That's the Fact, Jack

Amazon Prime has Stripes -The Extended Version

I was excited to find out one existed. I had seen some images of P.J. Soles floating around the internet. I knew they weren't from any cut I had ever seen, but they sure looked like the same movie. Plus, I was really fond of Stripes...

- at least the first half. Stripes is kind of like a comedic precursor to Full Metal Jacket, in that the training camp is what stands out. In basic training, the loveable asshole versus the system schtick works. Plus, having seen it as a teen, that's where all the topless/naked girls are. An important factor at the time, as I recall.

The bit gets tired once our heroes con their way into a cushy European assignment. The production drops off as fast as the cuteness of John Winger playing G.I. Joe disapoears with real bullets.

That is what piqued my interest in the extended cut. Maybe there was some character development that fleshed out the roadtrip/international incident second half of the movie. Maybe at least there were some jokes that aged better than the ones on screen. Or maybe there were more Bill Murrayisms to sprinkle into my vocabulary. 

Here is what got left on the editing floor.

John makes a couple of clunky Winnebago jokes in the apartment. John thinks Army dudes get the girls because of driving Winnebagos - that didn't even make sense as foreshadowing.

Speaking of the EM-50, Warren Oates is the best part of the second half, except in the deleted scene where the unit has to load ammo onto the "heavily armed recreational vehicle." Sgt Hulka sticks Winger and Zitsky with Winnebago guard duty while everyone else has the weekend off. Why? Because he just doesn't like them. All this does is fill in some blanks we could take care of ourselves (like when George Lucas added shots of a small ship flying to a big ship between Vader saying "I'm going to my big spaceship" and then being seen on it. We know he didn't beam up, but we don't get value from the space-Uber shots). It also tells us what we knew from the first day of Army training (sir). Hulka's not a fan 

We do get to see where those other Stripes-looking boob shots you can find on the internet came from.  Newsflash: Stella is sultry - for a minute, but that giggle just grates. Winger is as much of a goof in the bedroom as in the rest of his life.  The scene definitely does not get bogged down in emotion or romance. It's almost like Winger is completely insecure and has to resort to diving onto and flopping around on the bed and awkwardly dry-humping Stella as a joke. I'm glad I didn't see this scene before my first time with a woman.

Louise and Zitsky get their "romantic" hotel moment too. It's not as sweet as at General Barnicke's. She says he's weird or something. It doesn't add anything except to suggest some oral sex is in Russell's repertoire - a racy thought fot that era (1981) and target market (barely 18 male virgins like me). Fun fact though - Russell would drown.

Nostalgia for the MPs notwithstanding, I was starting to hate Winger. Russell was turning to milquetoast.

Then it got worse for Zitsky. After the four board the EM-50 and hear the distress call, the added scenes show that they then disembarked and walked around the hotel, listening to Russell vacillating about invading Czechoslovakia. John gets him on board with the trip by claiming they will drive over just take some pictures and then call it in to military authorities to handle.

So here's the skinny. The theatrical version peaked early with the funny and then held on. The iconic lines were up front, but the clunkers crept in more and more as the movie progressed (schnitzel/schnauzers and so forth). The motor pool speech isn't great oratory, just rehashed early 80s Bill Murray riffing.

These extra scene are worth seeing once. That way you're not left wondering if the movie would have been better if it were longer. Uh, no. Nope. No way. That's the fact... Jack.


larry thorson