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Watching Once Upon a Time in Hollywood which, as I understand it, is mostly a pretty realistic portrayal of Hollywood in 1969.

One thing that doesn't feel right, though: the part where the actor is said to have gone off and acted – major roles, at that – four movies in six months. I was under the impression one movie in a year is a more realistic goal.

Am I correct about this part being unrealistic, or am I missing something?

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    In 1978 Jackie Chan acted in 6 movies, 5 of which he was also action coordinator and stunt director for. In 1986 Bollywood actor Mithun Chakraborty performed in 15 movies. Lots of Hollywood actors have done more than 4 movies in a year; Christopher Lee starred in 9 movies in 1970.
    – DavidW
    Jan 17, 2023 at 19:15
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    In the grand scheme of things, the actors involvement in the making of a movie is quite short and can be quite start-stop rather than a continuous attachment. I recall working on projects where we had to make sure time was well spent with a particular talent as they had to go off and be in another shoot in the same day, and that would not be the only cast member or the only day that it happened. (or we are hanging around waiting for talent to come off another movie..) Jan 17, 2023 at 19:26
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    @blobbymcblobby - try working with soap stars in panto season ;)) They all get blocked into a week or so, maybe October, to all 'leave the plot' through various devices, via the train station, taxis, whatever, then these would be staggered into the coming episodes; only to reverse the process after xmas, when they all come trooping back in; having only been 'away' for a week or two, if that, to the public.
    – Tetsujin
    Jan 17, 2023 at 19:31
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    @Tetsujin ahahaha! please, no! Thankfully I have not had to wait for Widow Twankey to turn up to do a sex scene! Yet! Absolutely, the public have absolutely no clue, except when they're sat there with their kids watching said panto... "Maaaam! Isn't that..?" Jan 17, 2023 at 19:33
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    I wasn't saying that the amount of acting per yr was necessarily the comedy part, just that without looking up info, it *could be since other aspects of the film "poke" fun at the whole era. The in-universe actors themselves are a bit over dramatic as QT approached the whole era with a kind of affectionate mockery. These was just something to consider, not an answer. Jan 17, 2023 at 21:54

3 Answers 3

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In 1970 Christopher Lee starred in 9 movies, which is actually 1 more than 4 every 6 months.

This is very close to the era depicted in One Upon a Time in Hollywood, so it's certainly an indication that it's not impossible.

In addition, the Bollywood actor Mithun Chakraborty has over 370 acting credits in his 5-decade career, with many years having more than 10 roles.

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    FWIW, Eric Roberts has 711 credits. When I tore out everything that wasn't a released film, I found 401 films spanning 45 years. That's an average of 8.7 films per year on top of an average of 2.9 TV shows (not episodes) per year as well as other credits. All together, that's an average of 12 acting credits per year. Jan 19, 2023 at 19:18
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Movie making in 1969 was a lot different to movie making today. Films were made a lot faster and cheaper. It wasn't at all unusual for an actor to star in several films per year.

As a reference point, Telly Savalas had substantial roles in five films released in 1969. Not necessarily the protagonist, often the villain, but big roles.

  • The Assassination Bureau, Lord Boswick, principal vilain.
  • Mackenna's Gold, Sergeant Tibbs
  • Sophie's Place, Herbie Haseler, protagonist/ anti-hero
  • Land Raiders, Vince Carden, top billed.
  • On Her Majesty's Secret Service, Blofeld, Principal villain.
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    Shoot schedules were also a lot shorter, re-shoots less common. These days a 6 week shoot would be normal rather than exceptional. Two weeks would be a late 60s equivalent. 4 would be an expensive movie. Different times;) Actors didn't have to gain 10 kilos for one movie, then lose 10 for the next.
    – Tetsujin
    Jan 17, 2023 at 19:23
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    "Movie making in 1969 was a lot different to movie making today" - I'd have thought with modern movie-making technology (e.g. using 3D CGI instead of building minature models; fixing things in post instead of reshooting; all-digital workflows with instant feedback instead of waiting for dailies to be developed; etc) would have made filmmaking much quicker today compared to the past.
    – Dai
    Jan 19, 2023 at 20:14
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    @Tetsujin: And then you have Star Wars, which apparently managed to spend 14½ weeks on interior shots, across nine different sound stages, plus another 2½ weeks on-site in Tunisia for the exterior shots.
    – Kevin
    Jan 21, 2023 at 1:38
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    @Dai - you'd think so, but as budgets have got bigger, shoot schedules have got longer, with some directors wanting everything from a million angles. The most setups I ever saw for a single scene was 60 - that's 60 different sets of camera positions & lighting with sometimes up to 4 simultaneous cameras & of course multiple takes for each setup. I worked just three scenes on that movie… it took six weeks to shoot them, 6 days a week, 13 hours a day. …and that was with instant digital compositing, so we could see roughs of the main CGI character in the scene 'live'.
    – Tetsujin
    Jan 21, 2023 at 9:03
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It may not be clear, but "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood" is actually based on several real people and real events (though with a very different final outcome).

The two lead characters in the movie, Rick Dalton and Cliff Booth are pretty closely based on the actual Burt Reynolds and his long-time stuntman Hal Needham(**). And if you check Burt Reynolds filmography for 1969, you will find that he did in fact do 4 films in 6 months in 1969: 100 Rifles, Sam Whiskey, Shark! and Impasse.

(** You will find some claims on the internet that they are actually based on Ty Hardin and Gene LeBell, but although there was some partial influence from both of their careers, if you are familiar with all four's history, Burton and Needham are better fits).

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    Hi, welcome to Movies & TV! This is very interesting, but the link only tells me that Reynolds did 4 movies in 1969, not that they were in a 6-month span. Where did you get that detail from?
    – DavidW
    Jan 19, 2023 at 17:38
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    @DavidW Hmm, yep good point. It now appears to me that at least 3 of the 4 were released in the first half of 1969. When they were shot is a little less clear. Jan 19, 2023 at 20:57

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