DVD Article

Off the Cutting-Room Floor

Changing their minds -- A list of films where directors later altered edits, including ''Angel Heart'' and ''The Man Who Fell to Earth''

The restored director's cut!'' ''The original, unrated version!'' ''Contains scenes never shown in theaters!'' More and more videos are heralding the recovery of once-scrapped footage. Some recuts subtly improve on a classic (The Last Picture Show disc), while others insert a few racy minutes to raunch up what was once toned down (9 1/2 Weeks). And occasionally, these restorations seem like the handiwork of a compulsive filmmaker who simply can't resist the urge to noodle (The Godfather Part III). Here are some films on video that make the most of their added footage — along with a few whose perpetrators should have left well enough alone.

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
Rouben Mamoulian
(1932)
What Was Restored
17 minutes, most featuring Miriam Hopkins as a London trollop, cut to mute erotic overtones of Jekyll/Hyde split personality.
What Difference It Makes
Hopkins unbridled makes Jekyll/Hyde duality a more dynamic tug-of-war.

Lost Horizon
Frank Capra
(1937)
What Was Restored
23 minutes, several scenes of which have been recovered only as still photos, cut during World War II to tone down pacifist idealism and pro-Asia sentiment.
What Difference It Makes
Restored scenes (including long dialogue between crash survivor Ronald Colman and High Lama Sam Jaffe) better explain Shangri-La.

Red River
Howard Hawks
(1948)
What Was Restored
28 minutes, cut mostly to speed up cattle drive where John Wayne and Montgomery Clift lock horns. Montage fills in 15-year narrative gap. Diary pages replace voice-over narration.
What Difference It Makes
Slower or not, it's the movie director Hawks intended — even if diary pages do spill past edges of TV screen.

Cheyenne Autumn
John Ford
(1964)
What Was Restored
9 minutes of sequence set in Dodge City, featuring James Stewart as comical Wyatt Earp and Arthur Kennedy as Doc Holliday, cut for length.
What Difference It Makes
Sequence restored to full 20 minutes, which proves too much comic relief for otherwise stately epic.

The Man Who Fell to Earth
Nicolas Roeg
(1976)
What Was Restored
22 minutes, cut for length and to avoid X rating: bouts of lovemaking between extraterrestrial David Bowie and earth girl Candy Clark; flashbacks of Bowie and family on their home planet.
What Difference It Makes
Fleshed-out scenes add intensity; flashback scenes add poignance; together they add greatly to this stranger-in-a-strange-land odyssey.

New York, New York
Martin Scorsese
(1977)
What Was Restored
Elaborate 10-minute ''Happy Endings'' production number, featuring Liza Minnelli and a cast of dozens, cut to reduce running time.
What Difference It Makes
Recaps main story (romance between Minnelli and Robert De Niro), with a glitzy gaiety that ironically counterpoints film's outcome.

Once Upon a Time in America
Sergio Leone
(1984)
What Was Restored
90 minutes tracing Jewish mobsters Robert De Niro and James Woods from youth to old age. Overlapping-flashback structure restored, replacing studio's shorter chronological recut.
What Difference It Makes
Long version has infinitely more power and poetry — and despite complex, stream-of-consciousness narrative, makes more sense.

Angel Heart
Alan Parker
(1987)
What Was Restored
10 extra seconds of private eye Mickey Rourke making mad, bare-bunned love to Lisa Bonet while blood drips from ceiling onto his back, cut to avoid X rating.
What Difference It Makes
10 extra seconds of Rourke making mad, bare-bunned love to Bonet while blood drips onto his back. Sometimes more is less.

Originally posted Oct 11, 1991 Published in issue #87 Oct 11, 1991 Order article reprints