Little things you wonder about from old movies

When I was growing up, the local CBS affiliate played the Johnny Weismuller Tarzan movies every Saturday, or so it seemed, so I and my sisters watched them a lot. In many of these movies, Jane or Boy (Tarzan’s adoptive son) would be abducted by the villain of the piece, who would in turn get himself, and his captives, captured by the local cannibals, commonly called the JuJus. This would occasion Tarzan to escape from whatever deathtrap he was in that week and [del]intimidate[/del] rally a herd of elephants, pack of chimpanzees, or pride of lions to assist him in his rescue of his family and slaughter of the bad guys. As he approached, the captives would always be heartened when they heard Weismuller’s signature yell, and the JuJus would quake in terror.

Something I always wondered, watching this, was why the HELL did the JuJus stay where they were at that point? I mean, given their reaction to the yell, they KNEW it heralded the arrival of a pissed-off Tarzan, and what that meant. In such a circumstance, you’d think they’d say to themselves, “Okay, I need to either get the hell away from these hostages so I can plausibly pretend not to be involved in the evildoing hereabouts, or else hasten to their side and try to assist them so Tarzan will be grateful for my assistance. Not that he needs it, as he is Tarzan and has all the armies of the wildnerness at his command, while I am just a dude with a pointy stick.”

Also, why did the villainous great white hunters do anything to get on Tarzan’s bad side in the first place? I mean, he always began the movie by killing a rhino, lion, hippo, or crocodile single-handed, armed only in a knife, and frequently in the middle of a raging river. The great white hunter would frequently witness this. You’d think, upon witnessing this, the VGWHs woul say to themselves, "Okay, if we find ourselves at cross-purposes with this fellow, we should endeavor to negotiate. And by ‘negotiate,’ I mean ‘humbly ask his permission and slink away glad tobe alive if he refuses said permission.’ "

But that’s just me. What little things do YOU wonder about from old movies?

On the classic movie thread I mentioned that I have just seen The Maltese Falcon, and I do have a question–do the police have the tiniest shred of evidence linking Brigid O’Shaunnessy, if that is her name, with the murder of Archer? Is there any shadow of a doubt that a competent defense attorney could convince a jury that there is a reasonable doubt that Thursby shot him?

Should we assume that Spade will testify?

Woody Allen’s “Manhattan” was mentioned in another thread. What I’ve been wondering all these many years is: how is it he’s “dating” a high school age girl? Is it OK with her parents?? Do they even know their young daughter is “dating” a middle-aged old fart? Why, anyway - what’s the attraction for her? (thinking back to my own younger days, I wanted David Cassidy, not David Cassidy’s elderly father!) How did they hook up, anyway? Very distasteful, and a lifelong mystery,

That part, anyway, is explained simply by it being a Woody Allen movie.

Life imitates art, and vice-versa.

She’s more mature than any of the other characters in the movie.

Sure, but I don’t see how his testimony is particularly convincing.

[spoiler]He deduced that Brigid was the killer because he knew Archer “would never walk down an alley after a dangerous man with his overcoat buttoned.” While that would convince Spade, I have difficulty believing it would convince a jury, even if it was admissible.

The movie seems to suggest that whomever the SF police choose to arrest is going to do time, evidence be damned.[/spoiler]

OTOH, Jack Cassidy was a helluva lot better looking than Woody Allen.

The end of Rope. Stewart uncovers their plot, then says “You’re going to DIE!” then fires a single gun shot out the window. This starts a chain of events where people offscreen hear it, then you can hear the police sirens coming towards them.

I have a hard time believing that in NYC, even in 1948, that shot would prompt a call to police, or that the police response to a single gunshot would be that immediate, or that they’d know where to go, or that the the killers would be guaranteed a spot on death row based solely on that evidence.

Also, was the fine for drunk driving in New York in 1959 really only two dollars? (North By Northwest).

I have to disagree. But Cassidy did have a better singing voice.

We’re talking Humphrey Bogart here. :rolleyes:

I can believe it. If I shot a gun out of my window, you can bet that at least one of my next door, upstairs and downstairs neighbors would be calling the cops. If one of their patrol cars were in the vicinity, it wouldn’t take long before they were on their way. Things are speeded up a bit in the movie, but really, do you want to wait for five minutes in utter silence while waiting for the sirens to blast? The film’s all but over at this point, there’s not much purpose in drawing things out further.

Considering the evidence consists of: a dead body right in the middle of the young men’s living room, together with the rope used to kill him? How much more would they need to convict? Ain’t like they can claim self-defense or other mitigating circumstances.

Why were they Asian Elephants in Africa, for Christ’s sake? And why did the Jujus wait until they had to run through the wall of their hut?

Apparently this was a catch phrase from a Depression era vaudeville sketch by Willie Howard. In it a man who has been fined two dollars for spitting on the sidewalk has a lawyer who insists on fighting the case, leading to an escalation of sentences, and the client keeps on begging the lawyer to “Pay the two dollars!”


Yes. “Pay the two dollars” was still current as a phrase in 1959, and beyond. It basically means, “Shut up and take your punishment.”

I can forgive them for using Asian elephants, as they are much easier to train than loxodonts. Better the inaccurate but relatively-docile former than Maureen O’Sullivan getting killed by the latter; she was too pretty to die.*

But I’ll fanwank it anyway. Why were there Asian elephants in Africa? Because Tarzan told them to be there. Naturally upon getting his summons, they said, “Yes sir, very well sir, two bags full sir.” He was, after all, Tarzan, of whom even Chuck Norris is afraid.

*Yes, I know she died 11 years ago.

At the end of Rear Window,

why did the bad guy keep walking slowly after being blinded by the camera flash? After the first flash, he could’ve just tried to mask his eyes while waiting to regain his vision.

In Sunset Boulevard,

why doesn’t William Holden just take the hell off, when (1) he first discovers that Norma Desmond is a loony intent on making him her gigolo, or (2) when his new girlfriend shows up and invites him to just walk out with her and leave it all behind? It’s obvious she knows by now the nature of his living situation and it doesn’t matter to her. Any degree of being penniless would be better than staying there. He made a stupid decision and as a result got shot in the back. Dumbass!

I remember at least one movie in which they had false ears attached, to try to make them look African.

This explains Weissmuller’s ability to communicate with them: They were neither African elephants nor Asian elephants. They were Vulcan elephants!