maltese-falcon

In 1968, the Star Trek cast and ocrew were filming the episode “Plato’s Stepchildren,” which featured aliens using mind control to force Captain Kirk (William Shatner) to make out with Communications Officer Uhura (Nichelle Nichols). You know: standard classic Star Trek stuff. Star Trek just wasn’t Star Trek if Kirk wasn’t being goaded by an alien god into some sort of sexual harassment. But when it came time to shoot that scene, the director and some NBC suits got uncomfortable – not because of the weird consent issues (this was the ‘60s, after all; slapping a woman was considered foreplay), but because Nichols is black. Up until that point, scripted interracial kisses on television just weren’t done. The actors wanted to shoot the scene as it was, but since they weren’t in charge, there was only one thing they could do: sabotage.

Show creator Gene Roddenberry had suggested a compromise: they’d shoot two versions of the scene, one with the kiss, and one with a hug, and use whichever worked better. Everyone knew which version NBC was going to want to use, but luckily Shatner had a plan. See, a director can’t see exactly what the camera is picking up – only the camera operator can. So while they were shooting the versions of the scene that would preserve the purity of the white race, Shatner positioned himself so that the director couldn’t see his face, stared right into the camera, and made a bunch of stupid faces.

The director, thinking he’d won, immediately called a wrap and sent everyone home. It wasn’t until they were going over the dailies that they realized what had happened. They were forced to run the scene as originally scripted, resigning themselves to having to face an explosion of controversy that (twist!) never happened.

Truly, it was a leap forward for human rights, although whether Shatner was fighting for the progression of society or just couldn’t stand to miss an opportunity to get busy on national television is anybody’s guess.

6 Sneaky Ways Movies and TV Shows Outsmarted the Censors

Humphrey Bogart, 1941, a publicity photo for The Maltese Falcon

“I’m not good-looking. I used to be but not any more. Not like Robert Taylor. What I have got is I have character in my face. It’s taken an awful lot of late nights and drinking to put it there. When I go to work in a picture, I say, ‘Don’t take the lines out of my face. Leave them there.’ “

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We’re kicking off a new weekly classic film column on Nerdist.com! First up: film noir THE MALTESE FALCON starring one of the greatest actors of all-time, Humphrey Bogart.

Read all about the film here.

nytimes.com
A Secret Jew, the New World, a Lost Book: Mystery Solved
An octogenarian cracks the case of a missing prized manuscript by Luis de Carvajal the Younger that surfaced on sale for a fraction of its value.
By Joseph Berger

Until 1932, the 180-page booklet by de Carvajal, a secret Jew who was burned at the stake by the Inquisition in Spain’s colony of Mexico, resided in that country’s National Archives.

Then it vanished. The theft transformed the manuscript into an object of obsession, a kind of Maltese Falcon, for a coterie of Inquisition scholars and rare-book collectors. Almost nothing was heard about the document for more than 80 years — until it showed up 13 months ago at a London auction house. The manuscript was on sale for $1,500, because the house had little sense of its value.