The Muppet Movie Movie Poster

Trivia for The Muppet Movie

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  • Orson Welles plays a studio executive named Lew Lord who draws up a standard rich-and-famous contract for The Muppets, a reference to real-life producer Sir Lew Grade. When Jim Henson was trying to find a producer to make The Muppet Show (1976) happen, no American network understood, nor was interested in the concept, Grade recognized Henson's vision and made the show possible.
  • (Cameo) Caroll Spinney: Big Bird tells Kermit the Frog that he's going to New York City to break into public television, a reference to Sesame Street (1969), the television show that popularized The Muppets.
  • Jim Henson spent an entire day in a fifty-gallon steel drum submerged in a pond for the opening scene of Kermit the Frog in the swamp.
  • This movie was an allegory for Jim Henson's rise to fame.
  • (Cameo) Steve Martin: The waiter in the small town restaurant where Kermit the Frog and Piggy eat their first dinner.
  • In a 2004 interview, John Landis revealed that he was the puppeteer for Grover during the final sequence, as Frank Oz was busy operating Miss Piggy. Landis also noted that Tim Burton was also amongst the many puppeteers in the finale.
  • Edgar Bergen died shortly after his scene was shot in 1978. It held particular meaning for Jim Henson, who cited, on many occasions, how Bergen and his wooden sidekick, Charlie McCarthy, influenced his interest in puppetry. The end credits include a dedication to Bergen.
  • Austin Pendleton refused the role of Max until James Frawley wrote more for the character to do, because he really wanted Pendleton for the role.
  • Doc Hopper is a parody of Kentucky Colonel Harland David Sanders, the founder of the Kentucky Fried Chicken (now "KFC") restaurant chain, who was known for his attire of a white suit and bolo string tie.
  • One of James Frawley's rare ventures into movie directing. He more often directs for television.
  • The first The Muppets project to take place in the real world.
  • Kermit the Frog playing the banjo while sitting on a log took five days to shoot.
  • Shot in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Lake Sherwood, California.
  • The illusion of Fozzie driving the Studebaker was achieved by having a little person drive the car via remote control from the trunk, using a television monitor to guide his steering. The puppeteers would lie on the seat or floor and not see a thing. The first time they tested it, the television monitor went on the blink, and the driver had to be talked through the scene by an assistant director on a walkie-talkie ("A little to the right, now, to the left...hold it...").
  • Jim Henson was determined to use the larger budget of a feature film to push the technological limits and capabilities of puppetry. One of the most difficult feats (and one that appears deceptively easy on-screen) was making Kermit ride a bicycle.
  • A deleted subplot followed Statler and Waldorf, who turned up at various points in the movie to comment (and heckle) the main action.
  • (Cameo) Bob Hope: Ice cream vendor who sells cones to Fozzie.
  • (Cameo) Richard Hunt, Jerry Nelson: Inside the El Sleezo Café.
  • (Cameo) Frank Oz: Wearing motorcycle gear at the El Sleezo Café. He's the thug who wrestles with Fozzie (one of his main roles).
  • (Cameo) Steve Whitmire: In the crowd of the beauty pageant at the Bogen County Fair.
  • (Cameo) Jim Henson: One of the bad guys trying to shoot Kermit the Frog in the western scene.
  • The song "Never Before, Never Again" was originally sung by Johnny Mathis, but the producers did not think his rendition was as funny as Frank Oz's version.
  • It took three Kermit the Frogs to do the opening "Rainbow Connection" scene. One of the Kermits used in "The Rainbow Connection" was a mechanical; you can tell by the way it strums the banjo, and the colors of Kermit's "skin".
  • Orson Welles only had one line of dialogue.
  • (Cameo) Madeline Kahn: At the El Sleezo Bar.
  • According to Austin Pendleton, James Frawley was very unhappy directing the movie, and did not get along with The Muppet performers.
  • Gonzo is ridiculed when he says he wants to go to Bombay (also known as Mumbai), India, to become a movie star. According to International Business Times, the Bollywood film industry in that region produces roughly twice as many movies a year as Hollywood. Jim Henson once said that they wanted Gonzo to dream of being a movie star in the least likely of places, unaware until this movie was completed that India produces more movies per year than Hollywood.
  • (Cameo) Mel Brooks: The German doctor in the hostage scene.
  • As the camera pans across the entrance to the movie studio, "Doglion", the large, horned full-bodied Muppet with long, gray hair, can be seen walking through the lot. He is the first member of The Muppets to be shown on the big screen.
  • When several celebrities who were scheduled to do cameos had to drop out due to scheduling conflicts, and others were brought in, writer David Odell was hired to re-write the script and make each new cameo fit. His work on this movie led Jim Henson to offer Odell the job of writing the screenplay for The Dark Crystal (1982).
  • According to David Odell, shooting on the final number in the movie was delayed because Paul Williams developed a case of writer's block. Jim Henson asked Odell to come up with some dummy lyrics so they could block out the scene. When Williams heard somebody else was doing his job, he suddenly managed to finish the song quickly.
  • (Cameo) Richard Pryor: He appears in the movie handing out balloons.
  • Premiered on U.K. television on ITV, Christmas Day 1981.
  • Included amongst the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die", edited by Steven Schneider.
  • The main obstacle the filmmakers were faced with during the development of this movie was whether The Muppets would transition seamlessly from television to film. In 1978, director James Frawley, Jim Henson, and Frank Oz filmed several camera tests outside of London to test how the characters would appear in real-world locations.
  • Before this, no movie had a hand puppet act with its entire body appearing on-screen. That is, hand puppets were only seen from the waist up, and it became a major plot point to show Kermit with legs.
  • To have Kermit ride a bicycle in a full-body shot, a Kermit puppet with legs was posed onto the seat and his legs and arms were attached to the pedals and handlebars. An overhead crane with a marionette system held the bicycle through strong strings invisible to the camera, guiding the bicycle forward. The crane and system was out of the camera's frame of vision.
  • The closing reprise of "Rainbow Connection" featured a crowd of more than two hundred fifty Muppet characters, virtually every Muppet that had been created up to that point in time. According to Jim Henson archivist Karen Falk: "One hundred thirty-seven puppeteers were enlisted from the Puppeteers of America (along with the regular Muppet performers) to perform every Muppet extant. Prior to the day-long filming of the shot, Henson gave the enthusiastic participants a lesson in the art of cinematic puppetry. Amazingly, it did take just one day." The Muppet Show Fan Club newsletter answered the question of "How did they do it?" They response was "There are two hundred fifty puppets in the last shot of the film, and they're all moving. How? One hundred fifty puppeteers in a six foot deep, seventeen foot wide pit, that's how. They were recruited through the Los Angeles Guild of The Puppeteers of America and almost every puppeteer west of the Rockies reported for pit duty."
  • The final car driven by The Muppets is a 1946 Ford Woodie station wagon, famous for its wood panel siding and is a valuable collectible.
  • The original outline was titled "The Muppet Get-Together".
  • One of the two specially-painted 1951 Studebaker Commanders used in this movie resides in the Studebaker National Museum in South Bend, Indiana.
  • Is the second highest grossing Muppet movie after The Muppets (2011).
  • Was the tenth highest grossing film of 1979.
  • The song "I'm Going to Go Back There Someday" was one of Jim Henson's favorites, and Gonzo's performer, Dave Goelz performed it at Henson's memorial.
  • A dancing Kermit and Fozzie Bear were operated by Jim Henson and Frank Oz in front of a bluescreen, and were composited onto a separate reel of the stage.
  • Jim Henson wanted Doc Hopper to be redeemed at the end, but Frank Oz overruled him.
  • Several classic cars were specially selected by Jim Henson for appearances in this movie. The most prominent were a pair of 1951 Studebaker Commander Coupes driven by Fozzie Bear. One car was painted, but unmodified and driven by a person in the front seat. It was used for long, travelling shots. The second car was driven by a person in the trunk, who viewed the road through a television set. The television received its image from a camera located in the center nose of the car's front grille. This made it possible for Frank Oz to perform Fozzie Bear in the front seat, and have the character seemingly drive the car in close-up shots.
  • "Movin' Right Along", "Never Before, Never Again", and "I Hope That Somethin' Better Comes Along" were shortened in the movie, compared to their soundtrack versions, for continuity purposes. The latter, a duet between Rowlf and Kermit, contained references that the studio considered too mature for children, although the song appeared complete in the British theatrical and home video debut versions. In "Finale: The Magic Store", a line performed by Kermit in the movie is sung by Fozzie on the soundtrack recording.
  • The original script had recurring appearance of Henry Kissinger, whose entire schtick is that he's not cast in the movie, not even for the Framing Device.
  • The song "I'm Going to Go Back There Someday" was resung in Muppets from Space (1999).
  • "I Hope That Somethin' Better Comes Along" is a rare duet between Rowlf and Kermit, because Jim Henson usually performed both characters. Kermit, a simple "glove" puppet, could be operated with one hand, but because of his design, Rowlf required two performers: Henson's right hand would control the mouth, his left hand would control Rowlf's left hand, while another puppeteer would operate the right hand--meaning that in order to perform both roles at once, Henson would need three hands. In order to achieve the duet, the two tracks were recorded separately by Jim, and then combined into one. Henson and another puppeteer performed Rowlf (who required a more dynamic performance), while Kermit, who only had to sit and "lip-sync" the number, was taken over by a third puppeteer, marking one of the rare times Henson entrusted Kermit's performance to someone other than himself.
  • Steve Martin, Milton Berle, Dom DeLuise, Madeline Kahn, James Coburn, Bob Hope, Cloris Leachman, Edgar Bergen, and Charlie McCarthy all made guest appearances on The Muppet Show (1976), although Coburn's appearance came after this movie.
  • There are wineries in Idaho, and they didn't see the humor in Steve Martin's "sparkling Muscatel" bit.
  • Kermit imagines thousands of other frogs going around with tiny crutches. Real-life wild frog populations have suffered leg deformities in the years since this movie was made, some from pollution, and others from natural parasites or predators.
  • The sequences where Fozzie, Kermit, Miss Piggy, and the gang cruise around in that old Studebaker seem effortless, but they were a logistical nightmare. Kermit and Piggy each required a puppeteer, Fozzie required two, they all needed monitors, and none of them could appear in the shot. So four men squeezed underneath the dashboard of the car with their video monitors to accomplish this movie magic, but the engineering didn't stop there. James Frawley told SF Gate that they also "had a little person in the back of the car, steering and driving. We had a video camera on the nose of the car so he could see where he was going."
  • When Animal accidentally eats Dr. Bunsen Honeydew's Insta-Grow pills, he memorably balloons through the roof. Jim Henson refused to use a normal puppet on a miniature set to accomplish this effect, so his crew had to construct a gigantic Animal head that measured sixty feet.
  • For the scene where Kermit has a desert revelation, James Frawley wanted to include a shooting star in the night sky. So the crew attached a Christmas tree light to a wire on the soundstage, and when they got the signal, shot it across the set.
  • Jim Henson and Frank Oz also played two of Doc Hopper's nameless gunslingers in the western showdown scene. (They're simply billed as "Doc Hopper's Men" in the credits.)
  • Charles Durning (Doc Hopper) also played Santa Claus in Elmo Saves Christmas (1996).
  • When Dr. Krassman brings in the "electronic cerebrectomy" machine to scramble Kermit's brain, there is a LED display on the front of the machine which reads "666". This is a number frequently associated with the Devil, and is an allusion to the sinister nature of the machine.
  • A 2017 Nespresso commercial features George Clooney hitching rides with Kermit and Fozzie, with Janet Leigh in Psycho (1960), with Burt Reynolds in Smokey and the Bandit (1977), with John Candy in Planes, Trains & Automobiles (1987), as well as riding Peter Fonda's motorcycle from Easy Rider (1969), and the eponymous horse from Seabiscuit (2003). The thirty-second version omits Leigh, Candy, and Fonda.
  • Jim Henson very much wanted to direct this movie himself, as he actually considered himself an experimental filmmaker before he was a puppeteer. Executive producer Sir Lew Grade and Frank Oz convinced Henson otherwise, as the requirements of performing and developing puppet techniques that would allow The Muppets to interact with the real world would consume too much of his time.
  • Madeline Kahn, James Coburn, and Austin Pendleton appeared in movies made by Pixar. Kahn appeared in A Bug's Life (1998) as Gypsy the Gypsy Moth, Coburn appeared in Monsters, Inc. (2001) as its main villain Henry J. Waternoose III, and Pendleton appeared in the Finding Nemo movies as Gurgle the Gramma.
  • The first time Piggy and Kermit are "married" on-screen.
  • Steve Martin and Mel Brooks appeared in movies made by DreamWorks Animation. Martin was in The Prince of Egypt (1998) as Hotep and Home (2015) as Captain Smek the Boov Alien and Brooks was in Mr Peabody & Sherman (2014) as Albert Einstein.
  • Mel Brooks' only appearance in a movie that's rated G by the MPAA until Toy Story 4 (2019).
  • Dr. Teeth has a picture of Big Bird attached to the dashboard of his bus.
  • Elliott Gould also appeared in The Muppets Take Manhattan (1984).
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