‘Airplanes, Trains & Autos’ Editor Paul Hirsch Reveals The Secret History Of Newly Released Deleted Scenes

Planes, Trains, and Cars may be an unlikely choice for a 4K transfer, but the 35th Anniversary Blu-ray of John Hughes’ comedy classic from Paramount is a must-see for one very good reason: It contains 75 minutes of never-before-seen deleted and extended scenes. .

For John Hughes nerds and “planes, trains, and cars” fans, this is like revealing some hidden deposition of gems and a peek behind the curtain into the creative process of Hughes, one of Hollywood’s most elusive geniuses. (Hughes died suddenly of a heart attack in 2009 while walking in New York. He was only 59.) And TheWrap spoke with editing legend Paul Hirsch all about this new footage — and the headaches that’s been putting together this particular movie.

A filmmaker in his own right, Hirsch has been responsible for editing all-time classics like “Star Wars,” “Footloose,” and “Mission: Impossible” (also “Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol”), with work that spans genres and industry styles. the movies.

Wrestling planes, trains, and automobiles to the ground was a daunting task; Hirsch details the production and post-production process in nerve-wracking detail in his insightful and incredibly entertaining memoir “A Long Time in the Cutting Room Far, Far Away.”

The movie is a relatively straightforward comedy about a square ad executive (played by Steve Martin) and a door-to-door peddler (John Candy) who strikes an uncomfortable pact in an effort to get home for the holidays. But on the occasion of bringing those scenes to life, TheWrap went on to talk about the process of working on the movie and turning it into the holiday classic it is today.

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Hirsch recalled that a week after principal photography on “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles” ended in early July, he presented Hughes with a cut. Filming was grossly overscheduled and overbudget, complicated by a looming directors’ union strike (it ultimately didn’t happen) and locations that never co-operated. Bill Brown, associate producer and second unit director, said in a recent retrospective for Vanity Fair, “What I always said about John is he’d write a really tight script, and then we’d wind our way into a big dirty draft movie. And then he’d cut his way back into a great tight movie.” “. The task of creating this “wonderful tight film” fell to Paul Hirsch and a small team of editors, who worked tirelessly to fine-tune it into shape. Which kind of shape.

At the beginning of July, the film ran for three hours and 45 minutes.

‘He was on 24 reels. We watched 12 reels, had lunch, came back and watched 12 reels. He turned to me and said, ‘It’s too long. ‘ I said yes.’ Then he went on vacation,” Hirsch recalls.

The studio, Hirsch recalled, “flipped” because Hughes was gone and they wanted to show it in theaters Same as Thanksgiving, which means they will have to lock the photo by the end of September. However, Hughes took the VHS tape of the extra-long version with him (this is where, Hirsch imagines, the new home video footage came from).

He obviously thought about it a bit because when he came back, we sat down and he started saying, ‘Okay, let’s go through the reels. Lose this, lose this, lose this, and I’m just taking it out of the movie,’ said Hersh. By the time they’re done, Hirsch said. They had cut the movie’s runtime down to two and a half hours. “We just cut a third of the movie,” Hirsch said, still amazed. “They shot for 85 days. I said “John, you know we just stopped after 20 days of shooting.” He shrugged.”

One of the best parts of the newly emerged footage is the moment Candy and Martin are in an airport waiting area. After asking Martin if he wants anything to eat (a gag that only works because it’s so long), we see Candy shoving a hot dog into his mouth while smoking a cigarette. As he shoves the dog into his mouth, he blows smoke out of his nostrils, all over the chili dog. It’s crazy and funny.

“I love that shot,” Hirsch said. “I thought I was going to die when I saw that. And they took it out because the women in the audience found it so disgusting.” Hirsch said he heard from studio executives that after the part was removed, the results improved dramatically. Hirsch still misses her. “I thought it was one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen,” Hirsch said.

However, he acknowledges that there is truth to what William Shakespeare once said: “Brevity is the soul of wit.” “It’s like a meal. No matter how good the food is, at a certain point, you get tired, Hirsch said. He also noted the Marx Brothers films, now seen as the pinnacle of comedy, each film clocking in at “75/80 minutes”.

Hirsch can’t pinpoint Why There was a lot of footage as it wasn’t with the production on location, but it struggled as it was supposed to be a simple sequence of Candy and Martin’s characters in a motel blown into 25 minutes of extravaganza. “Either they were improvising or John would stay up late at night writing pages and handing them out in the morning. I really don’t know,” said Hirsch. “He can write as fast as he can type. He wrote the first 60 pages of Planes, Trains, and Automobiles in one night.

Complicating the process was the fact that Hughes essentially broke up with Hirsch while they all struggled to complete the film. “I got along great with John until I didn’t,” Hirsch said. He saw the pattern manifest in others around him—Hughes would compliment them exaggeratedly, tell them he’d never wanted to work for anyone else, and then, out of nowhere, dump them. Several actors, including James Spader and Molly Ringwald, have spoken of similar experiences.

“I haven’t felt good about it for a long time,” Hirsch said. He was forced to complete work on the project with the director no longer speaking to him, and requests were coming in through producer Bill Brown. Hersh was relaying the information to Hughes via Brown. Hirsch called the experience “bruising” and shared something Paul Schrader told him in 1974 (Hirsch also edited Schrader’s “Obsession”): “You don’t come to Hollywood to make friends.”

When “Plains, Trains and Automobiles” finally opened on November 25, 1987, they were hoping it would at least win the weekend box office. “We lost out to Three Men and a Baby,” Hirsch recalled. “We were very disappointed.” But Hirsch had a bigger ambition. One that eventually came true: “I think we all hoped it would become a perennial that would be played every year at Thanksgiving. And what we hoped has happened. It has become a beloved perennial and Thanksgiving favorite.”

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Incredibly, Hirsch remained in Hughes’ orbit. It was related to Hughes’ screenplays that never saw the light of day — “The Nanny,” which was made to star Marianne Sagbrecht of “Baghdad Café” (which Hirsch said is about “pampered kids whose parents are so rich, go away on vacation and leave the kids in charge of this). The German Nanny Who Looks Like a Prison Camp Officer”) and “Larry’s Late for Living,” which sounds like UberHughes’ script about a man getting into trouble at work to attend a meeting, would have starred Bill Camp.

Hirsch was also set to direct “Dutch,” which was eventually done (and shared a Thanksgiving vibe with “Planes, Trains, and Cars”), but he was replaced by Peter Fayman, an Australian filmmaker and ally of Rupert Murdoch (Murdoch) Fox was directing “Dutch.” ). After the shooting, Hughes called Hirsch and begged him for help: “John called me and said, ‘Listen, I’d feel a lot better if you cut out ‘Dutch’.” I don’t really trust this guy.” At the time, Hirsch was working for Fox as a “fix-up guy” (“turning awful movies into bad ones”) and the “Dutchman” experience partly served as something of a wake-up call. Hirsch’s directorial aspirations were no longer a priority “I decided I’d rather work steady than hang around waiting for someone to give me a chance,” Hirsch said. He then reteamed with Brian De Palma for 1992’s “Raising Cain” and, a few years later, a mini-film called “Mission: Impossible.” .

And as utterly mind-boggling as these deleted scenes from “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles” are, Hirsch points to a wealth of additional Hughes-related material that has yet to be revealed. Bill Brown told Hirsch a story about going to Hughes’ office outside of Chicago, either after his memorial or to commemorate his surviving wife Nancy Hughes, who died in 2019. “The office was filled with waist-deep piles of text with a narrow path between. Piles: “There was a lot of text piled up on the floor,” Hirsch said.

There was one deleted scene that would never see the light of day, at least according to Hirsch. (It’s definitely not on the new disc.) “I’m not going to give you context,” Hersh said. He said the scene takes place in a restaurant. “There’s a shot of each crew member pulling on a rubber glove,” Hirsch said. When you asked for more – anythingReally – Hirsch refused. “I’m sure she won’t come back again,” Hirsch said shyly.

Though the return of these deleted scenes, thought long ago lost to the sands of time, shows us that anything can happen.

Planes, Trains, and Cars is now available to purchase in 4K with these new deleted scenes on its own separate bonus disc.

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