The hospital scene
Any Kubrickphile given the opportunity will tell you there were in fact three versions of The Shining—the original release included a brief scene of Ullman visiting Danny and Wendy in hospital, where he assures Wendy that searchers have found no evidence of the supernatural events she had witnessed, and tries to convince her that her experiences were in her mind. It appeared between the final shot of Jack frozen in the maze and the long track shot closing in on the 4th of July photo.
This scene was cut from the film days after its first release (when it was only playing in a small number of theatres—this was typical of release patterns of the day, as opposed to today's "wide releases" that require thousands of prints); the cuts were made by hand from those prints, presumably by projectionists at the theatres, as well as from the internegatives that all subsequent prints were made from.
Consensus from those who saw the scene is that the film is better off without it. By taking viewers out of the conflict between the Overlook and the Torrence family the final menace of the hotel was weakened, and it unnecessarily pulled Ullman into that conflict (after ignoring him since the first act). The audience reaction was clearly not what Kubrick wanted, and so the scene was removed at the first opportunity. It has never been seen since, and presumably only survives in a vault in the Kubrick family's estate.
None of the dialogue for the scene is available in any form. Three continuity polaroids from the sequence however appear in Alison Castle's The Stanley Kubrick Archives (click to enlarge):
And that's probably all we'll ever see. As Gordon Stainforth (assistant editor of The Shining) once put it:
Final point, one cannot re-emphasise enough: Stanley would NEVER have wanted this deleted scene to have been kept, or to be shown to anyone, once he had decided to remove it.
Michel Ciment's Kubrick: The Definitive Edition contains interviews with Diane Johnson and Shelley Duvall that cover this scene.
- Shelley Duvall (1981)
- He cut out the final sequence of the film after several days in the theatres.
- I think he was wrong, because the scene explains some things that are obscure for the public, like the importance of the yellow ball and the role of the hotel manager in the plot. Wendy is in the hospital with her son. The manager visits her, apologizes for what happened, and invites her to live with him. She doesn't say yes or no. Then he goes into the hallway of the hospital, passes in front of Danny, who is playing on the ground with some toys. When he gets near the exit, he stops and says, 'I almost forgot, I have something for you.' And he pulls from his pocket the yellow ball that the twins had thrown at Danny. It bounces twice (we spent a whole day filming so it would bounce the right way), Danny catches it, looks at it, then lifts his eyes towards the hotel manager, stupefied, realizing that throughout the story he was aware of the mystery of the hotel. There was a Hitchcockian side to this resolution, and you know that Kubrick was crazy about Hitchcock.
- Diane Johnson (1999)
- Kubrick had filmed a final scene that was cut, where Wendy and Danny are recovering from the shock in a hospital and where Ullman visits them.
- Kubrick felt that we should see them in the hospital so we would know that they were all right. He had a soft spot for Wendy and Danny and thought that, and the end of a horror film, the audience should be reassured that everything was back to normal. Personally, I was a bit tougher. For a long time we kept asking ourselves who was going to die, and we decided on Hallorann. But I was ready to shock everyone by killing Danny! That may have been going too far.
The following recollections are collected from past discussions in alt.movies.kubrick, and include accounts by Gordon Stainforth and several AMK viewers who saw the original version.
- Gordon Stainforth
As I have explained many times re the original ending of TS: SK did have a test screening in New York about 3 or 4 days before the opening of TS (I think 3 days, if my memory is correct) - and on the basis of that - too much of a riddle for some viewers, he decided to remove the final Ullman/Wendy/Danny hospital scene. This meant that the interpositives and internegatives had to be altered as well as the few showprints already in america. Although the information was sent immediately to America there was a delay of several days before all the prints were altered, so that in one or two theatres (in NY and LA, I believe) it was still seen for a few days with the original ending still in place.
The deleted scene (of about 2 minutes) was certainly kept for a while, but I believe it highly likely that Stanley would later have had it destroyed, or at least dismantled. But it's just possible it still exists, in which case it will be safely locked away somewhere at Childwickbury I guess.
Stanley authorised the removal of the hospital scene from the end of The Shining (just under 2 mins long) as a result of audience comments/bafflement at a preview BEFORE the film was released. But in some cases the cut was not implemented for 2 or 3 days it seems.
... TS was previewed in New York (fairly certain it was NY ... it may have been LA, or it may have been both) - about 3 days before it was first released. And it was as a result of this preview that Stanley removed the notorious short, and perhaps too enigmatic, hospital scene (it implied that Ullman was also part of the whole supernatural 'living past' of the hotel) which came immediately before the final riddle of Jack in the ballroom photo.
Janet Maslin is absolutely right - the film was certainly stranger with that scene (the most unsettling aspect I remember about it was that Ullman's character was more or less unchanged - still very superficial and smarmy, almost smug about what had happened. Though pretending to be very sympathetic.) But overall it just didn't work.
The photo was always the last scene. Taking out the hospital scene from the release print was most memorable for me for the very awkward music transition it created from the Penderecki to 'Midnight, the Stars and You'. There was nothing we could do about it at that stage.
[on Ian Watson's Plumbing Stanley Kubrick] ... most stunning of all, the way he relates the frozen Jack with the 1926 photograph AND with the star child in 2001! (Just shows how right Stanley's judgement was in removing the notorious and very confusing hospital scene, which as I've explained many times before didn't help the movie at all.)
- Mark Ervin (firstname.lastname@example.orgNotBush)
With the greatest respect, Gordon, you are simply incorrect. "The Shining" opened, was released, May 23, 1980 in New York and Los Angeles with the hospital scene, which was there until Monday, May 26. It opened on about 50 or more screens in these two cities on May 23, and with the hospital scene.
I saw the film eight times on opening weekend at Mann's Chinese Theatre in LA. The scene was there all eight times. Next weekend I saw it and it was gone. The film was platform released, to get word of mouth going, and opened across the rest of America on (Friday) June 13th. These were prints made without the scene, prints in New York and LA has physical cuts which one can see as they go by.
That ending was in about twentyfive prints that opened May 23, 1980 in NY and LA, and it was cut out after the opening weekend.
Here's what I remember about the hospital visit. After the shot of Jack frozen in the maze, cut to Ullman moving through a white hallway. The camera back tracks via steadicam keeping Ullman perfectly centered in a medium shot. He's wearing a large, in fact really large, fur coat (brown fur, like a bear), and carrying some ugly dark roses for Wendy. He looks lost, turns a corner or two, and sees a uniformed guard sitting next to an open door. He walks up to the guard and says something like "how's he doing?" and the guard motions him in saying "fine." Danny is in the center of a large room playing with some toys. Ullman enters and says something to him that seemed inappropriate. I don't think Danny answered or even acknowledged Ullman. Then he leaves quickly and heads down the hall into the next room and there's Wendy in a white room, in a white bed, in a white gown. Ullman at first is kind and sympathetic, presenting the flowers to Wendy, who looks worse than ever with matted black stringy hair and wide black eyes in sharp contrast to the bright room.
Ullman says something along the lines of "you'll be fine," and Wendy asks what was found in the hotel. Ullman makes patronizing, and again inappropriate remarks about Wendy imagining the things she saw in the hotel. He implies that the proper thing to do is to keep this talk quiet, so as to not further damage the rep of the hotel. Cut to the tracking shot towards the photos, which was so silent and disconcerting at that point.
... Ullman had a bunch of ugly roses and was almost trivial in the way he talked to a thoroughly shell-shocked Wendy; he acted as if she'd suffered a minor ankle sprain. Previously Ullman had stepped into a kind of play room and said something to Danny--who was unresponsive. Ullman also had on an almost absurdly huge brown fur coat.
It had an odd resonance with the scene in "Lolita" (in the hospital) where Lo tries to convince Humbert he's imagining things (reversing the positions from TS).
My notes on the cut scenes also indicate Hallorann talking to Larry at Durkins' Garage. This must have been very short as my memory of it is very amorphous; Larry said something about being carefull and closed the sno-cat door, I think again.
- Mark Ervin (email@example.comNotBush) (vs IMDB)
The scene was probably ninety seconds, or a bit more maybe.
There was a policeman stationed outside Wendy's room; one who looked and responded almost exactly like the one stationed ahead of Alex in the hospital in ACO.
[Ullman] walked to the rooms, speaking briefly in passing to an officer stationed outside Wendy's room (presumably to block press inquiries).
He's told they're both doing well.—IMDB He visits Danny.—ME and proceeds to Wendy's (Shelley Duvall) room, where after some gentle conversation he tells Wendy that searchers have been unable to locate any evidence of the apparitions she saw.—IMDB
Then it cuts to the camera silently roaming the halls of the Overlook hotel for—IMDB some seconds of silent tracking as I remember it before "Midnight With the Stars and You" echoed its way onto the soundtrack.—ME
I do remember one detail which fits with your musings. Ullman, in his casual, patronizing manner, goes to great lengths to convince Wendy that EVERYTHING she saw at the hotel that final night was merely hallucination. He cites the police in this judgement, saying they'd remarked that such visions could easily appear to someone as stressed as she had been. It seems to me that by talking AT Wendy, instead of listening (as a truly concerned person would do), Ullman continues to serve the hotel's interests, by presenting a front of denial to the world, the same denial that made him laugh when he talked about Grady.
Mark Ervin remembers the tracking shot to the photos on the wall at the end of The Shining as being "twice as long" before the film was trimmed. Funny, I don't have any recollection of that at all, sir. I maintain that the tracking shot to the photos is the same in either version, music too.
Yet I do have the memory that this tracking shot began at about the spot where Hallorann was axed, whereas now it starts roughly where Jack first approached the reception desk.—ME
I recall the hospital sequence exactly as you described it, except I would say that Danny was catatonic, looking just as he did when he told Wendy that "Danny's gone away, Mrs. Torrance." He sure looked gone in that hospital. I honestly don't remember the musical cues being as you describe, but if they were, then they'd have been most effective. I like the idea of the disorienting silence before the "Midnight" theme began.—legz3
This is interesting. We may be aiding each others memory retrieval on this. I think I'm now remembering Danny as totally motionless and not playing with the toys he's sitting in the middle of. I'm confident he didn't acknowledge Ullman, but whether he had the frown typical of his "Tony mode" I can't say. He had previously broken out of it when he wakes up Wendy repeating "Redrum! Redrum!." The last we see (current version) of Danny he's himself when he runs out of the maze and up to Wendy at the sno-cat.—ME
- Martin Cannon (firstname.lastname@example.org)
But yeah, the excised scene occurred directly after the shot of Jack on ice. The scene is set in a hospital. Danny is recovering, and Barry Nelson explains to Shelley Duvall that people simply can't take the isolation, and that's why Jacko went wacko. From now on, we're told, the Overlook will be completely shut down during winter. I seem to recall that he also made some smug comment about the how Shelley must have been hallucinating toward the end.
Nelson's smarmy CSICOP-ian rationale for all that we had seen evinced more than a few chuckles from the audience. (I saw the film at the Chinese in Hollywood, on opening day.) Presumably, unwanted laughter led to the snippage.
- "Werz Mungle"
I only saw it once on the first day of release and my memory of it is in conflict with reports from other quarters. They claim Barry Nelson rolls Jack's tennis ball towards Danny, or that he at least hands it to him. I have no memory of this as a major detail. As I remember it, Ullman comes down the hospital corridor and finds Danny playing with a nurse at her station and then proceeds into Wendy's room where she is in bed recovering. Ullman then tells Wendy that the police went to the hotel and were not able to find any evidence of the supernatural occurrences she described and they have dismissed her story and Jack's behavior as a case of cabin fever. Dissolve back to the Overlook hallway and the stationary camera starts a slow dolly into the photo of Jack on the wall.
- rique (email@example.com)
After the closeup of jack frozen in the maze there was a slow dissolve to the interior of a hospital corridor, the camera preceeding Ullman as he walked to the nurse's station where he finds Danny, who seems just fine now and is playing a game with one of the nurses. Ullman proceeds to a hospital room where he finds Wendy in bed recouperating from her experience. I think he brought her flowers. Ullman explains to her that the police went up to the Overlook and did indeed find Jack and Halloran dead, but they did not find any evidence of the other weird goings on in the hotel: blood from the elevator, skeletons in the lobby, ghosts, etc. Ullman dismisses her "hallucinations" and explains Jack's murderous behavior as the result of them having experienced cabin fever. Wendy can't believe it. Then there was another slow dissolve to a static shot of the Overlook lobby. As the dissolve ended the camera then began to slowly move toward the far wall and into the closeup of the photo as the film ends now.
Basically, as far as I can recall, it goes from the shot of the frozen Jack, to Stuart Ullman walking down a hospital corridor carrying flowers. He then goes into a room where Wendy is lying on a hospital bed, gives her the flowers and tells her how sorry he is in that Stuart Ullman kind of way. i.e. " I just can't believe it happened here...chck...BUT it did."
He then goes in and sees Danny but I can't remember what he say's to him. It then cuts to the moving in shot of the photograph which ends the film.