A good filmmaker has the power to move audiences to tears or create eruptions of laughter — that’s the beauty of cinema, after all. But despite a director’s best efforts, wardrobe malfunctions and mistakes in design can cause laughter for all the wrong reasons.
It’s unfortunate, but continuity errors can really detract from an otherwise great film. Take a look at some obvious and some not-so-glaring costume errors and continuity slip-ups from Hollywood history — they might change your opinion of these classic films!
Troy’s Umbrella Trojan Horse
The ancient Greeks believed Troy was near an area called the Dardanelles, where a significant battle took place over Helen of Troy. The Trojan War, although unproven as a real event, took place in either the 13th or 12th century B.C. Wolfgang Peterson’s epic based on these events received mixed reviews at the box office.
In the film, multiple scenes featured characters shaded by sun umbrellas. During a parade, Paris and Helen sat beneath one. Although umbrellas were around at that time, the supportive metal ribs in them didn’t appear until the late 1700s in London — and for some reason they appeared in this film when they shouldn’t have.
Pretty Woman’s Pretty Revealing Lingerie
Pretty Woman was a victim of multiple costume errors. Vivian begins one scene wearing a long, white nightgown. By the conclusion of the same scene, the nightie is much shorter. Also, Julia Roberts is notoriously against filming nude scenes. The lingerie she wore ended up being quite revealing in the right light. There’s a good chance she didn’t approve the final cut.
Later in the film, Edward Lewis’ lawyer Philip Stuckey attempts to sexually assault Vivian. During the scene, he loses his watch. But in a continuity gaffe, the wristwatch shows up not too long after.
Singin’ in the Rain’s Style Snafu
Singin’ in the Rain was a marvelous flick released during the golden age of Hollywood. It focused on a silent film-production company forced to adapt to the rise of sound and music. While producers focused heavily on the dance numbers and dialogue, they missed the mark when it came to costumes.
The film, set in the 1920s, features Debbie Reynolds as Kathy Seldon. In one scene, she’s shown wearing a beautiful pink dress. The problem is that this style of dress didn’t appear in the 1920s, but it did when the film was made in the 1950s.
A Titanic Birthmark Blooper
Recreating the sinking of the Titanic was a massive undertaking, but overachieving director James Cameron managed to add a new fictional narrative on top of the tragic event. The mix of period costumes, a talented cast and breakthrough graphics made the film one of the most profitable of all time.
Viewers can tell that a lot of planning and execution went into the costumes. One minor mistake, however, had to do with Rose’s mole. In one scene, the birthmark on the right side of her face somehow moves to the left side. Later, the mole is back on the right.
The Ten Commandments’ Color Miscalculation
The Ten Commandments was an incredible filmmaking feat. Cecil B. DeMille had to direct over 14,000 actors throughout the filming process — a lot of talent to monitor! The costume directors had their work cut out for them, especially because most films were being made in color.
In one scene, costume directors adorned Nefretiri in a gorgeous teal dress. The look stands out beautifully on the screen. However, in ancient Egypt, the only dye that was available would have been in natural colors, not bright blue. Also, most ancient Egyptian women wore very conservative clothing.
The Lost Extra in Raiders of the Lost Ark
Fans love following Indiana Jones on archaeological adventures while he fights Nazis and saves the world. The series starring Harrison Ford has entertained generations for over three decades. Lucasfilm introduced “Indy” in Steven Spielberg’s 1981 classic Raiders of the Lost Ark.
While drinking in Cairo, Indiana Jones is playing with a little monkey. Every costume in the film set in 1936 appears to be in order. But eagle-eyed fans noticed a man standing in the background wearing a T-shirt and jeans. Yes, those styles were around back then, but the extra stands out amongst everyone else in traditional garb.
Unforgiven’s Unforgivable Belt Blunder
Clint Eastwood became famous playing characters in various western films, and it wasn’t long before Eastwood took up directing movies while also serving as the star. His film Unforgiven earned him numerous Academy Award nominations.
One of the minor issues with some of the costumes involved the men’s pants — some pairs had belt loops. Unforgiven took place in 1880 and 1881, but belt loops did not appear for another 40 years. Levi Strauss introduced belt loops on its jeans in 1922.
The Headset Misstep in Captain America: The First Avenger
The Marvel Cinematic Universe was still in its infancy when the studio introduced us to Steve Rogers in Captain America: The First Avenger. The First Avenger was also the fourth to receive a solo film. The movie takes us back to S.H.I.E.L.D.’s super-soldier program to fight the rogue Nazi group, Hydra.
Although we would imagine Howard Stark creating some high-tech solutions, advanced communication devices in the 1930s and 1940s wouldn’t fit the bill. In a couple of scenes, Jim Morita is wearing a pretty modern-looking headset.
The Missing Slip Slip-up in Pearl Harbor
It’s safe to say that Michael Bay took some creative liberties in his movie Pearl Harbor. Audiences sat through a lengthy made-up love story before the Japanese even attacked. A weak plot outdid the action, and the film received generally negative reviews. In a period movie with fake characters, one would expect filmmakers to ensure accuracy with costumes.
In the case of this Michael Bay flick, though, you’d be wrong with that expectation. Most of the female actors wore dresses with exposed legs. Women during World War II covered their skin with nylons.
Hello, Dolly! That’s a Big Dress Folly!
Hello, Dolly! is a classic musical that earned multiple Tony Awards for Best Musical, Best Book of a Musical and Best Original Score in 1964. The musical was so successful that the studio tapped Gene Kelly to direct a film adaptation four years later.
But some continuity was sacrificed as filmmakers focused on the dance moves. In one scene, Barbra Streisand is dancing in a dress that’s so long it gets dirty. When the scene cuts, the dress is immaculately clean at the bottom. There was definitely no time for Streisand’s character to change into a clean gown — especially the exact same one she was already wearing.
Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves and Spyglass Technology
The legend of Robin Hood and his merry men takes place during the reign of Richard “The Lionheart” and the English Crusades. In 1991, Kevin Reynolds directed the fan-favorite Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves starring Kevin Costner and Morgan Freeman.
After Robin of Locksley returns home with his Moorish friend, he finds his house burnt. Following the death of the king’s soldiers, Robin and his new friend become outlaws. With Guy of Gisbourne approaching Maid Marian’s, Azim hands Robin a spyglass — something that wasn’t invented until 400 years or so after the time period when the movie was set.
The Terminator’s High-definition Miscalculation
The Terminator was an instant hit for science fiction and action fans. And Arnold’s size and stature made him the perfect killing machine. When the Cyberdyne Systems Model 101 went back in time to kill Sarah Conner, there was one catch. Anything sent back in time couldn’t wear clothing.
When the T-800 ended up in 1984, he was completely naked. In the original film, the grain was enough to blur the Terminator’s private parts. But when the Blu-ray and high-definition versions were released, fans were treated to a little more of Mr. Schwarzenegger than filmmakers anticipated.
Optical Oversight in Django Unchained
No one expected Quentin Tarantino to keep Django Unchained historically accurate. His Civil War-era adventure begins in 1858 when Django is separated from his wife by slave traders. He is enlisted by German dentist-turned-bounty hunter Dr. King Schultz to help earn revenue. They wind up on the farm of the slave owner Calvin J. Candie.
The costume designers wanted to create clothing reminiscent of spaghetti westerns and modeled Django’s attire off of the television series Bonanza. He wore sunglasses inspired by Charles Bronson in The White Buffalo — a style that wasn’t invented until 1929.
Braveheart’s Severe Scottish Stereotype
Mel Gibson received a lot of deserved attention when Braveheart was released in 1995. The film won five out of the 10 Oscars it was nominated for, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Cinematography, Best Effects Editing and Best Makeup. The Academy gave the film a nod for Best Costume Design, but some decisions weren’t historically accurate.
Many of the Scottish men in Braveheart fought in kilts, as most people would expect. The story of William Wallace takes place in the late 13th century, but kilts weren’t worn in Scotland until the 16th century. It was just another Hollywood stereotype.
A Slight Slip Under the Gladiator’s Garb
History movies are typically the first films to get honored with Academy Awards. Ridley Scott’s epic Gladiator starring Russel Crowe was no exception. Oscars came pouring in for Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Visual Effects, Best Costume Design and Best Sound Mixing. The costume designs were unbelievably accurate for the end of the Roman Empire.
The costume did everything but prevent the actor’s undergarments from showing themselves. One of the most memorable scenes is when the main character has to fight some tigers. This hero falls and rolls over, revealing his Lycra shorts in the process.
Pirates of the Costume Flub
Pirates of the Caribbean is a famous original ride at Disneyland. It’s no wonder fans were excited when Disney announced a film based on the swashbuckling adventure. The action follows Will Turner and the aberrant Captain Jack Sparrow in a fight against cursed pirates led by Captain Barbossa and the East India Trading Company.
The film isn’t based on any evidence. Writers admitted that the story takes place around 1720. The film identifies British soldiers by the typical red coats, but that style of uniform wasn’t adopted until 1747.
Caesar Sees Her Bullet Bra
Before the Godfather series, Marlon Brando’s most iconic role was in the 1953 film Julius Caesar. The film is an adaptation of the play by William Shakespeare. To enhance the theatrical elements, director Joseph L. Mankiewicz employed actors who already had experience performing the same roles on stage. Brando was an interesting choice but worked out well.
The film received excellent reviews. Variety said that it was “a triumphant achievement in film-making.” But one thing stood out. The female actors wore bullet bras, which no one would have owned in 44 B.C.
The Notebook’s Noteworthy Hair Slight
Did you watch The Notebook in 2004? Many people believe it’s the perfect love story. It’s a tragic tale of love, but a beautiful tale about dedication and loyalty. The female protagonist Allie spends a part of the film with another man, Lon, played by James Marsden.
The handsome black-haired love interest is the only obstacle keeping the real couple from one another. At one point in the film, Lon is waiting for Allie outside of a hospital. But his hair seems to have been dyed a very natural-looking brown.
A Modern Mistake in Gangs of New York
Gangs of New York is an epic tale of revenge, love and sacrifice. Martin Scorsese wanted to put his audience in the middle of Five Points in New York City for the battles between the diverse groups that occupied the area in 1862. One of the real-life characters is Boss Tweed, who ran the infamous Tammany Hall.
In one scene, an argument happens between firefighters. Firefighters were known for quarreling over territory; that much is known. But one of the firefighters in this scene is wearing modern firefighter pants.
The Zipper Bungle in Amadeus
When anyone mentions Miloš Forman’s name, people tend to think of his classic One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest or The People vs. Larry Flynt. Challenging characters seem to be this seasoned director’s specialty, even in his oft-forgotten Amadeus.
The period drama based on Peter Shaffer’s play is a fictional narrative based on the life of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. The story takes place in Vienna in the late 18th century. In one scene, performers are shown wearing dresses with zippers, but these fasteners didn’t make a widespread appearance until the early 1900s.
Saving Private Ryan’s Boot Bloopers
Many World War II veterans had difficulty watching the opening to Steven Spielberg’s breathtaking war film Saving Private Ryan. The movie opens at Omaha Beach on D-Day when America entered the European Theater. The scene was almost too real. After the bloody invasion, viewers follow Tom Hanks and his men as they search for Private First Class James Francis Ryan.
There are too many soldiers to count, including starring roles and extras. And not too many people are paying attention to their feet. Soldiers are wearing black combat boots, which weren’t used in the Army until 1957.
The Last Samurai Lapse
When The Last Samurai starring Tom Cruise was announced, people were confused. Tom Cruise is not Japanese. Once the plot was revealed, audiences found out that Tom Cruise would play an American soldier in Japan. In the film, Cruise sides with a group of samurai fighting against the newly formed Imperial Japanese Army.
In a final battle, Cruise’s character U.S. Army Captain Nathan Algren gets dressed up in traditional samurai gear. The film takes place in the 1870s. Samurai abandoned this style of armor during this time because it didn’t stop bullets.
Almost Famous, but Not Until 1997
The “Tiny Dancer” scene in Almost Famous introduced a new generation to the Elton John classic. The entire film soundtrack was full of old-school tracks that immersed new audiences in an incredible time in rock and roll history. The film takes place in the 1970s, when the main character meets the band Stillwater at a Black Sabbath concert.
As the band continues on tour, Kate Hudson and Patrick Fugit’s characters are walking through a hotel hallway. They pass one fan who’s wearing a Black Sabbath T-shirt. Director Cameron Crowe didn’t realize that that particular shirt design was released in 1997, not the ’70s.
The Shorts Slip in Dirty Dancing
Dirty Dancing takes place in the summer of 1963. The main character Baby Houseman, played by ’80s movie darling Jennifer Grey, visits a holiday resort with her family. Their lives turn inside out when she befriends and subsequently falls in love with dance instructor Johnny Castle, played by Patrick Swayze.
As Baby continues to perfect her dance moves, she practices all over the resort on her own. In one scene, she wears jean shorts as she dances across a wooden bridge with an imaginary partner. Denim shorts didn’t become popular until later in the decade.
There Will Be Blood and Flat-bottomed Shoes
Every performance by Daniel Day-Lewis seems unforgettable. Fans of his films shed a collective tear when he announced his last movie would be Phantom Thread, directed by Paul Thomas Anderson. The two worked with each other before in the phenomenal There Will Be Blood.
The movie starts in 1898 and follows an oil tycoon as he attempts to buy up land to secure the black gold beneath the soil. The only real error in the movie is when detail-oriented viewers noticed the waffle-like pattern on the soles of Day-Lewis’ shoes. All men’s shoes had flat bottoms at that time.
Indiana’s Timeline Trip
Indiana Jones will probably always be one of the greatest cinematic heroes. Spielberg treated fans of the franchise to Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade in 1989. In it, Indy set out on another adventure to rescue his father, Henry Jones Sr., from the clutches of Nazis seeking the Holy Grail.
There are so many scenes with Nazis in this film that it’s hard to keep track. Many of the men are wearing medals earned in battle. However, the film took place in 1938, so Nazis wouldn’t have had any decorations at that point.
The Wrong Ray-Bans
Director Oliver Stone loves to take on complex projects about real people. In 1991 alone, Stone wrote and directed JFK and The Doors. JFK delved into conspiracy theories about the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. But The Doors was reviewed as a reasonably accurate depiction of the life of The Doors frontman Jim Morrison.
After going through the film with a fine-toothed comb, people started discovering some inaccuracies with costumes. In one scene, Morrison is on stage wearing a pair of Ray-Ban sunglasses, which weren’t available until the 1980s — well after Morrison’s death.
The Bra Bungle in Closer
The star-studded film Closer hit the theaters in 2004 and was an adaptation of the play of the same name. The racy story is about four people who do a lot of dirty deeds. Despite this, star Natalie Portman, who played a stripper, stuck to her rule of no nudity.
But in a scene with co-star Clive Owen, Portman gives a lap dance while having a casual conversation. She sits on the backrest of a booth, and as she crosses her legs, her bra slips down accidentally.
A Revealing Climb in I Know What You Did Last Summer
Not much goes right for the characters in I Know What You Did Last Summer. A man believed to be dead at the teenage main characters’ own hands stalks the four of them relentlessly. The horror movie is full of expected jump scares and gore, and it also features a glaring wardrobe malfunction.
Helen Shivers, played by Sarah Michelle Gellar, desperately tries to climb a rope to escape her imminent demise. The director made her wear a dress that was not fit for climbing. When she pulls the rope closer, it reveals her unmentionables.
No Straps With Seabiscuit
Seabiscuit is the true story of a champion thoroughbred racehorse that lived during the Great Depression. The film is based on the best-selling book Seabiscuit: An American Legend by Laura Hillenbrand. The horse ran for six seasons, winning 33 out of 89 races. His owner earned a total of $437,730, which was a record at the time.
Most of the film is accurate, except for one pronounced detail. The jockeys in the movie are wearing racing helmets with thick straps under their necks, but no horse jockeys wore anything with straps at the time.