A Peek Behind the Scenes-Epic Movie Sets

Posted on 24 Sep 00:00


Time and time again, Hollywood has stood out among other movie industries as a result of the details that classic movie and modern movie directors invest in the creation of their masterpieces. In contemporary cinema and filmography, the originality of the epics is still unmatched and should be treated in high regard.

All things considered, what makes the epics of the Golden Age of Hollywood unrivaled to date, is the vintage sets that the classic films were shot in.

No matter how well advanced the methods of modern-day cinema are, certain characteristics can be discovered solely in classical film sets.

For every classic film that made it to becoming a record-breaking blockbuster, there’s a backdrop concealing the hard work that has gone into its production behind the scenes.

Here are some popular vintage movies that had incredible, and in some cases, outrageously expense movies sets:

  1. The Misfits (1961):

The misfits, shot in Nevada, is a movie centered around the idea of people trying to establish meaningful relationships with other people, but finding it difficult to do so. In the movie, Roslyn Taber (Marilyn Monroe), a divorcee, is looking for a man with whom she can communicate. Instead, she finds Gay Langland (Clark Gable), an aging cowboy looking to capture wild mustangs with intent to sell. The strength and charm that Clark Gable portrayed in this movie was just for show, its actually real. As a matter of fact, he was sick during the shoot, and his age was a major disadvantage as well. Aside from that, he had a hard time understanding the scripts until he was advised to imagine the plot as an eastern-western movie. It is rumored that Marilyn’s constant tardiness to the set caused Gable to suffer in the heat causing undo stress to his already fragile state of health which some believe contributed to his swift decline and ultimate death.

  1. Cleopatra (1963)

Serious movie buffs will be familiar with the sets of this classic masterpiece, as it was touted as a low budget sequel of two silent-era versions (1917 and 1937). The former starred renowned actress Theda Bara and the latter starred Claudette Colbert. The production cost over $44 million dollars and the production period spanned across 4 countries (England, Egypt, Spain, Italy, and America – Hollywood). Also, it took the inventiveness of three (3) equally capable directors and four (4) prominent writers three (3) years to produce this movie. During the production, there were a number of cast changes and script modifications before they could get it right. Not to mention the gigantic Alexandria set that had to be rebuilt there (3) times during the shoot.  Also, famously, this is the film where the ‘real life’ love affair began between Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, who were both married to other people at the time.

  1. Giant (1956)

This film was shot in Marfa, Texas. Many people don't know that a 'real' bone of contention existed between Jordan "Bick" Benedict  Jr. (Rock Hudson) and Jett Rink (James Dean) in the movie, was very much real (and worse) behind the scenes. The two hated each other, and if not for Elizabeth Taylor (Leslie Lynnton Benedict in the movie), the movie wouldn’t have made it past the first scene.

  1. The Conqueror (1956)

In all probability, the occurrence that unfolded behind the scenes of this particular movie is the worst mistake of the Golden Age movie production. Apparently, the greater part of this movie; was shot in close proximity to one of US’s nuclear testing facility in Utah. As a result, most of the cast developed cancer. At the end of the day, 91 people out of the 220 people that made the movie got cancer, and a good number of them died from the disease, including the two leads in the film, Susan Hayward and John Wayne. It is highly speculated that the radiation in the area was the cause of these deaths.

  1. Metropolis (1927)

Fritz Lang, a prominent director of many of the out of print movies of the Golden era, spared no expense in creating a detailed set for this movie. The emblematic and revolutionary techniques that he used in creating this unique sci-fi movie are clearly on display in this film. While the clandestine metropolitan of industrial units and machines that were portrayed in the movie are considered a technical marvels, the hard work that was done behind the scenes to achieve this movie. To achieve the perfect sequences of the movie, 500 extras had to labor for days, waist-deep in freezing water (poverty was so rampant in Germany at the time, Lang had no problem finding extras to endure these appalling conditions).


Luckily for us, vestiges of vintage movie sets still exist today and we can visit them, and be transported to a magical and mythical places of yesteryear.

Movie Buffs Forever stocks classic movies on DVD from the 1940's to the early 2000's. Browse our vast collection of old, rare and out of print classic movies on DVD.

Why We Still Love DVDs