9 Classic Movie Scenes That Were Awful To Film

And you thought pretending to have your ear cut off was bad enough...

Mr Blonde Reservoir Dogs

Movie making is, ultimately, a job. It’s laden with perks, of course, but there’s a whole lot of graft going on, and as with any job, sometimes you have a lousy day at the office. Long days, physical exertion, emotional stress - there are many elements at play that mean the cinematic experience is often a difficult one for those involved.

When things go wrong in the movie business, though, they go really wrong - and publicly wrong. The history of Hollywood is full of storied bust ups between directors and actors, writers and producers, costumers and caterers. The finished work can suffer as a result, or it can take something positive from the tension.

It’s not always easy to find sympathy for movie stars, coddled and wealthy as they are. You get to make a whole lot of money, and if you’re lucky, some great art - it’s not a bad life. But then you hear about those truly horrendous moments on set, those scenes that suck the life out of everyone involved, and you can’t help but think “I’m glad that isn’t me”.

9. Alex's Reconditioning - A Clockwork Orange

Mr Blonde Reservoir Dogs
Warner Brothers

Stanley Kubrick was a notoriously difficult director, undoubtedly getting results, but putting his actors through the ringer on the way to the finish, few more so than Malcolm McDowell in A Clockwork Orange.

As teenage gang leader Alex, he is a singing, dancing, fighting livewire until his arrest at the midpoint. Incarcerated, he is subjected to experimental treatment, having his eyes forced open while being subjected to nauseating images. The “Ludocivo technique” scene is one of the film’s most famous, and the pain McDowell exhibits is real.

The contraption Alex was strapped into was as uncomfortable as it looks - the claws scratched the actor’s cornea, leaving him temporarily blinded. A physician was on hand to moisten McDowell’s eyeballs, but not, apparently, to ensure he left the set with his sight intact.

Being a Kubrick production, the scene likely required an astronomical number of takes, and the shoot on the whole was a gruelling one - McDowell left one of the particularly physical humiliation scenes with a couple of cracked ribs. The film remains iconic and the performance an astonishing one, so it’s unlikely the actor regrets his involvement, though the process itself can’t boast many good memories.


Yorkshire-based writer of screenplays, essays, and fiction. Big fan of having a laugh. Read more of my stuff @ www.twotownsover.com (if you want!)