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Movies That Ruined People's Lives

Movies serve a multitude of purposes, from providing escapist entertainment to shining a spotlight on important issues. They are supposed to make us laugh, scream, cry, and think, but generally speaking, they're not supposed to ruin our lives.

Unfortunately, every so often a film will come along that just completely screws someone over. Maybe it ruins a filmmaker's career, or perhaps it embarrasses someone involved with the production. In some extreme cases, movies have been involved in murder plots, suicide attempts, and terrorist attacks. Sadly for the people on this list, their lives were touched by the power of the cinema... and things didn't end well for anyone involved.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)

As it was the first animated feature film ever made, you'd think Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs would've turned its leading lady, Adriana Caselotti, into a major star. After all, the film was a big hit and a cinematic landmark, but despite playing in one of the most beloved movies ever made, Caselotti largely vanished from the Tinseltown scene after working on the Disney film. True, you can briefly hear her voice in both The Wizard of Oz and It's a Wonderful Life, but aside from those few roles, she never got much work in the movies business... and most people blame the film that got her started in the first place.

According to some conspiracy theories, Walt Disney refused to let Caselotti work anywhere ever again, keeping her under a tight contract so she couldn't use her iconic voice in any other film. However, Disney didn't start contracting actors until 1946, so that theory is unlikely. Instead, it seems that Caselotti's own talent betrayed her. If you've seen Snow White, you know the actress has one of the most recognizable voices in Disney history, and it's said the titular movie mogul wouldn't cast her again because her voice was just too easy to identify. Sadly, it seems the rest of Hollywood felt the same way, and other movie studios—especially those involved with animation—didn't want audiences saying, "That character sounds like Snow White!"

On the flip side, Disney did use her multiple times over the years to promote Snow White. Whenever the company planned to re-release the film, Caselotti was hired for publicity tours. And in 1994, she was given the honor of becoming a Disney Legend. Still, if Caselotti could do it all over again, you've got to wonder if she'd choose a steady career over one great film.

Peeping Tom (1960)

Once upon a time, Michael Powell was one of the most beloved filmmakers in Great Britain. With his frequent collaborator Emeric Pressburger, the director created some of the greatest films of English cinema, such as Black Narcissus and The Red Shoes. But everything changed in 1960, when Powell directed Peeping Tom, a wild departure from his previous work. Similar to Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho (which came out the same year), Peeping Tom focuses on a shy, sexually repressed young man who gets his kicks by murdering women. Only instead of stabbing them in the shower, this guy films their deaths while murdering them with a blade attached to his camera tripod.

While tame by today's standards (although, it's still pretty disturbing), audiences at the time were absolutely shocked. Peeping Tom deals with all kinds of uncomfortable topics, like child abuse, pornography, and voyeurism. As a result, British critics lost their minds, labeling the film as "perverted" and "beastly." One critic wrote it was "the sickest and filthiest film I remember seeing," and another wrote the movie should be "flushed swiftly down the nearest sewer." And that's pretty much what happened. According to Powell himself, the film's British distribution was canceled, and the producers "sold the negative as soon as they could to an obscure black-marketer of films, who tried to forget it, and forgotten it was, along with its director, for 20 years."

Seriously, after Peeping Tom, Powell was basically exiled from the British film industry, forced to make movies in other countries, none of which lived up to his old classics. As a result, the man and his movie faded into obscurity until 1979, when Martin Scorsese re-released the film, kickstarting a newfound appreciation for the early serial killer flick. These days, Peeping Tom is considered one of Powell's best films—Roger Ebert added it to his list of "Great Movies," and the British Film Institute labeled it the 78th greatest British film ever—but there's no denying this 1960 flick completely killed Powell's career.

The Alamo (1960)

Released in 1960, The Alamo was a passion project for John Wayne, marking the movie star's directorial debut. Unfortunately, the production was beset with all sorts of problems. One of the lead actors broke his foot, a flood wiped out the set, and about 80 percent of the crew came down with a nasty bug. But in between dealing with out-of-control fires and automobile accidents, the cast and crew of The Alamo found themselves in the middle of a murder investigation.

It all started when a group of actors known as The Hollywood Starlight Players auditioned for the film. They were all cast as extras except for one actress named Lagene Ethridge. She was given a much larger role, complete with actual lines, and as a result, she got to live closer to the set. However, this didn't sit well with her actor boyfriend, Chester Harvey Smith, who had to get a room in a town 20 miles away. Angry about the living arrangements, Smith demanded that Ethridge move into town with him, and when she refused, Smith responded like a mature adult by stabbing her to death with a 12-inch knife.

Smith was quickly arrested, and the Duke later said he thought Smith should receive the death penalty. Instead, the actor was sentenced to 20 years behind bars... which seems kind of light for knifing your girlfriend to death.

Le Mans (1971)

Coming off hit films like Bullitt and The Thomas Crown Affair, Steve McQueen hoped to do something a little different with his next project. He wanted to make the greatest racing movie ever. McQueen's plan was to star in a documentary-style film about the 24 Heures du Mans, an event where drivers compete for 24 hours straight. The event has been called the "world's most famous endurance race," and the King of Cool thought it would be the perfect subject for his new movie.

Unfortunately, things didn't pan out the way McQueen had hoped. The film's original director, John Sturges (The Magnificent Seven, The Great Escape), wanted to make a more conventional narrative film, and the two clashed so hard that Sturges eventually left the project. Soon, the movie had gone so far over budget that McQueen was forced to give up his salary, any future profits, and control of the picture if he wanted to finish the film. Worse still, the making of Le Mans would ultimately cause his company, Solar Productions, to collapse.

But at the end of the day, at least McQueen made it out of Le Mans in one piece. The same can't be said for David Piper. A Formula One racer working on the film, Piper was driving a Porsche 917 for a scene when one of the tires deflated. Piper lost control of the car, and in the ensuing accident, the driver majorly injured his leg. Sadly, the wound became infected, and the doctors were forced to amputate the lower part. The injury effectively ended his racing career, and it was all for a movie that's largely been forgotten by most moviegoers.

Deliverance (1972)

Based on the novel by James Dickey, Deliverance is a powerful story about how people react when they're ripped from civilization and thrust into a world without law and order. Unfortunately, most people remember it as the movie where Ned Beatty gets raped by a hillbilly. Granted, it is the most memorable moment in a film full of toothless woodsmen and decrepit rednecks. In other words, it's easy to understand why the folks of Rabun County have mixed feelings about this film.

Rabun County, if you don't know, is where Deliverance was filmed, and believe it or not, the movie did wonders for the local economy, inspiring quite a few people to try white-water rafting. As a result, adventurers have been flocking to Rabun County ever since, and according to a 2012 CNN article, tourists bring over $40 million to the area each year. However, while the money is nice, not everyone is happy with the way Southerners are depicted in the film. Speaking with CNN, one Rabun County resident said, "There are still a lot of people here locally who have hard feelings about the stereotypes the movie represented."

As a county commissioner once explained, "We were portrayed as ignorant, backward, scary, deviant, redneck hillbillies." But this goes a whole lot further than just hurt feelings. According to a report by Marketplace, people have claimed they were "passed up for jobs because they came from Rabun County." And when locals planned on celebrating Deliverance's 40th anniversary, quite a few citizens complained, with one woman going so far as to say that "the movie had ruined her life." After all, if you come from a region best known for banjo-playing and pig-squealing, you probably don't get a lot of respect.

Last Tango in Paris (1972)

One of the most controversial movies ever made, Bernardo Bertolucci's Last Tango in Paris starred Marlon Brando as an American widower who gets involved with a young French woman played by Maria Schneider. Their relationship is purely sexual, and things quickly spin out of control... just like Schneider's life. After working on the film, the actress claimed she couldn't deal with her newfound fame, and soon, she was using cocaine and heroin as "an escape from reality." Schneider eventually hit such a rough patch that she tried to commit suicide.

However, in recent years, it's become apparent that Schneider was probably suffering from more than unwanted media attention. In 2016, a three-year-old interview with Bertolucci came to light, and it included a segment where the director elaborated on the movie's most infamous scene—the moment where Brando's character rapes Schneider's character, while using butter as lubricant. True, the attack was in the script (and the on-screen sex is simulated), but the use of butter wasn't in the screenplay. As Bertolucci explained in the 2013 interview, this was an impromptu decision that he and Brando made on-set, and they deliberately didn't tell Schneider what they were going to do.

According to Bertolucci, he didn't inform the 19-year-old Schneider because he "wanted her reaction as a girl, not as an actress. I wanted her to react humiliated..." Even Schneider herself commented on the scene in 2007, saying she was "crying real tears" and that she "felt a little raped, both by Marlon and by Bertolucci." In fact, it was reported that Schneider fled the Last Tango premiere "screaming" and that a friend had to "comfort her."

After Bertolucci's confession, many have posited that Schneider's behavior after Last Tango had more to do with PTSD than her sudden celebrity. And in her 2007 interview, given a few years before her death of cancer, the actress admitted that if she had to choose again, she would've passed on Last Tango in Paris.

The Message (1977)

In 1977, a director Moustapha Akkad released The Message, a desert epic in the vein of Lawrence of Arabia. Only instead of focusing on an English adventurer, the film tells the story of the Prophet Muhammad and the rise of Islam. True, you're not supposed to actually depict Muhammad, but Akkad got around this by having actors speak directly at the audience, as if the camera itself was the prophet. But despite Akkad's attempts at making a peaceful, inoffensive film, quite a few people took his message the wrong way.

Multiple countries banned the film, but even worse, one guy decided to stage a protest... with swords and shotguns. On March 9, 1977, Hamaas Abdul Khaalis and 11 of his cronies drove to Washington D.C. and took over multiple buildings around the city. Armed with firearms and all sorts of blades, Khaalis took 149 hostages and made two demands. First, he wanted the government to release a group of prisoners who'd murdered his family years before. (It seems Khaalis wanted to serve his own brand of bloody justice.) Secondly, he demanded that The Message be removed from theaters.

As a result, several New York theaters put their screening on hold (although, the government declined to follow-up on Khaalis' first demand). Tragically, this attack wasn't without casualties. When the group stormed the District Building, since renamed the Wilson Building, Khaalis and his group shot and murdered a security guard named Mack Cantrell and a reporter named Maurice Williams. Fortunately, the rest of the hostages were freed 39 hours later, and Khaalis was sentenced to life in prison, where he died in 2003. As for filmmaker Moustapha Akkad, he went on to have success as a producer, helping create one of the greatest horror franchises of all-time: the Halloween series.

WarGames (1983)

A genius and online activist who helped create RSS, Reddit, and Creative Commons, Aaron Swartz thought it was wrong to charge astronomic fees for scientific research and scholarly works. Wanting to make a point, Swartz hacked into the digital library JSTOR and illegally downloaded quite a few articles. But this stunt didn't sit well with the feds, and soon, Swartz found himself facing 35 years behind bars. As a result, the internet pioneer committed suicide, ending his life at the age of 26.

So what does this have to do with the movies? Well, the law used to prosecute Swartz was directly connected to the 1983 hit WarGames. This Matthew Broderick movie follows a young computer whiz who hacks into NORAD and (accidentally) almost starts World War III. Evidently, the movie freaked out the folks in Washington DC, with one congressional report claiming WarGames was a "realistic representation" of what hackers could do. Four minutes of the movie were even shown in Congress as a kind of warning about the dangers of the internet.

While it wasn't the only factor, WarGames played a very real part in inspiring the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) of 1984. Originally, the law was meant to prosecute people who attacked banks or agencies related to America's defense system. But over the years, the law was amended so many times that it can now be used to prosecute hackers who steal government secrets as well as hackers who download scholarly articles, which is probably not how Matthew Broderick wanted audiences to respond to his film.

The Goonies (1985)

Depending on who you ask, The Goonies is either one of the all-time great adventure films, or it's one of the most annoying movies ever made. But despite the haters, the people who love this movie really love it. In fact, fans from as far away as Europe have made the pilgrimage to Astoria, Oregon, to see The Goonies house for themselves. You know the one. It's two stories tall, has torture devices in the attic, and you have to do the truffle shuffle to get inside.

But while the Astoria house has brought joy to a lot of fans, not everyone is so happy with the home's prominent place in movie lore—namely, the owner. Sandi Preston bought the house in 2001, and at first, she was totally cool with fans showing up to take photos. Sometimes she even let people inside and gave tours. However, that all changed in 2015, when she wrapped her house with blue tarps and set out hand-written signs saying her home was now off-limits to the public.

So what prompted such a radical change? Well, The Goonies was kind of ruining her life. In recent years, the amount of tourists coming to see the house was on the rise. Shockingly, during the summer of 2015, up to 1,500 people dropped by her home every single day. And while some were on their best behavior, many of these fans didn't care all that much about manners. They'd park on the sidewalk, leave beer bottles everywhere, and let their dogs do their business wherever they pleased. Eventually, it was just all too much for Preston who decided it was time to take her house back.

The Blind Side (2009)

If a filmmaker ever asks to make a movie about your life, you might want to think twice before saying yes. There have been quite a few biopics in recent years that have left their subjects feeling rather unhappy. For example, Patch Adams hated that 1998 Robin Williams movie, feeling it reduced him to being just a "funny doctor." Olympic wrestler Mark Schultz was so upset with Foxcatcher that he threatened to kill director Bennett Miller. And while he never tried to murder anyone, Michael Oher claimed that The Blind Side absolutely ruined his professional career.

If you've never seen the film, Oher (played by Quinton Aaron) is a troubled teen who finds new direction in life when he meets Leigh Anne Tuohy, a wealthy mom played by Sandra Bullock. Over the course of the film, Tuohy inspires Oher to play football and go to college. As a result, he joins the NFL, playing for the Baltimore Ravens. But while the movie earned more than $300 million and snagged Bullock an Oscar, it didn't do Michael Oher any favors.

Speaking to ESPN in 2015, Oher claims the movie put a lot of undue pressure on his career. "People look at me," he explained, "and they take things away from me because of a movie. They don't really see the skills and the kind of player I am." A year later, Oher elaborated on his feelings to SB Nation, saying, "There was a time in my life early in my NFL career where the movie just seemed to take away from me. It made it seem like the movie was responsible for my NFL career, not my play, not my hard work." While admitting the movie is definitely part of who he is, the athlete summed up his feelings best when he said, "I don't want the movie to overshadow my work as a hard-working football player."