Monday, August 5, 2013

Top 5: Scenes That Should Have Never Been Deleted

One of the major selling points of the dvd format, when it was first introduced, was its inclusion of bonus features. Director's commentary tracks had been around since the days of laserdiscs, but now we could see behind the scenes footage, visual effects progressions and, best of all, deleted scenes. With the bulk of deleted scenes, however, it became apparent very quickly why they were deleted in the first place. But some of them were pretty great. Some of them should have never been cut at all, and today I'm looking at my Top 5 favorite deleted scenes that should never have been cut from the film.

5. Lethal Weapon (1987, dir. Richard Donner)

While this scene has technically been restored to Richard Donner's director's cut released on dvd in 2000, the version I grew up with did not have this scene intact. The scene would come early in the film to establish Riggs (Mel Gibson) as being a true loose cannon with nothing to live for since the death of his wife. He arrives at the scene of a school shooting, where the police are unable to negotiate or communicate with a sniper who has opened fire on a school yard. Riggs walks right into his line of fire, taunts him, and then dispatches of him brutally. It's vintage Shane Black, setting up a character who summarily ignores everyone around him to go out and take care of a real scumbag before he can hurt any more children. While the scene has been restored into the film proper now (along with a scene where Riggs picks up a prostitute and brings her back to his place for a Three Stooges marathon), it's still one of the big missed opportunity character moments that make Martin Riggs one of the most memorable action movie characters of all time.

4. Caddyshack (1980, dir. Harold Ramis)

It's no surprise that Caddyshack continues to dominate people's lists of the funniest films ever made, along with another masterpiece from the same year Airplane! However, one of the biggest missed opportunities within the film itself is the dearth of scenes between arguably the two funniest alumni from the early years of Saturday Night Live, Bill Murray & Chevy Chase. This scene, in which the deranged groundskeeper Carl (Murray) gives wealthy Ty Webb (Chase) some pointers on his swing, combines all the best elements of what makes these two men so funny. The go for broke insanity of Murray and the sardonic wit of Chase combines for what is arguably as funny a scene as anything else in the film proper. While the scene is regularly added into tv versions of the film that need to cut other scenes for content, it's sadly not available in its entirety in the bonus features section of the blu-ray or dvd versions of the film.

3. American Movie (1999, dir. Chris Smith & Sarah Price)

In a documentary filled with memorable characters, Mike Schank manages to steal the film American Movie away from virtually everyone else around him. The film is about Milwaukee-area filmmaker Mark Borchardt's attempt to get a feature film made, but eventually becomes a chronicle of his life and friends once he abandons that film to finish another he never completed. Mark's best friend Mike is by his side through thick and thin, and though years of alcohol and drug abuse have put him a step behind most other people, he somehow manages to pull out some of the most profound quotes of the entire film. This deleted scene perfectly encompasses everything there is to know about Mike, as he goes from answering a question about what he thinks will happen to his best friend to summing up his philosophy on life and ending with the details of his schedule for the rest of the day. It's a wonderful little moment that would have been a great button for this character, but instead it's relegated to a litany of other, equally brilliant deleted scenes on the dvd. 

2. Ed Wood (1994, dir. Tim Burton)

I truly wrestled with the notion of putting another Bill Murray scene on this list, but let's face it, you can never have enough Bill Murray in your life. His turn as real life drag queen Bunny Breckenridge in Tim Burton's 1994 masterpiece Ed Wood is one of the best performances in his career, and there is sadly not enough of him in the film. While the tail end of this clip did end up in the film, I find it to be truly lesser for not including this extended sequence of Bunny walking through a meat locker at the wrap party for Bride of the Monster singing "Que Sera Sera" after returning from Mexico with a mariachi band that inexplicably rescued him from his failed sex change operation. It's the kind of thing that would have made an already bizarre and sweet film even more so on both fronts, and it's the kind of scene that makes you wonder why they cut it in the first place, apart from the fact that it does nothing to further the plot. Thank goodness we live in a world where scenes like this can live on thanks to home video and youtube.

1. High Fidelity (2000, dir. Stephen Frears)

High Fidelity was a film that truly had to grow on me. I was not as enamored with it the first time I saw it as many people were, but after reading the book and watching it again, I now count it as one of my favorite films. One of the best scenes in the book was cut from the film adaptation, but it was shot and later deleted. In it, Rob (John Cusack) a record store owner, responds to an ad from a woman (Beverly D'Angelo) selling her cheating husband's collection of 45s. We can see the excitement in Rob's eyes when he digs into the collection, and are equally frustrated when he can't bring himself to pay next to nothing for them to the woman who is only looking for revenge against her infidel husband. It's an absolutely amazing and perfect character moment that tells us more about who Rob is and what he is and isn't willing to do for love, and the film is just slightly hurt by its exclusion from the finished product. It's heartbreaking, funny and sad all at the same time, much like the film itself.

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