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Scott Mendelson

Scott Mendelson
Woodland Hills, California, United States
April 02
A ten-year Salon reader, Mendelson also has a film and politics blog/column at Mendelon's Memos: located at: He is also a free lance voice over artist and occasionally contributes film reviews for

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DECEMBER 8, 2009 1:33AM

Deleted Scenes that should have stayed in the final film.

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One of the common threads that has come out of the recent DVD/Blu Ray release of Star Trek, aside from the video/audio scores and the quantity of extras, is the unexpected quality of the deleted scenes.  While most deleted scenes reels simply show how on-target the filmmakers were in terms of what to keep and what to cut, the deleted footage of Star Trek was obviously cut for time.  First of all, aside from the extension of the Kobayashi Maru test that makes Kirk come off like even more of a prick, the scenes are all rock-solid bits that expand characterization.  Second of all, at least one segment fills in major plot holes concerning the villainous Nero.  Since his lack of development and the somewhat arbitrary time-line of his scheme was a major flaw in the picture, I'm baffled why at least that segment was not kept in the theatrical-release print.  Still, let us take a moment to point out several deleted scenes that didn't deserve to end up on the cutting room floor.  Scenes that became part of an official extended or director's cut need not apply.

The Sixth Sense (1999) - Toy Soldiers.
Since M. Night Shyamalan himself explains why this bit was trimmed, I won't rehash it here.  I don't disagree with Night's reasons for cutting it: the scene would have risked revealing the supernatural angle much sooner than intended.  But it's a beautiful character moment, as well as the kind of 'big scene' that might very well have won Haley Joel Osment a much-deserved Oscar ten years ago.  Frankly, the film should darn-well have won every one of the seven Oscars it was up for that year.  The three-hour network television cut of The Sixth Sense contains this and three other deleted scenes cut back in.

Dirty Dancing (1987) - The parents get fleshed out.
I never actually saw all of Dirty Dancing until just a few years ago. Truth be told, it's only in the final act that the film goes completely off the rails, but the picture is a definitive piece of female-escapist fantasy regardless. Ironically, one of the biggest problems I had with the picture was the lack of dimensionality given to Baby Houseman's mother (Kelly Bishop) and father (Jerry Orbach). Astoundingly, each had a terrific and revealing scene that ended up on the cutting-room floor. In Mrs. Houseman's big third-act moment, Bishop admits that she knows full well what her daughter has been up to. She admits that she had at least one torrid affair in her youth, and it's just something that Baby needs to get out of her system before settling down with a more proper husband. Orbach wrings sympathy in his big second-act scene, where he explains that the reason he has such issues with the lower-class kids like Johnny Castle (Patrick Swayze) is that they remind him of the punks who used to beat him up for being Jewish. It's a shame that these two revealing moments didn't make the final cut, as it would have gone a long way into preventing the parental units from coming off as cartoon characters.

Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (2005) - Birth of the Rebel Alliance.

It would have been just five extra minutes in the already 140-minute Star Wars finale, but George Lucas cut this subplot involving the birth of what would eventually become the Rebel Alliance.  These scenes would have accomplished three goals.  First of all, it would have further connected the two trilogies.  Second of all, the finale of this plot gave extra shadings to Anakin's eventual turn to the Dark Side, as it seemed that even his wife was theoretically out to betray him.  Third of all, most importantly, it would have given Natalie Portman something to do other than sit around literally barefoot and pregnant, worrying and crying while the galaxy fell into dictatorial rule.

The Incredible Hulk (2008) - Banner gets his head examined.
I've complained at length about the butchered 110-minute cut of The Incredible Hulk.  As I wrote back in November, the most grievous offense was done to the character of Dr. Leonard Samson (Ty Burrell), the boyfriend of Betsy Ross.  Much of the forty-two minutes of deleted footage worked to flesh out his character.  Even in the final film, Dr. Samson ended up being a smarter, warmer, and more sympathetic character than either Bruce Banner or Betsy Ross.  Upstage the stars at your peril.  Anyway, the scene above is a two-minute scene where Banner sits down with the lover of his ex-girlfriend and lets the psychiatrist do some armchair diagnosing.  The quality of the dialogue and the naturalistic acting of both parties should have made this a keeper.  Ironically Edward Norton (who wanted the longer, more character-driven cut) recently made a cameo on Burrell's new sitcom Modern Family.  By the way, with Scrubs officially over (that mediocre revamp 2.0 is something else entirely); Modern Family is currently the funniest show on television).

Blade (1998) - When everyone is a vampire, what will vampires eat?
If you had a scene that explained away a massive plot hole, wouldn't you keep it in the final film?  Stephen Norrington felt otherwise, leaving this breakthrough Marvel-adaptation with a major storytelling gap.  Relatively late in the game, it's revealed that the evil Deacon Frost (Stephen Dorff) plans to turn the entire world's human population into vampires.  So once the world is turned into vampires, what will vampires eat?  Great question.  Well, there is actually a deleted scene where Frost shows off a giant room filled with captive humans who are being harvested and slowly bled out.  Ironically, Norrington's cut is the Spierg Brothers gain, as their upcoming Daybreakers uses this exact concept as the jumping-off point for its entire story.

Final Destination (2000) - Alternate Ending.
The flaw of the Final Destination series is that it's always tried to have it both ways.  On one hand, it portends to be a serious mediation on mortality and predestination.  On the other hand, it expects you to whoop and holler when characters get bumped off in over-the-top gore spectacles.  Well, the first film in the series really tried to be a real movie, with thoughtful characters, a pall of tragedy, and a tragic but appropriate ending.  But dumb test-screening audience members got in the way, more or less forcing New Line to shelve the original tonally-consistent finale in favor of an audience-pleasing 'gotcha' moment.  And the die for this popular series was cast.  

Iron Man (2008) - Stark and Obadiah get a final moment.
For those of us who felt that this comic-book adventure crapped out at the end, trading character and narrative for soulless robot-smashing, this extended version of Jeff Bridges's death scene is bittersweet.  It's not much, but it allows the hero and villain to actually have a final scene together, which is the kind of thing that these pictures should thrive on.  But for whatever reason Jon Favreau felt the need to omit this lone character moment amidst the high-tech mayhem.  Oh well.

Galaxy Quest (1999) - Dr. Lazarus's Quarters.
By Grabthar's hammer, by the suns of Warvan, this is my favorite deleted scene of all-time. I can't imagine why this was trimmed from the final film. No spoilers, just enjoy this deleted gut-buster from the very best Star Trek film ever made.

I'm sure I left off any number of your favorite deleted scenes.  I'm also partial to the extended Ian Holm moments in the first act of Garden State, as well as a brief moment in Away From Her that explains the surprising connections between a few major characters ("Life is... complicated.").  And considering that I'm not all that crazy about the movie, I was shocked at the bounty of riches in the thirty-five minute deleted scenes collection for Love Actually.  Your turn to share. What are your favorite deleted scenes?

Scott Mendelson

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This is intriguing. If I had to select a favorite deleted scene, it would have to be the one for "Titanic" showing the captain and first officer of the nearby "California" watching the mighty ship slowly slipping under the horizon, firing off one rocket after another, and deciding it's none of their business. Without this vital scene, the rest of the film makes no sense - after all, the White Star Line didn't think they would need a full load of lifeboats since there would always be another ship close enough to take on shipwrecked passengers... but I digress.

When DVD players first came out, I imagined it would be possible to program them so that you could choose which scenes - and which endings - you wanted to watch, i.e. edit the film yourself. Has anyone ever attempted such a thing?

Awesome, awesome, awesome post! I was especially disappointed that the Doc Samson role was so small in The Incredible Hulk. That deleted scenes is excellent, escpecially for fans of the comic, knowing the role Samson will play in the future.
As a lifelong Star Trek fan, these totally rock!

Thank you for sharing them! Well done,
I like a deleted scene in WE WERE SOLDIERS where General Westmoreland says "We're going to run those Red bastards [Vietcong] home!" and Mel Gibson responds "We aren't going to run them home. They ARE home."
Interesting post =]

@Alan Nothnagle - "When DVD players first came out, I imagined it would be possible to program them so that you could choose which scenes - and which endings - you wanted to watch, i.e. edit the film yourself. Has anyone ever attempted such a thing?"

The closest I have seen to this was on Me, Myself, & Irene starring Jim Carey. While you are watching the movie there is an icon that appears on the screen to alert you to a delted Scene, and if you hit Ok it will show that scene in the film where it was intended.
great post!

that little snippet in iron man would of made a big difference in my view... i kinda didnt care so much for ironam when i first saw it and the transformers-esque loud ending really lost me... so that little touch of humanity at the end would of made it a lot better.

My favorite deleted scene(s) are from James Cameron's ALIENS... when first released on laserdisc, the full version of the movie was much more developed.... the plot made more sense, Ripley's character was fleshed out and there was even a little action sequence put back in.
Fun post! My nomination is the scene in Love, Actually where Emma Thompson's character is summoned to her son's school because he wrote an inappropriate, but funny, essay. It fit the theme of the movie perfectly. I'm sorry they deleted it, but glad it's available on the DVD.
my favorite scene left out of a movie (not a directors cut or extended version) was from another trek movie, Nemesis. There is a scene where Picard and Data discuss the importance of life events and such... it was a great scene the would of made Data's "death" much more poignant.
Here is my favorite deleted scene from The Empire Strikes Back.
Interesting topic. Thanks.

This will certainly run as a matter of taste, and also be delimited by one's movie library (or the library to which one has access). I have two "scenes" that I would mention, and put the word in quotations because one is many more than a single scene. So I'll mention that one first.

On the 25th anniversary DVD of the "Rocky Horror Picture Show," there is an Easter egg that explains the film was originally intended to be shot in black and white until the doors open in the middle of "Time Warp," but that the budget did not allow for both BW and color film stock. Using technology now available,the first twenty or so minutes of the movie can be seen in BW until the doors open (an homage to "the Wizard of Oz"), with a slight layer transition lag interfering after the song (though that may just be my player).

The real deleted scene that I miss from a film is one that was taken out of "Terminator" (Labeled "Sarah Fights Back"). It begins with Linda Hamilton's Sarah Connor talking with her mother, telling her to get out of town and head to the cabin in Big Bear, that every thing is fine, call you later. Then she grabs the phone book, and in a reverse image of what the terminator does (wth the same music that accompanies the terminator's arrival), she tears out the page for Cyberdine Systems. She proudly presents this to Michael Biehn's Reese, who rejects it as tactically unsound -- his job is to save her, period.

Connor runs away from Reese, declaring that she'll find a way to do it herself. Reese chases her and ends up confronting her in a meadow. After some heated dialogue, Reese just stops, looks as the meadow and says in a soft and broken voice, "I don't belong here. I wasn't meant to see this. It's like a dream. This...and this...and beautiful -- it hurts, Sarah, it hurts so bad. You can't understand: it's gone, all...gone, all of just, just gone!" And at that point Connor talks Reese into trying to stop the war. (The music playing the background is a slight variation of the Brad Fiedel's Love Theme for the characters of Reese and Connor.)

Cameron explains the scene was meant to show Sarah's desire to turn the tables, and be a defining moment for the character of Reese, but cut it to "maintain the forward motion of the film and to heighten the emotional catharsis of the later motel scenes." Problem is, it establishes both a context for the later secenes, and explains why they were making pipe bombs in the first place, and how they end up at the Cyberdine factory.

If I had the ability to stick this scene in the movie, I would.
I shouldn't be seeing this. None of this In my time,
A lot of the backstory (and middle story as it were) for the Star Trek movie was filled in by the various comic books they put out detailing the history previous to the start of the movie and the intervening twenty or so years from when Nero's ship first appears to when Spock's ship appears. After reading a few of those comic books I actually felt better about a lot of the plot problems in the movie, but at the same time I was a little distressed that they didn't try to fill in those gaps a bit better for those that would never read the comics.