It was the perfect ending to a truly tragic film, one that RKO considered "long, dark and depressing." So they decided to cut it from its original 132 minutes to 88, and end the movie on a happy, uplifting note, barely stopping short of having butterflies fly out of everyone's buttholes and form a smelly rainbow in the distance.
And, you've guessed it, this mutilated cut is the only version of the film that remains today, because a few years later, the studio cleaned out all of its unused footage, including The Magnificent Ambersons clips, and dumped them into the fucking sea. Here's why that sentence should make you really angry: the original version of The Magnificent Ambersons wasn't just any old Orson Welles film; it was a film which Welles himself said was better than Citizen Kane, and which Siskel and Ebert wistfully brought up in the middle of other reviews decades later.
Though both versions do contain the movie's equivalent of King Joffrey, so that's at least something.
The Collected Works of the Greatest Chinese Philosophers in History
Ever hear of Confucius, or the freaking yin-yang? Good. Now picture the life's work of another hundred Chinese philosophers the world has never heard of, and their students, and try to imagine the cosmic, mind-expanding texts that they would have left behind. Now imagine all of it is on fire.
Yes, the Ancient Chinese equivalent of the Jedi Academy did really exist, until some guy decided to burn it all. In 213 B.C., nearly every scrap of paper attributed to the so-called "Hundred Schools of Thought" (an intelligentsia movement that bloomed in China for centuries) was burned to ashes by the first Emperor, Qin Shi Huang, aka the King of Qin, the unifier of China, the builder of the Great Wall and the Terracotta Army, and all-around horrible asshole.
And Grandfather of Dragons ... probably.
The destruction of the scholarly texts was part of Qin Shi Huang's official policy of "burning of books and burying of scholars." As you have probably guessed, this meant that any scholar who didn't agree with the Emperor's idea that "learning is so gay LOL" was buried alive and had their legacy destroyed. The works of Mozi and Confucius thankfully survived, but pretty much every other school of thought from this historic period is now gone forever, all because Qin Shi Huang didn't want intelligent people to question his rule. Kind of a fragile ego, that guy.
So today "Confucius" is shorthand for "profound Chinese wisdom," but the only reason we know about him is because his texts survived while all the others did not. It could turn out he was like the Dean Koontz of ancient Chinese thinkers, and all of the really good ones got buried alive.
Chinese Santas are assholes.
James Amaz would like to thank the good people on the forums at Missing-Episodes.com for their help in researching this article. Check out James on Twitter. Jacopo is the author of The Great Abraham Lincoln Pocket Watch Conspiracy, which he suggests you purchase before it disappears forever! Chris created a Twitter account. Follow him while he still has the secrets of the universe.
For more things we'll never have again, check out 5 Lost Photos That Could Have Changed History and 7 Books We Lost to History That Would Have Changed the World.