The image of non-creative types mucking about with (and screwing up) movies and television shows is nothing new — we’ve seen it in everything from Barton Fink to The Player to The Larry Sanders Show — but we got a rare opportunity to observe a real-life example of it recently, when a memorandum of notes from the suits at Tandem Productions to the makers of Blade Runner started popping up online. Those hilarious criticisms and suggestions got us wondering about other classic movies that came close to ruin thanks to studio interference. We’ll take a look at Blade Runner and several other examples after the jump.
Tandem Productions was one of several entities that made Ridley Scott’s 1982 sci-fi cop picture, now regarded as a classic but mostly dismissed by audiences and critics upon its initial release. Come to find out, they weren’t the only ones that didn’t care for it; recently unearthed notes from Tandem execs (including Bud Yorkin, the auteur behind the Peter Sellers-less Inspector Clouseau and the immortal Arthur 2: On the Rocks), after an early 1981 screening of Scott’s third cut, reveal some pretty intense hostility from the suits. “This picture gets duller every time we see it,” writes one. “The synagogue music is awful on the street, we must use Vengelis,” insists another. And then there’s this: “They have put back more tits in the Zhora dressing room scene.” (Complaint or observation? You decide!) In general, the execs write that “Up to Zhora’s death the picture is deadly dull,” and that the “voice over is an insult” — doubly funny, since Scott and star Harrison Ford added the narration under duress, reportedly at Yorkin’s insistence. “He sounds drugged,” writes one of the suits. “[W]ere they all on drugs when they did this?” The voice-over was dropped, and several other modifications made, when Scott had (multiple) opportunities to recut the picture in subsequent years.