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Trivia / The Muppet Movie

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  • Accidentally Correct Writing: Gonzo wants to go to Bombay (now Mumbai), India to become a movie star. As is noted on the main page, Bombay was then and is now the center of the Bollywood film industry, which produces more films per year than Hollywood...meaning that Gonzo was completely reasonable to pin his hopes there. However, Henson and crew chose Bombay as what (they thought) was the most far-flung, unlikely place to become an actor, not realizing how huge Bollywood really was until after release.
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  • AFI's 100 Years… 100 Songs: #74, "Rainbow Connection"
  • All-Star Cast: Between the Muppets themselves and all the cameos... Including, behind the scenes, Tim Burton and John Landis, who were amongst the numerous people called in to operate the Muppets for the final number.
  • Blooper: When Doc Hopper shoots Gonzo's balloons, two remain intact and one is yellow and the other is red as Gonzo lands atop the car. Cut a few frames later, and they've turned blue.
  • Breakaway Pop Hit: "Rainbow Connection" hit the Billboard Top 40 in 1979, ultimately peaking at #25.
  • California Doubling: The desert scenes were shot in New Mexico, but everything else was shot in and around Los Angeles. The road scenes are easily recognizable as having been filmed in the rural parts of the Santa Clarita Valley, if you're familiar with the area. You can see a street sign for San Fernando Road in Pacoima next to Mad Man Mooney's (and the location is still a used car lot today).
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  • The Danza: Snake Walker, the frog killer "in from the coast", was played by Scott Walker (not him).
  • Deleted Scene:
    • Statler and Waldorf popping up at random points throughout the film.
    • A slightly longer version of the Kermit-Fozzie dance number in the El Sleazo Cafe.
    • An extended version of Doc Hopper's commercial.
    • An extra verse in both "Movin' Right Along" and "I Hope That Something Better Comes Along", both of which appear on the soundtrack album.
    • A more in-depth version of the reading of the screenplay (including a reference to "a large yellow bird").
    • A longer conversation between Doc Hopper and Max before they encountered the rainbow-colored Studebaker.
    • Gonzo's reasons for hitting Fozzie's Studebaker were originally different. Doc Hopper, while eating breakfast in the back of his limousine, accidentally sprayed a bottle of maple syrup onto his clothes. He attempted to clean the mess up with some tissues, but those ultimately got stuck to his suit. Eventually, tissue-covered Doc somewhat resembled a giant chicken, which distracted Gonzo.
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    • Kermit and Piggy on a Hawaiian honeymoon during the "Never Before, Never Again" montage.
    • Sam the Eagle appearing on a sign that reads "Keep America Clean."
  • In Memoriam: The movie is "dedicated to the memory and magic of Edgar Bergen", who'd died shortly after filming his cameo appearance in 1978, and who was a major influence on Jim's early work. He and his puppets also appeared as The Muppet Show guest stars prior to this film.
  • Looping Lines: Sam's line to Kermit at the beginning of the film asking if it had any "Socially redeeming values" which was already pre-rerecorded due to Oz being busy performing Piggy for the screening room scene, had to be redone after the scene was filmed due to an unplanned blooper of Sam getting a paper plane stuck in his wing, to which the ADR'd version added him reacting to it with a gasp.
  • Method Acting: Henson recorded his vocals for the soundtrack while operating Kermit. Both he and Paul Williams agreed that Jim couldn't properly get into character just singing on his own and Williams suggested that Jim bring Kermit into the recording studio so "he" would be singing and not Jim.
  • Reality Subtext: Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy made their last appearance in the film — Henson was inspired to make the Muppets because of him. Bergen died not long after his scene was shot, and the film is dedicated to him.
  • Studio Hop:
    • The film was produced by ITC Entertainment, and went through its' then-new American distribution firm, Associated Film Distribution. Its original home video release came from Magnetic Video in 1980. Due to 20th Century Fox buying Magnetic Video and the reorganization of that unit, the next home release was from CBS/Fox Video. Then, in 1993, it was released by Jim Henson Video through Disney, then in 1999 by Columbia TriStar Home Video, who also handled the first DVD of the film in 2001, and finally, back to Disney in 2005, this time through their own label.
    • Universal, who owns the theatrical rights to AFD's library, partnered up with The Jim Henson Company for the film's 40th anniversary for a limited re-release that July.
  • Talking to Himself: One of the benefits of this and the other feature films was the opportunity it afforded for characters like Henson's Kermit and Rowlf, Oz's Piggy and Fozzie, etc., to interact in a way that wasn't always technically feasible on television.
  • Throw It In!: Kermit's response to Sam getting a paper airplane stuck in his wing ("I'm sorry about that") during the opening scene in the screening room was ad-libbed by Jim due to the aforementioned action being an unplanned blooper that was left in the final film.
  • Troubled Production: Downplayed, with most of the problems stemming from its then-rare Starring Special Effects nature.
    • Despite the phenomenal success of The Muppet Show, it was not easy to get financing for a movie that was to feature puppet characters as the leads, especially in a decade when most A-list films were aimed strictly at adult audiences, leaving Disney and independent outfits to pick up the slack of films appropriate for children/families with modest-to-low-budget, mostly critically-disregarded productions. In the end U.K. company ITC Entertainment, which backed The Muppet Show in the first place, bankrolled the film, which was released through Associated Film Distribution, which was formed to release ITC and EMI's movies State-side (see Creator Killer for what happened to them).
    • Some of the bigger setpieces, such as Gonzo's Balloonacy flight, were not easy to pull off.
    • Director James Frawley had no prior Muppet experience; Henson and co. hired him because he did have feature film experience and they were new to that particular medium, but it did mean that he was an outsider to the tight-knit group and this led to on-set disagreements and tension. Austin Pendleton, who as Max was one of only two actors around for a significant chunk of the shoot (the other being Charles Durning as Doc Hopper), didn't find it a happy experience as a result (save for working with Durning).
    • An entire day of filming was devoted to just the finale shot. Among the issues that arose during this included:
      • The scene being filmed first with a scrim effect that was ultimately removed resulting in it needing to be filmed again.
      • The set being very warm.
      • Most of the people performing not being close to the monitor in order to see what the camera was filming.
      • People who weren't regular puppeteers feeling fatigue from keeping their arms up for so long (apparently, the actor playing Oscar the Grouch didn't even have him up in the final film).
      • The puppeteers performing the characters from Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas complaining about the puppets being itchy.
  • Unintentional Period Piece: The “Have you tried Hare Krishna?” Running Gag was a lot funnier when the group was at the height of notoriety for their aggressive recruitment tactics, especially harassing people at airports. People these days may not even recognize the name.
  • What Could Have Been: Visit here for an analysis on a draft script.
    • One of the biggest one to note is the recurring appearance of Henry Kissinger, whose entire schtick is that he's not cast in the film, not even for the Framing Device. Hilarious in Hindsight again?
    • George Burns was scripted to play the co-owner of a bait shop by the swamp with Kermit, but it never happened.
    • Henson wanted Doc Hopper to have a Heel–Face Turn at the end, but Frank Oz disagreed, and won out.
    • Max was initially a minor character. Austin Pendleton was offered the role, but initially turned it down, feeling the part was too small. The Max character was rewritten, and about a week later, James Frawley convinced Pendleton to appear in the movie.
    • "Never Before, Never Again" was originally supposed to have been sung by Johnny Mathis. After Mathis recorded the song, Jim Henson figured it would be much funnier if Miss Piggy sang it. But Mathis' version of the song wouldn't go to waste — it was featured in the television special The Muppets Go Hollywood.
    • The rainbow during the iconic finale shot was originally to appear on-set during filming via a scrim sheet (as mentioned above, and evidenced by some behind the scenes and publicity photos of the scene). However, it was decided to remove it entirely and add the rainbow in post because they thought the scrim muted the colors of the Muppets too much.
  • You Look Familiar: Charles Durning would appear in a later Muppet work Elmo Saves Christmas, playing the role of Santa. In a case of What Could Have Been, he was also considered for the role of Mike Tarkanian in The Great Muppet Caper before they settled with Jack Warden.

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