Despite previous claims, I don't know the first thing about making movies. If you asked me for filmmaking tips, I'd probably panic and mumble something about casting Daniel Day-Lewis as Batman before trying to escape through a toilet window.
OK, that was a lie. I'd never fit through a toilet window. I also do have one piece of advice for aspiring filmmakers: If you ever decide to cut a scene from your movie, make sure you're not doing it for incredibly stupid reasons. Otherwise you risk accidentally scrapping an important part of cinematic history, like when ...
#5. The Little Mermaid's "Part of Your World" Was Nearly Cut Because of Dropped Popcorn
Walt Disney Pictures
The Little Mermaid could have been just another Disney fairy tale about a princess who wants "more" and searches for it down the pants of some dude she just met. The film's theme song, "Part of Your World," thankfully changed all that.
Not 15 minutes into the movie, Ariel sings a deeply personal song about her fascination with the surface world and her Hoarders episode-worthy collection of random human junk. The tune might sound like your typical musical exposition, but it actually gives us much-needed insight into the mind of a rebellious teenager who seems to view dry land as a romanticized utopia, with lyrics such as: "Bet'cha on land they understand. Bet they don't reprimand their daughters."
Walt Disney Pictures
"Bet they understand that YOU'RE RUINING MY LIFE, DAD! GAWD!"
So when Ariel later saves Prince Eric and instantly falls in love with him, we understand what's going through her head, because to her, Eric is just the nearest available symbol of her lifelong obsession. (Also: literally the only guy she knows who has a penis.) Even when Ariel finally decides to sell her voice to Ursula, it's only after her father destroys her collection, which means that without "Part of Your World," the plot of The Little Mermaid simply makes no sense.
How We Almost Lost It:
Jeffrey Katzenberg, then chairman of Walt Disney Studios, didn't want the song to be a part of the movie's world because he thought kids would find it boring. He arrived at that conclusion after a kid in the test audience spilled his popcorn during the scene, which to Katzenberg meant that the sequence was so mind-numbingly dull, it actually caused the child's higher motor functions to commit suicide.
To be fair, though, paying close attention to the audience's reactions is why studios hold test screenings in the first place. So it's not that unthinkable that a child dropping his snack was enough to make Katzenberg examine what exactly made him lose his concentration. It is, however, hilarious that his response was to point at "Part of Your World" and basically go: "Shut. It. Down!"
"Then help me find a way to finally defeat He-Man!"
Fortunately, the rest of the staff fought Katzenberg by, I assume, asking him to please explain the reasoning behind his decision out loud to them. The scene was back in the movie a few minutes later.
#4. The Producers of A Charlie Brown Christmas Feared That the Speech About the True Meaning of Christmas Wasn't Commercial Enough
A Charlie Brown Christmas has been a staple of Christmas programming ever since it first debuted in 1965, and I'm betting a lot of it has to do with the message that Linus delivers near the end about how the holiday is really about the birth of Jesus:
All Christmas movies have their own personal take on what makes December 25 so special: A Christmas Story says it's about the everlasting memories it creates; How the Grinch Stole Christmas emphasizes rising above the commercial aspect of the holiday; Die Hard stresses the importance of staying one step ahead of German sort-of terrorists (a lesson also spread by It's a Wonderful Life, I'm pretty sure). But A Charlie Brown Christmas is probably the most famous special to actually mention the Bible, even quoting it directly during Linus' speech. And you know what? If that viewpoint has to be represented by someone, I'm glad that the job has gone to the Peanuts gang.
Although I'm putting it out there that, according to the Bible, Snoopy has no soul.
How We Almost Lost It:
A Charlie Brown Christmas was originally conceived as a 25-minute advertisement for Coca-Cola by a New York advertising agency that wanted Charles Schulz to write a quick and forgettable Christmas special for them. So it's no surprise that when he instead delivered a poignant story about the Christian origin of Christmas, the shocked admen nearly dropped their cigarettes on the backs of their secretaries' heads.
The Nativity scene was tentatively OKed, but everyone worried that the one-minute reading from the gospel of Luke by Linus would scare off sponsors. A decision was hastily made to cut the scene and bury it at the bottom of the Mariana Trench where it wouldn't be able to hurt any innocent profits ever again with its message of love and unity.
"Why would you even show us something like that?!"
The religious Schulz unsurprisingly argued like crazy to save Linus' speech because he believed he really was fighting for the true meaning of Christmas. He might also have made the argument that the producers were acting like the villain in every Christmas special ever. The scene was eventually saved, and the special became an instant hit. And with all the money it made, it probably also helped a bunch of ad guys finance at least four of the seven deadly sins, but the less we think about that, the better.
#3. MGM Executives Disliked "Over the Rainbow" Because They Didn't Understand Musicals
The Wizard of Oz's "Over the Rainbow" isn't just one of the most famous pieces of music of all time; it's also the key to the movie's overall tone and plot.
After all, if we didn't get to hear Dorothy's heartfelt song about how she yearns for a better life in a faraway, magical land, the first part of the movie would be reduced to a sepia-toned, depressing drama about an old lady wanting to kill a lonely girl's dog. The Wizard of Oz needed "Over the Rainbow" to quickly inject some much-needed hope into the film.
How We Almost Lost It:
Louis Mayer, the second "M" in MGM, insisted that they get rid of "Over the Rainbow" because it was too sad, and can you blame him? Just check out some of these lines: "If happy little bluebirds fly beyond the rainbow, why, oh why, can't I?" or "Where troubles melt like lemon drops, away above the chimney tops."
Easy there, Morrissey.
Yeesh, don't those lyrics make you want to hang yourself with razor wire above a vat of sharks swimming in lemon juice? No? Weird, because the movie's producer, Mervyn LeRoy, felt the same way, and even threatened to quit unless the scene was left in the movie, which finally helped persuade Mayer to keep it in.
According to other accounts, though, a number of MGM executives opposed the scene because "Judy Garland was singing in a farmyard." To answer your question: No, as far as I know, farmyards weren't widely known in the 1930s as places of congregation for Nazi communists or anything like that. Some of the most powerful people in Hollywood wanted to scrap "Over the Rainbow" simply because it featured Garland singing near a haystack instead of something more modern like, I don't know, a whites-only drinking fountain.
It's important to note that no report mentions anything about MGM executives objecting to the other songs in the movie, which, just to remind you, all took place in a Technicolor witch dictatorship and were sometimes performed by self-mutilating cyborgs.
"Well yeah, but we can masturbate to those."