an HBO film based on the story of Liberace and his partner of 6 years, Scott Thorson.  The film airs May 26 and stars Michael Douglas (yes, that’s him in the Entertainment Weekly cover photo) as the flamboyant performer known for his extravagant costumes.  Matt Damon will play Thorson.  In typical Hollywood fashion, Mr. Douglas is older now than Liberace was when he died in 1987.  Thorson was a teenager when he first met Liberace, and 24 when he filed his 1982 lawsuit.  While Matt Damon is a young looking 42, very few would confuse him for a twenty-something.  Debbie Reynolds, who once appeared on Liberace’s TV show, will play his mother.  No trailer is available yet.

TMI: THE GRADUATE poster switcheroo

March 7, 2013

March 7, 2012

TMI: Today’s Movie Info

It’s well known that the iconic poster from The Graduate (1967) featured not the stockinged legs of the movie’s star Anne Bancroft, but rather those of a 27 year old model named Linda Gray.  Of course, Ms. Gray went on to star as Sue Ellen Ewing in the hit TV series “Dallas”.  What’s not common knowledge is Ms. Gray’s claim that she was paid a whopping $25 for the modeling job that produced the poster.  Ironically, years later, she went on to star as Mrs Robinson in the London stage version of “The Graduate”.

the graduate

OZ: The old and new

March 5, 2013

Director Sam Raimi has a quasi pre-quel to the classic 1939 The Wizard of Oz opening nationwide on Friday March 8.  Because of production rights, Mr. Raimi was limited to the source material from L Frank Baum’s book and not allowed to borrow from the film. His cast includes James Franco, Michelle Williams, Mila Kunis and Rachel Weisz.  I won’t spoil the surprise of who is the Wicked Witch this time around, but just for fun, let’s compare the witches from the original to witches in this version.

The great Margaret Hamilton played the dual roles of the Wicked Witch of the West and Miss Gulch:

oz margaret hamilton





Here are the photos of the three witches in Oz the Great and Powerful

oz mila kunis   oz rachel weiszoz michelle williams




I’ll leave it to you to decide what the difference might be.

Here is the trailer:

filming PARKLAND in Austin, TX

January 16, 2013

This was posted January 2013.  In August 2013, the trailer was released and I posted an update:

Filming has begun on Parkland, a movie that will capture the chaos of November 22, 1963, the day President Kennedy was shot.  Based on Vincent Bugliosi’s book “Reclaiming History: The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy”, the adapted screenplay was written by journalist Peter Landesman, who also directs.   The movie should be released later this year to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the assassination.

Parkland Hospital in Dallas is where President Kennedy was taken after the shooting, and for the movie, Austin State Hospital will “stand in” for the hospital.  The film stars Paul Giamatti, Zac Efron, Marcia Gay Harden, Billy Bob Thornton and Jacki Weaver. It’s being produced by Tom Hanks’ production company.

My niece Hannah lives at Scottish Rite Dormitory and took some time to watch the filming at the nearby church.  Below are a couple of photos: one of Hannah on the set with some of the classic cars from the era, and another of Paul Giamatti in action.



Christmas movie mash-up

December 13, 2012

die hard “Ho-Ho-Ho.  Now I have a machine gun.”  Those words appear in a most creative manner, and jolt us back with a violent reminder  that the action in Die Hard is actually taking place during an office Christmas party!  The Christmas holiday … and all that entails … has played a role in countless movies over the years.  Some of these are sweet, some are funny, some are action-packed, some play to our family emotions and insecurities, some are downright crass, and many are blatant reminders of what’s really important in life.

The following Christmas movie mash-up was posted to YouTube and does a pretty interesting job of capturing the many approaches we have seen in this genre.  It starts nice and easy with Bing Crosby singing, and ends with the glorious sound of Judy Garland.  In between you will see a bit more action within the holiday spirit!

CASABLANCA – 70th Anniversary

November 26, 2012

 Leonard Maltin calls it a “perfect” movie. It appears on most all-time “Best of” lists and it had its world premiere 70 years ago today on November 26, 1942 in New York City.  Casablanca went on to win 3 Oscars for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Screenplay. The cast defined “stellar”: Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Paul Henreid, Sydney Greenstreet, Claude Rains and Peter Lorre. Dooley Wilson, who plays Sam the piano player, was in real life a drummer and couldn’t actually play piano (but that is him singing).   Director Michael Curtiz finished with more than 170 directing credits, and had some other acclaimed films (White Christmas, Mildred Pierce, Yankee Doodle Dandy), but this was clearly his career pinnacle.  There is so much more to say about the film, but I’ll save it for another time.  Just remember … “a kiss is just a kiss” …  “oh yes, the world will always welcome lovers, as time goes by“.