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Saturday Matinee

Saturday Matinee #64: "Deleted Disney" (1937, 1985, 2002) - published March 24, 2012

by Albert Gutierrez

Five months ago, we took a look at how Disney's Bedknobs and Broomsticks kept getting cut down in length, to the point where the 139-minute film was whittled to a scant 98 minutes. Most of the scenes that were deleted were vital to the story, although there are some that I admit were better left on the cutting room floor ("mango wuzzle," anyone?). Deleted scenes by their very nature fascinate me, because they can have such a polarizing effect on the audience. They give us further glimpses into the world and story we've witnessed, but can be either absolutely vital information or completely expendable fluff. When it comes to animated films, deleted sequences are usually taken care of during the storyboard and pre-production phase. It would be much too costly to delete a scene that's reached animation. However, it has been done before. This week at Saturday Matinee, we'll take a look at three notable sequences which reached the animation stage, but were ultimately deleted from their respective films.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937): "Music in Your Soup"

This sequence helped answer the question, "Did the hiccuping Dopey ever get rid of the soap he swallowed?" In the final film, Snow White calls out that supper is ready, bringing the "Bluddle-Uddle-Um-Dum" song to an end. When we next see her and the dwarfs, they're already singing and dancing after dinner. "Music in Your Soup" would have bridged the gap in time, showing how the dwarfs sit down to have their dinner, accented by their song "Music in Your Soup." It turns what should normally be rude and uncouth table manners - slurping and knocking dishes on the table - into a medley of melody. However, Snow White teaches them a proper way, with a little rhyme that I've taken to silently use whenever I sit down with a bowl of tomato soup:

Spoon in the hand, bending the wrist, into the bowl, and out with a twist!

"Music in Your Soup" was one of several sequences from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs that reached animation before it was deleted. Others included an extended bedroom argument between Doc and Grumpy, a sequence with the Old Hag at the cauldron, and portions of the Dwarfs building a bed for Snow White. In later films, the Disney team would learn to delete sequences during the storyboard phase, so as to save time and labor that would have gone into the animation. Fortunately, Walt Disney saved this sequence, using it in the 1956 "Disneyland" episode "The Plausible Impossible," to help explain the editing process.

By the way, Dopey did get rid of the soap. He accidentally swallowed his spoon, resulting in hiccups once more. Eventually, he gets both the spoon and soap kicked out of him by Happy.

The Black Cauldron (1985): "Murder Most Mistful"

The Deathless Warriors attack Nameless Human here, but the camera does a slight zoom away and cuts his dissolving death, seen in stills.

When Jeffrey Katzenberg joined Disney in 1984, one of the first decisions he made was to cut down The Black Cauldron by 10 minutes, in an effort to quicken the pace and remove a couple particularly graphic scenes. At the time, such a thing was unheard of, especially for material that already reached final animation. He was adamant about the edits, especially regarding a moment with a man being dissolved away by the Deathless Warriors' mist. No video has ever been shown of this footage, although stills do exist, as evident below. When The Black Cauldron was re-released as a "25th Anniversary Edition" DVD in 2010, it contained an alternate "Fairfolk" sequence as its lone deleted scene, with the graphic sequence nowhere to be found.

This deleted scene has become the stuff of legends and controversy over time. I've met Disney fans who were never aware of such a scene (or even of The Black Cauldron), while others are firm in the belief that Katzenberg was wrong to cut it. Personally, I think the scene works well with the - hasily done, I should point out - zoom and cut. We already see how gruesome these Deathless Warriors are when they're created, and having one of the humans dissolve away in a deathly mist would be - pardon the pun - overkill.

Shots like this are terrifying enough! We don't need to see the way to misty death!

Lilo & Stitch (2002): "The 747 Sequence"

Sometimes scenes that would have been perfectly fine one day, suddenly become inappropriate the next. Such is the case for a deleted scene in 2002's Lilo & Stitch. In the sequence we see in theatres, Stitch uses Jumba's plane to chase after Captain Gantu, who has Lilo locked up in a glass canister. The scene originally was done with Stitch hijacking a 747, even narrowly flying it between buildings. With the tragic events of September 11, 2001, Disney realized such a scene would be in extremely bad taste. The animators re-animated the scene, exchanging the 747 for Jumba's plane and setting the chase in a remote part of the island. The original sequence is still available, but only as a bonus feature on the DVD, and not integrated into the film. I was never aware of this sequence until it appeared on the DVD, and I have to say, Disney definitely made the right decision.

The events on 9/11 affected other Disney films as well. Miramax released their New York City romantic comedy Serendipity on October 5, 2001, with shots now digitally removing the World Trade Center. The Touchstone comedy Big Trouble - which featured a character trying to smuggle a nuclear device onto a plane - was pushed back from September 21, 2001 to April 5, 2002. Even Pixar's The Incredibles, not due in theatres until November 2004, deleted an early sequence with Mr. Incredible breaking down an abandoned building in order to vent his frustration at no longer being a superhero. It was replaced by a scene that did better in developing his character: he and Frozone rescue civilians from a burning building.


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