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After re-watching the film yesterday afternoon, I followed up this morning with the DVD extras. That's not normally something I would expect to want to blog about - but it turns out there were three deleted scenes included on the DVD that really would have made a massive difference to the film if they'd been left in. So now I feel the need to write about how silly I think it is that they were cut, and how much clearer and stronger the film would have been if they'd been retained.

The first two scenes both come from the beginning of the film, when Miss Pettigrew is wandering the streets of London at night between being dismissed from Mrs. Brummegan's house and reporting to Miss Holt's agency in the morning.


Scene 1. Miss Pettigrew sees Charlotte Warren arriving at a film première.
The absence of this scene really confused me when I saw the film in the cinema, since when Miss Pettigrew meets Delysia LaFosse later, and finds that Miss LaFosse is trying to get a part which Charlotte Warren is also vying for, Miss Pettigrew states that she saw Charlotte Warren in the West End the night before. Except, of course, that in the film as released, she didn't. The only person the audience has seen her encounter is the young lady who later turns out to be Miss LaFosse's friend, Edythe Dubarry. So I couldn't understand for ages when Miss Dubarry was reintroduced why she didn't seem to be anything to do with acting, or indeed any kind of rival of Miss LaFosse's. I forgot about this after a while, and things became clearer when the real Charlotte Warren arrived later on - but it is the sort of disquieting niggle which gets in the way of really enjoying a story.

Also, this scene establishes something quite important about Charlotte Warren's status, and how it compares to Miss LaFosse's. It shows us that Charlotte is already an established film star, whereas the conversation between Miss Pettigrew and Miss LaFosse which takes place on their way to the underwear show at the Savoy reveals that actually, all Miss LaFosse has really done so far is play an extra in a few crowd scenes. In other words, it makes it all the clearer how hard Miss LaFosse is actually having to work in order to get the part that she thinks she wants, and why she is prepared to throw over Michael for Phil to do so.


Scene 2. Miss Pettigrew watches part of a film through a cinema's open side-door.
She can't afford a ticket, of course, but for a while Miss Pettigrew stands entranced, gazing in from the wings at the stars on the silver screen before her. This picks up on something which the book made very clear but the film as it was actually released did not - that the one source of joy in Miss Pettigrew's life before meeting Miss LaFosse has been escaping to the cinema, and that this background shapes her understanding of everything she experiences during her wonderful Day. Even more importantly, you see her drinking in two key lines spoken by the male lead of the film, and even mouthing them out for herself, both of which she then goes on to use herself at crucial moments later on in the film. These are her cigar-smoking "You betcha, buddy" which she uses to throw Nick off the scent when he suspects that Miss LaFosse has been 'entertaining' Phil during his absence, and her shout of "Sock him on the jaw!" directed at Michael when he is about to lose Miss LaFosse to Nick. If you know where Miss Pettigrew got these lines from, then everything makes sense - but if you don't, you can only vaguely assume that she came up with them spontaneously. That makes it much harder to understand the extent to which the role which she is playing in these scenes is actually foreign to her normal, everyday self.


The third comes later on in the morning, when Nick is on his way up to the apartment, and Miss LaFosse is in the lift with Phil, frantically trying to stop either of them from seeing one another.


Scene 3. The real social secretary from Miss Holt's agency arrives at Miss LaFosse's apartment.
And it turns out that there is a whole extra level of comic near-misses going on here. While Nick spends longer than in the released version going up and down the stairs suspiciously, trying to see who is in the lift, a nicely-dressed young lady walks directly up them to the apartment, and announces that she is a social secretary and has been sent by Miss Holt's agency. Again, this wraps up a vague niggle which gets left hanging by the film as released. Miss Pettigrew has already fielded a phone call from Miss Holt, who rang to say that the social secretary was on her way and would be there in ten minutes - but the viewer is still left vaguely wondering when or whether this person is ever going to actually arrive. In the deleted scene, this is all explained - Miss Pettigrew, left alone in the apartment, pretends to be Miss LaFosse, and tells the secretary that her services are no longer required. Another loose end tied up, another insight into Miss Pettigrew's resourcefulness and quick thinking. And another nice little moment of comic characterisation when Nick, unaware of who the well-presented young lady who passes him in the stairwell actually is, looks her up and down and tips his hat to her appreciatively.


So why all that had to go is beyond me. Between them, those three scenes add up to about another 10 minutes of footage between them, while the film as released was only 88 minutes long - hardly an epic by today's standards. Possibly they were cut for the sake of the overall pacing, since all three come quite early on in the film, and maybe it was felt that the action needed to move forward more quickly. But is that really so important that it is worth leaving two major loose threads hanging, weakening the characterisation of Miss Pettigrew and causing actual confusion in the cinema audience for the sake of it? Obviously I still enjoyed the film as it was released, even without these extra scenes. But now that I know about them, I find it absolutely criminal that it could have been treated so badly by its editors. If anyone can explain the thinking behind this sort of decision to me, I am all ears!

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Comments

( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
kissmeforlonger
May. 3rd, 2009 09:43 pm (UTC)
I suspect they think the audience isn't paying attention.
the_lady_lily
May. 3rd, 2009 11:16 pm (UTC)
I think the third of those scenes went quite happily, but agree that the first two would have made the film stronger. No idea about the decisions behind cutting them, I'm afraid.
strange_complex
May. 4th, 2009 08:03 am (UTC)
I guess - if I could only keep two of the three, it would probably be the first two. But I do remember sitting there in the cinema with a niggling awareness that Miss Pettigrew could still be found out any minute that was never really resolved, and keeping the third scene in as well would have tidied that up nicely.
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )

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