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"Sam was spontaneously dishonest at every level; he was also splendid company for anyone who enjoys con men, as I do."
Gore Vidal on Sam Spiegel, Palimpsest

Some directors seem to be magnets for troubled productions.


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    Cameron, James 
James Cameron has directed some of the most financially successful films of all time... but not without cost in the form of consistently troubled productions.

  • Cameron's directorial debut was Piranha Part Two: The Spawning. According to Lance Henriksen, making this movie was the most trying time in his life production-wise. Producer Ovidio G. Assonitis wanted to spend only 300,000 dollars on the film (even though he had made a deal for 500,000), which meant that they had to cut cost wherever they could.
    • The original director of the film was Miller Drake, who had started his career in Roger Corman movies, but disagreements over the script caused him to be fired. Production was a mess, with Cameron, who had been working as special effects supervisor for Corman, having to make a number of the flying piranha rubber models himself.
    • After the first week of shooting, the set harmony was disturbed by some discussions about the work between the director and the producers (Assonitis, asked to verify the day-to-day activities, arguing with most of Cameron's choices), so while Cameron was only responsible for the shooting, most of the decisions were under Assonitis' authority.
    • Due to budget limitations the crew was composed essentially of Italians, none of whom spoke English. Some however did have prior experience on horror/fantasy movies so they were, to some extent, able to satisfy Cameron's requirements.
    • Henriksen was told that they couldn't afford a uniform for his character and that he should play the role in his own plain clothes, to which Henriksen objected, insisting that a harbor patrolman couldn't do his job without a uniform as if he's some plain clothes undercover cop. The situation was resolved when Henriksen noticed a sharp dressed waiter the same size as him, and asked him to sell his uniform for 75 bucks of his own money. He also had to use whale-shaped pins as his police badge and epaulets that showed his rank. Additionally, Henriksen had to carve the wooden gun in his holster by himself.
    • As Cameron wanted an explosive finale, he added to the script that Henriksen's character jumps out of a helicopter to save his drowning family. The helicopter was a Jamaican police helicopter used to chase drug smugglers and was piloted by a professional pilot. However, at one point a boat snuck under the chopper, almost hitting Henriksen's legs, so the pilot had to raise the chopper quickly, and in the maneuver, Cameron accidentally dropped the shooting camera into the sea, which was never recovered. Both Cameron and Henriksen considered themselves lucky to still be alive after that. Additionally, during his scripted jump, Henriksen almost broke an arm and his boots immediately started filling up with water as soon as he landed, so he almost drowned.
    • To make matters worse, producer Assonitis didn't like the way that Cameron was shooting and fired him as well, taking over the directorial duties himself. Cameron was not allowed to see his footage and was not involved in editing. He broke into the editing room in Rome and cut his own version while the film's producers were at Cannes, but was caught and Assonitis recut it again. However, when he presented his version of the film to Warner Bros., they didn't like it and decided not to distribute the film. The movie was only released two years later by a smaller company that normally distributed pornographic films. Years later, a different distributor allowed Cameron to create his own cut.
  • Aliens was one of Cameron's most contentious productions, and one of the few times when his Jerkass demeanour is kind of understandable. The English crew thought Cameron was a tyrannical and incompetent substitute for Ridley Scott, and Cameron's workaholism clashed with their regular tea breaks and relaxed attitude towards production. The crew insulted his wife Gale Anne Hurd, implying that she was only getting producer's credit because she was married to him, and he had to contend with a walkout after firing original cinematographer Dick Bush who wouldn't light the alien nest the way he wanted (Bush was a very old school DP, who lit the scenes to his content, while Cameron was a very visually involved director) and was then replaced by Adrian Biddle (who had never DP'ed a feature before). Michael Biehn ended up replacing James Remar as Hicks a short way into production.

    Unsurprisingly, production wound up behind schedule and the crew had to work at a breakneck pace to finish the film in time for its July 1986 release date. This fell particularly hard on James Horner, who had to write the score without access to the film (that was still being filmed and edited) and record it in four days in an outdated studio. In turn, Cameron and editor Ray Lovejoy (who himself had come within a hair's breadth of being fired and replaced by Mark Goldblatt until he impressed Cameron with his work on the final battle sequence) had to hack it in places to match the film without his input. Horner swore off working with Cameron for the next 11 years.
  • The Abyss had 40% of its live-action photography take place underwater. It was filmed in two specially constructed tanks in an abandoned nuclear plant near Gaffney, South Carolinanote , requiring experimental technology and equipment to allow the underwater scenes to be filmed right. Over six months of 6-day, 70-hour work weeks ensued, and the production had to be delayed when on the first day the main water tank sprung a leak, requiring dam-repair experts to fix it. And later, the crew were forced to film only at night after a lightning storm tore up the tarpaulin covering the main tank.

    It's significant that Cameron himself declared this the worst production he was ever involved in. It's the only production where he had to spend most of his time hanging upside down in decompression tanks from filming underwater — he even said he had to review the footage in this position. He also almost drowned Ed Harris through Enforced Method Acting, which resulted in the one and only time an actor has ever actually punched him. Cameron himself nearly drowned during production, too, when his diving suit malfunctioned while he was weighed down at the bottom of the giant water tank during filming.
  • True Lies appeared to be a relatively smooth production for him at the time, but suddenly was mired in controversy in 2018 when Eliza Dushku accused the film's stunt coordinator Joel Kramer of sexually abusing her after gaining the trust of the 12-year-old's family, being so brazen as to publicly nickname her "Jailbait" on the set. She also alleged that a stunt that went wrong and hospitalized her with broken ribs was actually a deliberate piece of sabotage by Kramer after an adult friend of Dushku's confronted him, as a threat to do even worse if she told anyone else. Cameron was quick to give his support to the accusations, saying he would have had "no mercy" for Kramer if he'd had any idea what was happening.
  • Titanic (1997), the film that cemented Cameron's reputation as Hollywood's biggest Jerkass, so much so that the crew claimed he had a psychotic alter ego named "Noremac Mij". Apart from terrorizing the film's two lead actors (Kate Winslet suffered bruises so impressive that the makeup artists took photos to use for reference later), driving it insanely over budget and schedule and having to deal with cast members who came down sick from a shitload of hours spent in cold water, Cameron and about 50 other guys fell victim to an almost Deadly Prank when a crew member put PCP in their soup, forcing them to spend a night in hospital. The movie stands as possibly his last completely Off the Rails production, as he's mellowed out quite a bit since. It helps that his next production was shot in a digital backlot, with fewer things that could go awry...
  • Thankfully averted during the production of Avatar, as the film was shot on a digital backlot and Cameron himself considerably mellowed out during the 12 years between Titanic and this. The worst thing reported was him keeping a nail gun handy on set to make an example of cellphones that went off during shooting.
    • Not that Cameron mellowed out entirely; he brought a crew member to tears over a modelling issue, when they were in fact an animator and not involved in modelling.

    Coppola, Francis Ford 
Many of the films that put Francis Ford Coppola on the map in The '70s were also among the most notoriously troublesome shoots in Hollywood history.

Even in 1991, The New York Times quoted an executive to this effect:

Francis Ford Coppola may be the one major filmmaker who invariably makes problem pictures. "Things are often out of control on his set," said the executive.

  • The Godfather, as described in this Daily Telegraph article. Everyone involved seemed surprised that the film was completed, let alone successful as it was.
    • To begin with, pretty much everybody involved was only in it for the money. Mario Puzo, the author of the original book, sold the film rights to Paramount for $12,500 (rising to $50,000 if it was filmed) having only written a hundred pages, chiefly because he was in debt to his bookie. Coppola, meanwhile, hated the book, and only took the job of directing the film because a) his production company American Zoetrope was out of money, and b) Paramount pushed hard for him on account of him being Italian (which it was hoped would assuage the concerns of Italian-American groups). Even then, Coppola was only brought in after several established directors like Costa-Gavras and Arthur Penn declined.
    • Speaking of Italian-Americans, those groups were outraged by the film, accusing it of promoting stereotypes and threatening to boycott it. You'll probably notice how the movie never uses the word "Mafia", as that was part of an agreement reached with said organizations. As for the actual Mafia? Well, you can ask producer Al Ruddy what they thought of it — he had his car windows shot out by gangsters trying to derail the film's production.
    • Coppola's relationship with the Paramount executives was chaotic — they hated the casting, the lighting, the writing, the music, the length, everything. For one, Paramount wanted to jettison the novel's period setting for modern-day New York. Equally controversial was the casting of Marlon Brando, which Coppola pushed hard for and Paramount pushed just as hard against due to his star having seriously fallen at the time, due to both a string of flops and his prima donna reputation. Coppola faked a heart attack in order to get the Paramount executives to relent. Al Pacino wasn't popular with the Paramount brass either, who preferred an established star like Robert Redford and were unimpressed by Pacino's screen test and early rushes. Pacino himself shared their doubts about his performance, planning to quit the film early in production until Coppola convinced him to stay.
    • Production wasn't that troubled on-set, apart from a delay due to Pacino twisting his ankle, but it's a miracle that no significant problems emerged. Coppola got no respect from the crew, many of whom thought that the movie was a piece of crap and that he didn't know what he was doing; several of his assistant directors openly complained to the studio brass. He expected to be fired at any point, and indeed, the executives were considering replacing him with Elia Kazan. He also got into an argument with cinematographer Gordon Willis.
    • All the way through post-production, Coppola feuded with producer Robert Evans over the film's style and pacing. One particular argument involved Evans demanding that Coppola include an intermission after Michael murders Solozzo and McCluskey. Later, Evans demanded that Coppola cut the film down to a 135-minute runtime. Coppola complied, only to be chewed out afterwards for "ruining" the film. Afterwards, he re-edited it to the original length without complaint. (Though in the documentary The Kid Stays in the Picture Evans claims the opposite occurred, that Coppola delivered a fast two-hour film and Evans demanded a "saga".)
    • Despite the film's ultimate success, the experience left the entire cast and crew profoundly drained. Ruddy later said: "It was the most miserable film I can think of to make. Nobody enjoyed one day of it." Unsurprisingly, it proved increasingly difficult to reunite cast and crew for the sequels.
  • Part II was easier only by comparison. After the first film, Coppola joked that the only sequel he'd make is Abbott and Costello Meet the Godfather, and it took a lot of arm-twisting by Paramount to change his mind.
    • Coppola stated his terms up front: he would only return if Paramount would a) give him complete Auteur License, b) produce his pet project, The Conversation in return, c) ensure that Robert Evans have nothing to do with the movie. To Coppola's surprise, Paramount complied with his requests; their only concern was his decision to include Part II in the title. However, Al Ruddy (with whom Coppola had a good relationship with the first film) refused to return, leaving Coppola to produce it himself.
    • Shooting in the Dominican Republic (standing in for Cuba) proved the biggest problem: nonstop rainstorms delayed filming for weeks, while Al Pacino, Lee Strasberg, and several crew members came down with tropical illnesses. Pacino took three weeks to recover, and Strasberg was so debilitated his infirmity was written into his character. There were also concerns about the parallel storylines of Vito and Michael, especially after Coppola delivered a disastrous rough cut, forcing a last-minute re-edit.
    • The cast caused trouble as well. Pacino caused headaches throughout production, demanding a massive salary and heavy script rewrites. He frequently complained about Coppola's slow pace, yelling "Serpico only took nineteen days!" and threatening to quit. Richard S. Castellano (Clemenza) refused to return, leading to Michael V. Gazzo's eleventh-hour casting as Suspiciously Similar Substitute, Frank Pentangeli. Gazzo himself caused difficulties through heavy drinking; Coppola claims that Gazzo was drunk filming Pentangeli's Senate testimony. James Caan demanded the same salary as the first film for his brief cameo as Sonny; Marlon Brando backed out at the last minute. But all of that was chump change compared to Coppola's much-anticipated follow-up...
  • Apocalypse Now, a case so famous that it has its own documentary dedicated to it, Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse. Coppola himself summed it up by saying "My film is not about Vietnam, it is Vietnam," and famously explained that "We had access to too much money, too much equipment, and little by little we went insane." Let's see, where do we start?
    • Like many projects here, Apocalypse Now was a modest idea subjected to development creep. John Milius and George Lucas conceived the film in 1969 as a low budget docudrama modeled on The Battle of Algiers. Gradually, Milius expanded his script into a surreal black comedy based on Heart of Darkness. As Lucas focused on other projects and Milius was reluctant to direct it himself, Coppola took over in the mid-'70s, toning down the story's humor while emphasizing its surreal qualities. Coppola, fresh off The Godfather Part II, convinced United Artists to back the project, and the tumultuous production began.
    • Filming in the Philippines went on for a year, going nine months behind schedule and $17-19 million over budget.note  Among other setting-related problems, Typhoon Olga in May 1976, combined with constant rainfall, destroyed most of the sets and totally ground production to a halt for six weeks. The United States military refused to lend Coppola any military equipment, due to the order to "Kill Colonel Kurtz" (Coppola refused to change it to a Deadly Euphemism). Coppola instead had to borrow local military equipment, and Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos disrupted production by recalling the equipment he lent to Coppola to fight against the Communist insurgents in the South.
    • There were also many problems with the various cast members. Marlon Brando was cast as Colonel Kurtz, being his usual prima donna self. He showed up to the set morbidly obese rather than with the muscular physique that was called for, leading to the decision to film Kurtz solely from the shoulders up. Worse, when he arrived on set he had read neither the script nor Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness like he had been told to. The actors were disgruntled because Coppola forced them to sign term contracts with his production company. Unsurprisingly, many cast and crew members were drunk or stoned while filming; Dennis Hopper got a teenaged Laurence Fishburne addicted to heroin.
    • Meanwhile, Harvey Keitel, cast as main character Captain Willard, was fired a few weeks into filming because Coppola wasn't satisfied with his performance. Martin Sheen took over the part, soon becoming dangerously immersed in the role. Filming the hotel scene, he drunkenly cut his hand open shattering a mirror and, in an unrelated incident, later suffered a heart attack and had to struggle a quarter-mile to get help. The latter of these two meant that some of his scenes had to be filmed from the back, using his brother, Joe Estevez, as a body double.
    • The ending had to be re-written on the fly and the script was frequently discarded for improvisation. Most notably, the ending (in which Willard cuts an unresisting Kurtz to pieces, then emerges from the hut to find the natives revere him now) had to be changed from its action-heavy original due to neither Sheen nor Brando being in any sort of state to film it.
    • Even post-production was no walk in the park. For one thing, the Philippines had no professional film laboratories at the time, meaning the raw camera negatives had to be shipped to the US to be processed. Coppola never saw a shot on film until after returning to California. The entire movie was shot blind. For another thing, Coppola had to edit several miles of film to create the final cut. The set piece on the French plantation, which cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to film, was thrown out.note  On top of that, Sheen was unavailable to provide the voice-over narration, so, once again, Coppola had to turn to Joe Estevez. All told, post-production took two years.
    • To put the film's disastrous shoot in perspective, Laurence Fishburne lied about his age to get cast as a 17-year old in the movie when he was actually 14. By the time the movie was released, he actually was 17 years old. The film took the heaviest toll on Coppola himself; he lost 100 pounds, threatened suicide several times, and attempted it once. The film also severely strained his relationship with wife Eleanor, not least when Coppola had an indiscreet affair with a production assistant.
  • One from the Heart was initially meant to be a small $2 million movie for Coppola to chillax after the sheer hell of Apocalypse Now. It wound up ballooning to $25 million due to his insistence on shooting on sound stages exclusively, and failed so badly, only making $600,000, that it led him to declare bankruptcy (fitting the detractor nickname at the time, "One Through the Heart"), shut down his production company American Zoetrope, and spend the rest of The '80s and The '90s making movies just to recover the debts he incurred from this, such as The Godfather Part III and Jack.
  • Though numerous troubled productions have resulted in body counts, few are as infamous in this respect as The Cotton Club - and a gangland-style execution is just the tip of the iceberg of the shoot's problems.
    • Former Paramount studio chief Robert Evans (who, as mentioned earlier, was a nemesis of Coppola during filming of The Godfather) had the idea of producing and directing a film about the 1920s Harlem speakeasy in 1980, but struggled to spark interest among backers in Mario Puzo's script (early donors included Saudi arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi, whose money Evans had to return after rejecting his suggested script changes). Through Miami drug dealer Lanie Jacobs, he was introduced to New York impresario Roy Radin, who offered to help raise the necessary funds. However, Jacobs expected a share of the profits and a production credit for her efforts, which Radin refused. In June 1983, Radin's bullet-riddled corpse was found in the desert outside Los Angeles, and Jacobs was later convicted of ordering his murder and sentenced to life without parole. Though suspicions also fell on Evans, his involvement was never proven. In his memoir The Kid Stays In the Picture, Evans says that experience made the early years of the '80s, in which he was arrested for trying to smuggle a large quantity of cocaine into the country and required to organize anti-drug events with the big stars he knew as community service, the "good half" of the 1980s for him.
    • Radin's murder alone would render The Cotton Club a troubled production, but as efforts to tweak the script continued to founder, Evans brought in his former foe Francis Ford Coppola to work on the script, and ultimately gave him the reins of director. Coppola, already reeling from the troubled productions and financial failures of Rumble Fish and One from the Heart, saw the film as an opportunity to get his career as a director back on track, just as Evans hoped to do the same for his career as a producer following the troubled productions of Popeye and Urban Cowboy. This inevitably set the stage for an epic battle of egos between the old enemies, who had drastically different creative visions for the story, characters, and visuals of the film.
    • Enticed by a script by Mario Puzo and the promise of funding from Las Vegas casino-owning brothers Edward and Fred Doumani, Paramount offered Evans the talents of Richard Gere as leading man and access to their studio facilities along with further production funds. However, determined to re-establish his reputation as a major player in Hollywood, Evans turned down the latter offer in favour of the services of Orion Pictures - who were in the business of marketing and distributing films rather than producing them, meaning that Evans would need to raise more production money and find a studio in which to shoot the film, causing further delays and adding to the already bloated budget.
    • Upon being appointed director, Coppola added to the budgetary woes by firing the film crew Evans had assembled en masse (in some cases requiring large payoffs) and hiring his own crew members, including a music arranger who commuted via Concorde between the shoot in New York and a regular engagement in Switzerland. His quasi-improvisational approach to directing the actors meant the script was in a constant state of flux, and actors would frequently spend all day on set without shooting a single frame of film. There were frequent clashes between Coppola and Gere, who insisted on showing off his (modest) skills on the cornet in the film, and seemed more concerned about possible damage to his reputation than about the film itself.
    • Filming finished in March 1984 with a final budget of $47 million (nearly three times initial estimates), and the battle between Evans and Coppola continued during post-production. A lawsuit filed by Evans against Coppola, the Doumani brothers, and Orion resulted in Evans being given a flat fee and a producer credit, but yielding complete creative control over the film to Coppola. The film was released in December 1984, and although Siskel & Ebert both named it one of the year's ten best films, most critics were more muted in their enthusiasm, and its final domestic gross was just $25.9 million. Although Evans and Coppola continued to produce and/or direct films, their careers as major players in Hollywood were over.
  • Coming full circle, The Godfather, Part III.
    • The project had been in Development Hell for over a decade, with numerous scripts written throughout the '70s and '80s and other directors attached. Coppola repeatedly refused the project until financial woes forced him to take it. After accepting, Paramount gave Coppola and Mario Puzo just six weeks to write the script, and a hard year to complete filming. Coppola and Puzo initially wanted to call it The Death of Michael Corleone, emphasizing it was a standalone "epilogue" rather than a direct sequel. In an ironic reversal of Part II, Paramount insisted on the numbered title.
    • Again, the biggest problems involved the cast, who weren't any more eager than Coppola to revisit the franchise. Al Pacino and Diane Keaton both demanded massive salary hikes: Pacino initially demanded such an exorbitant amount that Coppola threatened to open the movie with Michael's funeral. Robert Duvall refused to return over a pay dispute, while Joe Spinell died just before filming started, forcing Coppola and Puzzo to create replacement characters. Most notoriously, Winona Ryder dropped out of the part of Mary at the last minute, forcing Sofia Coppola to step in, never mind how she allegedly REALLY didn't want to do it. Actual filming was relatively smooth, but media coverage of its behind-the-scenes turmoil led to a massive backlash after its eventual release.

    Dante, Joe 
Cult filmmaker Joe Dante has had his fair share of difficult productions.

  • Piranha had some documented production problems, including last-minute cast changes, underwater cameras that kept breaking down, union woes, and unusable second unit footage. It still became one of New World Pictures' biggest hits.
  • Post-production of Gremlins was a nightmare due to the gremlin and Mogwai animatronics never working properly. On the DVD Commentary, Chris Walas (the creator of the animatronics) calls working on Gremlins the closest thing he's had to a complete mental breakdown.
  • The filming of Looney Tunes: Back in Action has been described by director Joe Dante as, to put it lightly, "the longest year-and-a-half of my life". But the troubles didn't really start there...
    • Development started when Space Jam was released, with the same crew in charge of a sequel (with Joe Pytka as director and Spike Brandt & Tony Cervone in charge of animation). However, Michael Jordan was too displeased with the film to do Space Jam 2 and it turned out the artists were being lied so they could do designs. The film evolved into a James Bond/Austin Powers parody (Spy Jam) with Jackie Chan, who quickly resigned as he frequently clashed with the upper-heads.
    • The film was then cancelled... until Dante was called. He alongside writer Larry Doyle and animation director Eric Goldberg took the film on a different direction, becoming a thinly-veiled Take That! against Space Jam and the studio itself. This didn't sit well with executives note , who refused to give the crew creative control other than keeping the characters' personalities, and the animated sequences differ greatly from Dante's plans.
    • Back in Action's release was also the subject of a big stroke of bad luck: it was supposed to premiere in July but was shelved after Finding Nemo became a smash. It was then postponed to November, the start of the holiday movie season. Unfortunately, the new release date was just after those of Brother Bear and Elf, just before those of The Cat in the Hat and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, and during the week the Occupation of Iraq began. This and WB refusing to promote the film because of its chaotic production and overrun budget caused the film to tank, grossing just $22 million domestically and $68 million worldwide (out of an $80 million budget).

    Gilliam, Terry 
Terry Gilliam comes close to being a Trope Codifier for the troubled production, thanks to everything from Hostile Weather, to severe Executive Meddling - as well as being a director of nearly limitless ambition and vision.

  • Brazil was subject to such severe Executive Meddling that it inspired a book, The Battle of Brazil, and Gilliam felt obliged to place a full-page ad in Variety begging producer Sid Sheinberg to reverse the changes he had made and released the film as originally intended.
  • The Adventures of Baron Munchausen went over budget, the plane that had the costumes and prop were stuck in an airport in another country due to a customs strike, a lot of the animals for the film died and had to be replaced, etc. Producer Thomas Schuhly acted like a prima donna, refusing to sign forms and refusing to get along with the English crew and the complex relationship between the UK crew and the Italian crew. And because Columbia Pictures was undergoing a regime change at the time and the new bigwigs didn't want to support a film this troubled, they didn't put much money into the marketing campaign or even give it a wide North American release, and it flopped. Eric Idle called it "A truly horrible experience and even remembering it is a bit of a nightmare."
    • Sarah Polley, who was nine years old at the time of filming, described it as a traumatic experience. "[I]t definitely left me with a few scars ... It was just so dangerous. There were so many explosions going off so close to me, which is traumatic for a kid whether it's dangerous or not. Being in freezing cold water for long periods of time and working endless hours. It was physically gruelling and unsafe."
    • As a harbinger of the film's series of unlucky incidents, the start of filming had to be postponed for a week due to Dante Ferretti's elaborate set not being ready in time. A crane collapsing into it didn't help matters, postponing the film's start by another week.
  • Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
    • The film had loads of different directors replaced before deciding to hire Gilliam, executives wanting to update the book's setting to The '90s, and no firm budget when starting.
    • The writing process also took forever. Alex Cox and Tod Davies wrote a screenplay for the movie, only for it to be rejected by Hunter S. Thompson himself. Because of that, Gilliam had to write another one in just ten days (though he solved that problem by taking large chunks of the book and writing it in script format. Plus, he had the help of Tony Grisoni). Afterwards, there were problems with the Writers Guild of America after requesting to take Cox and Davies' names off due to their script being heavily rewritten. When Gilliam thought that he might lose the argument, he shot a scene explaining that "no matter what is said in the credits, no writers were involved in the making of the film" as a failsafe. When the decision came to credit him and Grisoni first and Cox and Davies second, Gilliam was mad about sharing credit, later burning his WGA card during a book signing.
    • Filming in a casino was hard thanks to having to film between two and six in the morning, not having many extras, and having the extras actually gamble.
  • Although its pre-production began in 1998, The Man Who Killed Don Quixote remained incomplete for nearly twenty years thanks to a maelstrom of difficulties including the logistics of filming near a NATO bombing range in Spain, the destruction of sets by a flash flood, the illness of the lead actor and the withdrawal of other stars due to other projects, to name just a few. Its problems are documented in the 2002 documentary Lost in La Mancha. After many years of trying to get the film back in production, filming finally wrapped up in 2017. And then, just as it was ready for release in 2018, Gilliam was hit with a lawsuit by producer Paul Branco. Branco was originally supposed to produce the film through his company Alfalma Films, but couldn't secure funds in time. Fortunately, it still premiered as the closing film of the Cannes Film Festival and got released in France on the same day. Unfortunately, Amazon Studios, who funded much of the production, pulled out of distributing it in the US. It was later reported that Gilliam lost the court case with Branco and no longer controlled the film. It was later clarified that Gilliam still owned the rights as he did not shoot a frame under Branco's company, but he still had to pay a settlement as he did not terminate his deal properly.
  • The Brothers Grimm had Gilliam deal with interference from the Weinsteins, actors dropping out and his cinematographer being replaced.
  • Against all odds, The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus was completed despite the sudden death of its lead actor - and with a refreshing lack of Fake Shemp, thanks to a bit of Real Life Writes the Plot, to the extent that Heath Ledger was actually given a screenwriting credit.

    Huston, John 
John Huston made some very fine films over the course of a very long career. Not all of them were easy.
  • The Treasure of the Sierra Madre went over budget and took longer to film than expected. Reportedly, Humphrey Bogart got so impatient with the delays (largely due to wanting to participate in a boat race) that he griped and complained on set about it, to the point where Huston pulled his nose at dinner one night.
  • The African Queen was shot on location in Africa, a rarity in those days. The results weren't pretty: handling the heavy Technicolor cameras was hard, the cast and crew got sick (Katharine Hepburn had to keep a bucket beside her while filming the organ scene that opens the film so she could vomit between takes; only Huston and Humphrey Bogart escaped illness, due to consuming nothing but canned goods and whiskey) and had several close brushes with wild animals and poisonous snakes (especially because Huston chose the location wanting to hunt, and Bogart got interested in that as well - something which even became a Clint Eastwood movie), the title boat sunk and had to be raised twice, the ship's boiler nearly fell on Hepburn, army ants infested the set... Says something Hepburn's book recounting the shoot was named The Making of The African Queen: or How I Went To Africa With Bogie, Bacall, and Huston and Almost Lost My Mind.
  • In his autobiography, Huston called his 1956 adaptation of Moby-Dick, "The most difficult picture I ever made". Filming was delayed by cast injuries (Gregory Peck, who did not use a double, injured his kneecap, Richard Basehart broke his ankle while jumping into a longboat, and Leo Genn slipped a disk and caught pneumonia before shooting had finished) and bad weather which caused the budget to overrun. And then there was the white whale. A ninety-foot model was built for $30,000. A tug pulled it out into the Irish Sea and after two shots were completed, the towline snapped and the whale quickly sank. A second whale was built on a barge but a storm also sank it without a trace. Finally, a third whale was built and again the towline snapped. Huston had had enough. He climbed into the whale and shouted, "Lose this whale and you lose me!" He stayed aboard as two crew members swam under the whale, grabbed the line, and reconnected it.
  • The Roots of Heaven, a "save the African elephant" film from 1958 he made for 20th Century Fox, is a lesser known but brutal example of a troubled production.
    • William Holden was initially cast in the lead role, attracting a supporting cast that included Orson Welles, Errol Flynn, Paul Lukas, Herbert Lom, Eddie Albert, and Fox studio boss Darryl Zanuck's then-girlfriend Juliette Greco. However, with location shooting about to begin (on an inflexible schedule), Holden was informed that he was still under contract to Paramount, and in a desperate scramble to fill the role, Huston cast British character actor Trevor Howard. Howard's lack of marquee power prompted the promotion of Errol Flynn to the top of the bill, despite his character's secondary role.
    • Location shooting was done in Fort Lamy, French Equatorial Africa (now N'Djamena, Chad). As Darryl Zanuck (who was present for the shoot, perhaps out of concern at leaving Greco unsupervised on a shoot with noted womanisers Huston and Flynn) recalled when appearing as a mystery guest on What's My Line?, temperatures soared to over 130 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and only cooled to 95 degrees at night. The cast and crew had to shower four or five times a day to wash off the sweat, and their drinking water supply had to be flown in. On some days, the drive to the shooting location and back took four hours. Such was his frustration with the location shoot that Zanuck swore he would never again make a film in Africa.note 
    • Moreover, as had happened during the shooting of The African Queen, almost every person involved contracted amoebic dysentery and/or malaria except for Huston and Flynn, who had brought copious amounts of alcohol which kept the sickness at bay. Greco, in particular, was very seriously ill during the shoot, while Eddie Albert developed an almost fatal case of sunstroke. A total of 920 sick calls were made by the 130-person cast and crew during the six-month location shoot. During the lengthy delays, Huston would often disappear on big game hunts.
    • Things didn't improve when production moved to studios in Paris for the interior scenes. Greco suffered a recurrence of her illness and had to be hospitalised, while Flynn also had to be rushed to hospital after coming down with malaria. The production was at least able to save some money when Orson Welles waived the fee for his cameo as a gesture of gratitude to Zanuck for helping to finance his 1952 adaptation of Othello.
    • Errol Flynn's alcoholism had become a round-the-clock problem, and he was frequently at odds with John Huston (with whom he had brawled at a Hollywood party a decade earlier). At one point, he provoked Huston into a fight; while Flynn was a former amateur boxer, the years of fast living had taken a heavy toll on him, and Huston, himself a former professional boxer, flattened Flynn with a single punch. The film was Flynn's last major Hollywood project; he died the following year.note  Huston, meanwhile, cited the film, which was a hit with neither critics nor audiences, as an example of how some of the worst shoots can result in the worst films.
  • The Unforgiven:
    • The film's projected budget of $3 Million expanded to $5.5 million. The original screenwriter JP Miller was replaced by Ben Maddow, the original director Delbert Mann was replaced by Huston, and plans for Richard Burton in the role that eventually went to Audie Murphy were scrapped when Burton demanded equal billing with Burt Lancaster, with the latter refusing (as he was also producer on the picture).
    • Production was suspended for several months in 1959 after Audrey Hepburn broke her back when she fell off a horse while rehearsing a scene. Although she eventually recovered, the accident was blamed for a subsequent miscarriage she suffered. According to several published biographies of Hepburn, she blamed herself for the accident and subsequently all but disowned the film, although she did complete it when she was well enough to return to work. Hepburn took the next year off work in order to successfully have a child, and returned to the big screen with Breakfast at Tiffany's.
  • The Misfits, the last completed film for both Clark Gable and Marilyn Monroe, was by all accounts an unhappy film to make:
    • Filming took place in Nevada in peak summer temperatures of over 100 degrees thanks to production of Monroe's previous film, Let's Make Love, lagging behind schedule due to a Screen Actor's Guild strike. Huston took advantage of the location to spend long nights drinking and gambling instead of sleeping, causing him to occasionally doze off on set, and forcing the production company to cover his gambling losses, contributing to the film going over budget. Gable was particularly annoyed by Huston's carousing, especially his penchant for bragging about his massive losses at the gambling tables. The film's ballooning budget caused United Artists to shut down production, and it took two weeks of meetings in New York and Los Angeles to get it re-opened.
    • Almost the entire cast were having severe personal problems, but none more so than Marilyn Monroe, whose marriage to the film's scriptwriter, Arthur Miller, was collapsing; she objected to how he had written her character and felt he had turned John Huston against her, and within weeks they were only speaking to each other through Monroe's acting coach, Paula Strasberg (wife of Method acting guru Lee Strasberg). In the early weeks of filming, she sought solace in the arms of her Let's Make Love co-star Yves Montand during weekend visits to her doctors in Los Angeles, trysts that stopped after gossip columnist Hedda Hopper printed a quote from Montand claiming that they were just his way of ensuring her romantic scenes in the film went smoothly (Monroe knew that he only said this to avoid hurting his wife, Simone Signoret, but she was still deeply stung by his words). Meanwhile, Miller began an affair with photographer Inge Morath, whom he later married after his divorce from Monroe became final.note  Miller was also constantly re-writing the script, regularly throwing Monroe into a panic over having new lines to remember at short notice.
    • As her marriage to Miller disintegrated, Monroe sank into a pit of depression and drug addiction so severe that there were many days when she showed up late and/or in no condition to work, if she showed up at all - this despite her daily calls being for 10am rather than the usual 9am, a concession to the fact that she would never be on time for a 9am call. Huston, who later said he was "absolutely certain that she was doomed" during shooting, put the film on hold for two weeks in August 1960 while she went to detox (also partly to cover his tracks as United Artists became concerned over the effect his gambling losses were having on the film's budget; fortunately, the film's insurance provider paid for her treatment). As she was noticeably hollowed out by the experience, most of her close-ups following her release were shot in soft focus.note 
    • Clark Gable was likewise in poor health when filming began, having been a heavy smoker since his mid-teens (leading to clearly audible damage to his voice) and a heavy drinker until not long before filming began, and he had twice had severe chest pains in the previous decade which may, with the benefit of hindsight, have actually been heart attacks that were never diagnosed. It took two attempts for him to pass a medical insurance physical before filming began, and only because he had spent the entire week before the second physical in bed without smoking or drinking. Bored with constantly waiting for Monroe to arrive on set, he asked Huston to help him pass the time by allowing him to do some of his own stunts, including being dragged across a dry lake bed by a truck at 30 mph. He was also flummoxed by the Method acting embraced by Monroe, Montgomery Clift, and Eli Wallach (all of whom had studied acting under Lee Strasberg at the Actors Studio), which he described as like an alien religion to him.note  When shooting wrapped, he quipped, "Christ, I'm glad this picture's finished. She damn near gave me a heart attack." The next day, he suffered a severe coronary thrombosis. He died in the hospital from a heart attack just ten days later. A devastated Monroe blamed herself for his death.note 
    • Among the other cast members, Clift had been struggling with drug problems ever since he had been seriously injured in a car accident in 1956, and he and Monroe required onset doctors. Monroe allegedly said of working with Clift, "It's good to meet someone who's in worse shape than I am."note  Thelma Ritter's health problems were much more minor, as she was rushed to hospital after suffering from exhaustion as the shoot shuddered to a close. Wallach had no health problems, but did receive a verbal jab from the cinematographer about him not having a career.
    • After Gable's funeral in November 1960, Huston, Miller, and producer Frank Taylor wanted to get the film into cinemas before the end of December to make Gable eligible for a posthumous Best Actor nomination at the following year's Oscars, but post-production had only just begun, and the film did not have a musical score - composer Alex North had not even seen a rough cut of the film, so he had no idea what he was writing for. By early December, it became apparent that the film would not be ready by the end of the year, and although North finished writing and recording the score in just three weeks, the film was released in February 1961, and Huston's hopes of securing Gable a posthumous Oscar nomination were dashed.note 
  • He was one of the directors of Casino Royale (1967), in addition to playing M. Casino Royale was the only Ian Fleming novel EON Productions failed to secure the rights to due to a bunch of legal issues, and it ended up with Charles Feldman. Unable to get EON on board and do a straight movie, he turned it into an insane, psychedelic parody of spy films with an All-Star Cast. There were multiple directors, none of them working with a finished script but all working independently, and there were also numerous screenwriters. Peter Sellers argued with Orson Welles, and the former was eventually fired despite playing the lead character. Many of the other actors were brought in to make up for this, many of whom assume the 007 moniker at some point. The editor seemed to be instructed to put the film together in the most disjointed, nonsensical fashion possible. And The Agony Booth has recapped it here.
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     Landis, John 
John Landis made some acclaimed comedy films in the late seventies and the eighties...and is responsible for one of the most notorious on-set accidents in Hollywood history.
  • While it's obvious from all the on-screen mayhem why The Blues Brothers cost so much to make (they actually dropped the Ford Pinto from a mile up, requiring a special FAA permit), there were a lot of other issues that aren't obvious on screen, as this ''Vanity Fair'' article showed:
    • Universal won a close bidding war with Paramount for the project, and of course they were overjoyed to have John Belushi, coming off a year when he'd starred in both a top-grossing film and a top-rated TV show, and had a number one single. But they didn't have a script. After an experienced writing partner was unable to help him, Aykroyd, who'd never even read a movie screenplay before, much less written one, took his time writing it. He delivered a 324-page monstrosity formatted more like free verse. Landis spent two weeks just cutting it down and converting it to something filmable.
    • The script was finished but the studio and the creative people hadn't settled on a budget. After the first month of filming in Chicago, where Landis kept Belushi under control and things went well, they finally saw it: $17.5 million. "I think we've spent that much already," Landis half-joked.
    • And then things went to hell. Belushi went everywhere in Chicago when he wasn't on set—and when he did, everybody was slipping him vials and packets of coke. That was in addition to what he could procure, or had already procured for himself, often consumed in his trailer or at the private bar on set he had built for himself, his longtime friends, the cast and any visiting celebrities. Carrie Fisher, who Landis had warned to keep Belushi away from drugs if she could, said almost everyone who had a job there also dealt, and the patrons could (and did) score almost anything there. Dan Aykroyd, who unlike Belushi or Fisher kept his use under control, says there was money in the budget set aside for coke for night shoots.
    • After Belushi's late nights partying, he'd either be really late for unit calls, tanking almost a whole day's worth of shooting, or only an hour or two late ... but then he'd go back to his trailer and sleep it off. One night, he wandered away from the set to a nearby house, where Aykroyd found him conked out on the couch after he'd raided the owner's fridge. On another, Landis went in to Belushi's trailer and found a gigantic pile of coke on a table inside, which he flushed down the toilet. Belushi attacked him when he came back, Landis knocked him down with a single punch and Belushi collapsed into tears.
    • Meanwhile, there was Executive Meddling to deal with. Fuming about the skyrocketing cost of the movie, Universal kept trying to get the filmmakers to replace the blues and soul stars like Aretha Franklin and Cab Calloway with more contemporary, successful acts like Rose Royce. Landis stuck to his guns, but because he did, some large theater chains refused to book it into theaters in white neighborhoods.
    • The production returned to Los Angeles for the last month of shooting, already way behind schedule and over budget. Fortunately Belushi calmed down and got it done. But right before shooting the final scene, which required him to do all sorts of onstage acrobatics while performing at the LA Palladium in front of an audience of hundreds of extras, he tried out some kid's skateboard... and fell off and seriously injured his knee. Lew Wasserman, the studio head, called the top orthopedist in LA and made him postpone his weekend until he could shoot Belushi up with enough anesthetics to get him through filming.
    • Fortunately the movie was a box-office smash that has since become a Cult Classic.
  • During shooting for Twilight Zone: The Movie, long-running television actor Vic Morrow and two child actors named My-Ca Dinh Le and Renee Shin-Yi Chen (both working illegally, without proper work permits and at 2AM, far later than the times allowed for child actors), were killed when a stunt helicopter crashed near them during the filming. This led to nearly a decade's worth of lawsuits, changes in the law about child actors doing stunts, and fewer helicopter scenes in movies thereafter until CGI made it possible to put them in digitally. Landis was acquitted of manslaughter charges but his career went into decline after this.
  • Beverly Hills Cop III tarnished Eddie Murphy's career and was a partial Creator Killer for Landis, and looking back, it's not hard to see why:
    • Murphy was averse to creating a third film in the series, claiming that he didn't like Cop II's over-reliance of similar gags and character motivations to that of the first in various talk show appearances. He claimed that if he were to get involved in a third film, it would be because Paramount Pictures footed a giant paycheck for him... and that's exactly what happened when they forked over $15 million for him to reprise his role
    • Like its predecessors, the film was fraught with problems deciding on a plot or script. Many ideas were batted around, including one where Axel would journey to London, England to arrest a pair of criminal brothers after his colleague Jeffrey is killed trying to arrest them, and teaming up with a British detective (envisioned to be played by either Sean Connery or John Cleese) to find the culprit. Another unused script idea had Foley, Rosewood, and Taggart going to London to rescue Captain Bogomil (Ronny Cox), who was being held hostage by terrorists during a International Police Convention. However, numerous problems, such as scripting issues and the budget, caused pre-production to drag out to the point that John Ashton and Cox had to drop out, due to obligations to other pending film projects. Cox would later claim in 2012 that the script was the big reason why he refused to return for the film, and his character simply isn't mentioned or referenced in the finished film.
    • Murphy showed up on-set looking downbeat and not giving the kind of trademark energy he used to, with various reasons given as to why that was the case. Interviews with Landis and cast member Bronson Pinchot (reprising his role of Serge) lay the blame with Murphy being depressed over a string of underperforming films or outright flops (including The Distinguished Gentleman and Harlem Nights, causing him to act morose throughout the shoot. For his part, Murphy claims that he wanted to play Axel Foley as an older and wiser detective who didn't use as much of his trademark snark or Bavarian Fire Drill tendencies. Whatever the case may be, his performance was singled out for criticism by reviewers after the fact.
    • Paramount cut the budget from a planned $70 million to $55 million after the box-office gross for Distinguished Gentleman was tabulated. Despite that, the budget spiraled out of control, with planned start dates pushed back amid script concerns.
    • Despite earning $119.5 million at the box office, the film was seen as a disappointment and put the kibosh on Landis' directing career for several years (the failure of Blues Brothers 2000, listed below, finished it off), while Murphy was left in a box-office slump for several years until 1996's The Nutty Professor reversed his fortunes. The lackluster nature of the script and production also left a planned fourth installment in Development Hell for nearly three decades, until it was announced by Netflix that they had inked a deal with Murphy to produce the film for the network in 2020.
  • Like its predecessor, Blues Brothers 2000 had a problematic production:
    • John Belushi died from a drug overdose a couple of years after the original film's release, leaving the follow-up in limbo (during which time co-stars John Candy and Cab Calloway also died) for the better part of two decades. During that timespan it was widely assumed that Belushi's younger brother James Belushi would be the obvious candidate to co-star with Dan Aykroyd in a sequel. In the end however, he turned it down, ostensibly because of a schedule conflict, resulting in John Goodman being cast in the entirely new role of Mighty Mac.
    • When Aykroyd and Landis presented their first draft script to Universal, the studio responded by saying their script was essentially just a carbon-copy of the first film, except with Belushi's character swapped out for Goodman's... which Aykroyd later admitted was actually a valid criticism. Unfortunately, what the studio did next would ultimately send the project down in flames, as they decided they wanted the film to appeal to a younger audience, and forced the insertion of a Tagalong Kid sidekick to Aykroyd and Goodman, while also forcing a Genre Shift that made the film much more overt fantasy than the first one.
    • The actual shoot wasn't quite as problematic as that of the first film, but Aykroyd and Goodman had to work essentially for free in order to get the film produced under the less-than-adequate budget that they were given. Aykroyd and Landis became increasingly despondent due to the continued Executive Meddling throughout the shoot, which resulted in the two threatening to quit, until the studio counter-threatened them with a lawsuit for breach of contract. Still, they roughed it out, and eventually finished the shoot.
    • Unlike the first film, 2000 was critically mauled and a Box Office Bomb, completely destroying Landis' career and sending Aykroyd into a career slump that would last well into the following decade, with Goodman probably only avoiding the same fate via his role in the same year's hugely acclaimed The Big Lebowski.

    Lean, David 
Sir David Lean's later films are noted for their exotic locations, epic storylines... and intensely troubled productions.

  • The Bridge on the River Kwai famously climaxes with a train wreck on a collapsing bridge. Fittingly, the production of the film was itself a train wreck almost from the start.
    • The script was initially adapted by Carl Foreman from the book by French author Pierre Boulle. After Lean was chosen to direct, producer Sam Spiegel brought him and Foreman together to work on the script, and was delighted to see the men take an almost instant dislike to each other, feeling that many great films were born from such animosity. Unfortunately, they hated each other so much that Foreman eventually resigned and was replaced by Michael Wilson. Since both Foreman and Wilson were on the Hollywood blacklist, the screenwriting credit (and Oscar) went to Boulle, who did not even speak English.note  When Columbia executives read the script, they objected to the lack of any romantic subplots, and Lean was forced to shoehorn in an affair between Commander Shears and a British nurse at the military hospital.
    • Lean and Spiegel differed widely over Kwai's focus. Lean was more interested in the prison camp rivalry between Colonel Nicholson and Saito; Spiegel felt the novel's action-adventure elements (namely the commando storyline, a subplot in the book) deserved more focus. Early scripts featured elaborate action scenes like an elephant stampede, an army ant attack, and even a submarine battle, which Lean adamantly vetoed. The finished film is a compromise, making the commando story more prominent without diminishing Nicholson and Saito's plot. Concerned about American box office, Spiegel changed Shears (a British character in the book) into an American POW who escapes from the camp, then is dragooned into helping destroy the bridge.
    • The role of Nicholson was offered to several actors, including Spencer Tracy (who declined as he felt the role had to be played by an English actor), Charles Laughton (who balked at the prospect of a location shoot in the tropical heat), and Laurence Olivier (who chose instead to direct The Prince and the Showgirl), before Alec Guinness was cast after a "summit meeting" with Spiegel and Lean. Guinness, at the time known more as a comic actor, was dismayed by the dull characterisation of Nicholson in the script and wanted to play the role as more light-hearted and sympathetic, while Lean insisted that he play Nicholson as written; the two men fought constantly over how the character should be portrayed. In the scene in which Nicholson reflects on his military career, Guinness felt that his face should be shot in closeup, and when he asked Lean why he decided instead to film Nicholson from behind, Lean exploded in anger.note 
    • Location scouts found that the actual River Kwai was a mere trickle, so, at Jack Hawkins' suggestion, production was set up near Kitulgala in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka). The remote location required a special construction of a bungalow complex to house the cast and crew. Though Lean was right at home in the tropical climate, most of the other personnel suffered in the intense heat and humidity. They were frequently forced to call in sick, and had to share the area with snakes, leeches,note  and other wildlife. The slow pace of filming resulting from Lean's rampant perfectionism did not help. Furthermore, Spiegel did not allocate money for extras, so the British soldiers were mostly played by crew members and Ceylon natives wearing Caucasian makeup.
    • Although the river posing as the Kwai in the film may have made for a more photogenic location, the strong currents nearly claimed several lives. During the shooting of a scene in which a Japanese soldier falls from the bridge, stuntman Frankie Howard was swept away by the strong current, as was prop technician Tommy Early when he dove in after Howard. Though both men were rescued, Howard contracted a stomach illness during the shoot and had to be flown to the Hospital for Tropical Diseases in London; sadly, he did not recover. Lean himself was also nearly swept away by a current when he went for a swim in the river during a break in filming; he had to be rescued by actor Geoffrey Horne (who played Lieutenant Joyce).
    • The spectacle of the construction and destruction of the bridge itself provided some of the film's most memorable images, as well as some of the production's most troublesome moments. In the film, the bridge is built in two months; the actual construction took eight months and required 500 men and 35 elephants. The elephants would take breaks every four hours to lie in the water, whatever the wishes of the construction crew. When the cameras were set up to film the bridge's destruction - with an audience including the Prime Minister of Ceylon - a cameraman was unable to get out of the way of the intended path of the explosion in time, and Lean halted filming. The train crossed the bridge safely, but crashed into a generator on the far side. The cameras were set up again the following day for the take that went into the finished film...
    • ... but it very nearly didn't make it into the film at all. Filming took place during the Suez Crisis in 1956, so equipment that would normally have been transported by sea instead had to be transported by air.note  The film of the bridge's destruction failed to arrive in London as scheduled, and a worldwide search was undertaken. To the crew's horror, the cans of film were eventually found in Cairo, where they had been sitting on the airport tarmac in the hot sun for a week. The prints should have been ruined, leaving the film without its climactic scene, but somehow they had survived undamaged.
    • Finally, Spiegel was determined to release the film before the end of 1957 to make it eligible for the year's Academy Awards. However, because of the chaotic production, by early December 1957, the film still had no music score - no-one had even been hired to compose it. The composer ultimately hired by Spiegel, Malcolm Arnold, had to write and record the score in just ten days.note 
  • Lean's next film after The Bridge on the River Kwai was Lawrence of Arabia. Somehow it managed to be a worse experience than Kwai.
    • First, it's worth noting that filmmakers had been trying to make a Lawrence movie since the mid-'20s. Two of the better known examples were an Alexander Korda epic in the '30s with Laurence Olivier as Lawrence, and a '50s Rank Organisation picture starring Dirk Bogarde. Both films fell apart due to political pressure: the former because of fear of alienating Turkey in the run-up to World War II; the latter because of a coup d'état in Iraq, where the film was set to shoot. Lean and Spiegel narrowly beat a competing project, an adaptation of Terence Rattigan's play Ross, to the screen.
    • Spiegel originally planned an All-Star Cast. At a press conference he announced Marlon Brando as Lawrence, Horst Buchholz as Sherif Ali, Laurence Olivier as Feisal, Kirk Douglas as the journalist Bentley and Cary Grant as General Allenby. Unfortunately for Spiegel, every single one of them declined.note  Omar Sharif and Jack Hawkins, originally cast in minor roles,note  were re-cast as Ali and Allenby, respectively, after Buchholz and Grant declined. Still angry over Kwai, Lean resisted casting Alec Guinness as Feisal but Spiegel insisted. One oft-repeated anecdote claims that Spiegel feigned a heart attack to trick Lean into changing his mind.
    • After Brando bowed out, Lean and Spiegel settled on Albert Finney as Lawrence. They were impressed enough with Finney, a relative unknown, that they filmed an elaborate screen test. Finney declined the role, however, after Spiegel demanded that he sign a multi-picture contract. note  At this point, Katharine Hepburn, who'd worked with Lean on Summertime, suggested a young Irish stage actor struggling to break into films: Peter O'Toole. Thus the film had its leading man despite adamant objections from Spiegel, who had been irritated by O'Toole's flippant ad libbing when he auditioned for the film adaptation of Suddenly, Last Summer (which Spiegel had produced).
    • Casting was complete, but the screenplay was not. Michael Wilson worked on the screenplay for over a year, then was summarily dismissed by Lean for unsatisfactory work. Unfortunately the cast and crew were already in Jordan and waited for weeks before a new writer was hired. Robert Bolt's tenure as screenwriter got off to a rocky start when he was arrested for taking part in a CND demonstration in London, forcing Sam Spiegel to bail him out of jail. Bolt then showed his gratitude by granting a press interview where he slammed Spiegel and Lean as egomaniacs. Eventually Spiegel invited Bolt to live on his private yacht in Aqaba, mostly to keep an eye on him.
    • Logistics filming in Jordan were a nightmare. For a start, gaining rights to film there required intense negotiation: Spiegel brought in Anthony Nutting, a former British Foreign Office official, to secure King Hussein's approval.note  The crew commandeered tanker trucks full of fresh water from Aqaba and airlifted frozen food to the location every day. Lean and crew had to meticulously sweep the desert sands free of footprints and tire tracks between takes. Outbreaks of illness laid many crew members low. O'Toole's on-set drinking caused tension with Arab extras. The Jordanian government initially cooperated with the production but proved leery about filming in cities like Aqaba and Maan.
    • Lean and Spiegel's already testy relationship soon reached the breaking point. Spiegel rarely visited the set, but constantly complained long-distance about Lean's "wasting" money and allegedly poor footage. On one visit he showed up with William Wyler in tow, threatening to replace Lean if he didn't work faster. Lean eventually got back at Spiegel by sneaking into the dailies a shot of him flipping Spiegel off... in 70mm. Unsurprisingly, Lawrence marked their last collaboration.
    • Eventually shooting in Jordan got so expensive that the production moved to Spain. More difficulties arose: production designer John Box had to build the Aqaba set from scratch. The crew had difficulty finding camels and camel riders. O'Toole nearly died filming a battle scene when he fell off his camel, and injured himself on another occasion. Edmond O'Brien (playing Bentley) had an onset heart attack and Arthur Kennedy was flown direct from New York to replace him. Flash floods in Almeria delayed filming. Lean and his actors grew increasingly tense; Lean once exploded at Jack Hawkins for trying to lighten the mood on-set. Finally, Lean couldn't find suitable locations for the climactic battle and there was a final move to...
    • Morocco. The crew took up residence at an old Foreign Legion encampment in Ouarzazate, with no air conditioning in 100-plus degree F temperatures. Lean argued with his second unit directors on how to film the battle, firing one (Andre de Toth). note  More diseases broke out among crew members. Procuring camels again proved a problem. The main difficulty however came with the extras. Soldiers from the Moroccan army were employed without pay, which they understandably resented. During off hours they actually took potshots at cast and crew, Lean included. Others deserted between takes and never came back.
    • Having survived an arduous production, Lawrence encountered several PR disasters up to its release. Professor A.W. Lawrence, the title character's brother, threatened to sue the filmmakers, then tried to discredit the movie through interviews and editorials. An ugly scandal arose when Spiegel again refused to credit Wilson. A Writers' Guild arbitration found in Wilson's favor, but Bolt still received sole credit.note  O'Toole attended press interviews drunk, drawing more bad attention. Finally, Lawrence received its American premiere during a newspaper strike in New York, and the few critics who saw it gave overwhelmingly negative reviews note . For all that Lawrence became a smash hit, and eventually an all-time classic, with ten nominations and seven wins at the 1962 Oscars,note  but it overcame a lot getting there.
  • Lean followed his jungle and desert epics with a winter epic in Doctor Zhivago, and its production provided more of the same chaos as the previous two films.
    • Producer Carlo Ponti won a bidding war for the film rights to Boris Pasternak's novel, and wanted it to be a spectacle on the same scale as Lawrence of Arabia, so he hired many of the same crew members, including David Lean, script writer Robert Bolt, composer Maurice Jarre, and production designer John Box. He wanted location shooting to take place in the Soviet Union, but was refused permission by the government due to the content of the novel. Scandinavia was deemed too cold for a lengthy film shoot, while Yugoslavia was ruled out for both the cold weather and the obstructive bureaucracy; the location shooting was mostly done in Spain. Construction of the Moscow set in a suburb of Madrid took nearly eighteen months, while filming itself fell behind schedule as Lean hoped to shoot scenes during each of the various seasons as depicted in the novel. Unfortunately, the winter scenes did not go as planned due to the unusually mild winter, and they were instead mostly filmed in summer in temperatures as high as 90 degrees Fahrenheit, with marble dust and plastic snow standing in for actual snow and the actors' profuse sweating requiring frequent makeup touchups.note 
    • Lean originally offered the title role to Peter O'Toole, but O'Toole turned it down, not wanting to repeat the miserable experience he had had working on Lawrence; Lean never forgave him for the slight. O'Toole's Lawrence co-star Omar Sharif, a big fan of the novel, initially auditioned for the role of Pasha and was surprised to be cast as Yuri Zhivago. However, as an Egyptian playing a Russian, he had to undergo a strenuous make-up process each day, involving shaving his hairline by 2-3 inches (which then had to be waxed every three days as it grew back), straightening his remaining hair, and taping his eyes back.
    • Part of Ponti's motivation for buying the rights to the novel was the prospect of seeing his wife, Sophia Loren, cast as Lara, but Lean dismissed her as "too tall". Jane Fonda turned down the role, not wanting to face a nine-month shoot in Spain, so Lean ultimately cast Julie Christie after seeing her in Billy Liar.note  Relations between the two were difficult at first, as Christie struggled to give Lean the performance he wanted and initially refused to wear the red dress that so captivates Zhivago's attention; as Lean was essentially incapable of buttering up his actors, he had to ask Box to persuade her for him. When shooting returned to Spain from Finland, Christie was so overwhelmed by Lean's demanding direction that she collapsed from exhaustion. They did eventually develop a good working relationship that became a lifelong friendship, but they never made another film together.
    • The relationship between Lean and Alec Guinness had become certifiably toxic; Lean frequently insulted not only Guinness's performance as Yevgraf Zhivago but also Guinness personally. Guinness recalled Lean mocking him as too old for the character and saying his "face was too fat onscreen," a criticism Guinness neither understood nor appreciated. This treatment generated a rift between the two men that would last nearly twenty years.note 
    • The original director of photography was Nicolas Roeg, but he resigned after creative differences with Lean led to a major falling out between the two. Freddie Young, the director of photography from Lawrence of Arabia, was offered the job, and though he was reluctant to work with Lean again after the exhausting experience of shooting Lawrence, he eventually agreed, but needed two weeks to re-shoot the scenes that Roeg had shot before his resignation.
    • The political climate in Spain (under far-right authoritarian leader Francisco Franco) made it a risky country in which to shoot a film about the Russian Revolution. The scene in which the crowd chants the Marxist anthem, "The Internationale", was filmed at 3am; the police, thinking an actual Marxist revolution was taking place, descended on the shoot and insisted on staying until the scene had been filmed. The mostly Spanish extras, fearful that the police would arrest them as Communist subversives, had to pretend not to know the words to "The Internationale".
    • During shooting of a scene in which Zhivago pulls a young mother onto a train after first pulling her baby onto the train, the actress playing the young mother, Lili Murati, panicked when Sharif grabbed her hand; a miscommunication between the two ultimately resulted in Murati falling under the train's wheels. Fortunately, she had bunched up and thus avoided having her limbs severed, while her thick clothing also protected her from serious injury.
    • Like Lawrence before it, the film continued to stumble in its first weeks in cinemas. Critics thought the film too long, the love affair between Zhivago and Lara too soap operatic, and the depiction of historical events too facile. Jarre's score, especially "Lara's Theme", was widely dismissed as "syrupy". Lean later said that during the first few weeks, "you could hurl boulders in the theatre and not hit anyone." However, the film and especially "Lara's Theme" eventually caught on with audiences, netting five awards from ten nominations at the 1965 Oscarsnote  and having one of the ten highest box office takes in cinema history (adjusted for inflation).note 
  • Lean simply couldn't escape this trope after the mid-1950s; the Irish love story Ryan's Daughter should have been a breather film after the more ambitious trio of The Bridge on the River Kwai, Lawrence of Arabia, and Doctor Zhivago, but it still managed to turn into a severely troubled production.
    • A location scouting expedition led Lean to declare Ireland's Dingle Peninsula the perfect place to shoot the film, which he expected to take three months and be on a similar scale to Brief Encounter.note  Instead, it took over a year and was on a similar scale to Zhivago, complete with a budget overrun of £4 million. Lean wanted most of the love scenes on the beach to be filmed in sunny weather, forgetting that south-west Ireland is known more for mist and gale force winds than sunshine; the weather was so uncooperative that the sunlit beach scenes were instead filmed at Noordhoek near Cape Town in South Africa.note  Ironically, Lean had to wait for a year for a suitably dramatic storm to strike the Irish coast for a pivotal scene in which the villagers wade into the sea to retrieve a shipment of weapons intended for the IRA. Leo McKern, who played publican Thomas Ryan, nearly drowned and nearly lost his glass eye to the rough seas, and was so frustrated by the slow pace of filming that he swore he would never act again (his "retirement" ultimately only lasted a few years). Production was also delayed by accidents, such as two vehicles sinking in a local peat bog. Nor did Ryan's long gestation endear Lean to MGM, who soon regretted giving the director carte blanche after Zhivago. At one point, MGM President James Aubrey arrived in Ireland to demand that Lean pick up the pace. Lean responded by shutting down production until Aubrey left the country.
    • Lean also had trouble casting most of the film's major roles (with two exceptions: Sarah Miles, then on her first of two marriages to the film's scriptwriter Robert Bolt, was cast as Rosy Ryan,note  while Lean's former frequent collaborator John Mills was cast as mute village idiot Michael, though he expressed reservations about being typecast). He initially offered the role of Catholic priest Father Collins to Alec Guinness, but Guinness, himself a devout Catholic, sent the script back with a long list of objections to the character's portrayal (Guinness was also still angry at Lean for how he had been treated during filming of Doctor Zhivago). Lean thanked him for his suggestions and gave the role instead to Trevor Howard, who was undergoing marital difficulties during filming. When Howard's wife, Helen Cherry, paid a visit to Ireland but stormed out of a party after an argument with him, she was nearly killed in a car accident on the treacherous narrow, winding roads. Howard's experience on set was similarly accident-plagued; he was rushed to hospital after falling off a horse, and he and Mills nearly drowned when a fishing boat scene went badly wrong, forcing them to be rescued by frogmen.
    • The role of Rosy's husband, schoolteacher Charles Shaughnessy, was intended for Paul Scofield, but he was in the middle of a theatre contract. Producer Anthony Havelock-Allan suggested Gregory Peck, who expressed interest in the role, but Lean ultimately cast Robert Mitchum, believing that casting against type always had interesting results. Mitchum almost turned down the role, as he was undergoing a personal crisis at the time (he told Lean that he was seriously contemplating suicide when he was cast; when Bolt heard of this, he told Mitchum that as long as he finished "working on this wretched little film" first, he would pay for his burial), and he described working with Lean as "like constructing the Taj Mahal out of toothpicks". Havelock-Allan later recalled that the awkwardness of co-ordinating the dates when Mitchum and Miles were both available put such a strain on pre-production that filming began without a proper shooting script. Eventually, relations between Mitchum and Lean became so strained that they only communicated with each other through Miles. Mitchum also planted marijuana trees behind the hotel accommodating the cast, giving many cast and crew members (and locals) their first experience of the drug.note 
    • But the most troublesome role proved to be that of Rosy's lover, Shell-Shocked Veteran Major Randolph Doryan. The role was originally offered to Marlon Brando, but he was forced to drop out when production of Burn! lagged behind schedule. Lean finally cast American actor Christopher Jones on the strength of his performance in The Looking-Glass War without bothering to meet him first... only learning after production began that the film had been shot to hide Jones' diminutive stature and that his high-pitched voice had been dubbed. Jones and Lean clashed frequently, with Lean finding Jones' voice and performance so unsuited to the square-jawed soldier he had envisioned that he had Doryan rewritten as traumatised into near silence by his trench experiences, with his aide-de-camp, Captain Smith (Gerald Sim), given the extra lines. Jones' voice was ultimately dubbed by Julian Holloway (which Jones only discovered when he saw the finished film), but his performance was one of the most harshly criticised aspects of the film.note 
    • Jones and Miles also grew to dislike each other, making filming of their love scenes awkward for all involved. Not only was Jones in mourning for his close friend (and possibly ex-girlfriend) Sharon Tate, who was murdered by the Manson family during production, but he was also engaged to Olivia Hussey,note  and was simply not attracted to Miles. This particularly frustrated Lean, who was looking forward to taking advantage of more relaxed film censorship and showing love scenes on camera instead of cutting away to something symbolic; instead, he had to fall back on the old techniques. Miles admitted in her autobiography that at one point, she conspired with Mitchum to drug Jones' breakfast to make him get over his disgust at filming the scene where Rosy and Doryan have a tryst in the forest, but Mitchum overdid the dosage, rendering Jones near catatonic for filming of the scene and leading him to believe he was having a nervous breakdown. Not long afterward, he had a similar brush with death to Helen Cherry when he crashed his sports car on the local roads. A combination of grief over Tate's death and his negative experience working on the film prompted Jones to retire from acting; he only made one other film.note 
    • Then came its release. MGM was expecting Ryan's Daughter to repeat the huge success of Zhivago, and unveiled it with a suitably lavish publicity campaign and roadshow release. Unfortunately, the movie was roundly savaged by critics, who typically complained it was too grand in scale for a modest love story. Lean took this criticism extremely personally; at a meeting of New York film critics he was confronted by Pauline Kael, Richard Schickel and others who seemingly took delight in insulting Ryan.note  This time, critical scorn matched audience indifference, and Ryan's box office take proved mediocre. It earned four nominations at the 1970 Oscarsnote  and eventually turned a profit, but fell short of MGM's hopes for a massive blockbuster. Lean wouldn't make another film for fourteen years, which was...
  • A Passage to India (1984). Compared to the others, Lean's final film was a breeze, with even the Indian location shooting going smoothly. Except that Lean, his stars, and his crew were constantly at each others' throats.
    • Alec Guinness testified in his diaries to the toxic atmosphere on set, resulting in cast and crew insulting Lean behind his back, and occasionally to his face. Judy Davis told Lean "You can't fucking well direct," and claimed he didn't understand women. Victor Banerjee argued with Lean over Aziz's accent, calling him "obnoxious" and a hack compared to Satyajit Ray, with whom he'd previously worked on Pikoo. Peggy Ashcroft disliked Lean's altering the novel and "lack of respect" for her co-stars. James Fox also suffered near-constant, unmotivated insults from Lean over his performance, but unlike his costars mostly shrugged them off. Finally, of course, was Guinness himself: playing the Indian mystic Godbole, he spent weeks learning an intricate Hindu dance, only to have Lean cut the entire scene in post-production.
    • It wasn't just the cast who grew tired of Lean's prima donna behavior. Santha Rama Rau, who had previously written a 1960 stage adaptation of India, was originally contracted to write the screenplay. Though Lean rejected her script as unsatisfactory, Rau discovered that Lean incorporated much of her dialogue into the finished film anyway; ultimately, she received a screen credit after threatening a lawsuit. Lean also disliked his cinematographer Ernest Day, eventually "promoting" him to assistant director and sending Day to film superfluous landscape and crowd scenes that didn't make it into the final movie.

    Peckinpah, Sam 
"Bloody" Sam Peckinpah was known for his rebellious, uncompromising attitude to filmmaking. Even his closest friends confessed that he could be a pain to work with.
  • This trend began with Peckinpah's very first film, The Deadly Companions...in this case, not of his own making. Here the problem was star Maureen O'Hara, who along with producer Charles FitzSimmons (O'Hara's brother) micromanaged the production, constantly overruled the freshman director and demanded rewrites and re-shoots on the fly to recenter the film from Brian Keith's character to O'Hara's. Many key scenes were re-shot or cut in post-production; Peckinpah was particularly chagrined that FitzSimmons re-edited the climactic scene where Keith shot Chill Wills' villain in the back into something more conventionally heroic. Peckinpah, not having the clout to push back against O'Hara or FitzSimmons, went along with it, though it's probable that the experience informed Peckinpah's later problems with obnoxious producers and domineering stars.
  • Major Dundee:
    • Things first began to fall apart when Columbia kept changing things — the shooting schedule, the budget, the film's final running time — much to Peckinpah's chagrin. To accommodate the changes, the script, which had been rewritten already by Peckinpah from Harry Julian Fink's script of a basic Western adventure story to a Moby-Dick-esque study of the title character, a US Cavalry officer who would do anything for glory, was again rewritten, this time by Oscar Saul; it was still being reworked throughout filming, which accounts in part for the finished film's choppiness. One of the more egregious additions was the romance plot with Senta Berger's Teresa. (Some idea of what Fink and Peckinpah's original script looked like can be gleaned from a novelization published in 1965, which adds several scenes and whole subplots while changing the fates of several characters. The romance is completely absent.)
    • So Peckinpah started drinking. Heavily, even by his standards. And then showing up this way on set. He began firing people for the most insignificant things, and threatening everyone else to the point that the film's star and Peckinpah's friend Charlton Heston frequently had to pull his costume's cavalry sabre on the director repeatedly. Peckinpah fell for actress Begoña Palacios, who played a minor character in the film,note  and spent much of his time courting her rather than directing.
    • It didn't help either that Heston and costar Richard Harris hated each other. They'd worked together previously, on The Wreck of the Mary Deare, and their antipathy carried over into Dundee: Heston called Harris a "professional Irishman" while Harris labelled Heston a "holy Joe." Senta Berger recounted the two engaging in macho posturing, like Harris hiking his boots up to seem taller than Heston. Heston was so annoyed by Harris's general behavior (he frequently showed up late on set, and argued with Peckinpah and his costars) that he lodged a formal complaint with producer Jerry Bresler.
    • Word of this got back to the studio, which aggravated matters by moving the wrap date up a full month. They were reportedly going to fire Peckinpah as well until Heston saved his friend's job by making the ultimate sacrifice—he said he would forego his salary and do the whole film for free. Even so, Peckinpah's drinking got even worse. This time he often wandered away from the set, and Heston reportedly directed much of the later scenes.
    • When principal photography was finally over, Columbia broke its contract with Peckinpah and hired editors itself to put the film together. The film was cut from a reported 155 minute run time to 121 minutes, with a poorly-matched musical score by Daniele Amfitheatrof (featuring a title march by Mitch Miller and his Sing-Along Gang) added. Critics regarded the finished film as an interesting failure; however, stories of Peckinpah's difficult behavior percolated throughout Hollywood. He was fired from his next film, The Cincinnati Kid, and spent several years blackballed by Hollywood studios.
    • Peckinpah eventually recouped his reputation with a TV production of Noon Wine, then made The Wild Bunch, which is sort of a semi-remake of this film. For years there was a debate as to how much the released version represented what Peckinpah had really wanted to do, and only in 2005, two decades after his death, was a version released that tried to be true to his original vision. This version runs 138 minutes, 17 minutes longer than the original studio cut, and adds a new sound mix and a completely new score by Christopher Caliendo.
  • Ironically, The Ballad of Cable Hogue, a film shot on desert locations was plagued by constant rain. With shooting delayed, the cast and crew spent most of the time drinking. Peckinpah, as usual when his alcoholism flared up, became irascible, and fired dozens of crew members over the course of production. Adding to the chaos, Slim Pickens, cast in a major supporting role, came down with pneumonia, and there was even an outbreak of gonorrhea among the crew. The film went over schedule and over budget, and Warner Bros. wasn't willing to give the film much support on release, despite its scoring exceptionally well with test audiences.
  • Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid was filmed almost entirely on location in Durango, Mexico. Dust storms, hot weather and defective cameras delayed shooting from the start. Much of the cast and crew came down with influenza. Peckinpah's severe alcohol problems created tensions with coworkers. In this case, though, Executive Meddling proved the most persistent issue: penny-pinching MGM honcho James Aubrey repeatedly slashed the budget and refused to sanction re-shoots for several key scenes, after which the movie was cut from 124 minutes to 106 minutes, smuggled quietly into theaters and flopped. The film sunk into ignominy (aside from its Bob Dylan soundtrack) until the preview cut resurfaced in the '90s.
  • Cross of Iron:
    • Location shooting for this World War II drama was mostly done in Yugoslavia, with the Yugoslav government agreeing to provide the period accurate tanks and machine guns the production needed. Unfortunately, according to the film's star, James Coburn, because only a fraction of the $4 million budget promised by producer Wolf C. Hartwig was available when filming began, half the equipment was still held up in negotiations when the cameras started rolling, causing severe delays to the shooting schedule.
    • Sam Peckinpah's alcoholism was as bad as ever, with his preferred drink for this shoot being 180° proof Slivovitz (Šljivovica). Every two to three weeks, he would go on a binge, and the time he needed to sober up again resulted in lost shooting days.
    • The production delays naturally led to budget overruns to the tune of $2 million. On July 6, 1976, eighty-nine days into the shoot and with the last of the money spent, Hartwig and his co-producer Alex Winitsky tried to halt the production before the final scene had been filmed. The original ending was expected to take three days to film in an abandoned rail yard, and the special effects teams had already spent several days wiring pyrotechnics for the shoot. Coburn was so annoyed by the producers' attempted interference that he had them thrown off the set and worked with Peckinpah and his co-star, Maximilian Schell, to improvise the ending that went into the finished film. Once the final scene was shot, the cast and crew packed their luggage and caught their trains or planes home, as there was no money left for a wrap party.
  • Convoy destroyed Peckinpah's career despite becoming his highest-grossing film.
    • The film was an attempt to cash in on the trucking and CB radio fad of the late '70s, using C.W. McCall's "Convoy" as a hook. B.W.L. Norton wrote the original script as a lighthearted action comedy similar to Smokey and the Bandit. He pitched the project to EMI, who offered it to Peckinpah, then finishing post-production on Cross of Iron. Though dubious about the project's potential, Peckinpah agreed on condition that he had complete control over the film. The studio agreed, and trouble promptly began.
    • Peckinpah immediately started rewriting Norton's script, re-envisioning it as a modern-day Western with truckers fighting against crooked lawmen and unfair interstate regulations, while also adding heavy-handed political satire. Unable to give these ideas much weight on their own, Peckinpah encouraged his stars (Kris Kristofferson, Ali MacGraw and Ernest Borgnine among them) to write their own dialogue. James Coburn, working as Peckinpah's assistant director, admitted that "There was no conflict. They didn't know what the fuck was going on."
    • Production began in May 1977 and almost immediately spiraled out of control; within two weeks, Peckinpah was already behind schedule. Peckinpah refused to deal with producer Bob Sherman, enlisting his actors and crew members to run interference when Sherman visited the set. The budget exploded as Peckinpah spent absurd amounts of time on individual scenes. One major set piece, a barroom brawl, took ten days to shoot. Entire action scenes were re-structured around accidental wrecks and botched stunts which Peckinpah left in the finished film. Then, production halted for several weeks when Kris Kristofferson left the shoot for a concert tour. This did have one beneficial side-effect however, as MacGraw, who had been suffering from long-standing drink and drug problems, checked herself into rehab and cleaned herself up in time for shooting to resume.
    • But Convoy's biggest bugbear remained Peckinpah, whose substance abuse spiraled out of control. He was taking heavy amounts of cocaine, Quaaludes and vitamin shots that left him both irritable and irrational. At one point, Peckinpah called his nephew David from the set, ranting that Steve McQueen — who had forced MacGraw to retire from acting when the two married earlier in the decade, promptly served her with divorce papers when she decided to come out of retirement for Convoy, and in fairness to Peckinpah, did allegedly send him a threatening note or two early in filming — and the Executive Car Leasing Company were conspiring to kill him. On the day the climactic funeral scene was set to film, with the cast, crew and 3,000 extras assembled, Peckinpah locked himself in the trailer for twelve hours, refusing to communicate with anyone. He also fired several crew members and assistants as filming dragged on. With their director incapacitated, Coburn and the other assistant directors essentially finished directing Convoy themselves.
    • Filming finally wrapped in early September 1977, two months behind schedule and $3,000,000 over-budget. A month later, however, Peckinpah was assigned to re-shoot several scenes, which he did without incident. After several months of editing, Peckinpah delivered a rough cut that was nearly four hours long... without bothering to include the final half-hour of the movie. EMI finally lost patience with Peckinpah, booted him off the project, and brought in two other editors to recut the film essentially from scratch; yet again, Peckinpah was barred from finishing his own movie.
    • Amazingly, Convoy became a box office hit when it was finally released in the summer of 1978. However, Peckinpah's meltdown convinced Hollywood studios that he was unemployable. It would be five years before Peckinpah made his next (and last) film, The Osterman Weekend, where he was given little control over the finished product.

    Scott, Ridley 
Like fellow Alien franchise director James Cameron, Sir Ridley Scott has run into a fair amount of clunky productions himself.

  • The original Alien had a smoother production than most of its sequels, but not an entirely trouble-free one. Most of the problems that did occur were in pre-production, firstly when the producers were having trouble finding a studio to back the film, and then when looking for a director. They were initially keen to hire Robert Aldrich, but when they actually met him, they were dismayed to find that he didn't give a shit at all about their vision and was just looking for a quick paycheck. Several more directors passed on the project, and producer Walter Hill considered directing it himself before a sample of Ridley Scott's work just happened to pass his desk.

    Production itself was relatively smooth, but it had some problems. Jon Finch, originally cast as Kane, had to drop out by the second day of shooting when he became severely ill due to his diabetes, and John Hurt (the producers' first choice) was cast instead. There was also friction between the producers and screenwriter Dan O'Bannon, who didn't like that Hill had rewritten the screenplay to have more gritty and realistic dialogue. The visual effects team was also sorely under-funded and under-equipped, which resulted in cinematographer Derek Vanlint having to gather up all his lighting equipment and lend it to the VFX team at the end of each day. Additionally, Jerry Goldsmith composed a substantial amount of music for the film, only for Scott to throw most of it out and have the finished product largely unscored while replacing some of the music with a Howard Hanson composition and tracking in Goldsmith's music from Freud, enraging Goldsmith and resulting in the two not working together again until Legend (1985) (where the music was also screwed with).
  • Blade Runner's creation was a difficult process:
    • The original screenwriter, Hampton Fancher, was eventually distanced from his script for being too protective, and David Peoples created the script that eventually was filmed.
    • A critical financier went bankrupt at the eleventh hour, leading to some desperate deals shortly before production began.
    • Harrison Ford often veered between impatient and bored during production. He also argued with Scott over whether or not Deckard was a replicant.
    • Sean Young was cast by Scott for her Ava Gardner-esque looks, although many preferred another actress, Nina Axelrod. Young was unknown and also inexperienced, which seemed at times to annoy Ford.
    • Given the film is mostly set at night, it was filmed at the darkest possible hours, making everyone very exhausted, not helped by the constant fake rain. It even led to a well-known blooper: when Roy Batty releases the dove, the shot of it flying is in bright day, because the one during the night shoot got soaked and couldn't be bothered to take off.
    • Towards the end of principal photography an incident occurred which has become known as the T-shirt war. The majority of the crew didn't enjoy working on the film, and didn't like working for Scott, who they considered to be cold and distant. In an article in the British press, Scott commented that he preferred working with English crews because when he asked for something they would say, "Yes guvnor" and go get it, but things weren't that simple with American crews. Makeup supervisor Marvin G. Westmore saw the article and was disgusted. In retaliation, he had t-shirts printed with "Yes guvnor my ass!" on the front, and either "Will Rogers never met Ridley Scott" or "You soar with eagles when you fly with turkeys" on the back. In retaliation, Scott and several of his closer collaborators had t-shirts made with "Xenophobia sucks" on them.
    • The Director of Photography, Jordan Cronenwith, suffered from Parkinson's disease and during the shoot was very weak and in a great deal of pain. By the final month of shooting, he was working from a wheelchair.
    • Scott took multiple takes for seemingly innocuous scenes, leading one to wonder if he was really looking for the right look, or just infuriating his producers. It got to the point where the exasperated crew nicknamed the film Blood Runner.
    • The final scene was shot literally hours before the studio was going to step in and remove Scott from the project.
    • Test screenings were sharply divided over the tone of the film. The producers themselves called the voiceovers "dull", and Ford himself was not a fan of them. Ford admitted later to trying to make them dull in the hope they would be removed. In the initial theatrical release, they stayed in (but were removed in the Director's Cut and Final Cut).
  • Legend (1985) took three years to complete, to the point Mia Sara started production at 15 but had already come of age by its 1985 release. Production was halted twice, once when a whole soundstage burned down (though thankfully with no one inside), and again when Tom Cruise's father died. The extensive make-up that everyone but the two stars had to go through wasn't easy - Tim Curry suffered so much with his claustrophobic demon full body make-up that he eventually injured himself removing it too fast. Also, during post-production Scott ended up cutting the film profusely and changing its soundtrack from Jerry Goldsmith's orchestra to Tangerine Dream's electronica (both were restored in the director's cut).
  • Gladiator went through constant on-set rewrites, to the point where Richard Harris stopped paying attention. Russell Crowe allegedly questioned every aspect of the evolving script and strode off the set when he did not get answers. But that was nothing compared to the biggest problem the film faced - Oliver Reed, cast in what was supposed to be his Career Resurrection, died of a heart attack during filming in Malta before all of his scenes had been shot. Not only did this necessitate having the effects company spend $3 million creating a CGI body double, but it also caused story alterations (his character was supposed to make it through the end of the film, as opposed to dying near the climax).
  • Hannibal had a troubled pre-production:
    • The controversy of the novel resulted in key players from The Silence of the Lambs (Johnathan Demme, Ted Tally and Jodie Foster) withdrawing from the project, which initially cast doubt on whether or not the film would even get made. Some executives were wary of proceeding without Demme's budget-conscious involvement, and feared the price tag might spiral out of control with the notoriously temperamental Dino De Laurentiis in control. Media scrutiny was intense.
    • Also complicating things were convoluted legal matters regarding rights to the material and characters, which resulted in a lawsuit between producer De Laurentiis and Universal Pictures (which ultimately was settled, with both parties remaining involved). However, MGM had to be brought into the mix due to their ownership of Clarice Starling, which they obtained after acquiring the assets of Orion Pictures. Further negotiation resulted in MGM acquiring U.S. distribution rights, while Universal would distribute the film internationally.
    • Once Scott was selected as director, the process turned to the screenplay. David Mamet wrote the original draft but was not available for rewrites, causing Steven Zaillian to be brought on. Adapting the novel was a long and arduous process, and Scott was heavily involved. Thomas Harris' ending for the novel was deemed far too controversial and implausible to put on film, so concepts for new endings had to be discussed.
    • After the film was finally on track and Julianne Moore chosen as the new Clarice, De Laurentiis added more fuel to the fire by making unflattering comments about Jodie Foster - mainly his opinions about her lack of sex appeal compared to Moore.
  • Kingdom of Heaven got its fair share of production problems:
    • The project originally began as a Russell Crowe vehicle called Tripoli. Screenwriter William Monahan (The Departed) had a script written, Scott signed on to direct, 20th Century Fox greenlit it, sets and art assets were being made, and then things went nowhere. After two tries of getting it off the ground, Monahan began writing Heaven after Tripoli fell apart, as Scott had always wanted to do a movie about the Crusades.
    • The film was hit with Executive Meddling from the start, with the execs being very uncomfortable with the length of the script and the subplot of Eva Green's Princess Sibylla and her son Baldwin V, who briefly rules Jerusalem after King Baldwin IV (Edward Norton) dies. In Scott's words on the 4 disc DVD set and the Ultimate Edition Blu Ray, he mentioned that studio heads said that the plot "went off on a tangent". The studio demanded Monahan write two different versions of the script: one with and one without the kid. Scott and co. shot the former.
    • Filming was actually pretty smooth, save for an incident in which Orlando Bloom came down with the flu and suffered some hand injuries. Jeremy Irons' character's name was also changed from Raymond to Tiberius to avoid confusion with Brendan Gleeson's Reynauld, which may not have been a bad thing.
    • When filming wrapped up, Fox was bothered by the length of the cut that Scott had presented them (around 186 minutes) and forced him to cut the film down to a measly 145 running time, excising the plot about Sibylla's son, among many other scenes. Their reasoning was that audiences couldn't handle a three-hour film, disregarding successful long movies such as the studio's own Titanic (1997) and The Lord of the Rings. They also mismarketed the film, making it seem more like Gladiator set in the Crusades, rather than the drama that was made. This backfired, resulting in poor box office returns and mediocre reviews (though it did fare better in international markets).
    • Luckily, the film found new life on video in the form of the Director's Cut, which restored the original running time and as a result, received much better reviews than its theatrical version. On top of that, the Director's Cut is also considered an example of how editing can radically change the quality of a film.
  • As noted in this interview, the script for Robin Hood (2010) got hit with extensive re-writes, turning it from a Sympathetic P.O.V. story of the Sheriff of Nottingham, to a Fight Club-esque story, to the origin story of the title character. Also, regular collaborators Russell Crowe and Scott weren't getting along well on set, which eventually soured their relationship. In addition to that, the film's budget ballooned from $155 million to around $200 million, according to some sources, and around 16 minutes were cut before its theatrical release (which were later reinserted into the home video release).
  • Like previous installments in the Alien franchise, Prometheus ran into a lot of this:
    • The film was originally envisioned to be a straight-up prequel to Alien, via a script written by Jon Spaihts (who was in-demand at the time due to his previous script being on the unofficial Hollywood "black list" of best screenplays) called "Alien: Engineers". Ridley Scott then contacted Damon Lindelof for advice on the script, and was told to rein in many of the parts that made it an identifiable Alien film (including the fact that it was originally set on LV-426, the location of the derelict ship from the first two films) and make it an original creation. This, coupled with Spaihts supposedly constraining Scott's vision, led to Lindelof being hired to rewrite the screenplay. It took another four drafts (and more than a year of pre-production time) to get the script to a point where everyone was happy with it, and even then the cast and crew (as evidenced by their remarks in the Blu-Ray extras) seemed convinced that they were shooting a prequel that led into the original film.
    • The character of Elizabeth Shaw was originally named Elizabeth Watts, but was renamed due to fear of confusion for Fox's President of Production, Emma Watts. It took the CEO of the company, Tom Rothman, to name the film Prometheus because the filmmakers couldn't decide on what title to use (with their previous suggestion being "Paradise").
    • Following this, the film ran into trouble in the editing room, with a behind-the-scenes tug-of-war between Scott and Fox executives over various aspects of the film. There was much confusion on set and in public forums over whether the film was intended to be PG-13 or R-rated, with Scott stoking the fires for months by apparently submitting to FOX's demand to make a PG-13 cut for theatrical release. The main hangup was Noomi Rapace's "surgery scene", where she removes an alien embryo from her own body via self-surgery. Although the film was eventually released in an R-rated cut, chunks of the plot were taken out in the editing room - notably, a much longer final confrontation between Shaw and the Engineer, and an entirely different Fifield attack sequence that took place just as Weyland and the Mercenaries were leaving for the Engineer ship.
    • Charlize Theron had significant trouble running in the Icelandic shooting location, during the sequence where she and Rapace run from the rolling Engineer ship.
  • Even The Counselor wasn't completely safe from this. Scott took up the project after trying to get Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian away from Development Hell (a script was written but they execs wouldn't greenlight it due to the book's grim content). About halfway during filming, Scott's brother Tony committed suicide; the tragedy halted production for a week. After production finished up, some of the higher-ups demanded changes, such as trimming down the film's running time (which was reinserted back into the film on video) and redubbing the lines of Cameron Diaz's character Malkina. When the film came out, it was widely panned by most critics, but over the years has become something of a cult classic among fans of Scott and McCarthy.
  • Shockingly averted with Alien: Covenant, which might well be the first Alien film that didn't have production problems. The film was filmed in just 74 days, without going over-budget and was finished on time.
  • All the Money in the World had the misfortune of being Kevin Spacey's next film immediately after a wave of allegations of molesting young men for a long time became public. Just seven weeks before its release date, Christopher Plummer was brought in to take over his role, requiring bringing back all the cast and crew members involved in every one of his scenes under severe time constraints. Thankfully, the reshoots were finished in just 8 days, managing to make its December 22nd release date. However, controversies surrounding the film didn't end there when the outrageous pay gap between Mark Wahlberg and Michelle Williams ($1.5 million for Wahlberg as opposed to $800 in per diems for Williams) for the reshoots were publicized. Williams later made a comment that she wasn't really bothered by this,note  while Wahlberg later donated his pay to the Me Too movement. But the damage was done at this point, and Scott was reportedly furious by Wahlberg's actions.
  • Production for The Last Duel-based on the duel between Jacques le Gris and Jean de Carrouges over claims that de Gris had raped de Carrouge's wife-began in France in February 2020 and soon found itself coinciding with the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak, leading to filming in Ireland bein postponed indefinitely immediately after the French shoot wrapped.

    Smith, Kevin 
Kevin Smith has faced several obstacles during his cinematic career, but there have been times when such hurdles became so overwhelming they nearly derailed his movies.

  • Smith's first film Clerks was a very on-the-cheap affair which naturally led to quite a few issues. Most notably, the film's financing was a real life Absurdly High-Stakes Game for Smith, with him cashing out his life savings and maxing all his credit cards, potentially leaving himself broke and hopelessly in debt if he couldn't actually finish the film and then get it released to any kind of profit. On top of that, filming was done in the real convenience store he worked in at the time, all done late at night, which is the reason for the whole bit with the gum in the locks preventing the window shutters from being raised. And he had to reach deep into his group of friends to populate the film, with one guy in particular playing four roles over the course of the film (Smith calls him their Lon Chaney in the commentary). Luckily, it worked out very well and he's been able to move on to a successful career.
  • Coming off of the box office splash of Clerks, producer James Jacks lured Smith and partner Scott Mosier to make their next film at Universal. Unfortunately, Mallrats was set up at the Universal/PolyGram joint venture Gramercy Pictures, which served as the former's low-budget/art-house division, and Smith later said that Gramercy "couldn't market their way out of a paper bag". As such, there was Executive Meddling galore!
    • During casting, the studio did not want Jason Mewes reprising his role as Jay and pushed for either Seth Green or Breckin Meyer to replace him. The only way Smith could avoid this mandate was to have Mewes re-audition for the character. Even then, the execs refused to pay for Mewes' travel fees or hotel costs and were even prepared to fire him on the first day of shooting if they felt he wasn't good enough. Smith let Mewes know about this, prompting him to prove him to give a better performance, and the studio finally caved.
    • However, studio executives got their way regarding aspects of Smith's raunchy humor. In addition to forbidding the use of "penis" or any explicit reference to it and any words meaning "fuck" that isn't "fuck", they also refused to allow Smith to make a joke regarding a woman getting semen in her hair. On the flip side, they pushed for full frontal nudity, including a brief moment with Joey Lauren Adams.
    • Multiple scenes ended up cut from the film. Most prominently, Smith shot a prologue where TS and Brandi attend the Governor's Ball hosted by Mr. Svenning, only for TS to accidentally shoot at the Governor when the musket of his colonial costume gets stuck in Brandi's hair. It had to be scrapped after test audiences reacted negatively towards it. This resulted in a bunch of ADR work to remove almost all references to the incident, save for Mr. Svenning's encounter with a TV executive over it.
    • Mallrats ended up a Sophomore Slump for Smith as the film both bombed with critics and at the box office. It did sell well on video though, and Universal allowed Smith to make a director's cut 10 years later.
  • Smith has frequently spoken of the bad memories he has from shooting Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, mostly owing to Jason Mewes' drug and alcohol abuse turning him into a "ticking time bomb" which threatened to shut the project down at any moment. During pre-production, Mewes would have constant mood swings due to heroin withdrawal, to the point that Smith threw him out of his car on their way to the set one day. Mewes would compensate for his lack of drugs by drinking heavily after every day of shooting and nearly got into a fist fight with Scott Mosier when he had to come back one night for a reshoot while drunk (Mewes later said that he was too intoxicated to remember anything that happened during production). When the shoot wrapped, Smith told Mewes point-blank to get sober or he'd never speak to him again.
  • Though Jersey Girl turned out fairly close to how Smith wanted, it wasn't for a lack of attempted Executive Meddling on the part of Miramax, who tried to pressure Smith into filming more scenes involving Jennifer Lopez after her relationship with Ben Affleck hit the tabloid headlines. Fortunately for Smith, the epic critical and commercial failure of the "Bennifer" vehicle Gigli caused the studio to quickly retract these requests. Smith also had some trouble dealing with veteran cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond on-set, though later admitted that he was just as much at fault as Zsigmond.
  • While production of Zack and Miri Make a Porno was also comparatively smooth, like Jersey Girl there was a fair bit of meddling from the studio involved over the type of humor involved. It was in release where things really went wrong, as the studio had no idea how to market it, cinemas refused to carry posters simply because they had the word "porno" in the title, and an overall lack of marketing caused the film to post underwhelming box-office numbers. Smith also took the reviews — many of which compared him disparagingly to Judd Apatow — hard, sending him into depression and reportedly almost breaking up his marriage.
  • Smith and his crew had, according to their own statements, a horrible experience filming Cop Out due to the behavior of his lead actor, Bruce Willis. While they supposedly got along famously when Smith filmed his cameo in Live Free or Die Hard, and expressed interest in working together someday, things went sideways when they actually did. Although Smith has supposedly kept some parts of his experience private, he devoted a whole chapter in his book Tough Shit to his experiences making the movie, as well as told stories at speaking engagements about Willis' behavior (calling him "the unhappiest, most bitter, and meanest emo-bitch I’ve ever met at any job I’ve held down"). Among the few incidents that are known, Willis:
    • Supposedly made Smith feel like crap on the second day of shooting, when (after Smith stopped by and told him he was a huge fan, and after seeing a group of people recognize him) say, "Those are the worst ones."
    • Intentionally flubbed his lines and mannerisms in order to waste time during filming, starting from the first day of filming.
    • Openly refused to stand on his lighting mark in outdoor scenes, then ignored Smith's orders during filming and walked off to the catering table constantly.
    • Said to Smith on one occasion: "I'm Bruce Willis! I've been Bruce Willis successfully for 25 years! How long have you been Silent Bob, motherfucker?"
    • Lectured Smith and his crew on their choice of camera lenses during a sequence shot in front of a green-screen.
    • Supposedly threatened to punch Smith during a break from shooting a scene in a hotel room, then denied it when Smith called him on it.
    • For his part, Willis has accused Smith of treating the shoot like a joke and constantly being high off his ass on marijuana while directing... though if Smith's own claims are true, it wouldn't be hard to understand why.
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    Welles, Orson 
One of the many reasons why Orson Welles was never able to fully realise the early promise he showed with his debut, Citizen Kane, was the way black clouds of troubled productions seemed to follow him everywhere he went. Most of the problems involved securing funds, but others involved simply crappy luck.

  • Citizen Kane itself just managed to avoid this, as Welles' co-writer Herman Mankiewicz was known as a drunk and a compulsive gambler who had been kicked out of almost every studio for insulting whoever stood in his way. Who knows what he might have done had he not broken his leg in a drunken fall, giving Welles and producer John Houseman the excuse to board him up in a guest ranch and keep constant watch over him as he completed the screenplay.
  • The trouble for Welles began with his second film, The Magnificent Ambersons. Though still regarded as a classic, the film is held up as an example of how Executive Meddling can ruin a film beyond all recognition. Welles later said, "They destroyed Ambersons, and 'it' destroyed me."
    • Production itself finished two weeks behind schedule and over $200,000 over budget. The director of photography for Citizen Kane, Gregg Toland, was unavailable, and Welles had a less fruitful relationship with his replacement, Stanley Cortez. Full sets were designed and built for every scene in the film, even the very briefest; as a result, the ratio of set cost to total production budget was higher than it was for Gone with the Wind. Though the film is set in Indianapolis, it was filmed in and around Los Angeles, which meant the studio had to get creative for winter scenes; it took twelve days to perfect the snow effects, and once they began shooting, the cameras and other equipment kept breaking down in the cold. Many cast and crew members (with the notable exception of Welles) came down with head colds as a result. The noisy cameras and cranes also ruined sound recording, forcing the cast to re-dub all of their dialogue at a total cost of $25,000 (more than three times the dubbing budget) as Welles rebuffed suggestions that the equipment noise be sorted out at the source.
    • But worse was to come in post-production; Welles had to leave for Brazil at RKO shareholder Nelson Rockefeller's behest to shoot an anthology film called It's All True to promote the Good Neighbor Policy for US-South American relations.note  The film's editor, Robert Wise, edited the film from Welles' notes and sent him a 132-minute rough cut; Welles sent back instructions to cut a further 22 minutes.note  The 110-minute version was given a disastrous test screening in Pomona in front of an audience of mostly teenagers who had come to see the musical The Fleet's In; the audience laughed during the dramatic scenes, especially those featuring Agnes Moorehead in her Oscar-nominated performance as Fanny, and said on their comment cards that they found the film too depressing, especially the ending in which Eugene visits a now withdrawn Fanny in a crowded boarding house that is revealed in the final shot to be the former Amberson mansion (though 10% of the comment cards were positive; one praised the film and said it was too bad the audience was so unappreciative). RKO chief George Schaefer described it as the worst preview screening he had attended in 28 years in the film business.
    • A second screening in Pasadena (with Welles' 22 minutes of cuts restored by Wise and smaller cuts made elsewhere to make up the difference) was much more well-received by the audience, but panic had already set in at RKO, who decreed that the film would have to be re-cut. Unfortunately for Welles, he was still in Brazil, and as he had ceded control over editing as a gesture of good faith during his contract negotiations with RKO, the editing process was delegated to a team led by Wise, studio exec Jack Moss, and Joseph Cotten, with Wise ultimately handling the lion's share of re-cutting the existing footage and re-shooting scenes (including the new happy ending) to smooth over the changes. Welles was horrified when he heard the film was being re-cut in his absence and begged RKO to send Wise to Brazil with the film so that they could re-cut it together, but wartime travel restrictions made this impossible. A direct line to Welles' hotel room in Rio de Janeiro was put into Moss' office, but Cy Endfield later recalled that Moss wouldn't answer his phone when it rang in case it was Welles with more instructions, and when Welles tried sending lengthy telegrams, Moss threw them away without reading them.
    • All told, between 40 and 50 minutes of Welles' version of the film were cut.note  Worse, the cut footage was destroyed, ostensibly to free up space in the RKO vault, but it is speculated that the true reason was to keep Welles from restoring the cuts upon his return. The changes did nothing to save the film at the box office, where it posted a $600,000 loss (a fortune for a small studio such as RKO). Bernard Herrmann was so angered at the cuts to his score for the film that he had his credit removed under threat of legal action. Welles was even more disgusted, describing the film as having been "edited by a lawnmower", and fell out with Cotten and Wise as a result of their roles in the film's butchery, although he forgave Cotten a few years later after the latter wrote him several letters of apology, and he reconciled with Wise while accepting a DGA Lifetime Achievement Award in 1984.note 
  • After a triptych of films with relatively smooth productions (apart from friction between Welles and the editors or the studios) - The Stranger, The Lady from Shanghai, and Macbethnote  - Welles, a veteran Shakespearean actor, turned his attention to adapting Othello for the screen. Unfortunately, the film marked the first instance of a recurring theme for Welles productions: shoots that dragged on for years as Welles kept having to shut down production until he could raise the money to continue.
    • Just after he began shooting in 1949, one of the film's Italian producers announced that he was bankrupt, and filming shut down. Welles had to fund the film out of pocket, and the shoot (as documented in Put Money in Thy Purse by Irish stage actor Micheál MacLiammóir, who played Iago in what became his only screen appearance) lasted three years as Welles shot whatever scenes he could with whatever cast, crew, and money were available. The delays meant several roles, including that of female lead Desdemona, had to be recast when the original performers had to honour other commitments, and the scenes involving the now departed actors had to be reshot.
    • To raise money for Othello, Welles agreed to take supporting roles in an assortment of films including The Third Man and The Black Rose; on the latter film, he insisted his character's robe be lined with mink even though it would not show up on the film, and when shooting wrapped, the coat vanished - Welles had taken it to wear in Othello. When Black Rose director Henry Hathaway complained about Welles' theft of costumes and cameras to his boss at 20th Century Fox, Darryl F. Zanuck, the studio mogul, an old friend of Welles, simply laughed it off. Welles was not so lucky with the costumes for the first scene of Act V, in which Iago and Roderigo make a failed attempt on Cassio's life that leaves Roderigo dead; the costumes intended for the scene were impounded, and with no money to get them out, they had to re-stage the scene in a Turkish bath with almost no dialogue.
  • Terry Gilliam was not the only filmmaker who sank years and millions of dollars into an adaptation of Don Quixote, and unfortunately for Welles, his version remained unfinished at his death.
    • Welles initially planned to shoot a 30-minute film for CBS entitled Don Quixote Passes By, with the characters of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza dropped into the present day (having already been presented as anachronisms in the source material). He shot colour test footage in 1955 with Mischa Auer and Akim Tamiroff (both of whom he had already directed in Mr. Arkadin) in the lead roles, but CBS found the concept too bizarre and scrapped the project. The test footage is believed lost.
    • So Welles changed direction and decided to shoot a black and white feature film adaptation, using his salaries from acting roles in other directors' films and $25,000 from his friend Frank Sinatra. He initially offered the role of Don Quixote to Charlton Heston (whom he had just directed in Touch of Evil before being forced out of the project), but Heston was only available for two weeks when shooting began in 1957, so Welles instead offered the role to Spanish actor Francisco Reiguera, with Tamiroff returning as Sancho Panza. Patty McCormack, fresh from her star turn in the film adaptation of The Bad Seed, was offered the role of Dulcie, an American girl visiting present day Mexico City in the film's framing story who would be told of the Don's adventures by Welles (As Himself) and then meet the self-styled knight and squire for herself.
    • Scenes were shot in various Mexican locations from July to October 1957, mostly on silent 16mm film (Welles planned to dub the dialogue himself later) and with a bare-bones script around which the actors were instructed to improvise. True to form, the budget ran out, and Mexican producer Oscar Dancigers pulled the plug on the project before backing out entirely, leaving Welles to fund the film himself. He had to accept roles in commercially viable films (including narration for The Vikings and King of Kings) to raise funds, and switched the location shooting to Spain and Italy when the cast and crew and money were all available simultaneously (including filming sequences he described as "the prologue and the epilogue" in Malaga while commuting to Paris to edit his adaptation of The Trial).
    • Filming dragged on for so long that McCormack aged out of childhood, forcing her character to be dropped. Welles later said he hoped to re-shoot Dulcie's scenes with his daughter Beatrice (ten years McCormack's junior) in the role, but shooting went on so long that even she aged out of range for the character. More problematic was Reiguera's declining health; at his insistence, Welles prioritised his remaining scenes so that they were all shot before Reiguera's death in 1969.
    • Unfortunately, even with Reiguera's role completed (and reshoots impossible without stand-ins), Welles never got around to dubbing more than a few scenes as he kept changing his mind about what he wanted the film to be every time he went to Spain (he allegedly told his friend Dominique Antoine that his only path to finishing the film would be never to return to Spain). For example, he originally planned to re-imagine the famous windmill scene by having the Don walk into a cinema showing a mediaeval battle scene and attack the screen with his sword, believing it to be a real battle, but he later sent his cinematographer Gary Graver to Seville to shoot some footage of windmills (the footage was later lost). He claimed in an interview that he had been forced to scrap ten reels' worth of footage in which Don Quixote and Sancho Panza visit the Moon after the Apollo 11 Moon landing made such a journey no longer seem like pure fantasy.
    • Even at his death in 1985, Welles was still planning new scenes and had over 1,000 pages of script for the film. Among the directions he considered were incorporating Don Quixote into an "essay" film similar to F for Fake and Filming Othello, potentially called When Are You Going to Finish Don Quixote? after a question he had long since tired of hearing.
    • But Welles' death simply inflamed the question of what to do with the surviving footage. Initially, Greek-French director Costa-Gavras and a team of archivists from the Cinémathèque Française assembled a 45-minute compilation of scenes and outtakes, which premiered at the 1986 Cannes Film Festival to critical acclaim. However, Welles' mistress and sometime collaborator, Croatian actress Oja Kodar, was left the rights to his unfinished films in his will, and she was keen to see the film completed, so she took such footage as she could access (editor Mauro Bonanni, who had worked on the film with Welles in Rome in 1969, claimed the rights to some of the footage, including the negatives; the Italian Corte Suprema di Cassazione ruled in Kodar's favour in 2017) and travelled around Europe in search of a director willing to assemble it into a completed film before finally finding one in Jesús Franco, second unit director on Welles' Chimes at Midnight.
    • Unfortunately, the fact that Welles had used three different film stocks (16mm, 35mm, and Super 16mm) and stored different reels under different conditions meant the visuals were wildly inconsistent; he had also deliberately mislabelled the cans so that only he would know how to edit the film.note  The lack of a screenplay meant Franco and producer Patxi Irigoyen had to re-write and re-record the dub script, which meant the audio shifted in quality almost as often as the visuals. They also had to exclude all footage of McCormack, the rights to which were claimed by Bonanni.
    • The result, entitled Don Quijote de Orson Welles, was released in 1992. Spanish critic Juan Cobos, who had seen a rough cut before Welles' death, said Franco's film bore no resemblance to Welles' vision, while the Chicago Reader critic Jonathan Rosenbaum unfavourably compared it to the 1986 Cannes Film Festival compilation. Consensus remains that the film was better off left as it was at Welles' death - unfinished and, in all likelihood, unfinishable.
  • Chimes at Midnight was almost as troubled as Othello.
    • Welles had been pitching the idea of a play called Five Kings - a condensed adaptation of Richard II, Henry IV (Parts 1 and 2), Henry V, Henry VI (Parts 1, 2, and 3), and Richard III - since 1939. By 1960, he had distilled the idea to a Falstaff-centric adaptation of the two Henry IV plays, with some additional dialogue from Richard II, Henry V, and The Merry Wives of Windsor. However, his Spanish backer, Emiliano Piedra, didn't think a Shakespeare adaptation was marketable, and persuaded Welles to shoot an adaptation of Treasure Island alongside the film that became Chimes at Midnight. Welles agreed, but it is believed he only did so to placate Piedra, and never so much as shot a single frame of Treasure Island.
    • The cast members' availability meant that many scenes had to be shot using stand-ins, and any scenes featuring their faces had to be shot all at once; John Gielgud, as King Henry IV, was only available for ten days, while Jeanne Moreau, as Doll Tearsheet, was only available for five days, and Margaret Rutherford, as Mistress Quickly, was available for just four weeks. Welles joked that in one scene that featured seven principal characters, every one was played by a stand-in shot over their shoulder.
    • Filming began in September 1964, and, inevitably, ground to a halt when the money ran out three months later. Welles was adamant that the film be shot in black and white, scuppering potential offers of funding that were contingent on the film being shot in colour. He was finally able to secure funding from Harry Saltzman in February 1965, and shot the hitherto missing scenes, which included many of Keith Baxter as Prince Hal's longer speeches, Hal's coronation scene, and all of Welles' own scenes as Falstaff (growing stage fright meant that he waited until the end of production to shoot Falstaff's solo scenes).
    • The film's limited budget had an especially adverse effect on sound recording, both on set and in post-production. The rapid camera movements and editing further clouded the dialogue, and dubbing was made even more difficult by Welles' prolific use of long takes and shots of characters' backs to take advantage of actors' presence or compensate for their absence. Spanish actor Fernando Rey, as the Earl of Worcester, and French actress Marina Vlady, as Hotspur's wife Lady Percy, had such heavy accents that their roles had to be completely overdubbed by other actors in post-production.
    • The initial screening at the Cannes Film Festival in 1966 was a success, but Bosley Crowther of The New York Times took the film to task for the poor sound quality, the confusing editing, and Welles' performance as Falstaff. Saltzman lost confidence in the film in light of the early criticism and gave it almost no promotion, causing it to sink without trace at the box office. Its reputation has improved in the years since, with the Battle of Shrewsbury sequence still regarded as one of the greatest, most harrowing depictions of a mediaeval battle in the history of cinema, but legal wrangling over ownership of the film (by Saltzman's widow Adriana, Welles' daughter Beatrice, and the families of Piedra and fellow producer Angel Escolano) meant that home video releases were few and far between until 2015.
  • The Deep, an adaptation of Charles Williams' book Dead Calm, began production in 1966, and was intended to be a more commercially viable, less "arthouse" film than many of Welles' previous efforts. Unfortunately, it suffered the same "shooting whatever we can whenever the people and money are available" trend of many of his other films, and eventually money and Welles' own interest dried up after three years. Accounts differ on why filming was abandoned (with a climactic explosion left to shoot); lead actress Oja Kodar alleged that Jeanne Moreau was unwilling to dub her lines, while editor Mauro Bonanni claimed that Welles was dissatisfied by acting novice Kodar's performance. The death of lead actor Laurence Harvey in 1973 put a permanent end to filming, and since it never entered post-production, it only exists in work prints with no soundtrack. Dead Calm was ultimately filmed under that title in 1989 with Nicole Kidman and Sam Neill in the lead roles, but The Deep remains unreleased, although there is sporadic interest in polishing what does exist of it.
  • Welles' final film, The Other Side of the Wind, took over 40 years to finally see the light of day and it was quite a rollercoaster ride.
    • Welles first got the idea in 1961 when his friend Ernest Hemingway committed suicide. He originally envisioned the film as a tale of an aging bullfighting fan with an interest for a young bullfighter, but the project didn't progress for five years. As Welles kept working on the script, with a working title of Sacred Beasts, he changed the bullfight fan into an aging filmmaker resembling Hemingway as he navigates the changing Hollywood landscape. Welles was unable to get full financial support from investors and like most of his projects, he ultimately funded the film with his own money.
    • Production officially began in 1970, with Welles and his second unit crew filming at the MGM backlot without the studio's consent. To protect their cover, the crew posed as film students visiting the lot while Welles had to sneak in through a darkened van. Everything was shot in a single weekend without sleep and the crew intoxicated with amphetamines, as it was clear they could not visit the lot again and it was already in deep decay. The backlot would officially be demolished a few years later.
    • Filming was disrupted in 1971 when Welles' production company in Europe was deemed a holding company by the US government and fined with a huge tax bill. Welles had to accept whatever job was offered to him to pay the debt off in full, though he used some of the money from his various acting gigs to keep the film's financing alive. During this time, he stated that The Other Side of the Wind was "96% complete", though that was most likely referencing the film-within-the-film sequences that were finished before he had to halt production.
    • In the meantime, Welles made the documentary F for Fake with the Iranian-French owned Les Films de l'Astrophore. Seeing an opportunity to finish his pet project, Welles struck a three-way deal with the company. He would raise a third of the funds himself while Iranian producer Mehdi Bushehri would supply another third and the remaining funds would come from Spanish producer Andrés Vicente Gómez.
    • With some financial support in place, Welles managed to film new scenes in 1973 whenever cast members were available. For instance, all of Lilli Palmer's scenes were shot in Spain with her being the only cast member present. While in Madrid though, Welles and Oja Kodar (who co-wrote and co-starred in the film) got trapped in a flood for three months and had to relocate to Paris. It wasn't until a year later when filming officially resumed. Prior to this, Welles was unsure if he would play the director character himself, but by that time he settled on fellow filmmaker John Huston for the part.
    • The most crucial element of the film was a party scene, which was shot at Southwestern Studio in Arizona, using leftover furniture made for The New Dick Van Dyke Show. Joining Huston were Peter Bogdanovich, Susan Strasberg, Norman Foster, and more. Welles also shot more scenes in a private mansion he rented not far from his studios.
    • Just when things were going well, emerging financial mishaps threatened to stop production again. Gómez fled the United States while embezzling most of the film's budget and Bushehri had to put up most of the outstanding budget, which would lead to an ownership dispute. The messy financial meltdown meant that Welles could no longer use the studio and the mansion, so the remainder of the party scenes were shot at Bogdanovich's own house in Beverly Hills. In addition, both Welles and Bogdanovich had to put up their own money to continue production due to a lack of new financial deals. One producer did make what Welles called "a wonderful offer", but investor Dominique Antoine shot it down thinking a better deal would come. One never did.
    • Further complicating matters was the timeframe Welles needed to edit the film, due to its unconventional and experimental feel. It would require an entire year of full-time work, with Welles using the same editing techniques as F for Fake where he used three separate moviolas to simultaneously edit the film. The Other Side of the Wind required two extra moviolas, all circulating a table with a team of assistants to help him. To make matters worse, Les Films de l'Astrophore was under new management who refused to pay for the editing job. As Welles was considered a liability, they threatened to reduce his share of the profits and take creative control away from him for the final cut. This prompted Welles to find more investors that ended up completely fruitless. In spite of the film's growing financial instability, Welles managed to complete principal photography in early 1976, albeit with a few elements unfinished. However, Welles could only edit the film whenever he had time and by 1979, 40% of the editing was done.
    • Things only got worse from there. The film's primary financer, Mehdi Bushehri, was the brother-in-law of the Shah of Iran, who got overthrown that year. This made his funds problematic, with Ayatollah Khomeini's government having the film seized due to its association with the Shah's reign, escalating the aforementioned ownership dispute. The original negative was consequently confiscated to a Paris vault, and Welles was only able to get a workprint of the raw footage out of the country. With Welles' passing in 1985, the copy went to Kodar along with his other unfinished projects as part of his will. Another workprint copy was held by the film's cinematographer Gary Graver. Both Graver and Kodar, along with Bogdanovich, critic Joseph McBride (who had a supporting role), and producer Frank Marshall (who was the film's production manager) began a rousing effort to complete the film by trying to get the necessary funds to do so and potentially fix the legal mess.
    • There were more hurdles in store for them. When Kodar screened Graver's rough cut of the film to various A-list directors in the late 1980's and early 1990's for help with the completion, they all declined for one reason or another. Among the ones who turned down the offer, Huston was in very poor health while George Lucas was confused by the footage he saw, finding it too avant-garde for audiences to handle. Another legal headache arose when Welles' daughter Beatrice claimed that she was the true owner of all of Welles' incomplete projects by California law and effectively blocked any attempts to complete the film. This is despite the fact that she only inherited the assets from the death of his widow (and Beatrice's mother) Paola Mori in 1986, and those did not include his unfinished films.
    • Back in Iran, Khomeini's government later found the negative worthless, and the tangled ownership came under litigation. Mehdi Bushehri held tight to his claims that he owned two-thirds of The Other Side of the Wind, but after hearing about the remaining crew's efforts to finish the film, which got to a point where Frank Marshall was showing the rough cut to major studios in the late 1990's but couldn't reach a deal due to the legal troubles, he decided that the best way to recoup his investment was to get the film released. So in 1998, he arbitrated his claims and reduced his shares, resolving some of the legal issues. With a deal in place, Showtime pitched in to help finance the film's completion. These plans were undermined when Beatrice Welles filled a lawsuit later that year. Making matters worse, Kodar could not enforce the late Orson Welles' clause in his will that gives disinheritance to anyone that questions the ownership of Kodar's inheritance, which Beatrice was doing, due to her lack of legal fees.
    • Just when you thought things couldn't get more complicated, Paul Hunt came into the picture. As he was one of the film's original crew members, serving as line producer, assistant editor, assistant camera operator, and gaffer, Kodar approached him to help with an acceptable deal and filled him in with rights holders. Hunt and his producing partner Sanford Horowitz soon formed "Horowitz Hunt LLC" and reached a deal with Bushehri to potentially acquire his rights to the film. Even though their contributions were not as burdensome as the aforementioned issues, they would create another obstacle in the completion process.
    • While the case was going on, Bogdanovich announced in 2004 that plans to finish the film were still in place, but replicating Welles' experimental editing would be a challenge. Two years later, Beatrice Welles made a proposal with Showtime to turn The Other Side of the Wind into a semi-documentary and not release it as a completed film. Kodar was not fond of this idea, and it undermined Bushehri's desires, which his widow kept alive following his death that year. In 2007, a deal was reached where the parties would pay Beatrice Welles either an undisclosed amount, shares in the film's profits, or both. Bogdanovich later claimed that the deal to finish the film was "99.9% finished" and the completed project would come out in 2008.
    • Horowitz Hunt LLC soon obtained Bushehri's rights to the film and planned to release two versions: a completed theatrical cut and Welles' initial 42-minute cut. As the original negative was still locked up in France, Bogdanovich decided to work with the workprint cut and other positive film materials that Kodar kept in a Los Angeles vault. Showtime created an editing suite in the summer of 2008 so the material could potentially be logged in with Bogdanovich supervising the project. Horowitz Hunt LLC then made negotiations with Kodar to obtain her rights to the film, but they could not reach a deal. Beatrice Welles caught wind of this and slapped the parties with an injunction, claiming an inheritance on the negative residing at the LTC Film Vault in Paris and refusing to open it up. As it turned out, Bushehri's attorney failed to formally rebuke Beatrice's claim, and Showtime was forced to halt production and close the editing suite. The network later made it clear that they would only pay to complete the film if all the material was available, which included the negative that required permission from all the estates before it could be obtained.
    • With Bogdanovich still contemplating the project and a legal settlement looking murky, Horowitz and financier John Nicholas renamed the former's venture "Project Welles The Other Side LLC", as Hunt died in 2011. The plan was to finish their negotiations with Kodar and Beatrice Welles so they could access the original stored negative while also providing a chain of title and a clear account of events. In addition, they launched www.projectwelles.com to gain more funds. While they were able to resolve the copyright issues, Showtime failed to reveal a projected budget. This alarmed Kodar as she wanted the completion process done in a professional manner and not to have a repeat of what happened with Don Quixote. By the time Showtime executive Matthew Duda retired in 2012, the network's involvement with The Other Side of the Wind was over.
    • Enter Filip Jan Rymsza, a producer who had been aware of the film for quite some time. He partnered with German producer Jens Koethner Kaul and Frank Marshall in an attempt to salvage the project, and by October 2014, Rymsza's Royal Road Entertainment announced plans to acquire the rights to the film so the completion process could resume. They successfully pulled it off by obtaining rights held by Les Films de l'Astrophore and Bushehri and reaching an agreement with Kodar and Beatrice Welles. The plan was to release it by May 6, 2015, which marks the 100th anniversary of Welles' birth, with Bogdanovich and Marshall overseeing the completion process.
    • These plans were thwarted when it was revealed around that time that the film was not even close to being completed. Around two-thirds of the film still needed to be edited, there was no musical score or opening narration, and two key shots had not been filmed. Royal Road tried to fund post-production by pre-selling distribution rights, but potential distributors wanted to view edited footage rather than the workprint. Undeterred by this request, they launched an Indiegogo campaign to raise $2 million so the original negative could be flown from Paris to LA for a 4K scan and it could be edited by Affonso Gonçalves. The goal was lowered by $1 million when potential investors offered to match the amount and Marshall clarified that the objective was to edit the first 20 minutes of the film so they could attract a distributor that would help with the rest of post-production. In the end, the campaign only raised $406,405 and the project once again came to a halt.
    • The final hope to complete the film came in the form of Netflix, who were negotiating a deal with Royal Road in 2016 to finish The Other Side of the Wind and make a companion documentary. Once they got Kodar's approval, the original negative finally came to LA and the completion process resumed with a new post-production team in place. Even Michel Legrand, the composer for Welles' F for Fake, was brought on to compose the score.
    • To make a long story short, the film was finally finished in 2018 and premiered at the 75th Venice International Film Festival that August with Netflix releasing it to the public in November. By that time, most of the cast had passed away with Welles.

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