A different take on ''Waiting for Guffman''
Scriptless, dirt cheap, full of corn-fed yokels — hardly the makings of movie greatness. Still, the art-house darling Waiting for Guffman now looks to join its forebear This Is Spinal Tap as a rental perennial. And for those who can’t get enough of Guffman‘s improvisational lunacy, there’s another 58 1/2 hours. Learning from his experience with Spinal Tap (itself a flameout-turned-video classic), Christopher Guest reduced the endless footage to an 84-minute mockumentary. ”Whatever didn’t drive the story had to go,” explains Eugene Levy, who with Guest cocreated the story line about a Missouri hamlet’s risible flirtations with community theater. ”Chris swears he’s making us a two-hour tape,” says Catherine O’Hara, who played Sheila Albertson. ”But we all keep asking for the eight-hour tape.” With 97 percent of it still unseen, Guffman could provide a sequel — or soap opera — made purely from outtakes, as its actors attest:
THE BACK STORY The rehearsing of scenes between Dairy Queen princess Libby (Parker Posey) and grease monkey Johnny Savage (Matt Keeslar) hints at past romantic dalliances. ”Johnny was being too loose with his hands,” says O’Hara.
THE LOST CHARACTERS Flamboyant ex-Army man Corky (Guest) brings gifts to Johnny’s folks (Frances Fisher and Brian Doyle-Murray) to persuade them to let their son perform. ”The father talks about seeing action in World War II,” says Levy. ”And Corky says, ‘I saw action too, but it wasn’t necessarily off the base.”’ Editing made the elder Savages walk-ons.
THE MEDICAL DRAMA Denied a higher budget, Corky collapses during a hissy fit, is rushed to the hospital, and demands sedation. ”He was lying there with his toupee not quite on,” recalls Levy. ”And the doctor tells us he’s never quite seen anything like this, other than in some children.”
THE PSYCHODRAMA O’Hara’s meek Sheila seeks revenge on her egomaniacal husband, Ron (Fred Willard), during a game of catch: ”You could see how I threw the ball to him, once in a while trying to hit his head, that this was the saddest marriage.”
THE BITTER END The Albertsons wind up supplementing their pathetic income as Hollywood extras by selling hand cream over the phone. And when he moves to Miami to become an entertainer, Dr. Pearl (Levy) ditches his wife (Linda Kash) and baby. ”Preview audiences didn’t take to that too well at all,” says Levy.
THE SWEET END The final cut shows councilman Steven Stark (Michael Hitchcock) secretly ogle Corky in postshow admiration. According to O’Hara, their love story didn’t end there: ”We actually shot an ending where those two ended up together in New York.”