A famous actor whose scenes were cut entirely

The other day I was watching the last half of the movie “The Big Chill” which is a favorite movie of many as well as me. The movie also has one of the best sound tracks as it features several Motown hits.

The cast is amazingly deep in recognizable names now, but they were just starting out then. As I recall, Lawrence Kasdan, the director, got everyone to hang out together before the movie filming to bond as friends. Since the movie is about old friends reuniting, he wanted them to have a basis to start from.

One of the later famous names never made the cut – Kevin Costner. Costner played the friend who committed suicide that caused the sad reunion. But, all of his scenes were cut except for his body being zipped up in a body bag at the start of the movie. Costner would go on to star and direct a number of movies rivaling that of any of the uncut stars of the movie – Glenn Close, Tom Berenger, William Hurt, Meg Tilly, Kevin Kline, Jeff Goldblum, JoBeth Williams and Mary Kay Place.

That was the right call, as it added to the movie for his friends to remember him, celebrate his life and lament his passing. If we had seen him, some of that mystery would have been lost. We learned he turned down a great scholarship which gave him notoriety, but he lamented that decision later.

To me, William Hurt and Meg Tilly steal the movie. Tilly plays the younger girlfriend of Costner’s character. Her perspective adds to the movie as when she responds to a question if her boyfriend was happy and says “I don’t know that many happy people. How do they act?” Yet, each actor is allowed to shine and offer both comedy and drama.

Do you agree with the directors’ decisions to cut these scenes in the movie? What are some of your favorite parts of the movie? What other actors and actresses have been cut out of movies to your knowledge?

Different, not less

I spoke recently of a movie that caught my eye the other day which is well worth the watch – “Temple Grandin” starring Claire Danes as the title character with Julia Ormand, David Strathairn and Catherine O’Hara in key roles. It is a true story of Grandin who overcame her autism to get a Ph.D and become one of the foremost designers of cattle management systems. It is well worth the watch, but please pull out the Kleenex, especially when she first speaks up for autistic kids with her mother beside her.

A key moment in the movie is when her mother, played by Ormond is trying to find a high school that will help her daughter navigate a world with autism. To her credit, her mother defied those who said she needed to institutionalize her daughter back in the 1960s. A science teacher at the prospective school, played by Strathairn, hurried out to convince Ormond to stay as she was leaving with her daughter. He said, Temple is “different, not less.” Grandin had a brilliant mind, but understood better through visualization. She could see things we could not.

“Different, not less.” The line is so powerful, Grandin uses it later as she speaks to searching-for-answers parents of autistic kids. It reminds me of a similar line in a movie about a fictitious band from the 1960s, “Eddie and the Cruisers.” Michael Pare plays Eddie, the lead singer and driving force behind the band. He looks like a “cruiser,” but is well-read and intelligent. He drafts into the band an English major played by Tom Berenger, whom they call “Wordman” because of his profound lyrics.

During the movie as they are playing a college campus, Eddie tells Wordman these people are not like them. They are different. Wordman innocently replies, “they are no better than we are.” Eddie corrected him saying “I said different, not better.” Given the reference, this comment is the same as the above title and equally powerful.

We are different. It would be rather boring if we all thought, learned and said the same things. While we may be different, we are no better or worse than the next person. Grandin designed a system that is now used in over 50% of the cattle business, but she was laughed at because she was a woman and autistic. Her simple questions were pertinent, yet ignored. Her autism allowed her to see what the cattle sees and she factored that in her designs.

As for Eddie, we should always be careful with our first impressions. People dress differently, look differently, and act differently. Yet, Eddie was a deep thinker and knew literature. We are all different, but we have the same rights, responsibilities and need to be heard. My rights are no more important than yours and vice versa.

Both of these movies are worth the watch. They each will help us appreciate what others go through. Different, not less. And, not better either.

Movies I must admit I like

People who read my posts or comments know I like to quote movie lines. They also know I have written several posts about favorite movies or movie quotes.

Taking a different approach, I want to mention a few movies I should not like as the plot is very thin, but I do.

Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure – This movie is about as stupid as they come, but I cannot help liking it. It mixes interesting historical characters in a silly setting with the classic advice from two non-studious high schoolers, “Be excellent to one another and party on dude,” words even Abraham Lincoln repeated.

The Inlaws – Starring Peter Falk and Alan Arkin this movie will leave you in stitches with some of its inane scenes mixed around an unbelievable espionage story. Richard Libertini, who passed away earlier this year, plays a hilarious over-the-top dictator. The funniest part involves the proper way to evade bullet fire, even after you successfully do so – “serpentine!”

Zombieland – My boys wanted to see this comedy movie about zombies starring Woody Harrelson and Emma Stone. Seeing everyone was turning into zombies, they referred to each by where they were from. Harrelson’s character was Tallahassee, eg. The best scenes are during an extended cameo by Bill Murray, who pretended to be a zombie.

50 First Dates – Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore star in a second movie that qualifies for this list along with The Wedding Singer. Sandler must make Barrymore fall in love with him each day, as her short term memory goes away each night. Dan Akyroyd, Sean Astin and Rob Schneider add additional color with their characters.

The Wedding Singer – Sandler and Barrymore star in this one as well, which immortalizes a Spandau Ballet song and makes Billy Idol a hero in the end. Sandler, the wedding singer, falls in love with the bride-to-be Barrymore, who is maltreated by her jerky groom-to-be. Seeing the hip-hop granny in the credits is worth the wait.

Major League – Tom Berenger plays a washed up catcher, Charlie Sheen a wild pitcher who can’t see very well, and Wesley Snipes, plays a base stealing wizard who can’t hit, who all make the team so that they finish dead last. With that failure the new owner can move the team to Miami (the movie was made before a franchise was placed there). It has a predictable plot, but the characters make it fun. Baseball announcer, Bob Uecker, is a key addition to the movie with calls like “Ball Twelve,” after Sheen walks three batters in a row.

So, I Married an Axe Murderer – Mike Myers and Nancy Travis star in this movie about a couple falling in love and getting married. The groom finds out the bride’s previous husbands have left her mysteriously. Charles Grodin does a deadpan cameo where he refuses to yield his car to a police officer, Anthony LaPaglia, in chase. Myers also plays several relatives of Scottish descent which add to the hilarity.

There are too many to choose from, so I left off several questionable favorites. Many romantic comedies don’t dive too deep on plot, so you have to sit back and enjoy the hilarity, no matter how inane.

What are some of your favorite movies that you don’t like to brag about? Any reactions to my list above?