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A Constant Goof in Movies Set in the Past is ...


Palmerin
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... that the women do not look at all like women of that particular period, but look instead like women of the decade when the movie was made.

In INTOLERANCE and the BEN-HUR of Niblo the women don't really look like women of past history, but instead like flappers who are dressed up for a costume party. Similarly, in THE BLUE MAX Ursula Andress wears hairdos and makeup of the 1960s, not of the time of WWI.

This goof also happens with men to a lesser extent. How many Westerns of the 1950s do you remember in which the men clearly wear 1950s' style crew cuts?

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... that the women do not look at all like women of that particular period, but look instead like women of the decade when the movie was made.

In INTOLERANCE and the BEN-HUR of Niblo the women don't really look like women of past history, but instead like flappers who are dressed up for a costume party. Similarly, in THE BLUE MAX Ursula Andress wears hairdos and makeup of the 1960s, not of the time of WWI.

This goof also happens with men to a lesser extent. How many Westerns of the 1950s do you remember in which the men clearly wear 1950s' style crew cuts?

In Westerns, all the men have on cowboy hats most of the time, so what's the relevance of the hairstyle under the hat?

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I would say hair-dos and slang are the more standard "constant goofs" in most movies and TV shows.

 

I've seen "made-for-TV" movies that were SUPPOSED to take place in, say, 1870's west, where the guy is sporting the same style of "Part down the middle, feathered sides" hair do that just about every high school guy was wearing at the time.  Of course NOT the MOVIE'S time, but the time the movie was SHOWN( 1970's!). 

 

Sepiatone

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I would say hair-dos and slang are the more standard "constant goofs" in most movies and TV shows.

 

I've seen "made-for-TV" movies that were SUPPOSED to take place in, say, 1870's west, where the guy is sporting the same style of "Part down the middle, feathered sides" hair do that just about every high school guy was wearing at the time.  Of course NOT the MOVIE'S time, but the time the movie was SHOWN( 1970's!). 

 

Sepiatone

So how exactly WERE men wearing their hair in the 1870s? Was there a town barber in Dodge City? If he gave a lousy haircut, would he be blasted with the guy's six guns?

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So how exactly WERE men wearing their hair in the 1870s? Was there a town barber in Dodge City? If he gave a lousy haircut, would he be blasted with the guy's six guns?

Well, there WAS a common part down the middle, but NO "feathering" of the sides, Sort of like Ashton Kutcher's '70's Show character.  Either that or slicked back and greasy.  Thomas Haden Church's character in TOMBSTONE got it pretty much right.

 

Sepiatone

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While there have always been misinterpretations and always will be, I noticed it more for women.

I think it is strange that ALL women have been shaving their legs and under their arms since 1 Million BC.  Must have been really painful.

Another one that is very much era respective for males is military haircuts.  Far too many movies made in 60's, 70's and 80's had males with way too long hair.  Of course, some of the females also had very non-regulation haircuts. This still persist in many movies.  Also applies to many law enforcement roles.

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The Tiki Family finds many "blunders" that make us laugh through some of the most serious of movies.

 

Since we all have handgun experience, our favorite is the "pumping" action of an actor's arm shooting a pistol, usually seen in gangster movies. Our beloved Cagney is the most outrageous at this.  How do they ever hit their target? Bette Davis even held her arm straight in the opening of THE LETTER.

 

Even when seeing a film in a theater, all 3 of us will "pump" our arms & laugh quietly to ourselves.

 

Another favorite of mine is horsey stuff in movies. You watch ROBIN HOOD or other period pieces and the horses are wearing western saddles with blankets over them as "medieval" camouflage. The bridles are also western, with the long shank bits and one ear sling.

I realize the horses were extras rented from nearby dude ranches but sometimes they'd wear English tack when it was called for in a movie. But any riding earlier than 18th century is always tarted up with funny costuming.

 

Driving horses are always portrayed accurately, there IS only one style harness throughout history with the only difference being draft tack vs light travel tack. It's fun seeing ancient chariot driving in movies-no one in their right mind would get in one of those-SO unstable!

 

Horsey stuff, like hairstyles you just have to go with the story and forget about it. It's not that important. When you compare accuracy of movies today with movies from 30 years ago, it's almost getting too nitpicky.

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Two points, one from theology:  Artists try to adjust things to the period they're working in. For example, Albert Schweitzer wrote an important book, The Quest for the Historical Jesus, in which he reflects on how artists of different periods have painted Jesus to look like a man of the artist's time and place, not of Jesus' own time.

 

Also, most filmmakers don't go to the extremes of Erich Von Stroheim, who made the actors wear underwear appropriate to the period!

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Movies are fantasy- and sometimes being to historically accurate might be to realistic for the sensors or make the stars look bad.   Even in current tv series set in the past- the male actors all looks as if they spend hours at the gym working on their abbs and every one has perfect teeth.

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The Tiki Family finds many "blunders" that make us laugh through some of the most serious of movies.

 

Since we all have handgun experience, our favorite is the "pumping" action of an actor's arm shooting a pistol, usually seen in gangster movies. Our beloved Cagney is the most outrageous at this.  How do they ever hit their target? Bette Davis even held her arm straight in the opening of THE LETTER.

 

Even when seeing a film in a theater, all 3 of us will "pump" our arms & laugh quietly to ourselves.

 

Another favorite of mine is horsey stuff in movies. You watch ROBIN HOOD or other period pieces and the horses are wearing western saddles with blankets over them as "medieval" camouflage. The bridles are also western, with the long shank bits and one ear sling.

I realize the horses were extras rented from nearby dude ranches but sometimes they'd wear English tack when it was called for in a movie. But any riding earlier than 18th century is always tarted up with funny costuming.

 

Driving horses are always portrayed accurately, there IS only one style harness throughout history with the only difference being draft tack vs light travel tack. It's fun seeing ancient chariot driving in movies-no one in their right mind would get in one of those-SO unstable!

 

Horsey stuff, like hairstyles you just have to go with the story and forget about it. It's not that important. When you compare accuracy of movies today with movies from 30 years ago, it's almost getting too nitpicky.

 

Well, Tiki, you notice the stuff that piques your interest or you know a bit about.  I know nothing about horses except that they **** when they walk and otherwise look beautiful.  Know SQUAT about handguns.

 

But I DO play guitar( not so much lately but plan to get back to it).  It kind of galls me to see an actor who doesn't play  hold one in a movie and do a scene in which we're supposed to believe he's playing it, but somehow, magically the CHORDS are changing without him moving his fingers!  I also get amused when I hear, in a movie with a scene that takes place in a nightclub with a seven or ten piece band and some man or woman starts singing a song, and you can clearly hear a string section start playing, but NO string section can be SEEN, nor is there room for one in the club! 

 

Sepiatone

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The Tiki Family finds many "blunders" that make us laugh through some of the most serious of movies.

 

Since we all have handgun experience, our favorite is the "pumping" action of an actor's arm shooting a pistol, usually seen in gangster movies. Our beloved Cagney is the most outrageous at this.  How do they ever hit their target? Bette Davis even held her arm straight in the opening of THE LETTER.

 

Even when seeing a film in a theater, all 3 of us will "pump" our arms & laugh quietly to ourselves.

 

Another favorite of mine is horsey stuff in movies. You watch ROBIN HOOD or other period pieces and the horses are wearing western saddles with blankets over them as "medieval" camouflage. The bridles are also western, with the long shank bits and one ear sling.

I realize the horses were extras rented from nearby dude ranches but sometimes they'd wear English tack when it was called for in a movie. But any riding earlier than 18th century is always tarted up with funny costuming.

 

Driving horses are always portrayed accurately, there IS only one style harness throughout history with the only difference being draft tack vs light travel tack. It's fun seeing ancient chariot driving in movies-no one in their right mind would get in one of those-SO unstable!

 

Horsey stuff, like hairstyles you just have to go with the story and forget about it. It's not that important. When you compare accuracy of movies today with movies from 30 years ago, it's almost getting too nitpicky.

The "Tiki Kid" has handgun experience? Like Davy Crockett--"killed him a b'ar, when he was only three"?

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Stars in Westerns with contemporary hairstyles, perfect white teeth, always clean, etc. doesn't bother me.  The filmmakers, at least during the studio era, wouldn't have wanted their actors to look how real people from the Gold Rush era would have looked.  Having Errol Flynn (which was a stretch as it was seeing how he wasn't even American) with matted, gross hair, dirty clothes and rotted teeth (if they weren't missing already!) isn't going to bring in audiences.  Having the actors look attractive in their western garb adds to the "romanticized" Hollywood version of the era, which is what I personally like.  Westerns aren't my favorite genre; but there are a few here and there that are interesting.  It seems that many of the Westerns made after the studio era ended tried to make their actors look more realistic.

 

A mistake that I do think can detract from the film is when the costumes don't match the era being portrayed.  Someone cited Good News as an example of this.  I agree, the 1920s have such unique fashions and it was a shame they chose to outfit everyone in contemporary clothing.  Maybe they thought nobody would notice.  Another example of this would be in the film Suzy.  This 1936 film takes place during WWI; but the actors are clearly wearing clothing from the 30s. 

 

I know many people will cite automobiles, guns, etc. that were not available during the era portrayed.  Example: "That car they're driving is clearly a 1942 Studebaker, but this film is supposed to take place in 1940!" I don't know cars well enough to be able to make these types of observations; unless the film is from the 50s and supposed to take place in the 30s and they're driving around Chevy Bel Airs; that would be pretty obvious. 

 

Most films have some sort of continuity errors, which I figure happen as a result of editing.  An actor will have a coat slung over a chair back in one scene and all of a sudden, it's gone.  Those kinds of things. 

 

There's a fun mistake in The Adventures of Don Juan; aside from Errol Flynn's earring moving ears (maybe Don Juan had both ears pierced?).  In the beginning of the film, when Don Juan, mistakenly identified as "The Duke" is escorted back to London.  The filmmakers used stock footage from The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex to show the caravan walking through the town.  However, Flynn, who in had appeared in 'Elizabeth and Essex' nine years earlier is clearly in the front of the pack in armor.  Flynn's Don Juan character is in the back of the pack.  Here we have a 1939 Errol Flynn escorting a 1948 Errol Flynn through town.  Not that the two Flynn's are ever seen in the same scene; but it is amusing. 

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Anachronisms in the movies was spoofed in The Party (1968), in the scene where Hrundi Bakshi (Peter Sellers) is filming a historical drama, and the director had to call "cut" because Bakshi was wearing an underwater watch. :)

There are many of those in the movies-- actors forgetting to take off watches and other technology that wouldn't be available.  I think in Braveheart, there are many actors in the battle scene who are clearly wearing watches.

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There are many of those in the movies-- actors forgetting to take off watches and other technology that wouldn't be available.  I think in Braveheart, there are many actors in the battle scene who are clearly wearing watches.

 

I haven't seen Braveheart (well expect when flipping stations);   Can one really see watches in the battle scenes?   Now filming that type of scene is very expensive so I can see why they wouldn't film them again,  but if one can really see watches some extras should never have work again after that performance!  

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I haven't seen Braveheart (well expect when flipping stations);   Can one really see watches in the battle scenes?   Now filming that type of scene is very expensive so I can see why they wouldn't film them again,  but if one can really see watches some extras should never have work again after that performance!  

I believe so.  They were in the battle scene.  I do not wish to endure having to watch Braveheart again in order to look for watches; but I'm fairly certain.  I think in Glory, when they drive past the slave plantation, one of the slave kids has a digital watch on.

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Stars in Westerns with contemporary hairstyles, perfect white teeth, always clean, etc. doesn't bother me.  The filmmakers, at least during the studio era, wouldn't have wanted their actors to look how real people from the Gold Rush era would have looked.  Having Errol Flynn (which was a stretch as it was seeing how he wasn't even American) with matted, gross hair, dirty clothes and rotted teeth (if they weren't missing already!) isn't going to bring in audiences.  Having the actors look attractive in their western garb adds to the "romanticized" Hollywood version of the era, which is what I personally like.  Westerns aren't my favorite genre; but there are a few here and there that are interesting.  It seems that many of the Westerns made after the studio era ended tried to make their actors look more realistic.

 

A mistake that I do think can detract from the film is when the costumes don't match the era being portrayed.  Someone cited Good News as an example of this.  I agree, the 1920s have such unique fashions and it was a shame they chose to outfit everyone in contemporary clothing.  Maybe they thought nobody would notice.  Another example of this would be in the film Suzy.  This 1936 film takes place during WWI; but the actors are clearly wearing clothing from the 30s. 

 

I know many people will cite automobiles, guns, etc. that were not available during the era portrayed.  Example: "That car they're driving is clearly a 1942 Studebaker, but this film is supposed to take place in 1940!" I don't know cars well enough to be able to make these types of observations; unless the film is from the 50s and supposed to take place in the 30s and they're driving around Chevy Bel Airs; that would be pretty obvious. 

 

Most films have some sort of continuity errors, which I figure happen as a result of editing.  An actor will have a coat slung over a chair back in one scene and all of a sudden, it's gone.  Those kinds of things. 

 

There's a fun mistake in The Adventures of Don Juan; aside from Errol Flynn's earring moving ears (maybe Don Juan had both ears pierced?).  In the beginning of the film, when Don Juan, mistakenly identified as "The Duke" is escorted back to London.  The filmmakers used stock footage from The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex to show the caravan walking through the town.  However, Flynn, who in had appeared in 'Elizabeth and Essex' nine years earlier is clearly in the front of the pack in armor.  Flynn's Don Juan character is in the back of the pack.  Here we have a 1939 Errol Flynn escorting a 1948 Errol Flynn through town.  Not that the two Flynn's are ever seen in the same scene; but it is amusing. 

I am willing to excuse historical characters having perfect teeth. Can you imagine how ridiculous the Robin Hood of Flynn would have looked if his dazzling smile was ruined by yellow teeth, let alone missing teeth?

As for INTOLERANCE, the women from the stories set in the past look awfully 20th century. Certainly the Mountain Girl hardly looks like anybody's idea of a woman from Babylon.

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...Griffith always has his actors look the part.

 

Really?!

 

Why, I had NO idea that K lan members ever wore plumber's helpers on their heads?!!!

 

birth.jpg

 

(...ya see, THIS is why I love this place...ya learn somethin' new every single day!)

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... that the women do not look at all like women of that particular period, but look instead like women of the decade when the movie was made.

 

Wasn't there a lady guest programmer on TCM that said hairstyles of past eras, in movies, are SUPPOSED TO BE of the era in which the film was made, such as the 1960s?

 

We had a big discussion about this, about a year or so ago.

 

It was difficult to believe that she said such a thing, but a lot of us heard her say it.

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I find the 60s the worst offenders of this.  Especially the women.  No matter what the time period, the women have 60s hair and make-up.

It seems to me that a number of period films made in the sixties (like old westerns) had "hip" current 60's music soundtracks. That may have been a good idea when the films were first released but watching them today it seems really ridiculous.

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