Friday, September 27, 2013

48 Hours I'll Never Get Back

Honestly, we Unbelievables get a lot of fan mail. A lot of it contains questions. "How come you're such a big hit with the girls?" is a recurring theme. So is "How come you guys are so good at fighting crime and kicking butt and stuff like that?". But just occasionally, we get asked to solve perplexing problems.


This one, from a "Jacob", I dunno. Why Michael assigned it such high priority, I have no idea. All I can think is it must be a "slow crime week". Things have been fairly quiet around here for a few days, that's certain. I've been working on this for last couple days. For what it's worth, here is my report. Try to stay awake if you can.

So, doing a bit of digging around, I found that George Roy Hill, the director of Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid, actually wanted the song Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Head because he wanted something with a quaint, turn-of-the-century feel to it. Well, that's the official story anyway. But then I turned up something interesting when searching for niblets of info. Turns out Katharine Ross, who played Etta Place and sat on the crossbar of the bike in that scene, had visited the set on the first day of shooting, when the train robbery scenes were being shot. There were 5 cameras but only four operators, so somebody gave her the job of operating the 5th, showing her how to operate it and move it etc. Hill was mightily pissed off at this, and though he said nothing on the day, he banned her from visiting the set except when she was working. 

Katharine Ross herself has weighed in on this one too. She was heard to say that she enjoyed the bicycle scene best, because it was shot by the 2nd unit and Hill was not present. "Any day away from George Roy Hill was a good one." she says.

So it stands to reason that Hill would stamp all over her favourite scene by sticking a completely out-of-place cod-Victorian song over the top and making everyone in the theatre gag. 

But wait! There's more!

Turns out Burt Bacharach had to really work on Hill to put the song in the film, as Hill wasn't convinced that a song with a lyric would work versus an instrumental piece. But after his spat with Miss Ross, he was convinced. Odd, that.

But get this!

Burt didn't want B.J. Thomas to sing it. Various reports say he wanted Bob Dylan, but in truth it was Ray Stevens he was after.

Yes. This guy. Now that IS Unbelievable.

But Stevens didn't want to do it. Which is odd, because Bacharach was on a roll after 20-odd hits with Dionne Warwick and countless covers by Dusty Springfield and the like. Why wouldn't Stevens jump at the chance instead of having novelty hits?

Sadly, my friends, I fear Stevens was in cahoots with George Roy Hill. Not only that, but he hated the song too, and couldn't wait to screw over another singer (B.J. Thomas) and make sure he was only remembered for being the "Raindrops guy".

I tracked Ray down and asked him upfront. Here is an excerpt from our conversation.

Ray: Well, Unbelievables, you figured it out. I hated the song, hated B.J. Thomas and would far rather be remembered for Mississippi Squirrel Revival and The Streak than for that piece of s**t song. Too darn cutesy and sick-making.

Jeff: OK, so how do you explain Everything Is Beautiful? Not to mention Misty?

Ray: Alright, interview's over. Get the hell off my property.

So there you have it, friends. Solved another mystery. You are welcome, world, and Jacob in particular.

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