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

REPLY: “I just watched Sleeper at a local cinema in Edinburgh last night. I’ve seen it many times before and when the dinner/card trick scenes plus one of Diane Keaton taking a bubble bath popped up I couldn’t believe it. It was an old print, rated A (which makes it pre-1982). I’m wondering if it was the original theatrical release. I then realised the scene with the woman in the mirror had been missed out, but “woman in mirror” was still credited at the end. Has anyone got the answer to our problems?!”.

ME: “…..It’s interesting that you say that the print still had a credit for the “woman in the mirror”.

I’ve just fished out my copy of the Faber & Faber book “Woody Allen On Woody Allen: In conversation with Stig Bjorkman”. Sleeper is seen off in the space of a mere 3 pages and with only 8 questions asked but one of those few questions refers to the shaving/woman in the mirror scene. It does seem that the original scene is of the woman in the mirror and that what I’ve referred to as the “Replaced Scenes” were replacements that were themselves later replaced; that the film has now gone back to how it first appeared (or at least, how it was supposed to first appear). Still, I greatly miss the dinner/card trick scenes and I could live without the woman in the mirror, if I needed to do so.

I’ve also found my paperback copy of Eric Lax’s biography of Woody, published by Vintage in 1992. Page 334:

“During the editing of Sleeper, Woody and…”(the editor, Ralph)”…Rosenblum each sat at a Moviola in Rosenblum’s office, looking at pieces of film over and over again, trying to find the ones that played in the best relation to the others. They cut, spliced, respliced, and hoped for luck. Woody worked on one sequence, Rosenblum on the following. As each finished, he showed the other what he had done and they collaborated on changes”.

The text then goes on to say that Rosenblum believed Woody to be different than other writers in that he was always willing to throw stuff out of a film, during the edit, and Rosenblum often had to fight to keep obviously funny stuff in the final cut.

Lax’s book suggests that this was the first film in which Woody really edited with great purpose. Maybe the quote from above gives a plausible reason why two cuts might leak their way out to the public by accident? Maybe the woman in the mirror was Woody’s cut and the dinner/card trick cut was Rosenblum’s – featuring scenes of Woody being funny that everyone would find funny…except Woody himself?

I don’t know. I’m just surmising because I haven’t got any firm evidence as to why there’s two cuts of this magnificent film.

By the way, on that Ted Turner channel, TCM, this Thursday evening, there’s a double bill of “Bananas” followed by “Sleeper”. Maybe viewers will get lucky and be treated with the dinner/card trick scenes? Somehow I doubt it. I don’t receive TCM but I gather that it tends to show buffed-up, new prints of films, rather than older prints. My guess is that the screening will be of the woman in the mirror, but you never know.”.

REPLY: “First of all, props to you all. This entire thread has managed over a year without any morons using this as a large debate.

Anyway, I believe you’re right. From what I understand, they finished this film extremely behind schedule (a week before the film was due in theaters, and it hadn’t been edited yet). That’s what I’ve heard anyway. So Woody and his editor both worked on different sections of the film, trying desperately to cut one final piece together in like, two days. So I would be willing to bet money that your theory is correct, that they both happened to cut that scene differently, and probably in all the rush for release, someone slipped up and two different cuts were printed.

Next, the deal with the boom mikes is correct (as I saw in an earlier post). I can’t remember the exact aspect ratio, but they filmed it in wide, and when it was cropped to full, it distorted, and boom mikes are actually visible in more than one scene.

Lastly, in response to…..the deal with the zillions of extra hours of Annie Hall is because of Woody Allen’s original script. He originally intended Annie Hall to be a murder mystery, with an underlying plot of a love story. So they had ALOT of film to cut, but when they went to do it, Woody found the love story scenes much funnier. So he scrapped the entire murder mystery plot, and cut the film to read like a romantic comedy.

Actually, from what I understand, Woody went back to Annie Hall to write Manhattan Murder Mystery. MMM is literally like the leftovers from Annie Hall. It’s basically the other half of the script. Mia Farrow was originally cast as his wife too, until their divorce in real life, when he cast the fabulous Miss Keaton. (In my opinion, I don’t know why he would’e thought twice about casting Kaeton as his wife in MMM, she won an Oscar for Annie Hall! It would’ve been WRONG!)

Haha. Anyway, I kind of left in a tangent towards the end, but I hope what I said was of some use to somebody.

P.S. I have never in my life seen the dinner scene in Sleeper, and I feel incomplete as a person.”.

ME: “A fantastic post…..Hopefully, someone who organises the screenings of films on TV might “accidentally-on-purpose” show the dinner scene, one day. It’s great, believe me.

Re-shoots often – almost always – are a signifier of a film that’s in real trouble but Woody seems to use the process to improve a film significantly. Many people rate “Crimes & Misdemeanors” as one of his very best but I once read that Woody’s part of the story was solely created within the re-shooting/ re-writing process. The man’s a stone, cold genius.

REPLY: “Here is confirmation:

“There is an entire scene replaced, (atleast on the copy I bought last week), where Allen is eating at the dinner table and Keaton watches in stunned amazement. Not my favourite scene by a long way, but that’s hardly the point. Instead, there is a scene that I had never seen before, where Allen is shaving in the mirror. It’s hardly worth losing much sleep over (pardon the pun!), but it’s irritating to know that they will just chop whole scenes without telling you before you buy…”

http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/B000056IFB/203-3660414-7611933″.

REPLY: “That scene is definitely not in the version I saw last year, which had the dinner scene (see my previous thread). So that was probably cut altogether (rather than appearing in some prints but being superseded, as is the case with the dinner scene).

I would still love to know for sure what the truth is behind this!”.

REPLY: “Excellent thread!

This is the whole reason I just looked up Sleeper on IMDB.

I also remember the dinner table and bubblebath scenes. I first saw sleeper on a recording of the BBC2 showing on Betamax tape circa 1986, which had both those scenes, and not the mirror scene.

A couple of years ago somebody bought my dad the DVD of Sleeper, we watched it at christmas and looked at each other with a puzzled expression on our faces when the dinner scene was not there, replaced by the weird mirror thing.

I also remember the boom mic being in shot on the cloning scene (‘checking the cell structure’ etc).

I wish film studios would make more of a ****ing effort when releasing stuff on DVD, why not include all this and the chess thing as ‘deleted scenes’ extras?

…Also – I first saw ‘The Shining’ on it’s ITV showing sometime around 1989, which was the longer edit with Danny talking to the Psychiatrist.
Every version I’ve seen on TV since has been the shorter edit.
However, the longer cut is now available on DVD.”.

ME: “Have you ever seen film of Rowan Atkinson (I think it might have been from around the late 1970s) standing on a stage, dressed like a concert pianist, playing an invisible piano? I mention it because the classical piano music that we hear during Atkinson’s performance had very fast passages and also some very slow, more reflective passages. When I first saw him perform this bit, it reminded of the replaced dinner scene in ‘Sleeper’. As Miles shoved all of the food down his throat, the piano music’s very fast; the cuts to show Diane Keaton’s Luna – looking on in amazement, slowly drinking her wine – are soundtracked with very slow music. I don’t know if both pieces utilised the same piano piece but they both seemed to share the same kind of comedic rhythm at least.”.

REPLY: “I am in the UK and I have an old VHS of “Sleeper” taken from TV. This has the slow-fast eating scene in it as well as the magic trick where Allen’s arm catches fire. I think the US version replaced these scenes with the shaving scene, cutting to Keaton in the bath. But having said this, the UK DVD version has the shaving/bath scene as well. I’m thinking of transferring the TV version on to DVD at some point so I have both. Incidentally, the music in the eating scene is Beethoven’s “Tempest Sonata”. I haven’t seen the Rowan Atkinson sketch. The shaving/bath scene has the Preservation Hall Jazz Band playing “Smiles” on the soundtrack.”.

ME: “An excellent reply……Thanks.

Empire Magazine, February 2008, Page 152, ‘The Top 10 Movie Meals’, the number 2 pick is the scene in the film “Tom Jones”. Talking about that film, the writer says:

“The acme of food-as-foreplay, brilliantly spoofed by…Woody Allen in “Bananas”…”.

Wrong. It was “Sleeper” (or at least the UK print of “Sleeper”) not “Bananas”.
Having just had a look at that eating scene in “Tom Jones” for the very first time, I can say that the writer’s dead right, that the replaced scene in “Sleeper” is most definitely a spoof of the scene in “Tom Jones”. Interestingly, Mrs. Waters then takes Tom Jones to the bedroom while holding a candle but, unlike Diane Keaton’s Luna, she doesn’t set Tom’s arm on fire.”.

REPLY: Note – there is a scene in “Bananas” where Allen, recruited into a Latin American revolution, and a woman are eating a meal together, which is doubtless what the reviewer mentions…but I swear I’ve never seen this scene in “Sleeper” and I caught it when it first played in theaters. Were they still making US vs international releases at this point?

Great, here I’ve been searching for missing footage from “The President’s Analyst” to no result, and now I have something else to look for.”.

REPLY: “Someone with a copy needs to youtube this because I really want to see it.”.

REPLY: “It’s on Netflix; has all the scenes”.

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