Saving my IMDb thread: Replaced scenes in ‘Sleeper’ (1973): Part One

I haven’t been on the boards for a long time and now they’ve ended. Supposedly because they’ve been taken over by people who just post detritus rather than anything interesting. So, I thought I’d save (a slightly edited version of) the thread I once started, trying to get to the bottom of why certain scenes in ‘Sleeper’ (1973) had disappeared. It’s quite a while ago: note the references to George W. Bush and Tony Blair.

To be clear, it wasn’t an extended version; it wasn’t a shortened version; it was a different version, with certain scenes appearing for the first time and other scenes having been excised. See how people throw in their ideas and we finally get somewhere. This is probably the kind of thread that justified the boards.


ME: “Remember when Miles and Luna were on the run and they came upon the now empty scientists’ house where Miles was first “stashed” after he was taken from the capsule? They went inside and we got to see them sitting on the stairs inside the house and chatting. They spoke about making love and Miles said that, if she was to hear any wheezing, it was because of his asthma.

Now, when I first saw the film years ago, between these two scenes, there was a great scene of the two of them about to eat a big meal. Miles sitting at one end of the table and Luna sat facing him.

As a rather fast piece of classical piano music played, Miles started to stuff all kinds of food into his mouth. The film was speeded up, to work in tandem with the music. This was inter cut with Luna, looking on in amazement, slowly drinking her wine. The shots of Luna coincided with the music slowing down.

There then followed a short scene of Miles looking like he’s about to show Luna a card trick. The trick seemed to involve the use of a lighted candle. We didn’t hear the dialogue (I think jazz music played over the top of it)but, as Miles seemed explained how it was to work, Luna accidentally set Miles arm on fire with the already lighted candle.

Now, when I saw the film recently, the eating scene and the card trick scene were replaced by a new scene of Miles shaving at a big mirror. His “reflection” became out of sync., he messed around with the controls, then he found himself staring at a strange woman who was shaving her face.

Does anyone else remember the eating and card trick scenes? Does anyone know why they were replaced? I gather that Woody doesn’t usually include deleted scenes on his DVDs but do these missing scenes turn up in any form on the ‘Sleeper’ DVD?”

REPLY:I recall seeing the movie many times when it first ran in 1973, both in the theaters and on Cable TV. I have also seen the movie on video a few times and on network TV. I do not recall at any time the food-eating scenes you describe. I recall only the funny out-of-sync shaving scenes you describe.
I would have liked seeing the added or replaced scenes you described, though.”

ME: ” Curses! You sound like a extremely solid source on this but you’ve never seen the scenes I can remember. D’oh!

I’ve considered that they might have been from another Woody film but I could’ve sworn that they were from ‘Sleeper’and I’ve seen almost every other film of his. The reason I was so sure was that I once had a videotape with both ‘Bananas’ and ‘Sleeper’ on it (taken from a TV season of Woody Allen films) and I watched it loads of times.

When I saw ‘Sleeper’ again I was expecting the scenes to materialise and was shocked when they didn’t turn up.

Not to doubt your knowledge in any way…but can anyone else help?”.

ME: “Further to my previous e-mails, I’m wondering if perhaps ‘Sleeper’ came out in a slightly different version in the US than the version in Europe.

…….sounds like he/she is based in the US while I’m from the UK. He or she has obviously seen the film a number of times – as have I, when I watched it regularly on tape. When I saw the film most recently, it wasn’t just that I was surprised not to see the eating and magic trick scenes but it was definitely the first time that I’d ever seen the shaving scene, despite having watched the film many times previously.

My most recent viewing of ‘Sleeper’ was post-video/DVD re-release. I’m wondering if perhaps the notion of presenting a definitive release of ‘Sleeper’ led to only a US version of the film being used?

Grasping at straws, I was going to suggest that perhaps some kind of music copyright problem might have to led to the deletion of the dinner scene but then I thought that the fast, classical piece used in the film sounded old, not modern, and I gather that music copyrights might therefore be less of a problem.

If it helps anyone any, I’ve remembered one other element of the dinner scene. I recall Miles trying, but failing, to impress Luna by doing that cool trick whereby someone can move a coin over and under their knuckles by wiggling their fingers in the correct way. He did it flawlessly but she didn’t seem too thrilled.

Any ideas on all this?”.

REPLY: “I definitely remember that dinner scene but its not on my(UK) VHS version.I’d forgotten all about it. I’m sure I had it when I taped it off the TV years ago.

Sleeper is one of my all time favourite films, I’ve lost count on how many times I have watched it.”

ME: “YES!!!’…You’re a saint, a prince and a genius; and don’t let anyone ever tell you any differently!!! I feel like I’m Bob Woodward, in a car park in Washington, and you’ve confirmed my story!

Like you, I had it taped from the TV years ago and I watched it many, MANY times. Some time ago, Channel 4 in the UK had some kind of Eddie Izzard night. They showed a couple of his live performances, I think, and also asked him to choose a film. His pick was “Sleeper” and it’s from that broadcast that I noticed the scenes having been replaced (no longer having my previous copy).

The copy with the scenes described above was, I’m pretty sure, from a BBC broadcast…I remember that it was shown in a cropped, full screen version because there was a scene (which I can’t remember if it was in the C4 Izzard broadcast or not) in which Luna took a bubble bath and one could clearly see the boom mic at the top of the screen.

Why did this version turn up on British TV…?

Why were the scenes replaced/cut out of the current version? Believe me, they were excellent and very funny (in keeping with the rest of this magnificent film).


ME: “There’s one other element to the dinner scene that I’ve remembered.

Prior to the trick with the coin, Miles held a pack of cards in his left hand. The top card was face up, facing both us and Luna, at the other end of the table. Miles moved his right hand over the top card, shaping his hand as if he was taking the card away. The card showing at the top of the pack changed. His hand, shaped as if it was holding the card, was then shown to be empty as Miles moved his fingers as if there was dust on his fingertips and he was trying to rub them clean. I think that Luna did laugh but it was the kind of laugh that said: “God, what an idiot!”…..”.

REPLY: “”The reason I was so sure was that I once had a videotape with both ‘Bananas’ and ‘Sleeper’ on it (taken from a TV season of Woody Allen films) and I watched it loads of times. “

Perhaps you are confusing a scene in Bananas with a scene from Sleeper?”.

“I may be wrong, but I believe the scene you’re thinking of is actually in “Bananas.””.

ME: “Thanks very much for taking the time to reply. Yes, I was thinking that that might be the case too but I bought the “Bananas” DVD for someone a few months ago. I watched it with them and the scenes that I remember were not in it for certain.”.

REPLY:I can’t recall ever seeing these “replaced scenes,” but if they ever existed, I’d like to see them!“.

ME: “Damn, you’d love them! I can see the scenes in my mind’s eye but I’d love to see them again properly, on a screen.

My guess is that the print that I was familiar with was a Europe only print. Both you and…..sound like you live in the U.S. (under the Bush junta!?) while…..and I – who do remember the scenes – live in the U.K. (I’d say something about Blair too but I don’t think it’ll be too long before he’s forced out by the Labour Party).

Or maybe it was a “rogue print”; a rough cut that somehow made its way over here? Like a promo copy of an album that was sent to DJs before a final running order was agreed?

I tried to describe the scenes as best I could and I know, for absolutely sure, that they featured the great Diane Keaton. What puzzles me is not just that they were “cut” (although that would be strange enough because the scenes were VERY funny) but that, when I saw the later print, they were “replaced” by the shaving scene. Yet, to say that they were replaced is probably a misnomer because, judging from what…..says, the shaving scene has always been included in the American edition.

I’m going to keep trying to find out about what led to this state of affairs. I left a posting on the ‘Woody Allen’ page itself about this and I’m thinking of other people to write to in order to get an explanation. Yes, there are other more important things to worry about, for sure, but I need to get an answer about this.”.

REPLY:There is a scene in the regular version of “Sleeper” that shows Diane taking a bubble bath, but I don’t recall seeing any audio equipment in the shot. I always thought that scene with the mirror looked kinda out of place.”.

(Yes, I live under the Bush Junta, but I’m with the Underground now…)”.

ME: “I can think of two examples when British TV has shown the wrong print of a film.
In this country, the credits to Kubrick’s “The Shining” make reference to a Doctor being played by ‘Anne Jackson’ but, in the British version of the film, she’s not in the final cut at all! She is in the U.S. version (which, I think, is about half an hour longer) and that was once shown on British TV by mistake. I remember seeing Shelly Duvall’s character sitting on a sofa talking with the Doctor about Danny’s behaviour but that scene isn’t in the British print of the film.

Also, James Cameron’s “The Abyss” had a scene in which a rat is submerged in oxygen fluid. This scene was cut, in the U.K., on the grounds of animal cruelty, but Channel 4 did show this scene, by mistake, when they first broadcast the film.

(I’m completely against animal cruelty but I also hate censorship. This rat scene obviously didn’t break any laws in the country where it was filmed. What next? The censoring of, U.S. filmed, road traffic scenes because Americans drive on the other side of the road and thereby set an illegal example to easily influenced British drivers?).”

REPLY:I always thought there were at least two versions of “The Shining” out there. I think I’ve seen a shorter version on commercial TV, as well as a longer version uncut on cable. Maybe the longer version is a Director’s Cut or something…Kubrick tends to make very long films. But I’ve never heard of Woody Allen releasing two different versions of a film.

(As for the rat scene in “The Abyss,” I think I’d rather see the UK version. I have a rat phobia.)”.

ME: “I think that you’re right about Woody never doing that annoying thing of releasing a film in two, or more, versions…on purpose, anyway.(I’ve definitely seen the version of “Sleeper” as described above). However, check out the trivia page for his film “September”. Evidently, he once made two versions of one film. He released the second film and probably threw the first one away.”.

REPLY:September” is not one of my favorites! I wonder if the version he threw away was better or worse!”.

ME: “I hate to admit this but “September” is one of the only Woody films that I haven’t seen…yet.

You might not believe this….but I’ve got a similar question about “Play It Again, Sam” – although this time it’s not a replaced scene but a possible missing scene. Keep an eye on the “Play It Again, Sam” board because I might need your help.”.

REPLY:I will. “Play It Again, Sam” is one of my favorites, definitely. I know a little bit of trivia about it.”

REPLY:I first saw “Sleeper” on German television. It was with the eating scene and Luna taking bath without background music, and the mic was there too. I liked those scenes. So it wasn’t a dream of yours. I really would like to know the whole story behind those changes though.“.

ME: “…I’ll name my first born son after you!!! Thank you for your knowledge; that is excellent news. As you say, the question is, why were these scenes replaced? We’ll find out one day if I have anything to do with it.”………



Money and the Hammer’s Main Pages



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