Sunday, August 12, 2007

My Own Alternate Endings

I’m glad someone put up a topic. Alternate endings is a good one. I've only seen one alternate ending on a DVD. That was Training Day and I agree the one that was played in the theaters was the better ending. But I kind of like seeing what another version would have looked like.

I think the marketing departments of the movie houses add the extras to entice people to buy the DVD. It’s the "more" you get when you buy a movie you’ve already seen. I never thought about whether I liked the choices or not. I definitely did not like the alternate ending of Training Day. But I have been guilty of giving my own alternate endings to movies and books.

Long ago in a time far, far away, I watched a movie called This Could Be the Night. It’s an old black and white with Anthony Franciosa and Jean Simmons. I didn’t like the ending. It was okay, but I wanted a more Happily Ever After-commitment ending. So in my mind I re-wrote it. And not only the ending, I re-wrote some of the scenes, even added some that weren’t in the movie. For years and years I thought about the movie, but never saw it again. I didn’t even know the name of it so I couldn’t look it up anywhere. And as time will do, it passed and I could no longer remember the actors either. But I never forgot the story or the ending.

My ending.

After DVD’s came out and Turner Classic Movies began releasing the old movies on videotape and DVD’s, I saw the movie again on television and immediately recognized it. I sat down and watched it to the end. But I was confused. It ended too quickly. Where were the other scenes? Surely they wouldn’t cut it. After all TCM shows movies in their entirety. It’s part of their advertising. So why did they cut this one? And the ending? What happened to the ending? This is not the same movie, I thought. But there couldn’t be two. I remembered some of the characters. Then I started to laugh out loud. I remembered. I’d re-written the ending. I’d added scenes that weren’t there. They were only in my head.

This Could Be the Night is the only movie or book I did this to and didn’t remember my own creation. I have changed other endings too. Yes, Gone With the Wind has an alternate ending in my mind. And not just an ending, there are additional scenes with Scarlett and Rhett away from Tara or Atlanta. In fact, they are in Charleston.

Casablanca is my all time favorite romantic movie and the hero and heroine don’t live happily ever after. Even so, I have never changed the ending of this movie. I can’t see any other ending. Even though I wanted Rick and Ilsa to end up together, I could see the bigger stake was world democracy and I was unwilling to fiddle with that even in a movie. At this writing I’m thinking I could fast forward to after the war, when democracy wasn’t an issue, and bring them back together at that point. Of course, I’d have to account for what happened to Victor (Ilsa’s husband), but that wouldn’t be difficult.

I like books that give me an alternate version of the world. I suppose that’s why 1984 was so popular long before the actual year arrived. And why it still works today. 1984 posed an alternate world for the future. Star Trek did the same thing for television and look at the survival of both of these forms of entertainment.

I read Clive Cussler novels. He write male adventure novels and his hero is a former Navy Seal named Dirk Pitt. All the Dirk Pitt novels pose an alternate to something we "know" to be true. For example, in Raise the Titantic, they raise the old ship and find a document that cedes Canada to the United States. In another Abraham Lincoln didn’t die at Ford’s Theater, but was captured by the confederates and spirited away on one of the iron clad ships of the day.

Even Cinderella got my personal ending treatment in relation to the wicked stepsisters. I’m far less forgiving than the fictional character, so I changed the ending to give the girls and their mother their due. Then Ever After with Drew Barrymore was released. Not only does Cinderella have a valid motivation for staying at the house and accepting her plight, but in the end she wins out over the life she was forced into. Bravo!

There are endings I can’t change. I loved American history. At English and French history, I’m pretty good at remembering the details, but when it comes to Russian history, I was never able to follow all the last name changes and the different families that ruled or their titles. So when I saw Nicolas and Alexandra and watched their love story unfold, I didn’t like what happened to them in the end. As I voiced this opinion to my history-major friend, she informed me that I could not change history. So I let that one stand, but I didn’t like it.

Dr. Zivago is a different story, however. That ending I did change. Laura looks back and sees Yuri on the bus. She never lost their daughter. The couple reunite and live happily ever after.

As you can see, I provide my own alternate endings on a regular basis. I wonder how Hollywood would have done it if they could go back and reshoot the endings to some of those classic movies. Would they satisfy my need? I don’t know, but if it didn’t, I can always change it in my mind.

Happy reading and movie watching. Let me know if you too change endings to suit yourself.



ilona said...

At last another woman who likes Clive Cusslers Dirk Pitt stories :D I love the way he changes the known facts and gives us a completely different ending to them :D

Shirley Hailstock said...


Yes!!!! I don't know where I picked up RAISE THE TITANTIC, but I couldn't put it down. And after that I had to read everything Cussler wrote. I love how he does those alternate history plots.

I was so enthalled by RAISE THE TITANTIC that I would brave the crowds in NY harbor to see them sail that ship into port. I'm safe however, since I know the ship broke in half and will never be raised or sailed. But there were days (before I knew this) that I dreamed of it happening.

SAHARA is a movie now (on cable) and even though there's litigation going on about it, I keep watching it. The guy paying Giordino is the best one I've seen. Of course, no one fills the bill for Dirk.


Susan said...

I'm one of those who hate when they have alternate endings, especially if the movie is based on a book. Although, if I'm disappointed in the ending of a movie I will try to think up a better one! LOL

Shirley Hailstock said...


We must be sisters in kind. I didn't like the ending of The Horse Whisperer (the book). The movie had a more satisfying ending, but it didn't give me that ahhhh feeling.

Of course, Sam Neill played the husband in the triangle and I love him, so I would be really disappointed if they'd cast him like the character in the book. He was much stronger in the movie.

I still can't come up with a better ending than the movie. I know the one in the book doesn't work for me.

Same thing with Message in a Bottle. I think it was a wall-banger. I threw it across the room when I got to the end.


Susan said...


Great minds must think alike! I couldn't agree with you more on both of the examples you used.

Sam Neill definitely would have been miscasted if they had stayed true to the book.

Virginia said...

I hate it when movies don't end to suit me, and yes I tell myself how the movie should end. I never watch the alternate endings on the DVD movies. I just except the ending that I just watched. I just finished watching the movie Wild Hogs with Tim Taylor, very funny and I really enjoyed it. I think it ended just the way I thought it should.

tam said...

I prefer one ending, but I just hate it when a movie leaves you hanging at the end of it. There should be more of the movie but there's isn't thats it, the end.

Shirley Hailstock said...


You're describing "viewer expectation." The entire movie leads up to a certain expectation at the end. Books do the same thing. When we don't get it, that's when it makes us crazy. You feel like you wasted your money.

For the most part, the endings I see are the ones I would have done, but then there's the few that I want to throw something at the screen or the director and say, "what were you thinking!!"


Shirley Hailstock said...


I hate to be left hanging too. I know I've seen movies like this, but I can't think of one right now. I suppose, I was so disappointed, that I blocked it out of my head.


deseng said...

That is another pet peeve I have is to watch a movie and have it end horribly. Especially when I went to a movie theater and paid $7.00 dollars each for my husband and I to see it. I feel like I have wasted good money on a dumb movie. I have seen some really humdinger of movies too!


Shirley Hailstock said...


Unfortunately, I haven't been to the movies in years. I watch everything on video or cable. I miss the big screen. When I do get to go again, it will be for G-rated Disney movies. (Got a 5-year old.)

But I understand about paying a fortune and being dissatisfied at the end of two hours.

One movie where I was confused at the end was a Will Smith movie, THE LEGEND OF BAGGER VANCE. I didn't know who he was. I knew there was a metaphor there, but I missed it. I came across the book in the library and decided to read it.

Now I am not a golf period. I equate it with watching grass grow. But this book was phenomenal. I bought my own copy and it became a keeper, one of the best I've ever read.

Then I bought the movie and watched it again and again and again. There is so much left out in the story and of course the characters have been changed a little, like the Charlize Theron character is not in the book at all.

I'm not confused anymore and I will say, the movie sent me to the book, but I would have liked to have a better, more satisfying ending.