#5. The Beatles -- Let It Be: The Film (1970)
Every single movie made by the Beatles has been released and repackaged several times over -- except for this one. In 2008, plans to finally release Let It Be on DVD were blocked by Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr themselves. If the film was as awkward to make as it is to watch, we can't really say we blame them.
The documentary shows the Beatles working on the album of the same name, which would turn out to be their last. Even though it's edited in such a way as to avoid showing that the band is about to break up, the awkwardness is still pretty obvious: at one point, right after an argument between McCartney and George Harrison, there's a song where Harrison isn't present. That's because he actually quit the band for a few days there, and only agreed to return once he was allowed to bring his friend Billy Preston along.
"Hey, George says to tell you guys to suck my dick."
In the movie, Preston simply appears out of nowhere from one scene to the next and nobody ever acknowledges the fact that there are suddenly five Beatles for some reason. Meanwhile, John Lennon is completely disinterested in anything the rest of the guys say, as Yoko Ono eerily hovers around him in literally every studio scene. Nobody (except Lennon) acknowledges her presence either.
Or Ringo's, for the most part.
This is a long way from the image of the Beatles goofing around in their early movies and interviews: in one scene, McCartney pretentiously looks down on those same films, while Lennon does his best not to murder him.
Let It Be includes the historic footage of the unannounced Beatles concert on the rooftop of a London building, their first live presentation in years and the last one ever. However, because it also includes a bunch of petty squabbling, Paul and Ringo probably won't allow it to be released as long as they live.
And both are known to be immortal.
#4. Lil Wayne -- The Carter (2009)
The Carter is a critically acclaimed documentary about Lil Wayne that was shot with his full cooperation -- and by "full cooperation," we mean he let them follow him around but refused to actually do any interviews. Wayne withdrew his support and sued the filmmakers after realizing that the movie dwelled on his addiction to pot and cough syrup, because it's not like he talks about those things in half his songs or anything.
In the movie, the rapper can be seen mixing "purple drank" in his tour bus, proudly telling people about his first sexual experience at age 11 and generally raving like a beautiful lunatic. Wayne's people were reportedly "consternated" by the film: in the $50 million lawsuit, -- which begins with the phrase "Corporate greed and fraud reached its zenith in 2008" -- they compare the producers to fraudster Bernard Madoff and accuse them of staging some sort of "massive con game."
We think he wrote the lawsuit himself while high.
The filmmakers countersued Lil Wayne for not doing the agreed interviews, refusing to provide the video material he had promised and improperly trying to convince MTV and Viacom to snub the movie. In the meantime, Lil Wayne did eight months in jail for weapon charges and has since been trying to clean up his image, which you'd think would involve not suing people for bullshit anymore.
#3. Mad Magazine -- Up the Academy (1980)
Mad Magazine Presents: Up the Academy was an unfortunate attempt to cash in on the popularity of National Lampoon's Animal House, right down to the part where the title of the movie starts with the name of a humor magazine. The only problem was that the movie was so offensive and stupid, even Mad wanted nothing to do with it.
The movie is about a group of teens attending a military academy, and much of the humor (as far as we can tell) comes from the fact that one of the instructors is sexually attracted to young boys. Perhaps realizing that creeping out the magazine's target audience wasn't a wise business decision, Mad's founder William Gaines actually paid Warner Bros. $30,000 to have all references to his magazine removed from the film.
This included slicing the title by half ...
So Dancing With the Stars isn't the worst thing you've done after all, Ralph Macchio.
... and removing all shots of the military academy's statue of Alfred E. Neuman, even though it was prominently featured in the trailer:
Gaines was so embarrassed that he personally mailed a handwritten letter of apology to anyone who wrote to Mad complaining about the movie. He wasn't the only one: One of the adult actors, Ron Leibman (Friends, The Sopranos), had his name completely removed from the credits, a fact that was referenced in Mad's scathing review of the film.
Yeah, we had the same look when we watched it.
Apparently Warner Bros. pulled a fast one on Gaines, though, because if you buy the DVD now, all the Mad-related stuff is still in there. We promise we won't bring this up again if Mad does us the same courtesy and stops mentioning 1982's Cracked Presents the Sexual Adventures of Teddy Roosevelt (starring Rodney Dangerfield).
#2. Robin Williams -- Can I Do It ... 'Til I Need Glasses? (1977)
A follow-up to the 1975 sexploitation classic If You Don't Stop It ... You'll Go Blind!!! (gratuitous exclamation marks in the original), Can I Do It ... 'Til I Need Glasses? was a series of disconnected comedy skits of vaguely sexual nature. It's also the only movie so bad that even Robin Williams was ashamed of it.
Williams, in what would have been his film debut, shot two short sketches that ended up being cut from the movie, presumably because they didn't measure up to the level of quality set by that other sketch where a snake bites the Lone Ranger in the penis and Tonto doesn't want to suck the venom out. A couple of years later, Williams was a superstar, and suddenly his shitty sketches were good enough to be put back into the movie. Right before the highly publicized Popeye film starring Williams came out, Can I Do It ... was re-released using a slightly different marketing plan.
Oh, of course.
They slapped Williams' name on top of all the posters and made new trailers to play up the fact that he appeared in the movie. The total duration of his part, by the way? Under two minutes. Here's one of his scenes:
That's the whole joke, by the way. Williams' sketches aren't too outrageous, but the rest of the movie includes full frontal nudity, jokes about bestiality and Ron Jeremy.
His face alone was enough to give the film an X rating.
Williams (who had been cultivating a family friendly image with Mork & Mindy and Popeye) sued the producers to have his scenes removed from the movie again, which is why there are actually three slightly different cuts of the same crappy film. You can buy all three off eBay and watch them back to back, which has the same effect as a lobotomy.
#1. Jerry Lewis -- The Day the Clown Cried (1972)
When most comedians want to be respected as actors, they'll usually do a dramedy like The Majestic or Punch Drunk Love. Maybe they'll even do a full drama like One Hour Photo. Jerry Lewis went all out and did a movie about a circus clown who delivers children to the Nazis. It is one of the most infamous unreleased movies in the history of Hollywood.
You never go full Nazi. Everyone knows that, Jerry Lewis.
In the movie, Lewis plays Helmut Doork, an unemployed German clown who's arrested for drunkenly mocking Hitler and sent to a Nazi camp (a punishment usually reserved for mimes). At the camp, Doork begins entertaining Jewish children with his zany antics and eventually lands a job leading those same children into Auschwitz.
Yes, Jerry Lewis, the guy from the Labor Day telethons and The Nutty Professor, agrees to get some children into a Nazi train like some sort of sick pied piper. When the kids are on their way to the gas chamber, Doork decides to fight off the guards and escape with them ... no, not really, he just goes into the chambers with them and they all die.
But it's OK because it's a family film, guys.
It's like Life Is Beautiful, only a million times more awkward and wrong. Just wrong. And yes, at one point Lewis actually wanted children to see it -- in his 1985 autobiography, he wrote: "The picture must be seen, and if by nobody else, at least by every kid in the world who's only heard there was such a thing as the Holocaust."
"I just hate kids so much."
However, due to a series of legal and financial complications, The Day the Clown Cried was never actually released. Also, we think the fact that it was a movie about a clown who leads children into the gas chamber probably had something to do with that, too. Over time, it seems like Lewis' eagerness to release the film has waned: reporters are warned never to bring up the movie during interviews, and he allegedly keeps the only existing VHS copy locked in a vault in his office.
Only a handful of people have seen a rough cut of the movie, including actor Harry Shearer (The Simpsons), who saw it in 1979, in what must have been the worst Hollywood party ever. Shearer doesn't have a high opinion of the film: "This movie is so drastically wrong, its pathos and its comedy are so wildly misplaced, that you could not, in your fantasy of what it might be like, improve on what it really is .... It's not funny, and it's not good, and somebody's trying too hard in the wrong direction to convey this strongly held feeling."
"I'm Jerry Lewis, and I approved this dark comedy about the Holocaust."
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