Exploring the amazing scenes in movies which were never meant to be.
Good Will Hunting (1997) Director – Gus Van Sant In this scene between therapist Sean Maguire (Robin Williams) and math genius Will Hunting (Matt Damon), Williams proves that comedic-minded actors usually give the best ad libbed scenes. The entire story about Maguire’s flatulent spouse was made up on the spot by Williams and not a part of the original script.
Knocked Up (2007) Director – Judd Apatow Crafting a good and funny insult is one of the hardest things to do but Seth Rogen and Paul Rudd are two of the best – proving it in this scene of put down jokes. This entire exchange between Pete (Rudd) and Ben (Rogen) while in the car was completely ad libbed by the two actors. The scene is only a few seconds long on the final cut but as an extra on the DVD, the scene goes on for over six minutes.
Casablanca (1942) Director – Michael Curtiz The scene of Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart) putting Ilsa Lund (Ingrid Bergman) and Victor Laszlo (Paul Henreid) on a plane bound for America with the help of Captain Louis Renault (Claude Rains) is chock full of memorable lines but the line listed as 5th in AFI’s 100 Years…100 Movie Quotes wasn’t even part of the original script. According to reports, Bogart said the phrase “Here’s looking at you kid” multiple times to Bergman while teaching her to play poker between takes.
Zoolander (2001) Director – Ben Stiller In this scene involving former hand model J.P. Prewitt (David Duchovny) and the dimwitted male model Derek Zoolander (Ben Stiller), Prewitt – a conspiracy theorist – explains how the fashion industry has been behind every high profile political assassination of the last hundred years. Zoolander asks, “Why male models?” Prewitt answers with a lengthy explanation, after which Zoolander responds again, “Why male models?” Stiller forgot his original line and just repeated his previous line instead. This prompted Duchovny to ad-lib his response “Are you kidding? I just told you like a minute ago.” The scene ends up reinforcing the movie’s narrative of the brainless male model stereotype and Stiller turned a gaffe into one of the funniest parts of the film.
Reservoir Dogs (1992) Director – Quentin Tarantino The script for Tarantino’s violent, freshman project called for jewel thief Mr. Blonde (Michael Madsen) to torture Officer Nash (Kirk Baltz) by cutting off his ear with a straight razor – however, Tarantino didn’t give Madsen any specific direction what to do once the gruesome deed had been done. All of Madsen’s lines and actions with the ear were improvised by him.
Annie Hall (1977) Director – Woody Allen Neurotic Jewish comedian Alvy Singer (Woody Allen) is at a party when his friend passes him a small tin filled with cocaine. As Alvy takes the tin in his hands he has a violent sneeze – sending white powder everywhere. The surrounding actors’ uncontrollable laughter was spontaneous and genuine and Allen decided to leave it in the final cut of the film after it tested well with audiences. So one of the most famous sneezes in cinema history was never actually intended to be part of the final film – it actually occurred during a scene rehearsal.
Pretty Woman (1990) Director – Garry Marshall In what became one of the most famous scenes from the film, Edward Lewis (Richard Gere) presents call girl Vivian Ward (Julia Roberts) with a gorgeous and rather expensive diamond necklace. As Roberts reaches out to touch the precious jewels, Gere – in an unscripted playful moment – quickly snaps the box shut genuinely surprising her. Her laugh was so honest, and the scene so good, that Marshall decided to leave it in the film as is.
Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) Director – Steven Spielberg While chasing Marion Ravenwood (Karen Allen) after she’s been kidnapped, archaeologist and adventurer Dr. Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) runs into a large sword-wielding bad guy dressed all in black. Instead of fighting him in what would surely be a losing whip versus sword battle, Indy simply pulls out his revolver, puts the man down with one shot and moves on. The original script called for a long sword fight but a day earlier Ford got a severe case of food poisoning and didn’t have the energy to film the scene as written. After a discussion with director Steven Spielberg, the scene was changed and became an iconic part of Indiana Jones mythos.
Being John Malkovich (1999) Director – Spike Jonze Shortly after John Malkovich meets Craig Schwartz (John Cusack) on the side of the road he wanders off mad. As he does, a car passes by with a man leaning out the window. The man throws a can hitting Malkovich square in the back of the head while yelling, “Hey Malkovich! Think Fast!” – causing the Oscar nominated actor to scream out in legitimate pain. Neither the can throwing nor the reaction were scripted but the drunken extra in the car felt the opportunity was too good to pass up. Jonze thought the scene added to the character’s frustration and left it in. Instead of being fired, the extra was added to the final cut of the film and given a raise.
Caddyshack (1980) Director – Harold Ramis One of the best and most quoted scenes from this film is “The Cinderella Story” where groundskeeper Carl Spackler (Bill Murray) mutters a story to himself about an unknown golfer winning The Masters. This entire scene was developed by Murray on the spot saying in his 1999 book Cinderella Story: My Life in Golf: “The Cinderella Story was a spur-of-the-moment idea. ‘Get me some flowers,’ I said. ‘Four rows of mums.”
The Warriors (1979) Director – Walter Hill In this scene, the script called for Luther (David Patrick Kelly) – leader of the vicious New York gang the Rogues – to drive up and provoke rival gang The Warriors to a fight in the streets by clinking bottles together. Kelly spontaneously added the now famous line “Warriors, come out to play!”
The Godfather (1972) Director – Francis Ford Coppala Corleone family capo Peter Clemenza (Richard Castellano) orders his henchman Rocco Lampone (Tom Rosqui) to carry out a hit on Paulie Gatto (John Martino) for his betrayal of Don Vito Corleone (Marlon Brando). Castellano’s original line was “Leave the gun” but drawing from an earlier scene where Clemenza’s wife reminds him to bring home some cannoli, he improvised the now famous line “Take the cannoli.”
A Clockwork Orange (1971) Director – Stanley Kubrick Alex (Malcolm McDowell) breaks into a happy song as he and his “droogs” perform a bit of “ultra-violence” and rape. Reportedly Kubrick filmed this scene several times and wasn’t happy with it each time – until he told McDowell to just “do anything he wanted”. McDowell decided to belt out “Singing in the Rain” and Kubrick was so pleased with how much better the scene became that he acquired the rights to use the song immediately.
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