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50 Greatest Movies About Movies

Hearts Of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse (1991)

Lights! Camera! Action! Cheating slightly to include a documentary, but the making of Apocalypse Now is the gold standard of 'real-life' movies about movies.

Trouble On Set: Martin Sheen's heart attack, Marlon Brando's truculence in refusing to read the script and a typhoon destroying the set - as Francis Ford Coppola said, "We were in the jungle, there were too many of us, we had access to too much money, too much equipment, and little by little we went insane."

Chances Of An Oscar: Apocalypse Now won two, Best Cinematography and Best Sound.

Contempt (1963)

Lights! Camera! Action! Hollywood producer Jerry Prokosch (Jack Palance) has hired Paul Javal (Michel Piccoli) to write a script for Fritz Lang's new version of The Odyssey .

Trouble On Set: Paul's dithering over the project causes his marriage with Camille (Brigitte Bardot) to hit the skids, while Lang isn't happy shooting in Cinemascope - "good for only snakes and funerals".

Chances Of An Oscar: Weirdly, Prokosch's cod-psychological reading of Odysseus as a modern neurotic might actually appeal to Oscar voters, although it would be a posthumous win for the producer.

Ed Wood (1994)

Lights! Camera! Action! Enthusiastic but talent-challenged Ed Wood Jr (Johnny Depp) embarks on his most ambitious project, Plan 9 From Outer Space .

Trouble On Set: Wood's star Bela Lugosi (Martin Landau) dies, so Wood simply hires a chiropractor as Lugosi's stand-in.

Chances Of An Oscar: The only prizes Plan 9 From Outer Space ever won were for Worst Film awards.

Barton Fink (1991)

Lights! Camera! Action! Hot Broadway playwright Barton Fink (John Turturro) is fast-tracked to Hollywood to pen the next Wallace Beery wrestling pic and holed up in the decrepit Hotel Earle.

Trouble On Set: Barton, prophet of the common man, gets writer's block, and the continual interruptions of neighbour Charlie Meadows aka Mad Man Muntz (John Goodman) aren't helping either.

Chances Of An Oscar: Barton is deemed too high-faluting for Hollywood and told his work will never be produced.

The Player (1992)

Lights! Camera! Action! Studio executive Griffin Mill (Tim Robbins) greenlights terrible legal thriller Habeas Corpus , in the hope of blaming rival Larry Levy (Peter Gallagher).

Trouble On Set: Mill is distracted; he's been getting death threats, murdered the disgruntled screenwriter he thought responsible, and then realised the killed the wrong guy.

Chances Of An Oscar: Habeas Corpus started out as awards-bait; by the time Mill has finished, it's a Bruce Willis / Julia Roberts movie with a happy ending. Go figure.

Cinema Paradiso (1988)

Lights! Camera! Action! Film director Salvatore remembers growing up in the Sicilian Cinema Paradiso, where projectionist Alfredo (Philippe Noiret) taught him about the movies.

Trouble On Set: The local priest/censor insists on ruining all the films by cutting out all the kisses... although Alfredo doesn't let them go to waste.

Chances Of An Oscar: The grown-up Salvatore is reputedly very famous, but he keeps Alfredo's word not to indulge in nostalgia by filming his childhood.

Sunset Boulevard (1950)

Lights! Camera! Action! Murdered screenwriter Joe Gillis (William Holden) narrates the story of his meeting with washed-up silent icon Norma Desmond (Gloria Swanson).

Trouble On Set: Desmond is a loon who has funerals for her pet monkeys and cruelly keeps her old director Max von Mayerling (Erich von Stroheim) retained as her butler.

Chances Of An Oscar: Desmond might think she's working with De Mille, but she's going to have to be ready for her close-up behind bars.

Eight And A Half (1963)

Lights! Camera! Action! Director Guido (Marcello Mastroianni) suffers creative block while embarking on his latest film and drifts into dreams and memories.

Trouble On Set: Women troubles, as Guido tries to keep wife Anouk Aimee, mistress Sandra Milo and starlet Claudia Cardinale happy.

Chances Of An Oscar: Depends on the box office. If Guido has a hit, then all of his indulgence will be forgiven.

Day For Night (1973)

Lights! Camera! Action! Ferrand (Francois Truffaut) is shooting melodrama Meet Pamela with stars Alphonse (Jean-Pierre Leaud) and Julie (Jacqueline Bisset).

Trouble On Set: Where to start? Julie is recovering from a breakdown and has an affair with Alphonse. Fellow star Severine (Valentina Cortese) is a needy diva. And another star is killed in a car accident.

Chances Of An Oscar: Just getting the film completed is reward enough.

Singin' In The Rain (1952)

Lights! Camera! Action! Silent movie star Don Lockwood (Gene Kelly), working on his first talkie, The Duelling Cavalier.

Trouble On Set: Cumbersome sound equipment and the shrieking voice of co-star Lina Lamont (Jean Hagen) conspire to make the preview screening a laughing stock.

Chances Of An Oscar: Much better after Don's new girlfriend Kathy Selden (Debbie Reynolds) hits on the idea of making a musical ( The Dancing Cavalier ) instead and even agrees to overdub Lina's voice.

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