The Driver (Walter Hill, 1978)

Discuss films and filmmakers of the 20th century (and even a little of the 19th century). Threads may contain spoilers.
Post Reply
Message
Author
User avatar
PfR73
Joined: Sun Mar 27, 2005 6:07 pm

The Driver (Walter Hill, 1978)

#1 Post by PfR73 » Sun Aug 24, 2014 6:22 pm

I've had a copy of the Twilight Time release, but recently also ordered a copy of the UK StudioCanal release since it contains an extra scene between The Driver and The Player. The Twilight Time release shows a PG rating on the back, which I always took as correct as there's nothing in the film that would make me think an R-rating was warranted. The UK disc only features a series of 13 teaser trailers not on the Twilight Time release, so while watching these extras I noticed that the trailer narrator kept saying "Rated R." Sure enough, even the trailer on the Twilight Time disc shows the film carries an R-rating. I looked up the film on CARA's filmratings.org website, which shows The Driver was rated PG in 1983 with the annotation "1978 Rated:R; Edited for re-rating." IMDb doesn't have any information about the editing/rating change, nor has any review I've ever come across. The extra scene from the international release is certainly not the culprit as it is entirely dialogue & feature no objectionable language or subject matter.

Does anyone know anything more about this? IMDb talks about a 131 minute cut, but from my research that seems like it may be apocryphal and perhaps a misunderstanding about that supposed American Cinematheque screening. The international cut from the UK disc is 1 hour 31 minutes long, so maybe 1 hour 31 minutes was conflated into 131 minutes. Was the film truly re-edited in some way in 1983? Or is CARA's website misrepresenting it and the film was simply re-rated without actually being edited? Is the Twilight Time release truly the original R-rated version? I've never seen anyone complain it isn't and have no reason to believe it isn't, but I find it surprising the film as I've seen it was rated R, even in 1978. If it is the original version and the PG truly came from re-editing the film, does anyone know what is the PG version like?

Rupert Pupkin
Joined: Thu Oct 20, 2005 9:34 am

Re: The Driver (Walter Hill, 1978)

#2 Post by Rupert Pupkin » Mon Aug 25, 2014 12:28 am

I'd like to know too (I own the Twilight Time and it "look" as if it is an uncensored cut)
but I was intrigued by the trailer which include a french-kissing involving Mister "Love means never having to say you're sorry" (Ryan O'Neal) and Isabelle Adjani.
Often, trailer are some treasures because generally they could include some outtakes, delete scenes, etc... prior to the final cut.
and the fact that the romance stays "cold" totally fits with the "philosophy" of these characters...
So I wasn't surprised that this scene wasn't included....

User avatar
rohmerin
Joined: Mon Aug 07, 2006 10:36 am
Location: Spain

Re: The Driver (Walter Hill, 1978)

#3 Post by rohmerin » Mon Aug 25, 2014 9:59 am

Downloading this movie that I've never seen. It's one of the only 9 noir films I don't know included in the new, last and good TASCHEN book about 100 noirs.

http://www.taschen.com/pages/es/catalog ... orites.htm" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

I don't understand why O'Neal with his insane beauty did not have a better career. The same with Adjani in the States. Was it for her accent?

User avatar
Forrest Taft
Joined: Thu Mar 15, 2007 8:34 pm
Location: Stavanger, Norway

Re: The Driver (Walter Hill, 1978)

#4 Post by Forrest Taft » Mon Aug 25, 2014 10:05 am

PfR73 wrote:I've had a copy of the Twilight Time release, but recently also ordered a copy of the UK StudioCanal release since it contains an extra scene between The Driver and The Player.
Which scene is this?

User avatar
PfR73
Joined: Sun Mar 27, 2005 6:07 pm

Re: The Driver (Walter Hill, 1978)

#5 Post by PfR73 » Mon Aug 25, 2014 5:48 pm

After The Driver smashes the robbers' car when they try to recruit him, there's a scene of The Player showing up at The Driver's apartment/hotel room to ask him for money.

Information about it is here: http://www.movie-censorship.com/report.php?ID=655156

Michal Szeremeta
Joined: Wed May 02, 2018 5:13 am

Re: The Driver (Walter Hill, 1978)

#6 Post by Michal Szeremeta » Sat Mar 09, 2019 4:46 pm

maybe I could help. On one website there is information
Alledgedly, there was a screening in the Los Angeles's American Cinemateque of a 131 minutes long version of the movie that gave more depth to the characters and also included more car chases.

User avatar
JamesF
Joined: Thu Mar 04, 2010 1:36 pm

Re: The Driver (Walter Hill, 1978)

#7 Post by JamesF » Sun Mar 10, 2019 6:24 am

I saw an original UK 35mm print here in London a few years ago and am fairly certain the scene referred to above was in it; the 90-min runtime on the BBFC site would bear that out.

Apparently a whole subplot starring drive-in siren Cheryl “Rainbeaux” Smith was cut from the film, so there might well have been a longer workprint before Hill decided on the leaner, meaner final cut.

User avatar
Dylan
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 9:28 pm

Re: The Driver (Walter Hill, 1978)

#8 Post by Dylan » Sun Mar 10, 2019 2:59 pm

I found myself reading about The Driver recently and this trivia item pops up everywhere, but it seems like most of it has been debunked. The trivia states the following: that an existing rough cut is 131-minutes, that in the past this cut screened at The American Cinematheque, and that the extra footage in part consisted of an entire Rainbeaux Smith performance (Smith was a staple at Crown International, New World Pictures, and Charles Band Productions, and - if true - this would've been her big break).

A few years ago, Twilight Time wrote on their Facebook:
...we spent some time with Walter last week and he confirmed to us that there has never been any longer version of THE DRIVER and that no screening of any additional footage has ever taken place. Anyone that knows the work of Walter Hill, Fred, particularly in those early days, would know he would never release a 131 minute film!
So that rules out The American Cinematheque screening a rough cut. And as for the widespread running time of a rough cut, that apparently stems from the VHS release incorrectly listing the running time as 131 minutes.

So what we're left with is the part about Rainbeaux Smith. To my knowledge her supposed involvement has never been publicly confirmed. If there is any truth to her involvement, a copy of the shooting script may have some clues as to who she would've played. There is also the possibility that Smith was initially attached to the film (maybe even as Adjani's character) and was eventually replaced, but not before misinformation was spread. If Smith indeed filmed an entire performance that was excised, it would be a fitting tribute to her if some of this footage were to end up as a bonus feature on a future release (if any of her scenes still exist). In any case, hopefully in the future somebody will solve the mystery of Smith's supposed involvement.

Concord NicK
Joined: Tue Mar 12, 2019 1:22 pm

Re: The Driver (Walter Hill, 1978)

#9 Post by Concord NicK » Tue Mar 12, 2019 6:09 pm

I believe I have answers for questions about THE DRIVER that were posted up above.

This is my first post on this forum. (A buddy alerted me to this discussion, so I've joined up to weigh in.) First of all, I worked at a movie theater which showed THE DRIVER during its first run, way back in the day. Upon graduating from college shortly afterward, I wrote a letter to Walter Hill which landed me a job working as a production assistant (uncredited, alas) on the Georgia location sequences of his film THE LONG RIDERS. I had seen THE DRIVER numerous times while it played in my workplace and I had numerous questions about it saved up for when I eventually met Walter.

When I asked Walter, "Why was THE DRIVER rated 'R'?" he gave me a great answer: "Well," he said, "when you stick a gun in a woman's mouth and pull the trigger, they give you an 'R'."

The scene in question includes a feather pillow inserted as a buffer between the mouth and the gun, but apparently the sequence was still too much for the prudes at the MPAA, hence the "R". It was later shown completely uncut (more on this below) on mainstream network TV, possibly the first "R" rated movie to earn that distinction.

When THE DRIVER first aired on network TV in America (I believe it was on 'NBC's Saturday Night at the Movies') I was watching with great interest to see if this scene was omitted. It was not. However, THERE WERE SEVERAL ADDITIONAL SCENES that were not in the first-release version we exhibited at the movie theater where I worked (nor in the subsequent DVD I bought many years later). I made a list at the time which, unfortunately, I was not able lo locate today, although I'll certainly post it here later if it does turn up. (I'll keep looking. It might be tucked inside my copy of the film's paperback novelization.) I recall there were about five previously deleted scenes.

Most importantly, the expanded film began with a new scene in which the Matt Clark character shows up for what we learn is his FIRST DAY ON THE JOB working for the Bruce Dern character. This is crucial to understanding what's going on between them. All through the movie Dern is lecturing to Clark and giving him attitude. You get the impression he's a tyrannical blowhard. But with the addition of this early bit, we understand that what he's doing is ORIENTING THE NEW GUY and simply doing it in an overly assertive way. Yeah, he's still being a dick, but it makes much more sense and casts his actions in a much different light.

Another scene I recall was an extended bit (the longest of the restored sequences) in which Ryan O'Neal and Isabelle Adjani have a rendezvous inside a crowded mall to exchange information. Their idea was to get lost in the crowds so nobody could follow or observe them. However, Bruce Dern has hidden cameras EVERYWHERE and triumphantly tracks and observes the ENTIRE exchange. When he first sees them appear on one of his concealed cameras, he quips, "Well, look here, it's American's Fun Couple!" This stilly observation -- and Dern's priceless delivery of it -- cracked me up then and still cracks me up today. In fact, I often use the phrase myself and mimic how he said it.

Unfortunately I can't recall what the other three restored sequences consisted of, but I can say confidently that NONE of them involved the actress Rainbeaux Smith. I was keenly aware of her at the time I saw the extended telecast of THE DRIVER. She had made a big impression on me in three movies I saw during 1976 -- DRUM, SLUMBER PARTY '57, and MASSACRE AT CENTRAL HIGH -- and I would DEFINITELY have recognized her. I would have been thrilled to discover her contribution to THE DRIVER had she appeared in that edit, but she did not.

I hope this clears up some of the questions about THE DRIVER. I'll keep looking for my notes on the extra scenes from the TV broadcast.

ballmouse
Joined: Fri Mar 03, 2017 8:32 pm

Re: The Driver (Walter Hill, 1978)

#10 Post by ballmouse » Tue Mar 12, 2019 7:35 pm

^ Great write up! A quick youtube search shows this was probably the scene you've referenced.

User avatar
The Fanciful Norwegian
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 2:24 pm
Location: Teegeeack

Re: The Driver (Walter Hill, 1978)

#11 Post by The Fanciful Norwegian » Wed Mar 13, 2019 10:10 am

And my guess regarding the MPAA rating situation is that the MPAA loosened up enough between 1978 and 1983 that the same cut that drew an R rating in 1978 was considered PG territory by 1983. (If they'd resubmitted it a year or so later I'm sure it would've been PG-13, but that wasn't an option yet.) The "Edited for re-rating" notation on the MPAA website probably doesn't indicate actual re-editing, since that same notation appears with the R ratings for A Clockwork Orange and Midnight Cowboy and my understanding has always been that nothing was actually cut from those films, just that the MPAA decided their original X ratings were too harsh.

User avatar
Cold Bishop
Joined: Tue May 30, 2006 9:45 pm
Location: Portland, OR

Re: The Driver (Walter Hill, 1978)

#12 Post by Cold Bishop » Wed Mar 13, 2019 9:46 pm

If I’m not mistaken, there’s an undoubtedly sexual overtone to the “gun in mouth” sequence. I honestly wouldn’t be shocked if the same scene got an R today.

User avatar
PfR73
Joined: Sun Mar 27, 2005 6:07 pm

Re: The Driver (Walter Hill, 1978)

#13 Post by PfR73 » Mon Mar 18, 2019 5:29 pm

ballmouse wrote:
Tue Mar 12, 2019 7:35 pm
^ Great write up! A quick youtube search shows this was probably the scene you've referenced.
Yes, this alternate opening is included on the various Blu-Ray releases.

Post Reply