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Mistakes from the 50 best movies of all time

  • Mistakes from the 50 best movies of all time

    Hollywood moviemaking takes time, money, cooperation, careful planning, and a painstaking knack for detail. But even the most meticulous preparations sometimes can't spare a film from its share of goofs and mistakes to the delight (or chagrin) of observant viewers.

    The majority of these goofs take the form of simple continuity errors. For example, a glass might be full in one shot and empty in the very next. Other mistakes appear by way of historical misfires, major plot holes, visible camera equipment, or crew members getting caught in a shot. And every now and then, the annals of cinema are graced with a goof of epic proportions. For example, white cars can be seen in the background during a battle scene in “Braveheart.”

    The much-publicized Starbucks cup in “Game of Thrones” was hardly the most notable example in entertainment, though it shows a simple point: Even with the advent of CGI and advanced editing technology—not to mention fully financed production crews—human error is often unavoidable. You probably could have guessed that Alfred Hitchcock, one of the most legendary filmmakers, appears more than once on this list; but even the “Master of Suspense” fell victim to, well, obvious visual and plot points.

    When critically acclaimed films from Francis Ford Coppola (“The Godfather”) or David Lean (“Lawrence of Arabia”) exceed three hours in runtime, should we be more forgiving? You be the judge; just know even these directors are not perfect, as you’ll see.

    Since even the world's greatest films are prone to the occasional flub, Stacker is embracing the imperfections by listing mistakes from the 50 best movies of all time. To determine the rankings, Stacker derived a score based on equally weighted IMDb user ratings and Metacritic scores as of Oct. 16, 2020, and ranked accordingly, with ties broken by user votes. A film needed at least 20,000 votes on IMDb to qualify. If the movie didn't have a Metascore, it was not included.

    Check out mistakes in the 50 best movies of all time.

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  • #50. A Streetcar Named Desire (1951)

    - Director: Elia Kazan
    - Stacker score: 92
    - Metascore: 97
    - IMDb user rating: 8.0
    - Runtime: 122 min

    Marlon Brando is widely considered one of the greatest film actors of all time, but that doesn't mean he was always the most prepared. During a poker scene in this 1951 drama, Brando's Stanley Kowalski can be seen mimicking Stella's lines with his lips as if trying to recall the script from memory.

  • #49. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966)

    - Director: Sergio Leone
    - Stacker score: 93
    - Metascore: 90
    - IMDb user rating: 8.8
    - Runtime: 178 min

    One of the best known Spaghetti Westerns, “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly” makes several major historical errors. In one scene, for example, the Union army flies a flag with 50 stars at a time when the U.S. was only comprised of 34 states. In another, Clint Eastwood and gang blow up a bridge with dynamite or TNT, neither of which were invented before the close of the Civil War.

  • #48. Apocalypse Now (1979)

    - Director: Francis Ford Coppola
    - Stacker score: 93
    - Metascore: 94
    - IMDb user rating: 8.4
    - Runtime: 147 min

    Making this Vietnam War epic was an absolute nightmare for director Francis Ford Coppola, so it's no surprise that the film contains a reported 395 errors. During one of the movie's most iconic scenes, "Ride of the Valkyries" plays through aerial speakers as military helicopters approach a small village. A closer look reveals that the reel-to-reel tape never touches the playback head.

  • #47. A Separation (2011)

    - Director: Asghar Farhadi
    - Stacker score: 93
    - Metascore: 95
    - IMDb user rating: 8.3
    - Runtime: 123 min

    One of the major plot drivers in this Iranian film is the loss of a main character’s baby after she’s pushed down the stairwell by her employer. The two go back and forth over whether this event or another caused the loss, while seemingly forgetting that the mother-to-be visited an OB/GYN between the two events. A simple phone call to the doctor could have quickly resolved all the drama that takes place in the latter half of the movie.

  • #46. Double Indemnity (1944)

    - Director: Billy Wilder
    - Stacker score: 93
    - Metascore: 95
    - IMDb user rating: 8.3
    - Runtime: 107 min

    In this classic film noir, insurance salesman Walter Neff (Fred MacMurray) gets lured into a duplicitous scheme by Phyllis Dietrichson (Barbara Stanwyck). Neff is supposed to be a bachelor, but MacMurray's real-life wedding ring can be spotted throughout the film.

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  • #45. Toy Story (1995)

    - Director: John Lasseter
    - Stacker score: 93
    - Metascore: 95
    - IMDb user rating: 8.3
    - Runtime: 81 min

    A major plot point in Pixar's breakout hit is that Andy and his family are moving in a matter of days. But once Buzz becomes Andy's favorite toy, Andy's mom changes the bedroom wallpaper from a cowboy theme to a spaceman theme. Couldn't that have waited until they arrived at the new house?

  • #44. Ran (1985)

    - Director: Akira Kurosawa
    - Stacker score: 93
    - Metascore: 96
    - IMDb user rating: 8.2
    - Runtime: 162 min

    There’s plenty of fighting in this 1985 film which is a sort of a re-telling of William Shakespeare’s “King Lear.” For many of the “dead body” extras, shooting these elaborate conflicts had to get quite boring. In one scene it’s evident that a guard had tired of lying on the ground and decided to watch the action instead—if you look closely, you can see him quickly close his eyes right before a volley of arrows fly by.

  • #43. Gone with the Wind (1939)

    - Directors: Victor Fleming, George Cukor, Sam Wood
    - Stacker score: 93
    - Metascore: 97
    - IMDb user rating: 8.1
    - Runtime: 238 min

    It might be the highest-grossing film of all time (when adjusted for inflation), but that doesn't mean "Gone with the Wind" isn't packed with its own share of mistakes. For instance, the film takes place before the invention of the lightbulb, yet a number of lamps in the film have either a cord or bulb.

  • #42. The Third Man (1949)

    - Director: Carol Reed
    - Stacker score: 93
    - Metascore: 97
    - IMDb user rating: 8.1
    - Runtime: 93 min

    Elected one of the best British films of all time, “The Third Man” is a film noir set in Vienna during the start of the Cold War. Despite its greatness, the film isn’t without its errors. For example, in Joseph Cotton and Orson Wells’ first scene together, Cotton yells out his famous line “What kind of spy do you think you are, satchel foot?” but his mouth clearly isn’t moving.

  • #41. Grave of the Fireflies (1988)

    - Director: Isao Takahata
    - Stacker score: 93
    - Metascore: 94
    - IMDb user rating: 8.5
    - Runtime: 89 min

    A Studio Ghibli production, “Grave of the Fireflies” is an animated feature about two siblings, Seita and Setsuko, who are struggling to survive during the final months of World War II. As is the case with most animated films, the majority of mistakes are continuity errors. For example, in the beginning a kind citizen places a rice ball by sleeping Seita’s head, but it disappears a half-second later.

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