Terry Southern on the missing pie fight scene from Dr. Strangelove
Well, in the missing sequence, after taking one step he falls flat on his face and starts trying to get back in his wheelchair, but each time it scoots out of his grasp. Meanwhile, parallel to this action, in another part of the War Room, the Russian Ambassador is caught again trying to take pictures of the “Big Board.” George C. Scott nails him, and again they’re fighting in the War Room. So Scott exposes about eighteen micro-mini spy cameras on the ambassador—in his wristwatch, cuff links, tiepin, on his ring finger, everywhere. But Scott says, “I think these are dummy cameras. I think he’s got the real McCoy concealed on his person.” And he turns to the detail of MPs who have come in. “I want you to search him very carefully, boys,” he says, “and don’t overlook any of the six bodily orifices.” And the Russian ambassador goes through this quick calculation, “vun…two…” and then when he reaches the last one, he freaks. “Vhy you Capitalist swine,” he says, and he reaches out of the frame, gets something and throws it at George C. Scott. I should mention that we have previously established a huge catering table that was wheeled in, laden with food, so they don’t have to leave the War Room during this crisis. The ambassador reaches out of the frame, grabs something from the table and throws it at Scott. We don’t see what it is immediately but Scott ducks, and this big custard pie hits the president in the face. The mere indignity of this is so monstrous that the president just faints dead away. Scott grabs him and keeps him from falling, and he’s holding him in his arms like a martyred hero. “Gentlemen,” he says to the others, “our President has been struck down in the prime of his life…by a custard pie. I say Massive Retaliation!” And he throws something at the ambassador. It misses and hits one of the other Joint Chiefs. So this immense pie fight begins—between Army, Navy, Air Force—a bit of interservice rivalry, if you grasp the innuendo. Now while this pie fight is going on, Strangelove is still trying to get back into this wheelchair, moving like a snake across the floor of the War Room, the chair continuing to scoot out of his grasp each time he reaches for it. Finally he gets to the end of the War Room, and the chair is against the wall—it looks like he’s got it this time. But it scoots away again. So Strangelove pulls himself up so that he’s sitting with his back against the wall. He’s watching the pie fight in the distance. Then his hand—his uncontrollable right hand—reaches inside his coat and comes out with a Luger pistol and points it at his head. He grabs his wrist with his other hand and grapples for the pistol, which goes off with a tremendous bang. Then cut to the long shot of all those generals in freeze-frame. Strangelove says, “Enough of these childish games. We have work to do.” So they all stand there staring at him in complete silence, until Scott recognizes this is the guy to get tight with, so he walks all the way across the War Room floor, and says, “Doctor, may I help you?” And he helps him into his wheelchair. He starts pushing him back across the floor, which by now is so deep in custard pie it resembles a beach—and sure enough we quickly pass the president and the Russian ambassador sitting there crosslegged like two children, doing sand castles, making mountains. And Strangelove says, “Ah, too bad. Apparently their minds have snapped under the strain. Perhaps they’ll have to be institutionalized.” And so Scott continues pushing him across to this group of officers and CIA types, who are so covered they look like ghosts. And he says, “Well, boys, I think the future of this great nation of ours is in the hands of people like Doc Strangelove, and I think we owe him a vote of thanks. Let’s hear it for the good Doctor.” And in a really eerie (whispering) voice, they go, “hip-hip hooray, hip-hip hooray.” Then he continues pushing him across the floor as they start singing, “For he’s a jolly good fellow, for he’s a jolly good fellow.” Now this counter camera pulls up so you’ve got this long shot of the ultimate allegiance between this mad scientist and this general from the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Then they cut to the explosion and the song “We’ll Meet Again” comes in—and the credits rise.