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The Top Seven Classic Movie Moments You Didn't Know Were Improv

by mjrussel   January 11, 2010 at 4:30PM  |  Views: 43,722

3. A Clockwork Orange

The Moment:

Warning: The following clip contains disturbing subject matter and will ruin your ability to hear the song "Singin' in the Rain" without wincing.

How it Played Out:

When they were filming the notorious rape scene in A Clockwork Orange, Kubrick was consistently unsatisfied with each take. He suggested that to try to show Alex's complete lack of empathy, he should do a little dance. Malcolm McDowell obliged him, and then spontaneously burst into song. The resulting scene was so disturbing that Kubrick got on the phone with the studio immediately and secured the rights to the song.

 

2. Raiders of the Lost Ark

The Moment:

How it Played Out:

The entire portion of the film that took place in Egypt was absolute hell to shoot, with cast and crew frequently becoming ill and injured. At one point Harrison Ford tore a cruciate ligament and John Rhys-Davis actually crapped his pants during filming. Much of it was pushed through and indeed the entire scene with Marion and Belloq getting drunk in a tent was also completely improvised.

The sequence with the swordsman was originally meant to involve Indy running around with the swordsman in pursuit, but Ford had come down with dysentery and wasn't in the mood to do much running when his bowels were doing enough of that for the both of them. So he suggested they just shoot the bastard and be done with it, resulting in one of the most entertaining scenes in the entire film.

 

1. Full Metal Jacket

The Moment:

How it Played Out:

R. Lee Ermey was actually a real drill sergeant originally hired to be a technical advisor. When he asked to be allowed to audition for the part, Stanley Kubrick said he didn't seem mean enough for it. Ermey responded by sending him a 15-minute video clip of him standing in front of a camera screaming an endless stream of insults at some Marines while being pelted with tennis balls. It's not entirely clear why he was being pelted with tennis balls, but it was probably to prove a point about how completely balls-to-the-wall insane he was. Almost the entire scene where the sergeant was introduced was made up on the spot. Partway through, Kubrick had to stop the filming to ask Ermey what the hell a "reach-around" was.

It's worth noting that that isn't the only part of the movie that was improvised. About half of all the lines the Drill Sergeant has were completely made up on the spot. Kubrick estimates that about 150 pages of the script were just off the top of Ermey's head.

 

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