This is called a “continuity error.” It results from the fact that we only had only one, (sometimes two) cameras, so we shot scenes multiple times. First we shot the whole scene with the camera seeing everybody. And we then shot it over and over again, each time with with the camera looking at a different character. Later, the editor took all the different versions and cut short pieces together into one coherent scene. We were shooting on film, so there was no way to go back and check every detail (film had to be taken to a laboratory, developed and printed, so you couldn’t see what you’d shot until at least the next day). Until video and digital you just had to try to remember the details. In this case, none of us noticed that Michael had the dog tags out of his shirt for some takes and inside for others. So the editor had no choice but to live with the slip-up, and just use the short pieces with the best performances. Continuity errors are actually pretty common. These days there are many web sites devoted to finding and cataloging these “mistakes” in every possible movie. So… you caught us!
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