Go to IMDB, most of the big newer films have dozens of “goofs” but how many are there in Casablanca or The Bicylce Thief? One or two, if any. And usually goofs in older films are restricted to historical epics where the ancient Roman is wearing a brand of wristwatch that wasn’t produced until 44 BC or whatever. The only thing I can come up with is that these were maybe usually shot in sequence, or with fewer takes? I can’t imagine in 1940 film makers scrutinized the final product for goofs at all, let alone more so than today. Are there any classics made pre-1950, let’s say, set in the present with huge blatant mistakes, not along the lines of the usual things noted in IMDB like in the first scene the character is holding an unlit cigarette, then in the next scene the cigarette is magically lit! How did it happen, we did not see him lighting it?
It could be that newer movies are watched far more often, and hence come under closer scrutiny than old ones.
I don’t know enough about the shooting procedure to know what’s different today. But if you really want to see some old flubs, you might want to start with the fine works of Ed Wood.
Actually, I’d be willing to bet that it’s the other way around. Old movies probably have more minor continuity problems than new ones. Did they even have someone worrying about continuity back then?
I was watching Gunfight at the OK Corral last week, and I noticed at least one scene with glaringly obvious continuity errors.
Doc Holiday is sitting alone playing solitaire when Wyatt Earp enters and talks to him. During their convsersation, Holiday turns up (and plays on the board) the two of spades twice, and three black threes.
As for “major” goofs, I think you’ll have to define what you mean. My impression is that older movies had a greater allowance for suspension of disbelief. Costumes, sets, and props look fake, like they were used in a stage play just to give an idea of a thing, rather than to try to make it look real. Nowadays, those kinds of things would get marked as “goofs,” but back then, it was just how films were made.
If you look at IMDB’s goof lists, they tend to concentrate on popular action (Gladiator, Lord of the Rings) or Sci-Fi (Star Wars, Matrix, Independence Day) type movies. The ones people tend to watch repeatedly because of the cool effects, etc. That skews the results to the more modern movies.
Look at IMDB’s goof list for ID4, for instance. Someone noticed the weather patterns on USA Today were not consistent with summer, someone else noticed the chess pieces were in incorrect places. Do people look that carefully into movies like Pretty Woman or Sound of Music?
In general, the number of goofs listed is directly proportional to the popularity of the movie. That’s even true in older films: Duck Soup has an appreciable number of goofs, but A Night in Casablanca has only two listed. It makes sense: in order to report a goof, you have to see a film.
I just looked up Cain and Mabel, whose major goof is strongly documented in one of Michael Medved’s “Worst Films” books, yet it’s not listed in the IMDB. Again, few who contribute to the IMBD have seen it.
Also, since the real old films were shot almost entirely in the studio, it reduced the type of goofs that occur when you’re on location (someone waving at the camera, for instance). Also, many films were set in fictional countries, so there were no issues of historical errors.
I’d guess with the advancements in film-making, added costs, and higher production value there are multiple takes, multiple cameras, and lots of hi-tech editing to create a scene. I think there’s more chance of errors here.
Older films may have just been shot with a minimal amount of film and the editing not as intense. Therefore less room to flub it up.
Newer movies do have more takes, and also include a lot of detail that could be wrong. You don’t see the weather report on any newspapers in Casablamce. Details like that just don’t pop up as much, sl there’s less chance to get them wrong.
And I trust everyone is familiar with Casablamce. It’s a classic, famous for the line, “Plat iy agibn, Sma.” Interestingly, that line is never spoken in the movie.
You don’t say?
In addition to the above, newer films are more likely to be released on DVDs with commentaries. It’s hard to talk about a film you’ve just made for two hours with using anecdotes. Goofs make for good anecdotes.
My favorite line is when Louis says, “Rpimd i[ tje isia; sis[ects.”
I certainly think that’s part of it. Often you only notice a glitch after if you’ve seen a movie more than once. With cable movie channels, VCRs, and DVDs, there are more opportunities for you to view movies repeatedly and–in the case of VCRs and DVDs–stop, rewind, and freeze a scene when you something that looks off. You certainly couldn’t do anything like that in the pre-TV era when people mostly just saw a movie once in the theater or in the pre-VCR era when people would generally see certain older movies no more than a couple times a year on free TV.
I go along with the “old movies aren’t viewed often enough to find goofs” line of reasoning for some obscure B-grade noirs, but for the big classics, like Kane, Casablanca, etc. these have IMDB ratings in the tens of thousands, surely big mistakes would be spotted by now. I kinda like the theory that old films had fewer takes, and thus less chance for continuity gaffes, but I don’t have any support for it, other than the notion that movies in the 40’s had much shorter shooting schedules than they do know. I mean back then some of the bigger stars could knock out a few films a year, easy, in starring roles.
And Reality Chuck, if you are still around, can you advise the big error in Cain & Mabel?
Yup. They were known as “continuity clerks” and “script girls.” Nowadays usually credited as script supervisors.
Anecdotally, Bette Davis was somewhat known for monitoring her own continuity. For example, she was careful about extinguishing her cigarettes between takes so that they wouldn’t radically change lengths in the final assembled film.
Evidently there’s a member of the crew wandering around the set during the big production number. It wasn’t discovered until the editing, and it was too expensive to reshoot.
In Casablanca a bottle of Vichy water has a big VICHY WATER label on it, in English, in French-administered Casablana. That’s always kinda bugged me.
Is anyone else annoyed by the people who report a goof on the IMDB when, for example, there is an exterior shot of a Boeing 767-400ER and the interior shots are of a Boeing 777-200? I mean, I’m as big a geek as anyone, but come on, give the movie some kind of a break.
The classic film starring Emeril Lagasse?
I’ve mistyped Casablanca more than any other word. My fingers always want to put an “e” at the end. More words end in “ce” than “ca”, maybe?
at your “I meant to do that”. I usually go with a boring “Sorry!”
I vote with the folks who think we don’t notice the continuity errors in older films because they haven’t been watched as often as the newer ones.
I watch these on Turner Classic Movies rather than DVD, and I don’t watch that closely. I’m seeing them for the first time, so I’m more interested in what happens. If I watch again, I might notice stuff in the background, like cigarettes that burn down too quickly, or a car that’s a coupe in one scene and a sedan in the next.
“Sascha, I think Mr. Saoirse has had enough. Take enough money for his tab out of his pocket and find him a cab home.”