10 Behind the Scenes Stories That Ruin Nostalgic Movies

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My girlfriend and I recently adopted a kitten. We named him Moze (after Moses Pray in Paper Moon). Moze had a brother named Baxter who went to a different household. Through the kitten foster mother we’d heard that Baxter had gotten a kitten-warming party thrown in his honor and that his new parents also named a cocktail for him. We were determined to give Moze the same party treatment. So we invited some friends over, created a cocktail (which was easy since Moses Pray was briefly a bootlegger), introduced our lil guy and socialized against the screen backdrop of prepared titles: Paper Moon, Cat People (both the 1942 and 1982 versions) and The Adventures of Milo and Otis.

It was a fun gathering that became a little awkward while re-watching Milo and Otis. The backdrop film took over the conversation as we all wondered, “How’d they make this?” Milo and Otis is the tale of a kitten and a pug who go on a long adventure — battling other small creatures along the way — while trying to get home after the kitten (Milo) was accidentally separated from his litter. Then there was a scene where a kitten was dropped 50 meters or so from a cliff into the ocean. There was a real splash, followed by a quick cut to an entirely different cat, and everyone was silent. Did we all just watch a kitten drowned for a kids movie? Many of us had seen the film as a kid. (We didn’t remember viewing the live animal births as a kid, either; the circle of life!)

So, modern party as this was, we took to the interweb and found that, indeed, there were numerous allegations that the Japanese crew had knowingly put many animals in danger and potentially/accidentally killed up to 20 kittens during the making of Milo and Otis (which was a huge hit in Japan under the title A Kitten’s Story, which followed the adventures of Chatran and Poosky). Many of the allegations involved that scene from a cliff as the filmmakers used no green screen and had no representatives from their humane society on site. So it was inconclusive but the allegations also swept through Europe and the film (released in America three years later) wasn’t allowed to show in certain territories.

For the US release the Humane Society stamped their approval on the film, but admitted that they did because the Japanese Humane Society had stamped it previously, even though they couldn’t verify that anything malicious (or even proper) had happened on set. Regardless, it definitely appears that for whatever reasons, Milo 1.0 and Milo 2.0, onward, didn’t make it through the entire shoot. And at the very least it would be very traumatic for a kitten to be dropped off a cliff into the ocean, even if it survived. 

25 years after the film was released stateside, is there a silver-lining legacy for Milo and Otis? Foreign productions had to become more transparent in their use of animals in film. 1989 saw the re-release (and success) of both Milo and Otis and The Bear showed that there was potential global box office from animal tales that could be re-dubbed. (The Bear was shot in British Columbia and had both French and Canadian animal services on site throughout the shoot; their only hiccup was that during promo photos on-set the main bear did claw the back of film’s director Jean-Jacques Annaud — perhaps due to camera flashes — but that bear, Bart, went on to have a very long Hollywood career, including appearances in The Great Outdoors, The Edge and Legends of the Fall.) But as Milo and Otis and The Bear were also released in America in the same year, their opposite press proved that if you’re filming lots of animals, you’ve gotta keep your stars in a row and accounted for by shoots end, so as to not have negative press when released in other countries.

But that got us thinking, on the 25th anniversary of the American release of Masanori Hata’s Milo and Otis,  what other films from your childhood/teen years might be ruined or altered in fuzzy recollection if you knew some extra backstory information — lawsuits, on-set abuse, bad work conditions, etc? Below are 10 films aimed at children and teenagers that have some adult awfulness behind the scenes. Some might still be able to be enjoyed, somewhat enjoyed, or should be entirely avoided from re-watching. Feel free to let us know in the comments if certain movies are ruined for you, or if you don’t see the big deal, or if you don’t believe these allegations.

Slideshow: 10 Films Behind the Scenes Stories That Ruin Nostalgic Movies


Brian Formo is a featured contributor on the CraveOnline Film Channel. You can follow him on Twitter at @BrianEmilFormo.