Monday, June 14, 2010

Vacation: The deleted scenes! Reconstructing the classic.

By Jack Robinson
Well with the new Vacation DVD coming in August and Warner Brother’s refusal to give us decent Special Features I thought I would show case some of the “lost Griswold footage,” including the famous lost ending!

This first picture is a deleted scene in which the Griswold’s run out of Gas and are forced to push the Family Truckster!  Now according to the Griswold outfits the scene should take place just after the family leaves the mechanics and just before the Grand Canyon.  Just after Russ looks in Edna’s purse, Clark comments that the hotel better cash a check or they will run out of gas.  Presumably that’s when the car runs out of gas (Approximately 59 minutes and 41 seconds in the film.)  Curiously the photo does not show Edna who I assume is laying dead in the back seat unbeknownst to the Griswold’s who do not find out about her demise until after the Grand Canyon.

Our next scene was actually scripted a bit differently than how it ultimately was filmed and the scene comes as the Griswold’s arrive in South Ft, Colorado at the camp ground.  If you’ll recall as Clark and Ellen check in to Kamp Komfort camp ground and the clerk who is played by Brian Doyle Murray charges 37 dollars for three tents.  As he explains the 37 dollars includes “scenery and wild life fun.”  Well the scene originally involved the Wild Life Fun.  While Clark and Ellen are trying to enjoy their romantic evening sharing a sleeping bag they are rudely interrupted by Dinky (Aunt Edna’s Dog.) Originally it was not Dinky but Brian Doyle Murray dressed in an Animal costume who sneaks into unsuspecting campers tents to create “Wild Life fun.”  According to the DVD commentary the scene took too long to shoot and was ultimately changed to Dinky attacking love birds, Clark and Ellen.  It’s a shame we never get to witness Brian Doyle Murray dressed in an Animal Costume!

In the original film the song "I'm So Excited" by The Pointer Sisters was played over each scene of Christie Brinkley’s driving scenes and June Pointer's "Little Boy Sweet" is played during the truck stop scene for Christie’s dance.  Presumably the song was later cut due to the price of the song?  What ever the reason all recent VHS and DVD’s have replaced all scenes featuring the song "I'm So Excited” with "Little Boy Sweet."  Despite the song being left off the DVD’s the song still appears in the credits of the film.

This brings us to the famous “lost ending!”  Originally the film ends with the Griswold’s arriving at Walley World only to find that it is closed.  Originally Clark does go to the sporting goods store but does not return to Walley World, instead he goes after Roy Walley!  Clark buys the Bee Bee gun and a map to the stars homes and storms the Walley Mansion where Mister Walley is having a meeting in the back yard!  As this photo shows Clark holds the men hostage forcing them at gun point to entertain the family.  Mister Walley and his business associates are forced to sing and dance until the police arrive on the scene to arrest Clark!  As Clark is being hauled off by the police Christie Brinkley shows up only to reveal that she is the daughter of Roy Walley!  Fortunately for Clark she convinces her famous father to drop all charges!  Finally the Griswold’s board a plane home complete with their complementary Marty Moose Hats only to find that they are on the wrong plane!  Clark then “goes nuts” hijacking the plane!  This original ending featured the song "Summer Hearts" by Nicolette Larson which despite being cut remains on the soundtrack. 

The ending was filmed and previewed to test audiences.  Much to the surprise of the film makers the audience loved the movie but hated the ending!  According to Harold Ramis the audience had invested all this time to see Walley World and it’s never seen.  Warner Brothers gave the film makers 4 days to reshoot another ending.  Screenwriter John Hughes was brought in to rewrite another ending.  The cast was brought back to reshoot and it can be noticed that Anthony Michael Hall is several inches taller and Dana Barron gained 10 pounds after hitting growth spurts after filming the original ending!  John Candy was cast as the parks security guard and cast and crew was sent to Santa Anita Park and Six Flags Magic Mountain for filming.  The rest is history! 

Despite Chevy Chase admitting that he has a cut of the film including the original ending Warner Brothers has yet to include these deleted scenes in any of their many special and Anniversary editions of the film.
Like most R rated films of the day many scenes were filmed with alternate lines specifically to be used in the television version of the film.  These include:
When Clark ask the African American Pimp for directions he responds with "Who do I look like, Christopher Columbo?" instead of his R-rated response.
Eddie's daughter credits her science teacher, not her father, with saying she's the best at french kissing.
When they lose the small suitcase while driving, in the movie version, Clark says the only thing that can't be replaced that was lost is Ellen's diaphragm, which is changed to birth control pills for the edited version.

Through my years of research I have never been able to find a complete shooting script for the film.  We know that John Hughes often wrote many drafts of his scripts.  The original John Hughes short story that Vacation was based on does include a variation of the original ending resulting with Clark shooting Walt Disney!

The Blu Ray version of Vacation is set to be released August 10th.  There is no word of special features for the disc yet but as we know, Warner Brothers is not known for producing very good DVD extras (see the recently released Caddyshack 30th anniversary edition!).  Keep checking back for more info on the release of the film and the supposed sequel!

For a real treat check out John Hughes original short story from the National Lampoon magazine: Vacation ’58.

Thanks to Braden for the pictures!


  1. It would be nice to see these scenes. Maybe next year for a 30th anniversary edition?

  2. I saw this photo on eBay from European Vacation. I don't recall it being in the movie so it has to be a deleted scene:

  3. i have a video of the makeing of hte movie its about 1h and 45 mins tells about things that happen and stuff during filming .. was kool to watch

    1. I think I saw that. It doesn't show the original ending but it does show the spot with the sign where Clark buys the map to Roy Walley's home and it does show the house that they used as Roy Walley's mansion. Watching it, I also found out about all the hardships that they went through making this movie.

  4. There was more to that deleted scene where they run out of gas and have to push the car. They push the car to a gas station and the attendant fills it up with gas but since Clark has no money, he drives out of the station really fast without paying for the gas and the attendant runs after them. That's also supposed to be the gas station where Clark gets those sandwiches that he asks Russ to crack open, later.

    A couple years back, I read the original script online. Sadly, the original script has been removed from the internet. But it had the original ending in it and in the original ending, the Truckster gets damaged even more. According to the script, when Clark is head for Roy Walley's mansion, he hates the music being played on the radio and instead of turning the radio off, he shoots it with the BB gun! When he arrives at the mansion, the guard won't let him see Roy and gives Clark one of Roy's business cards and tells him to schedule an appointment on Monday. Clark takes the card, says "Thank you" and then drives right through the closed gate! While driving down the driveway, one of the sides of the car gets scratched by a brick wall outlining the driveway. The Truckster goes through the buses and lands on the back patio by the pool in front of Roy Walley and his business associates. The windshield is smashed and the front is really wrecked and the Truckster is now basically TOTALED. This is why in the original ending, they fly home because they no longer have a car.

    Throughout the movie the car gets more and more damaged and it's like you're building up to this climax that the car is not going to survive the trip even though the salesman tells Clark it's a great car to take across country. It's like the Titanic sinking on it's maiden voyage after everyone says it's a great ship. I'm sure that's John Hughes and Harold Ramis were going for with the original ending. You lose part of that climax with the second ending because you don't get to see the car get totally destroyed.

    In the original script, after Roy drops the charges, he calls the limo around and tells the Griswalds that he's taking them back to Walley World and he's going to open it up special just for them and the Griswalds are happy that they're going to get to go to Walley World after all but right after that they're supposed to cut to the scene where they're on the airplane(that Roy is paying for because they're also out of money). So even though Roy takes them back to Walley World, you never see them there which is what the test audiences hated the most.

    Now, the movie did not follow everything EXACTLY the way it happens in the script, as most movies don't. One thing I remember in the original script is that the Truckster was orange not green. But it gave me at least a rough idea of how the original ending happened and I did have to use my imagination.

    It would be nice to see those deleted scenes. It would be nice to see the original ending too, regardless of what the test audiences said, it doesn't sound that bad. The second ending had a lot of positive things but I think they still should've used the scene with them on the wrong plane, though.

  5. I also think that the original ending could've still been used if they had added a scene with everyone enjoying Walley World. In the original ending, Roy Walley says he's taking the Griswalds back to Walley World and he's going to open it up special for them and they all give big smiles as they're going to get to enjoy Walley World after all. I would think that after that, they could've shown the Griswalds, Roy Walley, his daughter, the business associates and the swat team all enjoying Walley World and going on the rides together in a montage like they did in the second ending where they're having fun while Clark holds a security guard hostage. After the fun, then they could've cut to the wrong airplane scene. I'm guessing Hughes and Ramis probably considered that but thought it would make the movie too long. Besides if they had done that, we wouldn't have had John Candy in the movie.

  6. For those wondering, John Candy was NOT in the original ending. When they came up with the second ending, they felt that John Candy was the perfect choice to play the security guard that Clark takes hostage. They got the idea from a previous performance of John Candy's.