Behind the Scenes: All-Time Top 20

The “Behind the Scenes” articles have become increasingly popular in the Blog. This used to go out under the more generic title of “Other Stuff” but now, whoopee, is a category of its own. As regular readers will  know I am fascinated about the problems incurred in making certain movies. In many instances, a “Behind the Scenes” story was backed up by another article on how the book was adapted into a movie or how the film was released. In the Blog, these stories run one after the other, but in the book I wrote I put them all together to make access easier.

Perhaps one of the more interesting aspects of this category is that every now and there is out of nowhere massive interest in the making of a particular movie and it shoots up the all-time tree. Most of the material has come from my own digging, and sources are always quoted at the end of each article, but occasionally I have turned to books written on the subject of the making of a specific film.  

  1. (5) The Girl on a Motorcycle (1968). Cult classic starring Marianne Faithful and Alain Delon had a rocky road to release, especially in the U.S. where the censor was not happy.
  2. (3) The Satan Bug (1965). The problems facing director John Sturges in adapting the Alistair MacLean pandemic classic for the big screen. One of four Alistair MacLean titles in the top 20.
  3. (1) The Guns of Navarone (1961). The ultimate template for the men-on-a-mission war picture with an all-star cast and enough jeopardy to qualify for a movie of its own.
  4. (NE) Waterloo (1970). Massive flop but intriguing reading, based on a book on the subject.
  5. (NE) Ice Station Zebra (1968). A complete cast overhaul and ground-breaking  special effects are at the core of this tale.
  6. (NE) Cast a Giant Shadow (1965). Producer Melville Shavelson wrote a book about his experiences and this and other material relating the arduous task of bringing the Kirk Douglas-starrer to the screen are related here.
  7. (2) Spartacus (1961).Not so much about the making of theStanley Kubrick epic, but about the rival Yul Brynner version.
  8. (NE) Secret Ceremony (1969). Quite how director Joseph Losey persuaded uber glam-queen Elizabeth Taylor to go dowdy in this creepy drama.
  9. (NE) Cincinnati Kid (1965). Sam Peckinpah sacked as director, nudity controversy, Sharon Tate and Steve McQueen, what a combination.
  10. (NE) The Ipcress File (1965). The other iconic 1960s spy picture that brought Michael Caine fame.
  11. (NE) In Harm’s Way (1965). Otto Preminger black-and-white epic about Pearl Harbor and after.
  12. (19) Genghis Khan (1965). A venture into epic European filmmaking with an all-star cast led by Omar Sharif.
  13. (NE) The Biggest Bundle of Them All (1968). Raquel Welch, release delay controversy.
  14. (NE) Battle of the Bulge (1965). There were going to be two versions, so the race was on to get this one to the public first.
  15. (NE) Valley of the Dolls (1968). Sensational story behind the sensational adaptation of the sensational bestseller.
  16. (NE) The Secret Ways (1961). A family affair – star Richard Widmark was producer and sometime director, his wife wrote the script. Not necessarily what author Alistair MacLean intended.
  17. (NE) The Wicker Man (1973). Cult film and its release problems.
  18. (NE) The Birds (1963). The most controversial film Alfred Hitchcock ever made.
  19. (NE) Once Upon a Time in the West (1969). How Sergio Leone put together what is now acclaimed as the greatest western ever made.
  20. (NE) Hour of the Gun (1967). Complicated story behind the re-telling of the gunfight at the O.K. Corral.

Author: Brian Hannan

I am a published author of books about film - over a dozen to my name, the latest being "When Women Ruled Hollywood." As the title of the blog suggests, this is a site devoted to movies of the 1960s but since I go to the movies twice a week - an old-fashioned double-bill of my own choosing - I might occasionally slip in a review of a contemporary picture.

6 thoughts on “Behind the Scenes: All-Time Top 20”

  1. We are completely in sync on behind the scenes stories on movies. I am so obsessed I bought the two volume set on the making of RAISE THE TITANIC. Movies almost made or abandoned is another my interest.s Here is one that is really too bad. The1966 Mirisch Productions World War I war film with the title THE BELLS OF HELL GO TING-A-LING-A-LING starring Gregory Peck and Ian McKellen, directed by David Miller and with a screenplay by Roald Dahl, was abandoned after five weeks filming in Switzerland. The film, depicting the air raid on the Zeppelin base at Friedrichshafen, was abandoned after early snow in the Alps. Robert Altman also contributed to it’s screenplay.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Another almost made movie:
        MAN’S FATE (Fred Zinnemann, 1969) An adaptation of Malraux’s 1933 novel La Condition humaine, about a failed communist insurrection in Shanghai, written by Han Suyin. MGM canceled production one week before shooting was to commence, with $4 million of the $10 million budget already spent on sets. The cast included David Niven, Peter Finch, Liv Ullmann, Max von Sydow, Eiji Okada, Juzo Itami, Joss Ackland, and Clive Revill.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Yes, that was a famous almost movie. Zinnemann didn’t have much luck in the 1960s at times – The Day Custer Fell was cancelled and he was fired from Hawaii.


  2. And again, thanks to your brilliant access to press notes and books, stills and posters. Much as I often mock the posters, I love to see exactly how films were promoted at the time. With reference to the amazing comment above, I had no idea McKellen was in anything in terms of cinema until 69, so it’s news to me!


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