You’d think, by this point, we’d know just about all there is to know about the Indiana Jones movies, but last week (in honor of the second film’s 30th anniversary), Yahoo! Movies tracked down Nizwar Karanj, the actor on the receiving end of Temple of Doom’s notorious improvised heart removal. And he had a bit of inside information: that scene was supposed to be even gorier than it was. Yet somehow, the original version of the scene hasn’t made its way onto the Indy DVDs or Blu-rays, which makes it one more lost bit of film that somehow hasn’t reached viewers in this age of ubiquitous “Deleted Scene” bonus features.
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
According to Mr. Karani, now 58 years old and retired to Mumbai, his first order of business after being cast as “Sacrifice Victim” in Steven Spielberg’s 1984 Raiders sequel was getting a full-body cast. “I asked them specifically, ‘Why is this happening?,” he told Yahoo! “And they said, ‘Because there’s going to be a scene where your body goes into molten lava, and we’ll be using this cast.’ Actually, they made a lifelike face of mine for the film, including glass eyes. That was because, once the cage was lowered into this pit of molten lava, my body would disintegrate and you would see my face floating. But that scene was too gory for the censors, so they cut that! If you ever get a chance to see the uncensored version, that will be there.” The sequence that remained in the PG-rated movie was plenty gory enough — its intensity prompted an outcry from parents, which in turn prompted the MPAA to create the PG-13 rating.
King Kong (1933)
Changing standards of censorship caused several cuts of the original King Kong to float around in the years following its release, but one sequence was cut before its initial release, and has never been recovered. In it, the title character shakes a log bridge and causes four sailors to fall into a ravine, where they’re devoured by giant spiders. The “spider scenes” was shown to the public exactly once, at a January 1933 preview screening in San Bernardino, California, and their intensity and vividness were just too much for that audience. “It stopped the picture cold,” recalled co-director Merian C. Cooper, “so the next day back at the studio, I took it out myself.” Over 70 years later, King Kong remake director Peter Jackson would re-create the spider sequence for the original film’s special edition DVD, but the original remains lost.
Billy Wilder’s noir classic originally used a framing device that found writer Joe Gillis being rolled into the LA County morgue, where his fellow corpses (in voice-over) described how they died before Joe took over to tell the story of his time in the clutches of Norma Desmond. Wilder reportedly loved the sequence, but it gave preview audiences the unintentional giggles. Wilder was forced to delay the film’s debut by six months and rework the framing device, reshooting the opening, creating the floating-in-the-pool sequence (above), and repurposing the voice-over to its current incarnation.
Like Sunset, Sam Mendes’ 1999 Oscar winner is narrated by a dead protagonist, and, like that film, it originally featured much more of the character after his death. In fact, it originally included a framing device that found Lester Burnham’s daughter Jane and her boyfriend Ricky on trial for murdering Lester — and being convicted for the crime, after Ricky’s father (the real murderer) discovers the videotape of the pair discussing why they should kill him. Mendes discusses the scenes in the audio commentary on the film’s DVD, but chose not to include the footage itself as a bonus.
Dr. Strangelove, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb
Perhaps the most notorious of all lost deleted scenes, Stanley Kubrick’s scathing Cold War satire originally concluded with an 11-minute pie fight scene in the War Room. Explanations vary as to why it was ultimately excised; Kubrick and screenwriter Terry Southern would later claim the sequence was overlong and out of tone with the rest of the movie, while co-star George C. Scott would insist a key line (“Gentlemen, our gallant young president has been struck down in the prime of life!”) made the sequence too distasteful in light of the assassination of John F. Kennedy, which occurred on the day of Strangelove’s first press screening.
Kubrick had no use for deleted scenes, and was determined to keep them out of the public eye — which is why we’ve never seen either the Strangelove pie fight or the original ending of The Shining. For that 1980 horror film, he took the unusual step of changing the movie after it was already in release. Three days after the film’s opening, distributor Warner Brothers ordered projectionist to trim out a two-minute sequence at the end of the film, in which hotel manager Stuart Ullman (Barry Nelson) visits Wendy (Shelly Duvall) in the hospital and informs her that authorities have been unable to locate the body of Jack (Jack Nicholson). Theaters dutifully returned the footage, and it hasn’t been seen since.
Woody Allen, like Kubrick, refuses to share his deleted scenes with DVD audiences — and there are plenty of them, including fully reworked subplots in Hannah and Her Sisters and Crimes and Misdemeanors and an entirely shot, edited, recast, and abandoned version of his 1987 drama September. The logic is two-fold: he doesn’t like audiences to see his mistakes, but also he might want to reuse an excised bit elsewhere. Such is the case with his 1977 smash Annie Hall, which was trimmed from a rambling, stream-of-consciousness, Alvy-centric 140-minute cut to its final, tighter, romance-heavy version that runs nearly an hour shorter. Among the removed sequences was one in which the Devil takes Alvy, Annie, and Rob on a guided tour of Hell. According to the New York Times, “The four enter an elevator, which goes down. At each level, some of Mr. Allen’s favorite enemies get on: C.I.A. assassins, F.B.I. informers, fast-food servers” — even Richard Nixon. It got the axe in Annie, but Allen would repurpose it 20 years later for Deconstructing Harry, though he would update the inhabitants of Hell to include aggressive panhandlers, right-wing extremists, book critics, the NRA, TV evangelists, lawyers who appear on television, and the media.
Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex But Were Afraid to Ask
Allen’s 1972 blackout-sketch parody of Dr. David Reuben’s sex manual featured seven segments based on questions from the bestselling book. But it was to include an eighth: “What makes men homosexuals?” In it, Allen and co-star (and ex-wife) Louise Lasser dressed as spiders, and according to Allen, “I would be a spider and there would be a black widow and we would have sex and she would devour me and that would symbolically show one possible reason why men become homosexuals.” But Allen couldn’t come up with a satisfactory ending to the vignette, so after two weeks of shooting, he abandoned the sequence.