Hollywood movies

10 Old Hollywood Movies With Offscreen Drama

Recently, the controversy surrounding Zack Snyder and his attempts to make Justice League for Warner Bros. resurfaced. Today, more people talk about the film’s off-screen drama than the film itself. Making movies requires a lot of people working together to make it work. When certain people stop getting along, it can cause problems that can hurt a movie.

But this is nothing new. Hollywood has been full of strong personalities for years, and when they come together, it can cause explosive fireworks behind the scenes. This off-screen drama has often resulted in some of Hollywood’s best classic films, though in some cases the films crashed and burned as a result of the battles.


Chinatown (1974)

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Jack Nicolson and Faye Dunaway in Chinatown

Chinese district has a place in movie history as one of the best screenplays ever written. The film is a film noir starring Jack Nicholson as a private detective investigating a case of adultery, only to become embroiled in political corruption, deception and murder. The off-screen drama was almost as interesting.

Roman Polanski directed the film and reportedly spent the entire Chinese district film fights with star actress Faye Dunaway during filming. There was even a time when he wouldn’t let her have a bathroom break, so she urinated into a cup and threw it in her face.

Blade Runner (1982)

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Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford) in the office of his boss in Blade Runner

Sometimes the off-screen drama in a movie isn’t totally adversarial, but just a case of disagreeing over some part of the movie. In the case of blade runnerwidely considered one of the best sci-fi movies, it was the origin of the main character.

Director Ridley Scott thought Deckard was a replicant himself, but he didn’t know it. In a case of fact merging with fiction, actor Harrison Ford refused to acknowledge that his character was a replicant. The blade runner the director and the star always argued about it, and even in later years they always clashed when asked about the character.

The Exorcist (1973)

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Ellen Burstyn as Chris McNeil in The Exorcist

The Exorcist is considered one of the best horror movies and it easily sits at the top of the food chain when it comes to exorcism movies. However, making the movie wasn’t easy and there are a ton of stories about the tragedy surrounding the franchise.

However, there was also the off-screen drama that made the film go badly for one of the stars. Ellen Burstyn called director William Friedkin a “maniac” and said he would do terrible things to get reactions from actors. Things didn’t end well for Burstyn either, as an accident during a stunt left her with a permanent spinal injury.

The Birds (1963)

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Tippi Hedron fleeing The Birds.

Alfred Hitchcock remains known as one of the greatest directors of all time and proved to be a master of thrillers and pacing that influenced Hollywood for years after his departure. However, there are also terrible stories about Hitchcock as a person when it comes to how he treated his actresses.

Hitchcock reportedly yearned to be romantically linked to his leading ladies. The birds The star, Tippi Hedren, said she rejected his advances while filming the film and he threatened to ruin her career as a result. Hedren’s granddaughter Dakota Johnson said in 2021 that Hitchcock followed and ruined her grandmother’s career.

Tootsie (1982)

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Michael holding hand on chest and looking off camera

Dustin Hoffman became a star thanks to his role in The graduation as a young man who fell in love with an older woman. A decade later, he was playing a woman. In Tootsiehe played a man who posed as an actress to get a role on a soap opera when his career hit a snag thanks to his past history.

The film was a huge success, nominated for 10 Oscars and entered the Library of Congress in 1998. However, filming was not easy as Hoffman and director Sydney Pollack argued over the tone of the film. According to Bill Murray, they were always in a “bad mood” when they disagreed with each other.

The Prince and the Dancer (1957)

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Marilyn Monroe in The Prince and the Dancer

The Prince and the Showgirl was another film where the off-screen drama was between the director and the main star. The director was classically trained actor Laurence Olivier and the star was bombshell Marilyn Monroe. This drama was shown in the movie My week with Marilyn.

Olivier, who also starred in the film, grew frustrated with Monroe throughout filming, believing she didn’t care about acting at all. The co-stars complained that she was never on time and never achieved her goals. Monroe and Olivier’s relationship hit a low point when he told her to “try to be sexy.”

The Island of Doctor Moreau (1996)

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Marlon Brando in The Island of Doctor Moreau

If there was one movie that fans knew would have off-screen drama before it even started shooting, it was The island of Dr. Moreau. Richard Stanley had a shot at a big-budget movie, then ended up working with Marlon Brando and Val Kilmer, two brilliant actors who were notoriously difficult to work with.

Stanley couldn’t control the actors, and the production fired him and brought in the more experienced John Frankenheimer. Things only got worse, as Brando, Kilmer, and Frankenheimer all had different ideas about the movie. They fought constantly and, in the end, the director said he would never work with Kilmer again.

The Shining (1980)

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Jack Nicholson as Jack Torrence in Stanley Kubrick's adaptation of The Shining.

the brilliant is a strange film in the history of horror cinema. Many critics and fans consider it one of the best horror movies of all time. But the author, Stephen King, hates it, saying it doesn’t tell the same story as the novel it’s based on. One thing most people agree on is that Shelley Duvall’s performance as Wendy is something that doesn’t work well in the movie.

It’s allegedly, in part, because of all the off-screen drama between director Stanley Kubrick and Duvall. Throughout production, Kubrick tormented Duvall, as seen in behind-the-scenes footage. Reports say he was trying to get the performance right out of her, but it caused lasting emotional damage to Duvall.

Fitzcarraldo (1982)

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Fitzcarraldo (1982)

Fitzcarraldo was a movie where the off-screen drama was more interesting than anything about the movie itself. In fact, the whole production was so crazy that a documentary was made called The burden of dreams, which has its own Criterion Collection version.

Among the behind-the-scenes drama surrounding Fitzcarraldo was the fact that longtime collaborators Werner Herzog and Klaus Kinski fought a lot on set, which Herzog showed everyone in his own documentary, my best demon. Add to that Jason Robards contracting amoebic dysentery, an attack by an indigenous tribe, and the demands of physically moving the ship, and there are few films with so much behind-the-scenes drama.

Apocalypse now! (1979)

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Francis Ford Coppola had an incredible decade in the 1970s, bringing the world the first two Godfather films and end the decade with Apocalypse now!. However, that last film was a disaster, regardless of its place in the story. During filming, Coppola reportedly even contemplated suicide.

There was a documentary about the difficulty Apocalypse now! shoot called heart of darkness which details everything that went wrong. The main actor, Martin Sheen, had a heart attack. Marlon Brando was tougher than ever, also displaying massive overweight. The shoot went well over budget and over time, but drama might be why it ended so well in the end.

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