Burlap tornadoes and baking-soda snow

The Hurricane (1937)

Twelve fire hoses sprayed water into spinning airplane propellers to create the hurricane in this John Ford film. (An Oscar for special effects wasn't added until 1939. The first winner was for "The Rains Came," starring Tyrone Power and Myrna Loy.)

The Wizard of Oz (1939)

Three special effects were used to create the tornado: Stock footage of a real tornado, a silk stocking twirled by a fan, and a 30-ft.-tall burlap sock lashed by winds.

It's a Wonderful Life (1946)

Prior to this film, bleached cornflakes simulated falling snow. But cornflake snowfalls were so noisy, sound couldn't be recorded. In this Frank Capra movie, foamite (a chemical mixture used in fire extinguishers) was used for falling snow. Foamite was quiet enough to permit live dialogue.

The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

Miniature models and lots of baking soda were used for the snowy planet Hoth. Shaved ice, plaster, gypsum, and even cotton-batting 'snow blankets' have also been used to simulate snow.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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