The Criterion Collection DVD of Wes Anderson’s “Bottle Rocket” comes out today. We took stupidly-long notes and are writing multiple pieces so they don’t all go to waste. We’ve already note the photography of the Laura Wilson, (Luke and Owen’s mom) and another deleted scene with a bit of overview from the doc.
Before we get into the notes we took on the commentary track (yes, this is obsessive minutia, no doubt, but we needed multiple long piece to accompany all our screencaps), one must note that the original version of “Bottle Rocket” was at least 30 minutes longer than the original, hence the 11 deleted scenes (though there are more not on the disc).
“There was this whole scene that we filmed about being chase through the yard by the cops and several scenes that followed that ended up being cut from the film,” “Bottle Rocket” cinematographer, Robert Yeomen said in the film’s making-of documentary.
The biggest “hole” in the film is the sequence right after the stories protagonist’s(Owen Wilson, Luke Wilson, Robert Musgrave) first successful robbery (the bookstore) where they celebrate and then it is revealed the great Mr. Henry and his crew (James Caan) were simply a landscaping outfit and the sequence when they’re getting gas and “going on the lam.”
In the original version that tested incredibly poorly (as vehmently articulated over and over again the doc and the commentary), there was, according to Wes Anderson and Owen Wilson, about 20 minutes of scenes attached to their post-robbery celebration.
Essentially what happens (and some trainspotters, will remember this from the original “Bottle Rocket” trailer) is while Bob (Robert Musgrave) reveals to Anthony (Luke Wilson) the truth of Mr. Henry, the trio hear swearing and disruptive sounds outside. The group go outside to investigate and see police cars and what seems like some sort of other robbery happening at a nearby house (“You can’t blame me for this,” Dignan – Owen Wilson – tells the others). Dignan brazenly starts chatting up the cops and engaging in small talk: how long Academy training in, if they’re taught hand to hand combat, etc. (Bob marvels at this, “What the hell is he doing?… Dignan loves cops”). Suddenly, Dignan hears a noise and says to the cop, “Did you hear that?” and tells him he thinks he knows where the criminal is hiding. They end up hoping a fence that is actually Bob’s backyard property and Hector, his dog, is barking at them ineffectually. We hear Bob faintly yell to Dignan from afar to “not go over there,” but he and the officer start searching around everywhere. The cop, looking around with his flashlight discovers Bob’s “marijuana crop” to which Dignan inexplicably starts to panic about and then runs off. The police officer gives chase and soon the cops are all chasing after Bob, Dignan and Anthony (there’s a quick shot in the original trailer of this shot – Anthony, Bob and Digan running, with cop car lights and flashlights trailing after them, it’s pictured above). This isn’t obviously in the final film, but connects to the reason why Bob’s brother, Futureman (Andrew Wilson) is jailed for the discovery of the marijuana plants later on. There are several deleted scenes, but this sequence is the biggest, “hole” which is also discussed in the commentary track. There are a few scenes that follow it as well, some of the DVD, some not.
From the commentary track:
The midway scene at the gas station where they’re talking about meeting up with Mr. Henry, when they first goes on the lam is a big “lift,” according to Anderson. “In a movie without a particularly strong narrative or any action sequences, we made the decision to cut out one our big action bits,” Wilson laughed. “One of the few things that actually happens in the story didnt seem right for something to happen like that,” Wes chuckled with Owen, adding, “it didn’t work for the story.”
Here’s a short excerpt from the scene in question.