WHEN: 9:45pm EST, November 10th, 2012
WHERE: In my room in my apartment in Portland, ME (Alderaan)
FORMAT: DVD on a 19″ computer monitor
PHYSICAL AND MENTAL STATE: Tired from a long week of work. Had just eaten unpleasantly spicy lamb vindaloo.
Any time a film is made, there will be footage that doesn’t make it into theaters. Sometimes it will never see the light of day. If we are lucky, some of it will be available as a special feature on the DVD or Blu-Ray. If we aren’t so lucky, we’ll get an unwatchably overlong extended edition.
“Still no Tom Bombadil?” Thank god.
Fortunately for us, nine of High Fidelity‘s deleted scenes made it into the special features of the DVD. Even more fortunately, none of them ended up back in the movie. This week, I watched them and spent my viewing trying to pinpoint where they would have appeared in the movie. Here are my thoughts and findings.
Would have directly followed the Penny Hardwick flashback, at about 6:15.
This 39-second clip contains an interesting snippet of Rob monologue (Robologue?) where he considers the following: Teenage boys want foreplay, but girls aren’t interested. When adults, the same women want foreplay, but the men can’t be bothered with it.
While interesting, I can see why it got cut. Rob is standing in a subway car, and as he says the final line, “The perfect couple, if you ask me, is the Cosmo woman and the 14-year-old bu-bu-bu-boy,” the shot pans from an older woman to a leering teen.
Something about this image combined with Rob’s line just seems unsavory.
Takes place during the first day in Championship Vinyl. Could have been inserted at 10:20.
An unused introductory scene for Vince and Justin. The two skate-punks enter an empty Championship Vinyl and awkwardly browse for a minute, under the silent watchful supervision of Dick, Barry and Rob. The two select an album. Rob lets them know that he knows that they have been stealing from the store. The two purchase it with some money they have obviously begged for.
At almost two minutes (1:48) this scene is unpardonably long for a bit of unnecessary exposition containing only one joke. In the final cut of the movie, we are not introduced to Vince and Justin till 40 minutes later. Their presence in the front half of the movie is not missed.
Top Five Worst Things:
A continuation of Rob’s monologue from 39:20.
Rob has just listed the four horrible things he did to Laura. In this 39-second clip, he turns to the audience and asks us to make a list of the worst things we’ve ever done. “Who’s the asshole now?” he asks smugly.
Still you, Rob.
This is a line that worked really well in the book. It would have been nice for it to have been in the movie, but something about it just doesn’t play right. No one wants to be preached to by someone who has just admitted to being an ass-hat.
Records for Sale:
Would probably have directly followed the previous deleted scene.
Recreates a scene from the book where a bitter woman (played by Beverly D’Angelo) attempts to sell Rob her unfaithful husband’s rare record collection, for an unreasonably low price. Rob refuses on ethical grounds.
This is probably the most interesting of the deleted scenes, and is definitely worth a watch. But despite D’Angelo’s fine performance, and a look at a more principled side of Rob, it’s a good thing it didn’t make the final cut. It runs long (4:01) and lacks the spark that its corresponding passage in the book had. Sorry, Beverly.
All-Time Hot 100:
Would have appeared during the Marie DeSalle bedroom scene. Around 59:10.
A little extra pre-sex banter between Rob and Marie. An attempt to capture some of the awkwardness of their encounter as shown in the book, this scene just doesn’t read very well. Rob wonders why he always thinks about his potential future failure in bed. We are then treated to an imagined conversation between Rob and his father, played by a mildly distracting Harold Ramis.
Is that a buster of ghosts I see?
Rob’s imagined dad tells him not to complain so much. It was worse in the old days when you had to marry a woman before you could see her naked. It’s almost funny. But it comes across more awkward than anything else. It was best that this short (1:37) clip was cut.
Laura And Liz:
Takes place before Rob and Laura meet up for a drink. Around 1:02:50.
Laura and Liz talk about how awful Rob is being. Liz makes a joke at Ian’s expense. Rob is seen outside Liz’s workplace. He internally monologues some borderline creepy thoughts. Not a bad scene, but feels like filler. Laura makes the damning prediction that if she were to return to Rob, he would likely just meet someone else and leave her. Scene length is 1:15.
Top Five Dream Jobs:
Takes place after Dick leaves with Anaugh and Barry leaves to work on music for his band, leaving Rob alone, at 1:17:35.
This scene shows Rob writing his list of dream jobs, and forcing Dick and Barry to do likewise. Manages to fit in a few lines of dialogue from the book (and a couple of original ones) without really adding anything of substance.
Were it included, the implication would be that seeing Dick and Barry move forward with their lives has prompted Rob to have thoughts about his own future. I suppose that might have had some value, but probably not enough to warrant this scene’s inclusion. Length is 43 seconds.
Sonic Death Monkey:
Would replace 1:36:35 – 1:37:15.
Rob tries to convince Barry not to play at the release party. This scene has one good joke, but is mostly just a worse take than the final version. Contains a shot of the back of Rob’s pig shirt, revealing that the back of Rob’s pig shirt has a pig butt on it. Length is 1:05.
Probably taking place at 1:38:30, it would replace the scene where Rob has a phone conversation with Caroline.
In a series of scenes which more faithfully follow the novel than the the final cut, Caroline interviews Rob about his top five records. Rob is awkward, confrontational, and has difficulty settling on just five records. In an interesting little scene, Laura seems more perturbed at Rob’s choices of records than the fact that he is spending time with a spunky little reporter.
The dynamic here is much more intriguing than the straightforward flirtation that made it into the film. You get the impression that Rob couldn’t jump back into the dating world if he tried. He is too dysfunctional to interact with normal human beings (even ones who obviously dig him.)
But what do I know? Maybe the simplified version was needed to make the film flow more naturally to its conclusion. Scene length is 2:25.
There may be some interesting nuggets hidden away in these nine scenes, but in the end, they were not enough to warrant inclusion in the final film. Some didn’t mesh with the rest of the movie, some dragged, and some were just bad takes. It makes me thankful that the call was made to relegate them to the cutting room floor. We could have had 14 more minutes of High Fidelity.
At this point in the experiment, I don’t enjoy watching High Fidelity, but it is always nice to be reminded that the movie could have been worse. Competent people were behind the wheel.
On one final note, it did occur to me that none of the deleted scenes feature Rob’s ex-girlfriends. Those scenes are really the core of this movie. A couple of weeks ago I said that it was a good decision to cut Jackie Alden from the script. I’m starting to second guess that opinion. Maybe if some Vince and Justin or Championship Vinyl scenes had been scrapped in favor of an extra ex, the movie could have been stronger. But there’s no use wondering about what might have been.