Rumours in Movies

Rumours, probably myths, and not-quite-confirmed stories from the world of cinema.

Dial M for Murder

Dial M for Murder (1954)

Fans of Alfred Hitchcock will know where he makes his trademark director’s cameo in Dial M for Murder (1954), appearing in the photograph taken at Tony Wendice’s class reunion dinner.

But there may be another, more obscure cameo in this picture: the man sitting across the table from the director looks remarkably like Jimmy Stewart, who starred with Grace Kelly in Hitchcock’s other 1954 film, Rear Window.

It may be Ray Milland, who plays Tony Wendice, as the two actors do sometimes look similar, but the man in the photograph parts his hair on the right (like Jimmy Stewart), while Milland usually parted his on the left. Judging by the white aura around the figure, he also seems to have been added later as a cutout. (Perhaps by the same person who got a bit too enthusiastic when touching up Charles Swann’s cigar, just to make absolutely sure the viewer could see it.)

We’re pretty convinced it’s Jimmy Stewart, but until we know for sure, we’re filing this under ‘unconfirmed rumour’.

Doctor Zhivago

Doctor Zhivago (1965)

When Zhivago returns home from not-quite meeting Lara on a tram in Lean’s epic, as he opens the door of his house, a slightly ghostly reflection appears in the glass window of the vestibule.

The reflection is often thought to be David Lean himself. A blown-up, lightened image (right) suggests that the figure may have a beard, though that could just be a result of the image processing.

It does look a little like David Lean, but it’s by no means definitely him; it could be anybody. The position also looks a little posed, raising the possibility that it’s the reflection of a portrait hanging on the wall as set dressing.

Went the Day Well?

Went the Day Well? (1942)

There is a rumour going around that Christopher Lee makes a very early appearance in the 1942 war film Went the Day Well? The rumour seems to have originated with the IMDb listing for the film, which features the actor in an uncredited part.

Given that the film was made several years before his first generally recognised credit, and that even posters on his official website are sceptical, it’s probably safe to say that, went the day well or ill, it almost certainly went without Christopher Lee.

There is also the possibility that it’s somebody else of the same name; the IMDb listing appears to have been amended to support this theory.

Dracula

Dracula (1931)

Watching Tod Browning’s 1931 version of Dracula for the first time can be an odd experience. Apart from seeing Bela Lugosi laying the groundwork for eighty years of imitations, there are some real double-take moments, like hearing those classic lines spoken without irony (“Listen to them… Children of the night… What music they make.”), and seeing Dwight Frye as Renfield laying the groundwork for Andy Serkis’s Gollum in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and, well, and the vampire bee…

The vampire bee appears near the beginning, when we first see the Count’s castle and the Weird Sisters are waking up. After a couple of shots of the women beginning to emerge from their coffins, there’s a brief shot of what appears to be a bee (or maybe a wasp?) crawling out of its own, teeny-tiny coffin.

A report from a fantasy convention in 2000 does mention the bee, and suggests that it might be intended to be a giant bee in a regular-sized coffin. Unfortunately, it really doesn’t look that way. It’s almost cute.

Lacking any definitive explanation of the bee, why its there, and whether it’s a giant bee or a tiny coffin, it’s probably best not to even get started on the armadillos that appear a moment later…

Armadillos in Dracula
Nosferatu

Nosferatu (1922)

There’s a rumour that F.W. Murnau’s classic vampire film Nosferatu features actor Max Schreck in not one but two roles. He is of course the vampire himself, but – the rumour goes – he also appears briefly in another role near the beginning of the film, as a clerk in the office where Hutter works. (Nosferatu was an unofficial adaptation of Dracula, and the character names were changed in an unsuccessful attempt to avoid incurring the wrath of Bram Stoker’s estate. Hutter in the film is Jonathan Harker in the novel; Dracula becomes Count Orlok.)

There’s a still of the clerk above, and of Schreck as Orlok below, and plenty more images of Schreck in and out of make-up online.

Max Schreck in Nosferatu

It’s a tricky one. The clerk seems to have Schreck’s height, his narrow shoulders, and certain mannerisms. There’s something similar about the area around the eyes, too. The clerk’s head looks more rounded in the still above, but as he lowers his face at the end of the shot, it takes on something of Orlok’s length, before being hidden (very pointedly) behind a large hat. The forehead seems different, but as Orlok this would be hidden by make-up or prosthetics, and the prosthetic teeth would lengthen Schreck’s face.

Ultimately, there’s nothing here to either provide a definite ‘yes’ or a definite ‘no’. The only source I can find for the rumour is on IMDb, under Nosferatu trivia, which is user-submitted, and so not really authoritative. A discussion on the boards there is indecisive, and raises the question of who added the fact and what their source was.