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The Show Must Go On

Today, it is estimated to cost a production company a million dollars a day or more should a key actor become ill or injured. Not surprisingly then, some all-time favorite and classic movie scenes are filmed despite actors feeling a bit under the weather. Here are a few that made it to the final cut.

Gene Kelly was “Singin in the Rain” (1952) with a 103-degree fever. And Kelly had to keep dancing through the raindrops due to the fact that the unusual combination of water and milk used to make the raindrops show up on camera kept shrinking each of the multiple wool jackets he had to wear take after take.

In “Rocky” (1976), upon returning to his apartment with Adrian after their Thanksgiving skating date, Rocky tries a first kiss on Adrian. Adrian is very nervous about being alone with him. Rocky leans in to kiss Adrian, and Adrian seems very shy and reluctant. In actuality, Talia Shire is afflicted with the flu and is trying not to spread it to her romantic co-star, a fact that plays very well in the scene’s circumstances. As an aside, Stallone caught the bug anyway and had to fight that too during upcoming sequences.

In “Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back” (1980), Darth Vader shocked Luke and audiences alike when he revealed that he was, in fact, Luke’s father. As Luke tries to wrap his brain around that, he is also writhing in pain as a result of Dad cutting off his hand and simultaneously hanging on for dear life to a catwalk. Luke’s anguish is also Hamill’s as the scene was shot while he had the flu and a fever of 104.

In “Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Ark” (1981), during “The Streets of Cairo” scene, Marian is kidnaped and Indy needs to save her. A menacing swordsman impedes Indy’s pursuit and taunts him to a challenging duel. In the script, Indy is supposed to use his skills with a whip to snatch the sword from his aggressor. However, during filming, Harrison Ford is suffering from dysentery and in an “inspired” moment, Ford pulls the gun from his holster and shoots the swordsman dead. This priceless moment was so good Spielberg left it in the film.

So the next time, when you are watching one of these films, look out for these scenes. Did the actors’ illnesses hinder or enhance their performance? Especially in “Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Ark” (1981). Is it just me or does it seem that when they close-up on Harrison that his eyes are a little blurry?

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