In the mid-eighties up through the early nineties do you remember watching movies and wondering why it looked like the set was on fire? It was as if a huge miasma had rolled into the sound stages and diffused the hell out of everything. I don’t know why but cinematographers of that time liked to smoke up the sets. What billowed out of foggers and then was wafted through the air as per the cameraman’s instructions was a concoction called cracked oil. Cracked oil got all over your clothes and your hair. If you breathed in too much of it (and if you spent all day on set YOU DID) the oil got into your lungs. I’m trying to think of a way of saying this nicely, but I can’t, somehow that oil got into your digestive tract and turned that slick and horrible too… It was, in a word, gross.

Switching gears – one day Mr. Sean Connery arrived on the set of THE HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER and saw the foggers spewing and the fans wafting and the director and crew poised to shoot. He stopped, dead in his tracks, fixed his eye on the gaggle around camera and intoned, “Gentlemen, you may have your smoke, or you may have me.”

Cantankerous or crazy good? I’d say crazy good.

Subscribe to Podcast


  1. November 11, 2012

    Great information. I never realized, but the moment you described it I knew exactly what you were talking about!

    • November 11, 2012

      It’s a stylistic thing – but I prefer it smoke free.

  2. November 11, 2012

    Give me Sean Connery.
    “No, Sean Connery is Monique’s boyfriend! He may be three hundred years old, but he’s still a stud!” The First Wives Club

  3. November 12, 2012

    I have never heard about this awful cracked oil! This story gives new meaning to a “toxic work environment.” My heart goes out to anyone subjected to such crazy conditions just to get the money shot. Wonder whatever became of those who worked around that stuff? My mother died of mesothelioma last year, an asbestos-related cancer that can take up to 50 years to manifest. We never did find out how or when she was exposed to it or how it ended up in her stomach. It has served as a reminder to me that we’re continually being exposed to things we shouldn’t be on a daily basis. It’s really quite scary but also an opportunity to do better when we know better.

    • November 12, 2012

      I am so sorry to hear of your mother’s struggle with mesothelioma. It is brutal. There is no other word for it. Deeply, deeply, sorry. Lots of hugs from here, V

Comments are closed.