Everything Must Go , the low-key but masterful Will Ferrell comedy/drama (based on a Carver short story), hits DVD and Blu-ray today, and as with most recent releases, the disc includes a small selection of deleted scenes. More often than not, there isn’t a hell of a lot of value added by that particular bonus feature; we tend to see a lot of throwaway transition scenes, unnecessary exposition, or scenes so poorly written, directed, and/or played that the filmmakers were clearly wise to chop them. But on occasion, for reasons of pacing or time constraints, scenes are lost that are perfectly good in and of themselves — they merely don’t fit into the final version of the picture. That’s the case with Everything Must Go, which includes several charming little scenes that could easily have made the final cut.
So we decided to take a look at some of our favorite deleted scenes on DVD. A word of warning: as this is a phenomenon that only dates back to the age of the laserdisc, there is a decidedly modern bent to our rundown. While many classics were famously chopped by their studios or directors (Greed, The Magnificent Ambersons, and Sunset Blvd. leap to mind), no one saw any reason to keep those scenes around, and they’re (presumably) lost to the ages. (Maybe we’ll return to this topic at a later date.) At any rate, click through to see nine truly great deleted scenes — and one that may very well be the worst deleted scene of all time.
Paul Thomas Anderson’s original cut of his epic ‘70s-porn masterpiece Boogie Nights ran a full three hours long; he ultimately chose to trim it down to a more manageable two-and-a-half-hour running time. But having taken in that half hour of deleted scenes on the film’s DVD, we’ve gotta say something you can’t say about most movies: shoulda been longer. There’s some genuinely great stuff in there: an inventive improvised coked-up dialogue scene (shot from under a glass coffee table), more of the bad “Brock Landers” movie-within-the-movie footage, more of Dirk and Reed in the studio, and (for fans of that kind of thing) more of Heather Graham naked. But the best of the bunch is this sequence from the darker, scarier second half of the film, long past the fall of our hero, in which he is called to rescue an old friend (and co-star) from her abusive husband. The sequence is harrowing, the photography is thrilling, and the music choice—one of our very favorite Fleetwood Mac songs, “Tusk” — couldn’t be more perfect.
James Cameron’s 1991 sequel to his breakthrough picture is one of the rare sequels that tops the original — partially because just about everyone involved in the first movie (writer/director Cameron, producer Gale Ann Hurd, stars Arnold Schwarzenegger and Linda Hamilton) returned. There was one conspicuous absence, though: Michael Biehn, who starred as Kyle Reese, the ostensible hero of the first Terminator who was sent from the future to protect Sarah Conner (Hamilton), and ends up impregnating her. He is killed at the end of the first film, but their child, John Connor (Edward Furlong), is the primary focus of T2. Though Biehn’s character could not be worked into the narrative, Cameron did write and shoot a single scene for the character to return: a dream sequence for Sarah. It didn’t make the final cut, though it was later worked in to the film’s many, many special editions and director’s cuts.
Richard Donner also got the chance to bring back a very good deleted scene, when his oft-imitated Lethal Weapon got the “director’s cut” treatment. That gave him the chance to resurrect this well-crafted, taut action sequence, in which suicidal Riggs (Mel Gibson) takes on a sniper who has planted himself in a schoolyard. This wasn’t the only worthwhile deletion: there’s also a terrific scene where lonely Riggs, still despondent over the death of his wife, picks up a prostitute — and takes her home to watch the Three Stooges with him.
Rob Reiner’s 1984 comic masterwork (as well as the later films from co-star/co-writer Christopher Guest that borrowed its template) was heavily improvised, resulting in a wealth of unused material that has popped up on the picture’s DVD releases (there’s even a four-hour rough cut floating around bootleg circles). Our favorite is this clip of the late, great Bruno Kirby, who plays the band’s chauffeur, taking a trip with the boys to “the tower of London” and talking about his favorite musician.
Like Guest, Anchorman director Adam McKay and producer Judd Apatow tend to shoot a lot of footage for their comedies, giving the actors opportunities to try out new approaches, alter punch lines, and go off on extended riffs and improvisations that often make their way into the final product — and when they don’t, they make for some awfully entertaining DVDs. In addition, Anchorman featured an entire axed subplot, concerning a Symbionese Liberation Army-style group of bank robbers (played by Maya Rudolph, Amy Poehler, Kevin Corrigan, and Chuck D) who ultimately kidnap Veronica (Christina Applegate) in order to hijack the airwaves, prompting Ron Burgundy (Will Ferrell) to come to her rescue. When that material tested poorly, it was tossed in favor of the Kodiak bear rescue that was shot for the final version. But there was so much deleted material that, when Anchorman went to DVD, McKay was able to assemble an entire second movie of outtakes, called Wake Up, Ron Burgundy. It’s awfully spotty, but there are some terrific performers in it (Steven Root, Justin Long and Laura Kightlinger all pop up) and some genuinely funny scenes, including the sequence above—glimpsed in the original trailers—in which Ron takes a bullet for Veronica.
We’ve made no secret of our love for Stephen Frears’s 2000 film adaptation of Nick Hornby’s terrific novel, but on first viewing, we did have one minor complaint: it was missing one of the book’s best scenes, in which our hero Rob is called to bid on a seemingly priceless record collection, being sold for a song by the owner’s estranged wife. It’s a funny scene, but also a poignant one, in which Rob gets a glimpse of what his future could hold. Come to find out, the scene was shot — and with the wonderful Beverly D’Angelo perfectly cast as the disgruntled missus — but was cut from the final print. We’re not sure why; it’s a well-executed, quietly tragic little scene.
Stanley Kubrick’s 1960 epic was re-released in 1991, in a version with 14 minutes of footage restored by noted film preservationist Robert A. Harris (who also did theatrical restorations of Lawrence of Arabia, My Fair Lady, and Vertigo, among others). Among the scenes rescued was the encounter above, a bath scene between Crassus (Laurence Olivier) and Antoninus (Tony Curtis), in which the Roman general engages his slave in a loaded conversation about “eating oysters” and “eating snails,” and the moral implications of being one who, on occasion, may very well choose to do both. When Harris discovered the scene, he was unable to locate its original audio track, so the dialogue had to be re-recorded; Curtis did so, but Olivier had passed away in 1989, so he was mimicked by his friend and protégé Anthony Hopkins.
We’re not sure why there’s been such a Hunting love fest on these pages as of late, but a look at the 1997 drama’s recent Blu-ray release reveled a truly outstanding deleted scene that absolutely should have made Gus Van Sant’s final cut. In it, Will’s lady love Skylar (Minnie Driver) pays a visit to his best pal Chuckie (Ben Affleck), trying to get a better understanding of why Will keeps so many secrets and tells her such strange lies. It’s a delicate little balancing act, this scene, as Chuckie tries to share her concerns while remaining a loyal (read: quiet) friend; it also gives us our only opportunity to observe these two characters alone, thus adding another layer to one of the film’s strongest narrative elements — that Will is surrounded by people who genuinely care about him. That element is key to Chuckie’s later showcase scene, his blunt yet subtly emotional berating of Will, which is a scene that has been known to occasionally make certain bloggers mist up a bit.
Quentin Tarantino explained away this exclusion from his 1994 hit — the first meeting of Vincent Vega (John Travolta) and Mia Wallace (Uma Thurman), conducted on a video camera as she “interviews” him — as being the kind of scene that was getting done to death between when he originally wrote the script and when he was editing the film. And he’s right; there is a definite Reality Bites flavor to it. But it’s also a pretty clever scene, but its central premise (that there are certain pop culture choices that one must make — Elvis or Beatles, Bewitched or Jeannie, Betty or Veronica — and that those choices are infinitely instructive about a personality) is obviously one that we can relate to.
Okay, remember that worst deleted scene we teased earlier? Here ya go. James L. Brooks’s 1987 follow-up to Terms of Endearment is an honest-to-goodness perfect movie — every single element, from the sharp script to the sensitive direction to the spot-on casting to the brilliant performances, is just right. So it’s a little astonishing, when you check out the deleted scenes on Criterion’s recently-issued special edition DVD and Blu-ray, how absolutely wrong Brooks got a series of deleted scenes concerning a gay government employee who becomes a source for anchor-in-training Tom Grunick (William Hurt). We couldn’t find them anywhere online to embed, because no one in their right mind would want to upload them, because they’re horrifyingly putrid. So you’ll just have to take our word on this. But the character is written and played as the worst kind of swishy stereotype, a character with all of the depth of the ‘70s sitcoms that Brooks cut his teeth on. His contention now that those scenes were “really good” speaks volumes about the quality of his current work, but we digress.
Those are some of are favorites — what are yours? Let us know in the comments.