' ' Cinema Romantico: Your Holy Grail Of Lost Footage?

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Your Holy Grail Of Lost Footage?

In cinematic circles legends abound in regards to footage shot and lost, footage discussed, written about, dreamt of, but never seen. Legends such as Orson Welles original, intended cut of his "Citizen Kane" follow-up "The Magnificent Ambersons" which RKO supposedly butchered, and which Jim Emerson posted about, thus, inspiring this post. The lost 17 minutes "2001", supposedly in possession of Kubrick's family. The two hour plus cut of "The Breakfast Club", the rumor being that the late John Hughes had a copy of this uncut film. And, of course, the urban legend surrounding the cut sequence in "Million Dollar Baby" where Hilary Swank fights ex figure skating legend Kristi Yamaguchi for an episode of Celebrity Boxing (requested by the studio to make it more "audience friendly" but removed in editing by Eastwood).

For my money, though, if there was ever any lost cinematic footage on which I could get my greedy hands, my Holy Grail Of Lost Footage, if you will, it would be the infamous excised Basketball Scene in Woody Allen's landmark "Annie Hall" (1977).

Speaking of the scene to The Guardian in 2002 Allen said: "I wrote and shot a scene for 'Annie Hall' involving the Knicks and Earl The Pearl (Monroe). I was extolling the concept of the physical over the cerebral, so I wrote a fantasy basketball game in which all the great thinkers of history - Kant and Nietzsche and Kirkegaard - played against the Knicks. I cast actors who looked like those philosophers to play those roles and they played against the real Knicks. We used the players on the team at that time including Earl, Bill Bradley and Walt Frazier, and we shot it inside Madison Square Garden after the last game of the season. Of course the Knicks were smooth and beat the philosophers easily; all their cerebration was impotent against the Knicks...But I cut the scene from the picture, not because it didn't come out but because I had to keep the picture moving and it was too much of a digression. It didn't break my heart not to use it in the film. I always feel that anything I cut out of a film is always a mercy killing."

Allen has said in other interviews that he likely tossed out or destroyed the footage 20-odd years ago and so it will apparently be forever unseen. No doubt it was a mercy killing and it would have felt out of place in the film but, nevertheless, who wouldn't want to see Earl The Pearl execute that patented spin move against Nietzsche and then tell him to suck it?

1 comment:

Wretched Genius said...

My Holy Grail remains Malick's 5+ hour rough cut of The Thin Red Line. It bulks up Adrien Brody's role (who apparently was the script's main character, yet ends up having almost no lines in the theatrical cut) gives George Clooney a point to being in the film (and includes his death scene), and features a bunch of additional actors who were completely excised from the final cut (Mickey Rourke, Lucas Haas, Bill Pullman, Martin Sheen, Gary Oldman, Viggo Mortensen and some voiceover work from Billy Bob Thornton).