How Does Substitution For Profanity Work?

Yesterday I watched the Goodfellas on ION Television and it was rated “only” TV 14. And it was fairly true for most of it-only “hell” but suspisciously a lot of “freaking”. So I suspected it was a substitute for the most infamous term for copulation and Wikipedia bears this out, stating it was said about 300 times. So how does the substitution occur? Is it the same actor who reenacts the scene twice or is just the word substitute (thus allowing fanatics to detect the true word by the movement of the lips)?

Nevermind. The answer was just at the bottom of the Wiki article. I request the Mods to close this

Does it? All I’m seeing is a bit about Scorsese having directed the TV version himself. Did they bring back the original actors so they could say “freak” 300 times?

I suppose the scenes were filmed simulteneously.

It depends. Some people will shoot theatrical and broadcast versions simultaneously (they did that with Sex & the City (the series), I believe). The best example I can think of is the goofy sketch movie Amazon Women on the Moon. There’s copious nudity if you catch it on HBO, but on Saturday afternoons on UHF (back when such a thing existed) those women were all wearing bras.

Sometimes they won’t shoot the scene with both lines, but they’ll have the actors record additional dialogue which can be substituted; you can sometimes see a mismatch between the spoken lines and the actor’s mouth. (Although sometimes they do this with dialogue for completely different reasons, such as they decided a concept needs a little more exposition, or they came up with a good joke after they’d finished principal photography.)

Occasionally the broadcast version will substitute in new dialogue that was recoded later by someone trying to sound like the original actor. This is pretty rare these days because studios are more sophisticated about the many different outlets you can sell a picture. When I was a little kid, movies appeared in theaters, and then they appeared on Saturday afternoons on UHF stations, and that was about it. The broadcasts were really seen as gravy. and nobody put too much effort in making them translatable – that was the station’s problem.

Also back then you’d just have the vocal track drop out sometimes. I once caught two minutes of some Elliot Gould movie in which the dialogue stops for like 30 seconds because it’s, presumably, all swears. The only artifact where you still see this with some frequency is when the original line is “god damn,” and the “god” part gets elided.


I remember reading an article way back when where John Belushi was doing this. He was dubbing a second version of his dialogue for the TV broadcast of a movie he was making. There was a question about whether or not they needed to dub out a word (I think it was bastard) and Belushi said it was okay because they were able to use it on SNL.

This is done routinely when filming on location. See ADR. Despite the name there’s nothing automatic about it.

A little fun fact. Das Boot was dubbed in english and german by the same actors. Not to often you see that. The set was so loud they had to dub themselves over the language they were already speaking