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Trivia / Lord Jim

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  • Troubled Production: The 1965 film:
    • Filming started in Hong Kong where, Peter O'Toole's seasickness aside, everything went smoothly. When the production moved to Cambodia, it was a different story. The cast and crew had to contend with dysentery, heat rash and insectsnote . Then the snakes arrived. While walking down the middle of a jungle road, O'Toole came face-to-face with a black cobra. He recalled, "They say no snake can travel faster than a scared human, but I ain't so sure. The snake went like hell, but luckily away from me". One dinner he found a live snake in his soup and on another occasion a cobra slithered onto the set and into the makeshift ladies' toilet. According to O'Toole, of particular dread was a snake called the Two Step—"It bites you, you take two steps and then you die".
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    • According to director Richard Brooks' biographer Douglass Daniel, though the Cambodian government never demanded any script approval, one condition of its agreement to allow on-location shooting in the troubled nation was for the production company to build a 45-room addition to an existing hotel near the famed Angkor Wat ruins, at a cost of $600,000 from the $9-million budget.
    • The Cambodian officials constantly sought bribes. Brooks was forced to hire Cambodian soldiers instead of local extras and with half a dozen dialects being spoken, the translators required translators.note 
    • During filming there was a spate of political violence in Cambodia. One day a mysterious Frenchman appeared on the location and darkly advised Brooks to get his company out of the country by March 12. With Peter O'Toole's concurrence, the work schedule was doubled and the daily shooting went on from noon until nearly dawn. The 12-week schedule was cut to nine and the company left the country on March 3. A week later, the American and British embassies were attacked by mobs. O'Toole was convinced that some of the attackers had worked on the film as extras.
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    • Prince Sihanouk, who was very pro-China and was currently in a war with words with America over Vietnam, visited the set. According to O'Toole, he spouted anti-British sentiments, to which O'Toole responded, "I couldn't agree with you more. I'm Irish myself". When the Prince later denounced the movie company as "Western imperialist invaders" on national radio, O'Toole took revenge by telling a reporter from Life Magazine that "If I live to be a thousand, I want nothing like Cambodia again. It was a bloody nightmare". He was promptly banned from entering the country again.
    • The chaotic production resulted in a mess that was panned by critics and avoided by audiences. In a particularly personal example of rejection by the latter, Lord Jim was screened at the Royal Command Film Performance in 1965 before an audience including HM Queen Elizabeth II. James Mason, who played antagonist "Gentleman" Brown, was among the cast members at the screening, and secured free tickets for his octogenarian parents. However, the elder Mr and Mrs Mason hated the film so much they left halfway through - before their son's first scene.
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