Clive Donner‘s What’s New, Pussycat? (1965) was a sloppy, mostly unfunny sex farce, but the stories of its making are legendary (or at least the ones told to me by production designer Richard Sylbert were). It falls, then, into a category that’s rarely discussed — movies that suck on their own terms but would have been unforgettable to work on with the key creatives. If a film was fun or intensely dramatic to work on and was also great to watch then it doesn’t make the list.
John Landis‘s The Blues Brothers, a legendary cocaine movie, was another one of these, I’ve heard. Heaven’s Gate, however, doesn’t have the reputation of having been a great party shoot. The DVD documentary about the making of the disastrous Cleopatra (’63) is far more entertaining that the film itself, so that would be another. It’s a shame that no one tried to throw together a similar-type doc about the making of the ’62 Mutiny on the Bounty. I once head a story about Brian De Palma saying that if crew people are having too much fun on a set then something’s wrong. Good movies, he felt, are hard to make and therefore shouldn’t be relaxing or pleasurable during principal photography.