Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Terminator (1984)

The Terminator: I'm a friend of Sarah Connor. I was told she was here. Could I see her please?
Desk Sergeant: No, you can't see her she's making a statement.
The Terminator: Where is she?
Desk Sergeant: It may take a while. Want to wait? There's a bench over there.
[points to bench]
The Terminator: [looks around, examining the structural integrity of the room, then looks back at him] I'll be back!

A cyborg is sent from the future on a deadly mission: To kill Sarah Connor, a young woman whose life will have great significance in years to come.  Sarah has only one protector, Kyle Reese, also sent from the future.  The Terminator uses its intelligence and strength to find Sarah, but destroying the cyborg is not an easy task and seems impossible.

It was on October 26, 1984 that the sci-fi/action film "Terminator" made its US-wide premiere to more than 1,000 screens.  On its opening weekend, the film conquered it's competition ("Terror in the Aisles" and "Body Double") by bringing in just over $4 million.  With an estimated budget of $6.4 million, "Terminator" grossed over $38.4 million that year, earning the #21 spot of highest grossing films for 1984.

Except for a short he directed in 1978, "Terminator" was the second film James Cameron directed ("Piranha Part 2: The Spawning" was his previous work).  At the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films, this film was nominated for seven awards.  Nominations were for Best Music, Best Director, Best Actress (Linda Hamilton) and Best Actor (Arnold Schwarzenegger).  Those categories were not won, but "Terminator" did win the Saturn Awards for Best Make-Up, Best Writing (James Cameron and Gale Anne Hurd), and Best Science-Fiction Film of the Year.

"Terminator" starred Arnold Schwarzenegger as the lead (title name), Michael Biehn as Kyle Reese, Linda Hamilton as Sarah Connor, and co-starred Paul Winfield as Lt. Ed Traxler, Lance Henriksen as Det. Hal Vukovich, Rick Rossovich as Matt, Bess Motta as Ginger, and Earl Boen as Dr. Peter Silberman.

Filmed at many locations throughout California in cities such as Los Angeles, Van Nuys (the location of the Alamo Gun Shop as well as the first Sarah Connor's house), South Pasadena (showed the restaurant Sarah worked at), City of Industry (factory scene), Cudahy, Huntington Park (the actual Tiki Motel where Reese and Sarah hid, made bombs, and made love), and Little Rock (where Sarah got gas at a gas station at the end of the movie), here are some other bits of behind-the-scenes trivia you might appreciate...

1.  According to a 2008 interview with Lance Henriksen, James Cameron had no agent and was living in his car when he wrote the script for the film.  Cameron had actually fired his agent because he didn't like the story idea Cameron had conceived for "Terminator".

2.  The initial draft for the movie was sold to (then) James Cameron's wife, Gale Anne Hurd (co-writer of "Terminator" for the grand price of $1.00.

3.  According to the original treatment (accessible on the DVD version), there were supposed to be two protectors sent back to save Sarah Connor.  However, this partner of Reese's would have received very little screen time, so the idea was omitted completely.

4.  O.J. Simpson was considered for the Terminator, but the producers feared he was "too nice" to be taken seriously as a cold-blooded killer.  (Little did they know.)

5.  Others considered for the tile role were Jürgen Prochnow, Mel Gibson (who turned it down), Tom Selleck, Kevin Kline, and Michael Douglas.  Also...

6.  Arnold Schwarzenegger originally wanted to play Kyle Reese, but James Cameron had a different idea and saw Schwarzenegger in the title role of the Terminator.  Cameron said to Schwarzenegger, "This movie is not about the hero. It's about The Terminator."

7.  Michael Biehn almost didn't get the role of Kyle Reese because in his first audition he spoke in a Southern accent as a result of working on a part for a stage production of "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" (he didn't get the role), and the producers didn't want Reese to seem regionalized.  After a talk with Biehn's agent, the producers called Biehn back for another audition and he got the part.

8.  The role of Sarah Connor was originally written by James Cameron for Bridget Fonda to play, but Bridget passed on the project.  He later replaced Bridget Fonda with Tatum O'Neal, but then decided to make the character of Sarah Connor older.  He suggested Kate Capshaw for the role of Sarah, but Capshaw was filming "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom".  He later suggested Kathleen Turner for the part, but Turner was filming "Romancing the Stone".  Other considerations were Gilda Radner, Susan Sarandon, Glenn Close, Rhea Perlman, Sigourney Weaver, Cybill Shepherd, Jane Seymour, Anjelica Huston, Lori Loughlin, Kim Basinger, Jodie Foster, Melanie Griffith, Christie Brinkley, Diane Keaton, Goldie Hawn, Jamie Lee Curtis, Ally Sheedy, Jessica Lange, Sissy Spacek, Kay Lenz, Liza Minnelli, Mia Farrow, Barbara Hershey, Miranda Richardson, Rosanna Arquette, Meg Ryan, Heather Locklear, Jennifer Grey, Madonna, Amy Irving, Teri Garr, Michelle Pfeiffer, Carrie Fisher, and Margot Kidder before it was offered to Debra Winger.  Debra Winger successfully auditioned and won the role of Sarah Connor, but later changed her mind and turned the role down.  Daryl Hannah auditioned for the role, but turned it down in order to play Madison in the hit movie, "Splash".

9.  Edward James Olmos and Louis Gossett Jr. were considered for the role of Lt. Traxler.

10.  Linda Hamilton broke her ankle prior to production, and had to have her leg wrapped every day so she could do her chase scenes.  Those scenes were moved towards the end of the shooting schedule.

11.  There was minimal interference from the film's financial backer, Orion, partly due to the budget offered.  However, they suggested two things.  The first idea was to have a cyborg canine that would accompany Reese, an idea turned down by James Cameron.  The second idea was strengthening the relationship between Kyle and Sarah, which Cameron decided to accept.

12.  James Cameron included Arnold Schwarzenegger in a lot of his decisions on-set.  For example, the Terminator's hair had to look spiky and burned.

13.  Arnold Schwarzenegger started work two weeks later than the rest of the cast.  His first day of work was in the car garage scene where he was looking for Sarah in a police car that the Terminator hijacked.

14.  Arnold Schwarzenegger was trained for weeks on weapons handling before he started the film, and wound up garnering a compliment in "Soldier of Fortune" magazine for his realistic handling of the guns on camera (whereas the magazine usually blasts movies for their inaccurate depictions of weapons use).

15.  During filming, Arnold Schwarzenegger tried to avoid Linda Hamilton and Michael Biehn as much as possible since the "Terminator" was trying to kill them, not form connections.

16.  Stan Yale played the 'Derelict in Alley' uttering the line "That son of a bitch took my pants!"  His subsequent appearances included "P.I. Private Investigations", in which he was credited as 'bum', "Terminal Exposure" ('wino'), "Moonlighting" ('bum'), "Matlock" ('bum'), "L.A. Law" ('first homeless man') and "My Name Is Earl" ('homeless man').  Stan may have been typecast, but he's probably a rich "bum" after all those appearances!

17.  Near the beginning of the movie, when Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) receives a message on her answering machine breaking her date, the voice on the machine is director James Cameron's.  (Years later Hamilton and Cameron got married yet later divorced.)

18.  The scene where the Terminator breaks into a station wagon was the very last thing shot and it was added a few weeks before the film's release.  The scene was filmed in 2 hours by James Cameron and Arnold Schwarzenegger alone.  Due to insufficient funds, Cameron had to pay for the scene himself, but could not afford a police permit.  As such, another set of Arnold's clothes was placed behind the wagon trunk and Cameron told him to change the moment the scene was deemed finished.

19.  In the beginning of the movie, the Terminator drives over a toy semi truck.  Towards the end of the movie, the Terminator is run over by the same model of semi truck.

20.  Shots through the Terminator's vision shows a dump of the ROM assembler code for the Apple II operating system.  If you own an Apple II, enter at the basic prompt: ] call -151 * p   This will give you the terminator view.  Other code visible is written in COBOL.

21.  The TechNoir set was actually a downtown L.A. restaurant, redressed to look like a nightclub.

22.  A Hydraulic arm was used when the Terminator punches through the windshield in the alley scene. This was rehearsed several times and since Arnold Schwarzenegger's face was in the shot too, it all had to be choreographed perfectly, since replacing a windshield was too costly and time consuming.

23.  The sunglasses worn by the Terminator were Gargoyles.

24.  One afternoon during a break in filming, Arnold Schwarzenegger went into a restaurant in downtown L.A. to get some lunch and realized all too late that he was still in Terminator makeup - with a missing eye, exposed jawbone and burned flesh.

25.  Arnold Schwarzenegger's famous debut line "I'll be back" was originally scripted as "I'll come back".  (Don't exactly have the same tone to it, does it?)

26.  According to an article released in 2001, studio executives threatened to shut down the project if James Cameron filmed additional future war scenes beyond the script.

27.  The "fog" in the scene after Sarah and Reese leave the bridge where they spent the night is actually bug spray, due to the big "fly scare" in the filming location at that time.  The crew was going to wait until the spray dissipated, but decided to use it as fog for the effect instead.

28.  Wolfie, James Cameron's German Shepherd dog, can be seen at the Tiki Motel.

29.  Most of the car chase scenes were shot at normal speed and sped up slightly.  To add more of a sense of speed, other cars rode along with them out of frame with revolving lights attached to them that made it seem like the car was passing other light sources faster.

30.  The tanker truck that explodes at the end is a model, not a real truck.  It was filmed twice because the wire pulling the truck tugged too hard initially, pulling the front axle off and ruining the shot.

31.  The smoke flowing out of the Terminator when it is crushed in the hydraulic press is actually cigarette smoke.

32.  The body bag Reese is put in at the end of the film is actually a suit bag owned by director James Cameron.

33.  Filming of the final shot, with Sarah Connor driving off into the distance, was interrupted by a policeman asking if the crew had a permit (which they didn't).  Special effects supervisor Gene Warren Jr. lied that the production was his son's student film.  Also, Sarah Connor wasn't being played by Linda Hamilton. The back of the head you see is that of a double.

34.  The relationship between James Cameron and executive producer / Hemdale head John Daly deteriorated during post-production.  According to Cameron, Daly and Orion executive Mike Medavoy (who recommended Arnold Schwarzenegger to Cameron) wanted the film to end right after tanker explosion, removing the climax at the robot factory and epilogue.  Orion Pictures, which co-financed the movie, wanted to be known for its quality drama movies (like "Amadeus" and "Platoon"), and perceived "The Terminator" as little more than a low budget vehicle to make some quick money.  Quoting from Cameron: "Daly said 'The film has to end right after the tanker explosion'.  I told him straight, 'F**k you!  The film isn't over yet.'"  Daly would ultimately back down, a decision that led to the sudden success of the film.  However, the studio refused to do advertisement for the movie.  Three weeks after the film was released, Medavoy still ignored Cameron's request to beef up the film's ad-campaign: "They told me, when you have a dirty-down action thriller, the film can last in the box-office for about three weeks plus or so.  They are treating the film like dog-s**t!"  Reportedly, Schwarzenegger still holds a grudge towards Orion Pictures due to their lack of support.  (Sidenote: "Amadeus" was released a little more than a month prior to "Terminator" and placed 12th among the top-grossing films of 1984.  It was also nominated for numerous Oscars and won the Academy Award for Best Film).
35.  The movie was released in the late 1980s in Poland under the title "The Electronic Murderer".  The title was changed because there is a Polish word 'terminator', meaning roughly 'an apprentice', and so the title was changed to something more catchy and interesting to audience.
36.  Science fiction author Harlan Ellison sued James Cameron, claiming that the film was plagiarized from the two "The Outer Limits" episodes that Ellison wrote: "The Outer Limits: Soldier" and "The Outer Limits: Demon with a Glass Hand".  The suit was settled out of court and newer prints of the film acknowledge Ellison.  Cameron has claimed that this settlement was forced upon him by the producers, which he has always resented.
37.  The beginning of production was postponed for nine months, due to Arnold Schwarzenegger's commitment to "Conan the Destroyer".  During this time, James Cameron wanted to be working but didn't have the time to do a whole other film so he took on a writing assignment; this turned out to be "Aliens", the next film Cameron would direct after "Terminator".
And now you know.
It goes without saying that the success of "Terminator" brought about two sequels: "Terminator 2: Judgment Day" (1991), "Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines" (2003).  If you're a true "Terminator" fan, you'll want to know that another "Terminator" movie has been announced and is set for a 2015 release.  Arnold Schwarzenegger will undoubtedly reprise his role under the direction of Alan Taylor who recently directed "Thor: The Dark World".
For your amusement, here are some pictures of the key characters in "Terminator".... 


The following 200+ picture stills of "Terminator" have been chronologically arranged to the of the film itself... 








Now enjoy these rarely seen behind-the-scenes pics...




Kyle Reese: Listen, and understand. That terminator is out there. It can't be bargained with. It can't be reasoned with. It doesn't feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop, ever, until you are dead.




























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