List of films cut over the director's opposition

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At times, movie studios will cut a film, usually to give it a more upbeat ending or to shorten it. Following is a partial list of films cut over the director's opposition.

Year Film Director Notes
1924 Greed Erich von Stroheim Von Stroheim made an extremely long 42-reel rough cut. Under pressure, he shortened it to 24, with the intention of showing it over two nights. Goldwyn producers were still dissatisfied, so von Stroheim sent the film to his friend and fellow director, Rex Ingram, who turned it over to his editor, Grant Whytock. After many more cuts, Whytock quit and new editor Joseph Farnham got the job and cut it even further to 10 reels. Von Stroheim said that the movie "was cut by a hack with nothing on his mind but his hat", and disowned the film as edited by the studio.
1925 The Phantom of the Opera Rupert Julian After its initial preview was poorly received, Universal was advised by Lon Chaney and others to order a reshoot of most of the movie. Julian refused to comply, and left. Edward Sedgwick would direct the reshoot, and the film would be reedited twice before being released.
1932 Freaks Tod Browning MGM cut the film from 90 minutes to just over an hour, against Browning's wishes, because it was too gruesome for test audiences to handle. One woman claimed that it caused her to suffer a miscarriage. The movie's notoriety destroyed Browning's career.
1937 The Road Back James Whale Universal, threatened with a boycott of their movies by the German government, reshot and reedited the film extensively to tone down its anti-Nazi sentiment, and added more comedy. Whale was disgusted at how the studio had caved in to political pressure, and left after completing Wives Under Suspicion. He would return to Universal for one last film for the studio, 1940's Green Hell.
1942 The Magnificent Ambersons Orson Welles RKO cut 43 minutes from the film and added a happy ending while Welles was shooting an unfinished documentary in Brazil.
1951 The Red Badge of Courage John Huston MGM cut 51 minutes from the film and added narration over Huston's protests following poor audience test screenings.
1965 Major Dundee Sam Peckinpah Peckinpah's original cut, which may have been more than four and a half hours long, was edited down to 136 minutes before its premiere. A score that Peckinpah greatly disliked was also added. Following the movie's extremely negative reception, it was cut further, despite the protests of Peckinpah and producer Jerry Bresler, to 123 minutes.
1971 Wild Rovers Blake Edwards Originally intended as a three-hour epic, MGM cut 40 minutes from the film during post production, without Edwards' knowledge or consent. Edwards disowned the finished film and later satirised his battle with the studio in his comedy S.O.B.. Most of the deleted footage was restored for the film's 1986 MGM home video release.
1984 Once Upon a Time in America Sergio Leone Leone had already cut his original 269-minute version down to 229 minutes to appease distributors, but for its American release, it was heavily edited down to 139 minutes against Leone's wishes by The Ladd Company after "disastrous test screenings".[1] It was Leone's last film.
1985 Brazil Terry Gilliam Universal Pictures chairman Sid Sheinberg insisted on dramatically re-editing the film to give it a happy ending and make it shorter, a decision that Gilliam resisted vigorously.[2] Though Gilliam's 142-minute version was shown everywhere else by 20th Century Fox, there was no sign of it being released in the United States, prompting him to take out a full-page advertisement in Variety which said simply:

Dear Sid Sheinberg
When are you going to release my film, "BRAZIL"?
Terry Gilliam[3]

Eventually, Universal released a modified 132-minute version supervised by Gilliam.[4] Sheinberg's 94-minute version was televised. Both U.S. versions and a full-length version are available on home media.

See Also[edit]

Alan Smithee


  1. ^ Terry Paley (August 3, 2012). "Sergio Leone's Once Upon a Time in America is withdrawn from circulation". The Guardian. 
  2. ^ "I feel every cut Terry Gilliam's Brazil letter to Universal (1985)". June 7, 2012. Retrieved September 27, 2012. 
  3. ^ Gillam, Holly; Connor, Michael (June 15, 2011). "Magnificent Obsessions: The timeless dystopian vision of Terry Gilliam's Brazil". Museum of the Moving Image. Retrieved September 27, 2012. 
  4. ^ Paul Risker (September 18, 2012). "Terry Gilliam Retrospective Part 3: The Maverick Expatriate". Retrieved September 27, 2012.