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The Deleted Scenes Hall of Fame

reel of film

Almost Famous, “Stairway to Heaven”
Boogie Nights, “Porn Awards”
Bill Simmons: Here’s what I want from my “greatest deleted scene ever.” It needs to stand on its own as an entertainingly rewatchable YouTube clip. It needs to come from an iconic movie, or at the very least, an iconic movie to me. It needs to take some of the characters from that movie to another level, OR, it needs to cement why I liked those characters in the first place. And it needs to make me think, “I can’t believe they left that scene out of the movie, it’s inexplicable.”

The truth is, deleted scenes are almost always deleted for a reason. But there are those rare times when you can’t figure out the reason. What were they thinking? How could they cut that? I LOVE THAT SCENE. My two favorites are the “Stairway to Heaven” scene in Almost Famous and the second porn awards scene in Boogie Nights. In a vacuum, “Stairway to Heaven” is a better scene: William wants to explain to his mother why rock music means so much to him, so he plays her “Stairway to Heaven” with two unidentified women and his sister’s ex-boyfriend sitting in the room as the “jury.” The ex-boyfriend steals the scene. And then some. He’s hilarious. The scene makes you appreciate that song, and Led Zeppelin, and the movie in general. Crowe couldn’t get the rights and couldn’t include it in the movie… which wasn’t a bad thing. I think it would have derailed the movie’s momentum; it’s just too long. In fact, you could argue that it’s the perfect deleted scene: it increases your enjoyment for the movie without detracting from the movie in any way. It’s practically a 9-minute short film – you can enjoy it without seeing the actual movie. I’m glad Crowe couldn’t get the rights.

But cutting that Boogie Nights scene? I don’t get it. In less than three minutes, every character gets captured by their reactions to Dirk winning “Best Actor” for the second straight year. (My favorite: the Colonel happily clapping with his jailbait girlfriend sitting next to him.) Here’s a rare case where the deleted scene adds to your enjoyment of the movie AND would have improved the movie. Director Paul Thomas Anderson admitted in the director’s commentary that he chopped it because of the movie’s swollen length, but you can tell he loved the scene. He should have kept it. I don’t know if it’s the greatest deleted scene ever, but it captures why I love that movie. Let’s see what everyone else thinks.

Jaws, “Quint Snaps”
Daniel Silver: Like the shark itself, the character of Quint in Steven Spielberg’s 1975 film Jaws functions as a catalyst, whose primary purpose is to elicit reactions and cause disruption. He’s the apex of the dysfunctional family triangle, with the other two points being Martin Brody and Matt Hooper acting as siblings trying to win the affection and attention of their unfeeling father. As a result, Quint is always seen operating with or around his metaphoric kin. So what makes this deleted scene so unique is that it features the salty Captain of the Orca acting on his own. It shows Quint at (probably) his most bi-polar and diabolical as he pleasantly enters a music supply shop to purchase some piano wire (which he uses as line for larger-than-normal fish) but quickly shifts his demeanor and proceeds to torment a young child struggling to play Ludwig Van’s 9th Symphony on his clarinet. It’s as if Quint takes the child’s performance personally. He’s pleased when it’s properly delivered, infuriated when bungled, and then just loses his mind and starts to shout out the notes at the poor child who turns his eyes upwards to almost say, “Yep, this is happening again. Just let the crazy man get it out of his system.” The action in this scene is so specific it’s almost impossible to figure out where in the film it would have fit — it feels almost like it’s been lifted from a Quint centric spin-off film — so it’s understandable why it was cut.

Superbad, Cop Car Outtakes (at 2:50)
Amos Barshad: This is Bill Hader and Seth Rogen doing the kind of improvising that happens on the sets of most Judd Apatow movies. It’s not a standalone scene that should have made the final cut: it’s a string of stop-and-start riffing, and some of the lines here are actually are in the movie, surrounded here by all the other wonderfully ridiculous stuff coming out of these people’s mouths (“in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma you go right to mouthskies. Day one.”) Not all of these jokes hit, but it’s nice to see two people in a movie trying really hard to make each other laugh. After a remarkably long, hit-and-miss stretch in which Rogen and Hader admittedly exhaust all conversation in regards to how be great it’d be if crime scenes really were covered with semen like on CSI (“This is a proven historical fact: Sherlock Holmes, when he was alive, knew where semen was”), director Greg Mottola chimes in off-camera with a deadpan “Do a semen run,” and the dudes really lose it. It’s pretty endearing.

Step Brothers, “Catalina Wine Mixer”
Chris Ryan: I’m sure I should probably have picked a piece of lost footage from The Magnificent Ambersons or something, but I don’t even think Orson Welles would begrudge this lost Step Brothers clip its place in the Cooperstown of deleted scenes. I could seriously watch Rob Riggle, Adam Scott and Will Ferrell sit in a room for a week. Also love that Ferrell somehow becomes the straight man in this scene. There are tons of extras, bonuses and cutting room floor gems from Adam McKay flicks, but this scene is easily my favorite. You’re having a heart attack!

Bridesmaids, “The Longest Argument Ever”
Molly Lambert: Comedic set pieces tend to get bigger and louder (think of the parade scene at the end of Animal House) as the movie progresses and while Bridesmaids has a lot of hilarious larger moments, some of the biggest laughs came from small ones: tiny gestures, mutterings, and dance moves. This deleted scene from the recently released DVD (which boasts over 2 hours of cut scenes and outtakes) expands the argument between Annie (Kristin Wiig) and a 13 year old girl (Mia Rose Frampton, daughter of Peter “Show Me The Way” Frampton) at the jewelry store Annie works into a veritable master class on conversational improvising. Things that specifically kill me: the angry polite whispering, Wiig’s disgusted gasps, the way her shoulders tilt as she literally sinks down to the girl’s level, the Swiffer/broom/mop argument, and “I had a spicy … steak … sub.”

Menace II Society, “The Video Tape”
Patrice Evans: This “deleted scene” is from Menace II Society. No other film captures the essence of being young, black, and reckless in the early to mid-1990s so viscerally. An absolutely ruthless piece of cinema, the first part of this clip pretty much contains everything that will make watching with your mother or grandmother uncomfortable. But there’s a whole generation of O-dogs who know all these lines and scenes by heart.

This is sort of a “meta” deleted scene. There’s a running joke about the video at the very beginning of the clip — a VHS tape recording of the shooting that propels the plot of the movie — being a deleted scene. An episode no one is ever supposed to see. Mostly, though, I imagine the rec room at Grantland HQ in L.A. plays out like this after every week of the Bad Quarterback Fantasy League. Someone’s gonna try and put a hole in Cam Newton, I know it.

This Is Spinal Tap, “All the Way”
Lane Brown: For some unfathomable reason, Rob Reiner trimmed Spinal Tap from its original four-hour length down to a measly 82 minutes, leaving enough outtakes to choke a drummer. There are plenty of classic deleted scenes that should arguably have made the final cut, including a band visit to the zoo (“think of the baboons as the counterculture”), an Indonesian folk tune (“if it sounds familiar, it’s not”), and, best of all, this clip starring the late Bruno Kirby as Tap’s limo driver whose first marijuana experience leaves him half-naked and singing Sinatra’s “All the Way” into a pizza crust.

I Love You Man, Outtakes
Michael Weinreb: At some point in the mid-aughts, around the time he berated a panda bear on a faux-San Diego newscast, it became physically impossible to hate Paul Rudd. Even people whose job it is to be reflexively contrarian have referred to Rudd as “funny” and “underrated.” You may quibble with his choice of roles, but to hate on Rudd himself would be like raging against chocolate syrup, or a litter of Labrador puppies, or Steve Nash: All these things exist only to make us feel a little bit brighter about our otherwise futile lives.

Of course, if you are reading this website, you probably don’t need to me tell you about any of the scenes Rudd has stolen in countless Apatovian bro-comedies. That said, Rudd has also appeared in some terrible movies in recent months; since late 2009, he has shown up in a regrettable Harold Ramis project, a failed Jay Roach adaptation of a French comedy, and a critically reviled James L. Brooks film. Which makes me wonder whether his comedic career peaked with 2009’s I Love You Man, a movie that — like all of the masterworks of the Apatow mafia’s oeuvre — is silly and ridiculous and hinges on vomit and masturbation jokes. And yet it also features Rudd’s finest performance in a decade, as a hopelessly prattling goofball who has no clue how to make friends with other men. You could watch the whole movie, if you haven’t already; but at the very least, you should watch these outtakes, which encapsulate Rudd’s awkward on-screen charm in a way that nothing has before or since. Every single line in here is a fraternity-house catchphrase waiting to happen, and I mean that in the kindest possible way. Forget the overcooked “Slappin’ Da Bass” trope: That “I will hit you on the chips” and “I will catch you on the beans” haven’t been co-opted as marketing slogans proves that Madison Avenue has lost its way.

Someday, when it becomes fashionable to condemn Paul Rudd as annoying and past his prime, we can always return to these 103 seconds as a reminder of why we found him so unimpeachable in the first place. If nothing else, he gifted us with the best Golden Richards reference since Super Bowl XII.

Kill Bill: Vol. 2, “Bill Kills”
Katie Baker: Throughout most of Kill Bill: Vols. 1 and 2, the title character’s presence is felt mainly via his absence: you never see his face in the first film, and while he’s around a lot more in the second it’s mostly domestic in nature, all sandwiches and pet goldfish. He’s almost more chilling that way: when he spreads the mayo or cuts the crust off that sandwich with that big butcher knife, you don’t need to wonder what else he could do with it; based on the skills of his Deadly Viper Assassination Squad minions, you basically know.

Still, it’s great fun to watch this fully formed deleted scene, which is included on the Vol. 2 DVD, to see just what ole Bill is indeed capable of: namely, dispatching a revenge-seeking samurai played by real-life martial artist Michael Jai White in a scene that is creative, delightfully overdone and, with its sound effects and quickly-zooming cameras, clearly a Shaw Brothers homage. White camps it up (with a shoddy New Zealand accent, to boot) in the style of one of those old dubbed-over films: his response to Bill’s faux-innocent “Can I help you?” is a hilarious “HAHAHAHAH you bastard. The only thing you can do for me … IS DIE.”

We may not have seen the last of that particular cheesy samurai: White told Giant magazine in 2009 that although the fight, which was part of “a much longer sequence,” was ultimately omitted, Quentin Tarantino “still wants me to do something with the character.” The scene would have certainly worked in the movie, establishing in full sight Bill’s badassery (and his distinctly Pai Mei-esque hand-fighting technique) as well as Beatrix Kiddo’s wide-eyed desire to learn how to do that herself. Without it, though, we’re instead left to use our imaginations right up until the movie’s final fight, and there’s nothing scarier than the unknown.

Previously: YouTube Hall of Fame: Tom Hanks on Late Night, Pandas on a Slide, and Helen Hunt on Crank
YouTube Hall of Fame: Howard Cosell, R.E.M., and Two Men Hit With Footballs
YouTube Hall of Fame: Stevie Nicks Combs Her Hair, a Comedy Film From Nigeria, and the Least Sexy Video on the Internet

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