There are comedy movies, and then there are the comedy movies you can watch again and again. For many people, the best of them came out in the ‘70s, ’80s, and '90s. These are the films we saw growing up. Seeing them now provides a strong sense of nostalgia for how they made us feel the first time we watched them. Those years were especially fertile for the genre, as originality was highly prized.
What follows are fun making-of stories from a handful of those beloved films. You'll learn about unused endings, special effects secrets, off-camera hijinks, and much more.
- Photo: Paramount Pictures167 VOTES
Two Endings Were Filmed For ‘Bad News Bears,’ One Where They Win And One Where They Lose
The Bad News Bears is the charming and funny 1976 comedy in which Walter Matthau plays Morris Buttermaker, the drunken coach of a baseball team composed of foul-mouthed kids with questionable athletic ability. Against all odds, he leads them all the way to the championship, but only because he manages to find an amazing pitcher (Tatum O'Neal) and a skilled athlete (Jackie Earle Haley) who had previously been barred from the league for poor behavior. In the climactic game, the Bears face off against their rivals, the Yankees.
They narrowly lose, leading to the movie's most famous line of dialogue, in which one Bear tells the Yankees to put their trophy in an uncomfortable place. Under different circumstances, the outcome might have been different. Director Michael Ritchie wasn't certain how to end the picture, so he filmed two endings - one where the Bears lose and one where they win. According to actor David Stambaugh, who played Toby Whitewood:
For a long time we didn’t know how the movie would end, because they actually filmed the last play of the big game both ways. The one they used has Kelly (Jackie Earl Haley) getting tagged out, but they also shot footage of an extra man on base, Kelly making his home run, and the Bears winning the game. Michael Ritchie took some of us out to dinner a few days before the premiere, and that’s when he told us what had been decided.
- Photo: Warner Bros.261 VOTES
The Writer/Director Of ‘Better Off Dead’ Actually Attempted Suicide After Getting Dumped In High School
You probably couldn't make Better Off Dead today. It's a comedy about a depressed teen named Lane Meyer (John Cusack) who tries to take his own life after his girlfriend dumps him for the captain of the skiing team. Although he doesn't end up succeeding, there are several scenes in which he tries. The movie may make light of suicidal ideation, but it comes from a real place. Writer/director Savage Steve Holland has said that Better Off Dead is an “exaggerated true story” based on his own suicide attempt after getting dumped by a girlfriend in high school. One of Lane's efforts was directly based on his own, Holland said:
That part when Lane [tries to hang himself] in the garage is true. I went into the garage, and I put an extension cord on a pipe, and I'm on a garbage can, and I'm thinking “Should I do this? Maybe this isn’t a good idea.'" Anyway, it was a plastic garbage can, and my weight just like crashed through it, and I fell, and the pipe broke!
The ex who broke Holland's heart saw Better Off Dead and reached out to him six years later to apologize. She even said that she'd been in therapy for guilt over pushing him to that point.
- Photo: Universal Pictures391 VOTES
Nicolas Cage’s Experience On ‘Fast Times At Ridgemont High’ Made Him Change His Last Name
By now, most people know that Nicolas Cage is a member of the esteemed Coppola family. His uncle is Oscar-winning director Francis Ford Coppola and his grandfather was noted composer Carmine Coppola. If you've ever wondered why he changed his last name professionally, the answer can be summed up in five words: Fast Times at Ridgemont High.
Cage, who was just starting out, had a very small role in that 1982 teen classic, playing a fast food co-worker of Judge Reinhold's character, Brad. It turned out that being related to the famed director of The Godfather and Apocalypse Now earned him a certain amount of enmity from some of his co-stars. As Cage explained:
I was surrounded by actors, whose names I won’t mention, who were not very open to the idea of a young guy named “Coppola” being an actor. So that movie was instrumental in me changing my name because of the kind of unfortunate responses to my last name.
- Photo: 20th Century Fox4104 VOTES
Woody Harrelson Actually Hustled Wesley Snipes On The ‘White Men Can’t Jump’ Set
In 1992's White Men Can't Jump, Billy Hoyle (Woody Harrelson) cons streetballer Sidney Deane (Wesley Snipes) pretty badly. He pretends to be a goofy guy with no hoops skills. After making a bet that Sidney is certain he'll win, Billy demonstrates significant chops. He walks away with a nice chunk of change.
Life imitated art on the set. Harrelson and Snipes were engaged in a dunking contest that the latter was winning pretty handily. When Snipes went to his trailer for a while, Harrelson had a conversation with a member of the sound design team, who asked why he wasn't stretching beforehand. The actor realized that was a good question and began doing some stretches to loosen up. Suddenly, he was dunking the ball with ease. Snipes eventually returned, and his co-star went for the real-life hustle, pretending he still couldn't dunk until their bet became significantly high. Then he made his move. Harrelson said:
We upped the bet and upped the bet and then I slammed it. I'll never forget the look on Wes's face. That was a joyous moment.
Harrelson had a bit of extra help: the hoop wasn't regulation height (10 feet). “Just on a nine-and-a-half-foot rim. I couldn't do it on a 10-foot rim. But even on that, it was the absolutely peak, the top of my abilities...”