Best director’s cuts

Metropolis

This week’s big Stuff.tv list is all about cinematic director’s cuts. I’m quite chuffed with this one, having come up with the list, whittled down the entries and written up several of my favourite films.

My contributions to this week’s list were…

  • Orson Welles’ classic noir Touch of Evil (yes, not technically a director’s cut as it was completed posthumously – but it was based on an exhaustive memo by Welles).
  • Metropolis – this is almost certainly the longest time elapsed between a film’s release and the release of the director’s cut, with Fritz Lang’s original version of the film languishing in a museum for 80-odd years. Had the original cut been in wider circulation all that time, I have no doubt that excised characters like the creepy Thin Man (above) would by now be every bit as iconic as the robot Maria.
  • Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut – chopped together from Donner’s footage, his replacement Richard Lester’s footage, and even bits of screen tests, it’s a bit of a Frankenstein’s monster. It works, just about. I still think they should’ve recut the end of the first film to make it fit with the Superman II Donner cut (and to avoid duplicating the “turning back time” ending across both films).
  • Léon – Stuff cut all the accents out of my copy, so I’m going to put them in here. Léon: Version Intégrale. Hah.
  • The Abyss – the film that started James Cameron’s obsession with adding new footage to his films – culminating in the extended cut of Avatar, which is 178 minutes long, for the love of God.
  • The Empire Strikes Back – Far and away the best of the Star Wars Special Editions, because it keeps its changes (mostly) subtle and unobtrusive. That bit where Darth Vader walks back to his shuttle should’ve stayed on the cutting room floor, though.

Best director’s cuts

Rocketeer

Rocketeer

I love Rocketeer, it’s pretty much the perfect post-Indiana Jones adventure movie. And it’s a terrible shame we never got a sequel – though we did at least get another retro comic-book adventure movie from director Joe Johnston in the form of Captain America: The First Avenger.

Here’s a piece I wrote about Rocketeer for Stuff.tv a while back.

Rocketeer

And another thing…

The Great Train Robbery (1903)

Further to my thoughts on remakes – you often get people complaining about remakes like they’re a new thing, a modern blight on the cinema.

But here’s the thing: one of the first ever narrative films was Edwin S Porter’s The Great Train Robbery (1903). In 1904, as the link above makes clear, Siegmund Lubin released a knock-off remake – making him essentially The Asylum of the early days of the cinema. In 1905, Porter himself released The Little Train Robbery – a parody of the first film with kids taking the place of the bandits.

Film remakes are as old as the cinema itself.

And another thing…