I remember watching Beverly Hills Cop on television in the 1980s and wondering why every now and then Eddie Murphy's voice would change slightly, especially when he was upset or stressed.
"What the frick is going on?" he would exclaim.
"What is wrong with these melon farmers?" he would add.
It was only later in life that I realised it wasn't Eddie Murphy's voice. Somebody else had been employed to overdub his expletives with TV-friendly alternatives. This is known as the TV edit, when a film is neutered for television by removing all the gore, sex and swearing.
But this often has unintentionally hilarious consequences. Die Hard presents a particular problem as one of the iconic lines uses a word you definitely can't say on television. I remember watching the film on UK television and Bruce Willis ending his chat with Alan Rickman with the phrase: "Yipee Ki-yay, kemosabe".
Eh? Kemosabe? That's not the line. This was like hearing Clark Gable at the end of Gone with the Wind saying: "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a hoot.''
A search of the internet reveals that in the US, the iconic line in Die Hard 2 became:
Mr. Falcon? Who he?
The oedipal swear word does provide a headache for TV censors and they have come up with some interesting and creative replacements.
Check out this TV edit for Snakes on a Plane:
Monkeyfied snakes? What is that? Also, what on earth is a "Monday to Friday plane"?
Other creative alternatives include "muddy funsters" in a TV edit of Lethal Weapon, the line "motivator, please" in Resident Evil and "you freaking fairy godmother's brother" in The Usual Suspects.
The TV censors can also be quite creative with other words. In the TV edit of the Big Lebowski, the scene where Walter smashes up a car is quite different. As he takes a crowbar to the windscreen he is shouting: "This is what happens, Larry. This is what happens when you find a stranger in the Alps.'' Wow, that sounds more like Polari.
On the DVD extras for Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead, you can see clips from the expletive-free TV versions where people exclaim "peas and rice!" and call each other "prinks".
But, perhaps the masterpiece of this craft is the TV edit of Scarface. It was always going to be unwise to edit a violent, drug-fuelled and expletive-laden film like Scarface so it can be shown on television, but they did it anyway.
Those classic Scarface lines become quite comical. Here are two great examples:
"This town is like a great big chicken waiting to be plucked.''
"Where did you get that scar? Eating pineapple?"
Although, to be honest, the dirty version of that second line never made much sense anyway.
Do you remember any choice TV edits? Post them below. But, remember, keep it clean, muddy funsters.
Follow Charlie Gates on Twitter
Post a comment