The Original Endings of 10 Famous Films

A slow dolly shot and the haunting, ethereal sounds of “Midnight, The Stars and You” by Al Bowlly takes us into the closing scene of Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining. The moment leaves us speculating about the film’s supernatural subtext as we catch our breath. It’s one of the most famous endings in cinema, but it almost never happened. Website The Overlook Hotel — a great source for fans of Kubrick’s iconic horror film — recently posted a copy of the director’s original screenplay that includes a deleted scene cut from the film at the last minute. We talk about it more after the jump. Audience feedback, filmmaker OCD, and other factors have helped shape the movies we know and love, changing the course of cinema history. We took a look at other popular movies and their original endings (as always, there may be spoilers). Did the final cuts triumph?

The Shining

It’s hard to imagine a more perfect way to conclude Stanley Kubrick’s horror opus, The Shining. The director’s floating camera eases us into a chilling realization after Kubrick reveals his unhinged caretaker, Jack Torrance, has frozen to death in the hedge maze. Torrance hadn’t been himself for weeks and tried to murder his wife and son, Wendy and Danny. The scene cuts to a tracking shot through the Overlook Hotel’s lobby, focusing on a framed photograph from 1921. Jack is dressed in period clothes and celebrating July 4 with the Overlook residents of yore. According to website The Overlook Hotel, there is a scene between those two moments that was cut from the film at the last minute. Kubrick was an obsessive perfectionist and even sent his assistants to New York and Los Angeles where it was already screening to seize copies of the movie. (All known copies of the scene were supposedly destroyed, but it’s rumored one may still be out there somewhere.) According to the original script, the filmmaker removed an epilogue involving a hospital scene. Diane Johnson (co-writer) explained the director’s motivation:

“Kubrick had filmed a final scene that was cut, where Wendy and Danny are recovering from the shock in a hospital and where Ullman [the hotel manager] visits them. Kubrick felt that we should see them in the hospital so we would know that they were all right. He had a soft spot for Wendy and Danny and thought that, at the end of a horror film, the audience should be reassured that everything was back to normal.”

The original ending is a far cry from the ominous mystery Kubrick leaves us with, but feels more in the spirit of Stephen King’s book finale.