6 Deleted Scenes That Prove the Book Isn't Always Better
Fanboys love nothing more than to bitch and moan when some nitpicky detail of a novel they love doesn't make it into the final cut of the movie ("They left Peeves the Poltergeist out of Harry Potter? Now everything is just ruined!"). But the thing is, sometimes those changes happen for the right reasons. Below are honest-to-God insane elements of best-selling novels you definitely don't remember from the movies:
The Lord of the Rings - The Ridiculous Tom Bombadil
Tolkien's Lord of the Rings defined the fantasy genre so hard that it'd have been stupid for all the other fantasy writers in the world not to rip him off, but it's also probably one of the least-cinematic novels you'll ever find this side of Ayn Rand. See, as we've already pointed out, Tolkien wasn't actually a novelist at all; he was a stodgy old linguistics professor with an awesome pipe habit who basically wrote the books as a support system for his made-up Elf languages.
Even in military uniform, he looks like the world's biggest nerd.
A fake language dictionary disguised as an epic fantasy novel, as you can imagine, doesn't exactly lend itself to the big screen. So, for the sake of streamlining the story, a lot of elements had to be tweaked or outright abandoned. For example, the book version drags on for six chapters after Gollum takes his swan-dive into the volcano, and before it's over, we see Saruman acting like a small-time mafioso in the Shire before ending up on the wrong end of a shiv. So, yeah -- the infuriating multiple endings in Return of the King: That's real. But what they left out was much weirder, such as the part where Merry and Pippin almost get eaten alive by an angry tree but are saved by a dancing, prancing forest-dweller who calms down the tree by singing to it and then lures the bewildered hobbits back to his secluded shack in the woods.
Meet Tom Bombadil:
Also known as "Holyfuckingbeard!"
Tom enjoys long walks in the woods, wearing a blue coat with stylish yellow boots, singing, flitting about like a wood-nymph-hobo and rescuing wayward travelers from angry trees. Oh, and when he talks, he sounds like this:
"Hey dol! merry dol! ring a dong dillo!
Ring a dong! hop along! fal lal the willow!
Tom Bom, jolly Tom, Tom Bombadillo!"
In Chapter 7, Tom takes the hobbits (who inexplicably don't run in the opposite goddamn direction the second he opens his mouth) back to his home, where they are greeted by Tom's shockingly hot blonde wife, who serves them what "seemed to be clear cold water, yet it went to their hearts like wine and set free their voices."
Who's up for seconds?
Then it's off to bed for the hobbits, who are ominously warned, "Heed no nightly noises!" which has to be the most terrifying piece of bedtime advice you can possibly hear from a man whose facial hair looks like it has unspeakable sexual appetites of its own. Frodo, predictably, is plagued by terrible dreams all night and wakes up to Tom shouting, "Ring a ding dillo! Wake now, my merry friends! Forget the nightly noises! Ring a ding dillo del!"
"Ring a ding dello! The darkness demands tears and shrieking sacrifice! Ring a derry dol!"
Later, Tom shows up again to save the hobbits from a Barrow-wight, which is totally cool except that in the process, the hobbits mysteriously end up losing most of their clothes. "You won't find your clothes again," said Tom, "bounding down from the mound and laughing as he danced round them in the sunlight." Then he instructs them to "Cast off these cold rags" and "run naked in the grass!"
"I ... I guess we sort of have to, huh?"
Originally, Tom Bombadil has nothing to do with Lord of the Rings; Tolkien first wrote about him years earlier, portraying him as a sort of nature-spirit. He lifts out of the story so easily that even people who have read Lord of the Rings tend to forget about him. Who Tom is and why he lives in the woods are never fully explained; he's supposed to be "oldest and fatherless," so theories are that Tom may be God, or some kind of avatar of Middle-earth. You can read Lord of the Rings as an allegory for World War II, in which case Tom Bombadil represents the spirit of pacifism and noninvolvement. Which, as we all know, makes for bitching action movies.
In Tolkien's own words: "Tom Bombadil is not an important person -- to the narrative. I suppose he has some importance as a 'comment.' I mean, I do not really write like that: he is just an invention (who first appeared in The Oxford Magazine about 1933), and he represents something that I feel important, though I would not be prepared to analyse the feeling precisely. I would not, however, have left him in, if he did not have some kind of function."
"Or maybe it was all that pipe weed."
There you have it: The writer himself isn't prepared to commit to an answer about why the fuck this happened.
The Godfather - Sonny's Huge Penis
The Godfather forever changed the way the world looked at gangsters, the way gangsters looked at themselves and the way Marlon Brando looked at a plate of pasta.
"He made me a snack I couldn't refuse, which is to say, literally any kind of omelet."
For the most part, Francis Ford Coppola made a faithful adaptation of Mario Puzo's novel. Every important element was there: the wedding, the murders, Michael's exile, the themes of family and destiny, Sonny's comically oversized schlong ...
Sonny Corleone (James Caan) is the aggressive, hot-tempered older brother of Michael and, in the novel, has a massive dick. And his penis isn't just casually thrown in there -- it's violently thrust into every nook and cranny of the book over and over again, like a big, invasive, impossible-to-ignore ... giant dick in a book. Frankly, that's better than any analogy we could come up with. Puzo never missed an opportunity to mention it in the least-mature terms possible ("Did you hear, Sonny's dick is so big that hookers charge him double! Did you know, Sonny's tool is so huge that his wife thanks God he's having affairs!"). And so on. Sonny Corleone had a huge dick, and Mario Puzo believed it was important for you to know, in this story about family and power and corruption.
All 42 shots hit him right in the cock.
Remember how early in the film you see Sonny hooking up with some nameless bridesmaid? It's OK if you've forgotten; it was just a quick, throwaway scene that happens within the first 10 minutes. A quick, throwaway scene that, incidentally, was a major subplot of the novel, thanks to Sonny's elephantine member. It is this monstrous schlong that leads Sonny to hook up with the bridesmaid (Lucy Mancini). They're a good fit, Sonny and Lucy, but mostly because Lucy happens to have an impossibly huge vagina, making her a perfect muse for Sonny's angry flesh python. Puzo's treatment of their romance is both subtle and tender:
"... she couldn't help reaching out to touch his naked body, hold him, make love to him as if those special parts of his body were a plaything, a specially constructed, intricate but innocent toy revealing its known, but still surprising ecstasies. At first she had been ashamed of these excesses but soon realized that they pleased her lover, that her complete sensual enslavement to his body flattered him."
Please don't think too hard about this one.
When Sonny dies, the book continues to follow Lucy, who, remember, only existed because her closet-size vagina could accommodate Sonny. Her association with Sonny's junk upgraded her from nonexistent to supporting. Puzo was really invested in Lucy Mancini and her abnormal genitals, and he wanted to give them both a happy ending. So the second half of the book follows a heartbroken Lucy to Las Vegas, where she falls in love with a charming blond doctor (who, of course, can't compete with the memory of Sonny's world-destroying dick).
Keep in mind, this subplot involves no major characters in the story whatsoever. Michael is still in Sicily, Don Corleone is back in New York ... it's just Lucy and Jules the doctor, living out the most uncomfortable Harlequin romance novel ever written. The closest connection to a living member of the Corleone family is when Jules casually mentions that Fredo keeps catching syphilis. By the end of the novel (about greed, a family of gangsters and the American Dream), Jules performs reconstructive surgery on Lucy's vagina to take it from ultra-freak-giant to standard-vagina-size. With Sonny's dong gone, so goes the only chapel worthy enough to accept it.
"Wait! Wait! Save his cock, for science!"
Starship Troopers - the (Not Ironic) Fascism
When fanboys complain about the soldiers-vs.-insect-monsters, intentionally over-the-top sci-fi action flick Starship Troopers, it's usually about how director Paul Verhoeven left out the giant, awesome, robot-armor death-suits that featured heavily in the novel. (When nonfanboys complain about it, it's usually about how awful it is as, like, a movie.) A complaint you don't hear so often is that Verhoeven also left out the fact that the insect monsters are meant to be stand-ins for the soulless, hive-minded Chinese.
All that nonsense would have left less time for Full Metal Space Jacket.
In the film, the notion that the people of the future live in a weirdly fascistic society with whippings and public executions is treated in a playful, campy way, pretty much what you'd expect from the man who gave us Showgirls.
They're pretty much the exact same movie.
Robert Heinlein's book, though, is really a coming-of-age story in which protagonist Johnny Rico transitions from child to adult in a time of war and in so doing learns the value and necessity of the ultra-right-wing government he serves and defends. Militarism isn't mocked -- it's glorified. And Heinlein wasn't much for leaving it up to the readers to decide for themselves; the subtext is more like something Glenn Beck would scream just as he was pushed down a staircase built by illegal-immigrant death-panelists.
For example, the robot-suit action in the book is regularly broken up by lectures on such subjects as capital punishment, the need for a strong national defense and how a military-run government is the way to achieve utopia. These take the form of actual literal lectures in Johnny's history and moral philosophy class. They go on for pages and pages and are full of nuggets like this:
"Liberty is never inalienable; it must be redeemed regularly with the blood of patriots or it always vanishes."
"Nobody preached duty to these kids in a way they could understand -- that is, with a spanking."
"Either we spread and wipe out the Bugs, or they spread and wipe us out -- because both races are tough and smart and want the same real-estate."
"It is the enlightened self-interest of the individual which guarantees the wealth of nations! RUN!!!"
The Bugs in the novel, by the way, aren't just big praying mantises with tusks; they have weapons and starships, too. The biggest difference between them and humans is that they attack by the millions and have no sense of individuality whatsoever. Kind of like ... oh. Right.
It turns out that Heinlein really, really hated communism. He started the book right after the Korean War, and just by coincidence, the implacable, inhuman menace that the brave soldiers of the future have to fight is a horde of collectivist, expansionist insects. As if the symbolism wasn't obvious enough, he adds lines such as, "We were discovering, expensively, just how efficient a total communism can be when used by a people actually adapted to it by evolution. ... Perhaps we could have figured it out about the Bugs by noting the problems the Chinese Hegemony gave the Russo-Anglo-American Alliance."
He doesn't even use paper. He just writes this shit on his palm and delivers it to you bitch-style.
The whole thing was so over-the-top that Heinlein's publishers refused to touch it. A dick move, you might say, until you realize that what they had contracted Heinlein to write for them was a series of young adult novels. We guess ol' Rob felt that heavy-handed sermons about the Red Menace were what kids looked for in their fiction.
Jaws - the Mafia Plotline
Peter Benchley's Jaws is the novel that alerted America to the fact that sharks are terrifying and unstoppable and the ocean is just filled with them. Steven Spielberg's film version was so awesome it spawned the summer blockbuster, a genre that 15 Michael Bay movies hasn't yet been able to kill.
How did Spielberg do this? By bringing in likable, well-defined characters? By being an expert when it comes to shooting incredibly tense shark-related action scenes? No. It was because Spielberg took the book and did a find-and-replace, getting rid of every account of illicit sex and scheming mobsters, and swapping in an improbable oxygen-tank explosion.
O.G. stands for "ocean gangsta," bitch. Holla.
Let's just say that Peter Benchley's novel needed a good hard Spielberging in order to appeal to a broad audience. Remember how Amity's mayor is so obsessed with keeping the beaches open? In the movie, he just seems like a whiney, tourism-obsessed idiot, but in the book, he's up to his eyeballs in debt to the mob, which is running a complex real estate scam on Amity Island. And this mafia isn't just some forgettable, background annoyance; when Chief Brody is reluctant to open up the beaches for fear of the shark, a dude shows up at his house and snaps his cat's neck.
Beach-related cat murder isn't the only thing Spielberg cut. While the movie does a fine job of showing Brody and his wife as a cute, charming little beach couple, in the book, Brody's wife, disenchanted with her small-town life and presumably distressed by the prospect of imminent shark-murder, jumps into bed with the handsome young shark expert. Hooper.
They meet for lunch in a restaurant, and the conversation quickly gets weird:
"Sometimes I'm in the kitchen in the morning after everybody has left, and a workman from one of the houses next door comes to my back door. He wants to use the phone or have a glass of water." She stopped.
"I let him in the door and he threatens to kill me if I don't do what he wants."
"Does he hurt you?"
"Oh no. I mean, he doesn't stab me or anything."
"Does he hit you?"
"No. He just ... rapes me."
"Is it fun?"
"Not at first. It's scary. But then, after a while, when he's ..."
"When he's got you all ... ready."
So obviously after that the two have a brief affair. Chief Brody suspects that Richard Dreyfuss is boning his wife, which makes his decision to take him out on a boat to hunt the shark somewhat inexplicable ... or does it?
"So basically we just drag him behind the boat. Like 185 pounds of soft pork."
Also, in the book, Hooper tragically dies when the shark eats his cage, and Brody shoots Hooper in the neck while the shark eats him.
The big question is, "Why was this even in the novel?" Fucking, symbolism? We don't know. Maybe in Benchley's mind, the giant shark preying on the town was meant to be a stand-in for all the metaphorical "sharks" that prey on people in real life, like Jaws is REALLY about a mafia-shark and an adulterer-shark (also an actual shark). Whatever the case, Spielberg found the novel's undercurrents far too dark for the movie he wanted to make. He found all the characters so unlikeable, in fact, that as he was reading the novel, he ended up rooting for the shark. Which is not where we, the audience, ended up.
Until about Jaws IV.
We really wished this was a photoshop. It doesn't hurt to dream.
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest - the Narrator
Ken Kesey's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest was the anti-authoritarian opus of the 1960s. The film version gave Jack Nicholson his first Best Actor Oscar and turned the whole world against electroshock therapy, and presumably this is also where we all got our fear of murderous hospital robots.
Nurse outfits were never quite as erotic after this movie.
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest was narrated from the first-person perspective of the Chief, the 7-foot-tall Indian whose brain had been badly fried by PTSD, too much electroshock and a lifetime of paranoid psychosis. As you can imagine, the novel is fucking surreal in the proper sense of the word. Everything of that world we see is filtered though a crazified lens. Invisible smoke machines fill the world with confusion and terror, and Nurse Ratched and her warders are actually nefarious transforming killbots.
Where the rest of us see normalcy, the Chief sees only gears and horror. When the aides look at him, he can see "the eyes glittering out of the black faces like the hard glitter of radio tubes out the back of an old radio." OK, so they're also subtly racist robots.
And wicked hot.
As for Nurse Ratched, when she gets pissed, all hell breaks loose: "She's swelling up, swells till her back's splitting out of the white uniform ... she blows up bigger and bigger, big as a tractor, so big I can smell the machinery inside the way you smell a motor pulling too big a load."
One of the nurses is so pulsing with pure evil the Chief can see it bubbling up inside her and draining out the corner of her mouth like bile, and at one point the Chief picks up and throws a man, and comments, "He was full of tubes; he didn't weigh more'n ten or fifteen pounds." Apparently insanity is a better shortcut to physical strength that Soviet-grade steroids.
The Chief, seen here throwing a man-size chunk of marble out of a window.
The point Kesey was trying to make is that in fact, it's not the inmates who are crazy -- it's society, man. Kesey contrasts the machine-hell of the psych ward against the simple beauty of nature in order to wake us all up to the cogs and wires controlling our own modern lives. All the smoke-belching craziness is meant to be symbolic.
Kesey wasn't really known for his subtlety.
But here's a fairly big difference between the movie and the book. In the movie, we really buy that a lot of the patients, like the Chief and McMurphy, aren't really crazy; it's just the oppressive society that makes them seem crazy, man (the 60s were weird). We recognize in the film that Mac and the Chief are free spirits who don't belong in an institution, so we root for the Chief when he busts out at the end. And that's where we sort of run into a problem: In the book world, the Chief genuinely believes that robots are plotting against him. That's not a free spirit who got caught up in the system -- he's suffering from a debilitating mental illness.
He's not a quiet, gentle soul who needed Jack Nicholson to teach him how to be free. He's a mentally disturbed individual who murdered McMurphy and then broke out of the institution. We don't know if you've been keeping up, but that's almost exactly how horror stories start.
Related: 14 Danny DeVito Now-You-Know Facts
Stand by Me - Everyone Dies
Rob Reiner's Stand by Me was a classic 80s coming-of-age movie starring four promising child actors, two of whom would ultimately ruin their lives through a combination of drugs and awful career decisions and one of whom possessed such invincible masculine charisma that he could appear onscreen with a rapping kangaroo and still wind up marrying Mystique.
(Note: we originally said "three of whom" but Wil Wheaton helpfully reminded us that he has not in fact ruined his life with drugs -- Sorry, Wil, we once again confused you with Todd Bridges)
The film was based on a novella by Stephen King, and that's your first clue that there's something not-quite-right around the edges of this little fable. The Body is a coming-of-age story, too; the catch is that "coming of age" in this case actually means "dying a horrible death."
"You will come of age, or I will shit a demon into your fucking skull!"
First of all, the movie ends at a pretty convenient moment. Our young heroes find the corpse they'd spent the entire movie searching for, and then they stand up to the vicious bullies who were looking for the same body. The bullies want to steal the body, and our heroes pull out a gun and stand their ground, sending the bullies on their way. The End.
And everything was fine. Because there are never any bad consequences for doing anything, ever.
The book goes on a bit, just long enough to let you know that, a few days after the kids so proudly stood up to the bullies, they all got the ever-loving piss beaten out of them.
But the pain doesn't stop there; King decides to thoroughly explain what happens to every character, and because it's King, you can guess that it's nightmarishly haunting and horrifying beyond all reason. One by one, they all start dying in freak accidents: Vern (Jerry O'Connell) passes out at a party and burns to death when somebody drops a cigarette; he's identified later "by his teeth."
Though we're pretty sure those cheeks could survive a fire as well.
Teddy (Corey Feldman), in a weirdly prophetic twist, turns to drugs and alcohol and ends up burning a car full of people alive (although to be fair, this ending is arguably less tragic than it could have been ...).
As we are told in the movie, Chris (River Phoenix) ends up pulling his life together and going to college with Wil Wheaton; in fact, he's in grad school when whatever twisted curse they unleashed strikes again and River gets stabbed in the throat by an ex-con.
Gordie, the narrator, remarks ominously that "small events really do echo up larger and larger through time," and that if only they hadn't gone along the tracks that weekend, maybe his friends would still be alive. And just as he's finishing up his story, he mentions that he's been getting terrible headaches that the doctors haven't been able to explain ... implying that the curse has come back to claim its final victim.
Much like Sonny Corleone's gigantic dick.
The only thing Stephen King is more terrified of than giant spiders is ending his novels on a positive note. Seriously, if you remember a happy ending from a movie that had "Based on a novel by Stephen King" in the credits, chances are that's the result of some producer taking one look at the source material and saying "Oh, hell no." In Cujo, Tad's mom doesn't save the day; he dies of dehydration in the car. In Christine, the car is still out there, coming back for revenge. In Shawshank Redemption, Red rapes Andy to death. (Probably. We haven't read it.) King never wants anyone for a second to think that death isn't creeping up behind us at all times. That's why in a story where four dirt-poor kids end up getting the shit kicked out of them, they had to end up dead; otherwise, this might come off as optimistic.
John Donegal is a rogue academic. He recently lost a bet with his little sister, so here is her awesome website for you to visit.
The secrets don't stop here, learn more in the Cracked.com book.
For more shows that deviated from the source material, check out The 10 Most Disastrous Saturday Morning Cartoon Adaptations. Or learn about some movies that were better left unedited, in 5 Awesomes Movies Ruined By Last-Minute Changes.
And stop by Linkstorm to see what happened to Smythe.
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