Compared are the European Version (cut), released by Warner Home Video (German Tape, FSK 16), and the US Version (uncut, PG) , released by MGM/UA.
All European Versions about this union drama with Sylvester Stallone as leading actor, loosely based on Jimmy Hoffa's life, are approx. 15 min shorter than the US Version. It's hard to say why, maybe its running time was modified for theaters or VHS (modifications to use a cheaper tape for the VHS release weren't unusual at that time). Even the DVD releases in Germany or UK contain the shorter Version.
As a result of the missing scenes the Eurpoean Version is kind of bumpy. Furthermore some incidents are missing, even though the film refers to these scenes later on, which can be very irritating for the audience. That's why the US Version is the version which should definetely be prefered.
The time index in this comparison refers to the European Version. The remaining difference is a result of the rounding and the PAL/NTSC difference.
Running time European Version (EV): 2:05:21 min (2:02:36 min credits excluded)
Running time US Version: 2:25:18 min (2:22:20 min credits excluded)
16 cut scenes = 16 min 33 sec (NTSC)
Different logos in both versions.
The German Version is considerably longer.
The first missing scene in the EV (followed by the opening credits):
The factory, where Johnny & Abe work, needs a new worker. A lot of unemployed people in front of the gates, a gate opens and everybody rushes in. The foreman announces he only needed one man, decides for a tall black man (presumably because he's standing in front of him), asks for his name to write it down and reacts confused when the black man answers "Dombrowski". That's why he explains he was Polish. The foreman starts laughing and tells him to go in. Then turns around a board on the wall (which reads "Hiring" first and then it reads "No Hiring"), the others are very disappointed. On their way in the foreman explains how everything works. In the meantime the other workers wait to start working, so do Johnny & Abe. Gant explains he would get his paycheck every friday, he had to wait for the supply and unload it, even though he had to work for 14 hrs. a day. He adds he got only paid for 8 hrs. a day and he had to pay for anything he broke because that's company policy. Gann checks the time on his pocket watch and heralds the start of work with a pushy bugle, but the others don't seem very motivated.
Ganz tells Johnny to show Dombrowski what to do. Then he wants the apple back which Johnny took more or less unconsciously before.
Johnny, Abe & their mother at dinner, conversation in a very simple kitchen. Johnny says they had this buzzer in the company which was pretty annoying. He explains he's going to rip it off the wall one day to take it home. The mother tells him not to destroy anything because he finally had to pay for it. Abe adds every company had buzzers and it was no big deal. Johnny replies he wasn't any help for him. Last but not least Mother Kovak tells him not to complain because his friends, his father and Abe never complained as well.
Short scene: Johnny & Abe are are pretty plowed when they arrive at home. Johnny proudly presents the buzzer he had ripped off the wall to his mother while they're standing at the door.
Working routine in Anna's company. The foreman casts an eye at her and says she was four gloves behind. He tries to touch her somehow but she rejects him. Anna shows him the four gloves on the other side of the table which upsets him. He says she had to learn to be more "cooperative" and leaves. Anna thinks she's right, that's why she says to the other women and herself she never was behind and the foremen knew that. The other women react with compassionate looks.
Here the following conversation with Johnny, when Anna has finished work, makes perfect sense. She weeps and Johnny tries to find out why, but he doesn't.
Short scene: Johnny at home, doing some paperwork. Suddenly the phone rings. It's Arthur St. Clair from Consolidated ( who visited Johnny ealier and attempted to headhunt him), who wants to know if Johnny had thought about his offer. Johnny hangs up and rips the cable off the wall.
Extended shot of Max Graham's speech in front of the union members. He wants the members not to let themselves talk in some riot by people who get paid for it. Instead they should always follow the rules and help each other because they could only make profit if the company did.
The reference to Max, who steals money from the union to invest in his wife's toy factory, is almost missing in the European Version.
Johnny travels to Anna on friday evening, even though they will meet on saturday. He asks some local residents in front of their houses to get the address confirmed. Then he knocks at her door and introduces to the people there because it takes some time until sb. opens.
Finally Anna opens the door but she doesn't seem to be amused about his unexpected visit because she's not prepared to go out. Nevertheless Johnny tries to talk her in but she remains stubborn and rejects him. Then it becomes ugly: Anna says she got a headache if sb. knocked at her door to goof her off. Johnny wants to know if her mother was home because he'd rather go out with the "original" if she absolutely didn't want to. That upsets her and she slams the door, Johnny leaves. The other people, who have watched it, are full of schadenfreude.
Later, when Johnny picks Anna up at work and refers to that incident, one doesn't really know what he's talking about in the European Version.
Change of scenery: Johnny returns from his favorite bar. Abe, who's sitting at the table with Molly, asks surprised what had happened, but Johnny doesn't want to talk about the embarassing incident and comes up with some excuses. He leaves the car keys to them and leaves. Abe asks him where he wanted to go but he doesn't react to that. Instead he makes a funny statement about Molly which makes the other people in the bar laugh. Molly wants to know if he always behaved like that and Abe confirms it with the explanation that Johnny was a Gipsy.
Johnny & Anna on their way to the car. Johnny opens the passenger door gentlemen-like and lets her get in, then he gets in as well. That scene is accompanied by sneering comments of the other residents outside. When Johnny has started the car, he waves to the residents in a friendly way, which upsets the mob. Then he shows them his middle finger while he's leaving.
Johnny reconfirms that Max Graham has "his full support", then he lets Abe to the speaker's desk. He reads a telegramm which says another division of the union had assured their help, the telegramm was signed by a high-level union member. The union of the port workers has offered to help, too. The union members start cheering when a good news is being announced. Johnny & Abe hug and come up with some calls for perseverance.
Johnny & Abe travalling through the states, attempting to find new enthusiastic members for the union in all companies that rely on vehicles. New members swear an oath and get familiar with the laws of the union.
In the European Version it almost seems that the union got nationwide influence due to the first strike because of these missing scenes.
Short scene: Johnny practices with Anne, Abe and further family members for the upcoming marriage in the church.
The Kovak family and Abe at the dining table. Anna tells them she had heard lots of things thanks to her shopping expedition, everything would become more expensive. Abe confirms that and mentions the costs for living had been rising for approx. 5 %. Anna replies it would be no big deal if Johnny got his new labor contract with a rise of 8 %. That confuses Abe, Johnny explains he had at least thought about it. Abe is still pessimistic and says they would have to accept a clause that any strikes were forbidden, which would make them incapable of acting.
Then the mother changes the subject, she starts talking about the good old times and they chink glasses.
Johnny, his wife and some friends come out of a restaurant Senator Madison just wants to go in. They have a friendly conversation and when the Senator is almost on his way in, he mentions his relationship to Babe Milano, but Johnny just plays it cool. Anna gives her coat to her husband and says he shouldn't let Madison come close to him, Johnny replies he didn't intend to.
The last part of the scene, which shows Vice & his bodyguard leaving the congress hall, is missing. Then a scene outside: lots of truckers jam the domestic traffic, presumably by order of the union, and honk in protest. Senator Madison & his assisstent are in the middle of the traffic jam. Madison gets out of the car and says all the honking trucks couldn't stop him to convict Kovak.
Due to that scene the Senator's comment in the next scene, where he mentions Kovak had incapacitated the entire city, makes sense.
Missing scene in the European Version: Abe & his bodyguard are shopping, suddenly the shop is being mugged by some goons. They position and keep the customers in check while two of them are getting the money. One of the henchmen apparently searches sb. in the corridors which is being recognized by the bodyguard. So he tells Abe to run and gets his gun out. As a result the bodyguard and Abe on his attempt to escape get shot bloodily, then the goons escape.
This scene makes clear that Milano acted on his threats. Furthermore this is mentioned in Milano's interrogation by Senator Madison because Abe was supposed to testify against the union - in the European Version the audience doesn't really know what's going on.
After Johnny's execution: Zoom to a truck until a sticker on the tailgate, which says "Where is Johnny?", can be read.
An obvious clue that Kovak (more or less) disappeared without attracting any attention. That's why he's considered lost not dead.
Earlier appearance of some freeze-frames which show cheering truckers.
MGM logo in the US Version after the credits.