As Sigmund Freud once quipped, “Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.” But if that cigar were a prop in a Hollywood movie it would probably be something else entirely. While a film prop has to “read” accurately on the screen, the truth of its makeup is often entirely different.
In other words, the number of famous movie props that are actually something else could fill a studio lot.
The biggest culprits, of course, are science fiction movies with their need for contraptions that don’t actually exist forcing prop masters to get creative. From kitchen appliances masquerading as futuristic gadgets to plain old calculators filling in as high-tech scanning devices, things are usually exploding so only true obsessives tend to notice.
Here are some of the times people noticed Hollywood dressing boring, everyday objects up as movie props:
1. The Fifth Element (1997)
That detonator one of the Mangalores used can be found by the hundreds in any American high school since it’s a standard padlock.
2. Star Wars (1977)
Luke Skywalker’s iconic light saber is actually a flash handle from a vintage camera.
3. Team America: World Police (2004)
Weapon of war? Or nail clipper?
4. Total Recall (1990)
Yep that futuristic device strapped to that soldier’s arm is…just a calculator.
5. Stargate SG-1 (2000)
Keep scanning for clues but that Garmin GPS will only tell you where you are.
6. Galaxy Quest (1999)
That alien tool is actually a speculum. If you’re over 14…Google it.
7. Agents Of Shield (2020)
That high-tech looking bomb is actually a CPU cooling fan.
8. Monk (2006)
Billed in an episode of Monk as a “voice stress analyzer” this object is actually a PlayStation Portable or PSP.
9. Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)
As a sharp-eyed hobbyist points out Furiosa’s mechanical arm is powered by a model airplane engine.
10. Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
11. Lost (2008)
A heart rate monitor strapped to a characters arm was actually a Korg guitar tuner.
12. License To Kill (1989)
The tub of maggots James Bond plunges his arms into is actually just a big ol’ bucket of fishing lures.
13. Super Mario Bros. (1993)
The “de-evolution gun” King Koopa uses to transform his enemies into their distant evolutionary ancestors is a bit of product placement. It’s the Nintendo Super Scope accessory for SNES.
14. Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace (1999)
One of the silvery doohickeys is in Anakin’s house is actually just a spray-painted dog toy.
15. Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)
Max’s menacing face muzzle is actually a repurposed garden tool.
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