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Costume and Prop Fails in Movies That Left Audiences Scratching Their Heads

Photo Credit: 
Twentieth Century Fox / Zayne / MovieStillsDB and Warner Bros. / Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer / michaella92 / MovieStillsDB and Columbia Pictures / Alek / MovieStillsDB
Photo Credit: Twentieth Century Fox / Zayne / MovieStillsDB and Warner Bros. / Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer / michaella92 / MovieStillsDB and Columbia Pictures / Alek / MovieStillsDB

Costumes play a vital role in movies, helping to transport viewers into characters’ lives in different eras and worlds. However, even in the meticulously crafted world of filmmaking, costume mistakes do show up every once in a while. Some are easier to spot than others, but either way, these blunders remind us that even the most carefully planned productions can occasionally miss the mark when it comes to creating the perfect look.

The ruby slippers in The Wizard of Oz

Ruby slippers from "The Wizard of Oz", a witch's green hands emitting energy toward them.
Photo Credit: Warner Bros. / Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer / Timothy2 / MovieStillsDB

One of the most iconic costume pieces in all of Hollywood history, Dorothy’s ruby red slippers in The Wizard of Oz (1939) are her ticket back home to Kansas when accompanied by the phrase “There’s no place like home.” However, it seems that Dorothy wasn’t wearing them the entire time she journeyed to Oz. You would think that bright ruby-red slippers would be an easy thing to notice if they went missing. 

However, the crew somehow didn’t notice they were missing during the filming of a scene. When Dorothy and the Scarecrow fight with the talking apple trees, there is a brief frame where Dorothy can be seen wearing black leather shoes rather than her dazzling ruby slippers. Considering the ruby slippers had such a big role in the film’s storyline, it’s hard to believe the film crew let something like this slip by.

Darth Vader’s chest computer

Darth Vader, a lightsaber in front of him.
Photo Credit: Twentieth Century Fox / Bane / MovieStillsDB

The globally recognized supervillain of the Star Wars saga, Darth Vader, also known as Anakin Skywalker, had some serious lightsaber-wielding skills as he was a Jedi himself in the past. When he engages in a fierce fight with Jedi master Obi-Wan Kenobi in the 1977 film, audiences knew it was going to be epic. The battle moved quickly, so the costume team must have not realized they made a pretty big mistake.

If you look closely enough during his fight scene against Obi-Wan Kenobi, the buttons and toggles of the chest computer switch sides completely. The chest computer is meant to keep his scorched body alive, ensuring that he receives enough oxygen and nutrients to sustain his weakened physical state. Considering it is such an integral part of the survival of the character, it is pretty remarkable how it can rotate and flip in the film. 

Futuristic zippers in Amadeus

Several people gathered in 18th-century clothing and powdered wigs.
Photo Credit: The Saul Zaentz Company / Orion Pictures / MovieStillsDB

Amadeus, the 1984 film that centered on the legendary composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, had a lot of little details to nail down in terms of set design, script, and lighting in order to make the audience feel fully immersed in the period. Set in 18th-century Vienna, the film aced practically all of those elements, earning a remarkable 43 awards following 58 nominations.

It is shocking to think that the film would showcase a costume design that featured zippers, considering the zipper wasn’t invented until 1913, about 120 years following the death of Mozart. In a scene at the opera, several ballet dancers are dressed in costumes that use zippers, as well as Mozart himself. Although this may seem like a small detail, it can take some viewers out of the world that the crew worked so hard to create.

A Civil War-era digital watch?

Morgan Freeman in front of several other men dressed in Civil War uniforms
Photo Credit: TriStar Pictures / Carlito / MovieStillsDB

In the 1989 film Glory, the true story of the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, one of the first all-Black regiments of the American Civil War, is told with questionable inaccuracy. In one scene, Morgan Freeman’s character, John Rawlins, stops off to speak with a group of newly-liberated slave children, and it is in this scene that any attempt to reach accuracy was apparently thrown to the wayside. 

Within the group of children, one can be seen sporting a flashy digital wristwatch. If you’ll recall, the Civil War took place between 1861 and 1865, ending more than a century before the digital wristwatch was invented in 1972. It is pretty remarkable to think that the extras involved in the film wouldn’t be given a once-over to remove any new-age details they may be wearing. 

The twist-off beer cap in Shawshank Redemption

Several men sitting around drinking beers in 1950s prison attire.
Photo Credit: Columbia Pictures / Zayne / MovieStillsDB

Another film with a historical blunder that features Morgan Freeman is Shawshank Redemption (1994). This time, however, the mistake occurs during a scene where the main character, Andy, earns beer for his friends after helping a prison guard. It is a moving scene that shows the men enjoying the luxuries of the outside world they were once a part of. 

This mishap is a bit more difficult to spot than others. Audiences have to look pretty closely at the mouth of the bottles to realize that they have spiraled tops. This means that these bottles had twist-off beer caps, an improvement to beer production that wasn’t introduced until the 1960s. However, because this is such a minute detail and the film is as incredible as it is, we’ll let this one slide.

A stylish extra in Raiders of the Lost Ark

Harrison Ford dressed as Indiana Jones, a bottle in front of him
Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures / movienutt / MovieStillsDB

The costume department on Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) did a fantastic job dressing everyone so that they looked like they were from 1936, when the film is set. Harrison Ford’s Indiana Jones wears clothes that basically spell out his occupation as an archaeologist. Plus, hats were all the rage back then, so it all fits very nicely together.

However, in a scene where Jones is sitting having a drink at a marketplace in Cairo, Egypt, there is a pretty visible costume mistake. Markets are notoriously busy, but that doesn’t mean the guy wearing the casual blue jeans and a trendy t-shirt doesn’t stick out like a sore thumb. It makes you wonder if he was even hired by the production company, or if he was just passing through.

Did they have bras in ancient Greece?

The cast of 'Julius Caesar' standing around in their costumes.
Photo Credit: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer / SpinnersLibrarian / MovieStillsDB

The modern bra was first patented in 1914 by Caresse Crosby, who used handkerchiefs and whalebone. Ever since, it has become a staple in many women’s wardrobes. However, women haven’t always worn brassieres. In fact, women went without any kind of chest support for several millennia. So, when a film is meant to be set in the ancient world, it is hard to believe that women had perky breasts like those of 1950s pin-up girls. 

Take the 1953 film Julius Caesar, for instance. The female characters are dressed in long robes adorned with Grecian accessories, but they are very clearly wearing bras under those costumes. Although there may have been a type of support for women back in 44 BC, they certainly weren’t like the ones the ladies were wearing in the film. Instead of holding true to the period the plot takes place, the directors seemed more concerned with upholding the beauty standards of the time the film was produced.

Purple showing up in Pompeii

Kiefer Sutherland on a horse in Roman attire, soldiers following behind him.
Photo Credit: Sony Pictures / Lionsgate Entertainment / Hope72 / MovieStillsDB

Historians of ancient Rome know all about the tyrannical things Emperor Nero did during his reign. One of the more unique things he did was outlaw the wearing of the color purple. He wanted to be sure that he was the only one ever seen in such a luxurious color. Additionally, purple was an expensive hue, so really only a few people beyond the emperor could have even afforded to buy clothing in that color.

More from us: Siblings of Famous Figures That History Nearly Forgot About

When Pompeii was released in 2014, it struck a chord with historians. Although Nero is not portrayed in the film, Senator Corvus and many of his soldiers are seen wearing purple with their military attire. It is very pleasing to the eye, but could not be more historically inaccurate. 

Samantha Franco

Samantha Franco is a Freelance Content Writer who received her Bachelor of Arts degree in history from the University of Guelph, and her Master of Arts degree in history from the University of Western Ontario. Her research focused on Victorian, medical, and epidemiological history with a focus on childhood diseases. Stepping away from her academic career, Samantha previously worked as a Heritage Researcher and now writes content for multiple sites covering an array of historical topics.

In her spare time, Samantha enjoys reading, knitting, and hanging out with her dog, Chowder!