10 Criminally Deleted Scenes from the ‘Spinal Tap’ 4-Hour Workprint
This is Spinal Tap, Rob Reiner’s directorial debut and instant cult comedy classic, clocked into movie theaters with a svelte running time of one hour and 22 minutes. Yep, we’ve seen some great deleted scenes, with the Criterion DVD adding a whopping 80 extra minutes, almost doubling the film’s length. But wait, Tap and herpes fans — there’s more.
Hiding in the corners of the internet is the complete Spinal Tap work print — that’s all the filmed footage, laid out in sequence to create a whopping four-and-a-half-hour extravaganza overflowing with heavy-metal goodness. Now, we’re not necessarily recommending you do a work-print marathon. The online versions look like hell, and there’s a reason Reiner and friends compressed the multi-hour monolith into a gleaming comedy diamond. Luckily, though, we’ve panned for the gold: Here are 10 cast-aside scenes that add something hilariously crucial to the Spinal Tap legend…
Billy Crystal and Dana Carvey want you to shut up and eat already
Sure, you see the crabcake-carrying clowns in the original film, though Carvey is a blink-and-you’ll-miss-him, pre-fame cameo. But here are another three minutes of Crystal riffing with Carvey, Bruno Kirby and Reiner. Crystal plays Morty, a former actor who could never remember his lines, so he makes the best of it with his mime catering business, “Shut Up and Eat.” Maybe the most acerbic character Crystal has ever played on film.
Bruno Kirby croons in his underwear
In the theatrical release, Kirby plays Tommy Pischedda, a limo driver who believes Tap is a passing fad, unlike his idol, Frank Sinatra. They just don’t understand “about a life like Frank’s. When you’ve loved and lost the way Frank has, then you know what life’s about.” It seems like Tommy and the band have a sour relationship — but in the work print, there’s a whole other story. The boys invite Tommy to get high with them, and though the limo driver insists he feels nothing after a few puffs, soon he’s in his bikini briefs doing Sinatra numbers before passing out face-first on the hotel floor. “They’re good people,” he later tells Marty DiBergi. “They took me in.”
Divorcing Derek Smalls
While we see bassist Derek Smalls with a number of lovely lasses in This is Spinal Tap, we don’t hear a peep about… his wife! But that’s not going to last for long. There’s a running bit in the work print about Derek’s impending divorce, and it’s pretty nasty. Seems like his soon-to-be-ex Pamela has been going public with her unhappiness, to Derek’s dismay: “You just can’t take out full-page ads in the music newspapers and publish your divorce demands.” (Yes, apparently, you can.)
The bit continues throughout the long version of the film, with Derek constantly negotiating over the phone about what Pamela can and cannot take. Turns out, she'll take most of it, although Derek is keeping the Lamborghini.
Mick Shrimpton, King of Baseball Trivia
Artie Fufkin arranges a 7 a.m. Spinal Tap radio appearance and it goes belly-up, though not as badly as you might think. While some callers have questions about morning traffic, a few Tap fans get through, including one who loves the group’s massive Stonehenge production. That makes the group’s desire to return to the big number all the more plausible in the feature edit. But the radio appearance’s best bit occurs when a radio caller wants the W111 DJ to settle a bet: Exactly how many shutouts did Ferguson Jenkins have with the Chicago Cubs — 50 or 44? The DJ has no idea, and neither does David or Nigel. But just before the caller is cut off, doomed drummer Mick Shrimpton weighs in:
“Neither of you guys are right. Ferguson Jenkins has 48 career shutouts and they weren’t all with Chicago. He had 25 with Chicago from ‘66 to ‘73, then he went to the Texas Rangers. He had 10 with the Texas Rangers, ‘74, ‘75, then he was traded to Boston, to the Red Sox. He had three shutouts with the Red Sox ‘76 to ‘77. Then he went back to Texas, he had seven with Texas from ‘78 to ‘81. Then he went back to the Cubs again — he’s back with Chicago Cubs right now. And he only had one shutout last season, but you know, he’s getting on a bit.”
David St. Hubbins has a son!
Perhaps the work print’s biggest secret revelation is when David’s teenage son is waiting for him backstage after a show.
Jordan St. Hubbins appears to be rebelling against everything his rocker dad represents, decked out in new-wave gear with purple hair. “You’re dressing like f***ing Sky King or something.”
Jordan doesn’t especially like metal: “I guess I don’t go for that kind of stuff.” David hesitates to bring him into the dressing room to meet the band dressed like that. How can he tell people “that’s my son?” Jordan just laughs: “How do you think I feel?”
“You’re so f***ing tall, you look like another person,” marvels David. “I don’t know who you are.” Poignant and sad.
Derek Smalls, European film star
It’s a small scene, but hilarious nonetheless when Derek plays a videotape of his role as a trained assassin in Eurotrash thriller Roma 79.
Unfortunately, the man who Derek is supposed to assassinate turns the tables and kills Derek instead — all before the opening credits. It’s only 20 seconds or so but still, it’s a stylish screen death.
So that’s why they call him Derek Smalls
While Marty watches Roma 79, David and Nigel confront Derek about a small issue affecting the band in a big way. It’s Derek’s stage appearance, says David, “specifically the costuming during the performance sort of look. Something might be missing in terms of… thrust. More specifically, the below-the-waist trouser area.”
“It’s sort of a canyon,” adds Nigel, “where it should be a mountain.”
So Derek enlists the help of the band’s costuming department, offering a zucchini by way of addressing his shortcomings. Of course, the foil-wrapped phallus creates a problem in the feature version when it sets off security beepers at the airport.
The failed recording session
It’s easy to see why Reiner cut this scene — it runs a full 20 minutes! But for a deeper understanding of the issues dividing Spinal Tap, this extended bit about a recording session gone awry brings a lot of the characters’ conflicts into focus. In a nutshell: Nigel’s been in a funk ever since Jeanine masterminded a coup, ousting Ian and taking over management of the band. To smooth things over, the group books a recording studio in Denver where the band can record Nigel’s new song. One problem: David, in an extended metaphor for erectile dysfunction, can’t perform his guitar part.
The work print offers still more insight into Derek Smalls, acting as producer of the recording session. Apparently, he knows a little something about music after all. We also see his role in holding the band together — as the expensive session continues without a usable take, Derek holds a private conference with Nigel (“You’re the heart and soul of this band!”), and then David (“You’re the heart and soul of this band!”). Clearly, Tap’s problems run deep, making the band’s disintegration seem all the more inevitable.
In the theatrical cut, it seems like Nigel has just left the band when he returns with news about Sex Farm’s success in Japan. In the work print, we get to see more of the band’s struggles without its lead guitarist. Without asking the band (because why start now?), Jeanine auditions replacements for Nigel before introducing the band to Ricky. Ricky is essentially Nigel, if Nigel were a little better looking, had more vocal range, possessed more stage charisma and could play that guitar a hell of a lot better.
David wants no part of Ricky, especially given Jeanine’s clear attraction to her new find. After an impromptu audition during a live show where Ricky pushes David to the background while the group’s female fans scream and try to fondle Ricky’s satin trousers, the new player is unceremoniously dismissed.
Jeanine wants final cut
The work print provides a lot of extended story about Jeanine taking even more control of the band. That includes telling a Rolling Stone writer what she can and cannot write about the band (the writer scoffs — Jann Wenner wouldn’t print a word about Spinal Tap anyway). It was inevitable that sooner or later, she was going to come for Marty DiBergi.
As the tour ends after months of filming, Jeanine tries to renege on whatever deal Ian Faith had made with DiBergi. “I want some say in the final cut,” she tells the director. “It’s an important part that I play in all of this.”
“And you come off beautifully,” lies DiBergi. The two don’t come to an agreement, but the fact that so many of Jeanine’s scenes are cut in the theatrical version must mean DiBergi got his way after all.