This is a comparison between the English-language Theatrical and the Italian Extended versions of Sergio Sollima's "Face to Face" (or "Faccia a Faccia"), as they appear on Explosive Media's 2016 DVD re-release and Blu-ray.
Like the director's previous Spaghetti Western, "The Big Gundown", "Face to Face" didn't get a comfortable treatment on the English-speaking market. Unlike "Gundown", which was edited by Columbia Pictures before being dubbed in its English form, a complete English-language version of "Face to Face" was created, but most English prints run 93 minutes compared to the 112-minute Italian cut (90 and 107 minutes respectively at PAL runtimes). Although uncertain, it would appear that these cuts were requested by the BBFC in 1968 so that the film would receive an "A" rating on its UK theatrical release. To make matters worse, unlike most of the films produced by Alberto Grimaldi, the original negative of "Face to Face" is lost, meaning that restorations and home media releases have been made using prints of varying quality over the years.
Unlike "The Big Gundown", where the cuts serve to tighten the pacing while keeping the essence and themes of the story intact, the cuts in the edited English version of "Face to Face" serve to simplify the plot. However, many of the cuts have the unfortunate effect of rendering developments of the story incomprehensible and confusing. They also tend to lessen the impacts behind the character developments of the film's protagonists, Professor Brad Fletcher (Brett Fletcher in the Italian version) and Solomon "Beauregard" (Beau) Bennet.
When released on DVD in Japan, the movie and its English track were uncut, but the previously-removed scenes were of far lower quality than the remainder of the film. Eureka Entertainment's 2011 DVD for the UK market featured an uncut print of superior quality, but only used the Italian dub (with translated English subtitles) as an audio option. Their reasoning for this, as well as their scrapping of a planned Dual Format DVD/Blu-ray release, was that the materials for the English dub were in subpar condition and would have lowered the quality of the release. A year later, Explosive Media, using Eureka's transfer, released a 2-disc set of the film which included a partially complete English dub, but with most of the removed scenes still missing and covered by Italian audio with English subtitles (oddly, the subtitles for both of Explosive's releases are dubtitles based on the dialogue of the English version rather than a translation of the Italian dub).
In 2015, Kino Lorber succeeded in releasing the film on Blu-ray; however, their HD transfer was taken from an edited American print with English audio. The Italian version was presented as a special feature for the disc in SD. Then, in 2016, Explosive Media announced that they would re-release the film on DVD and Blu-ray as part of their Wild Wild West catalogue, with the HD transfer being taken from Kino Lorber's release. Their English-language press announcement of the new release included the following statement:
"Since no restored HD Material is available for the entire length of the international version, we compromised on an upscaling of some SD Material to fill the gaps, and we are thus happy to announce that the upcoming special edition Blu-Ray release (limited to 1000 copies) will include an integral version of the movie with complete English audio and the international cut restored via upscaled and integrated SD Material. A separate Blu-Ray will include just the US cut. The set is complete with bonus materials and a booklet with liner notes (German). The release is region-code free (as are most our releases)."
Time designations are given as follows:
English-language Theatrical Version / Italian Extended Version
Although this comparison will mostly be made from Explosive Media's latest DVD, additional screenshots from their original DVD will be used in this comparison.
9 cuts = 17 min, 11 Sec (as per PAL running time)
Before the film begins, the Extended Version starts with an opening text about the restoration. This does not count for the overall difference in time.
3:41-6:43 (both versions)
The credits sequence is shown. Although they play at the same time as each other, some variance in the images shown is noticeable. (Note: The Extended Version as it appears on Explosive Media's current DVD uses the English print; the screenshots are taken from their original release. However, the Italian opening is available to watch on the current disc as a special feature.)
14:50 / 14:50-21:12
Professor Fletcher and Bennet spend a stormy night in one of Bennet's hideouts. After lighting some candles and suffering from a coughing fit, Fletcher is ordered by Bennet to remove some floorboards with an axe to find medicine for his gunshot wound. Although struggling to do so due to his ill health, Fletcher eventually removes the floorboards, where he also finds some guns and ammunition.
Fletcher then attempts to use a heated knife to extract the bullet from Bennet's torso. After stabbing Bennet's side, he can't go on, upset at the notion of potentially injuring Bennet. Bennet manages to remove the bullet himself, and declares that he's going to live. (The English audio for this part of the scene was included in Explosive Media's original 2-disc release.)
Later, Fletcher watches Bennet performing target practice, and learns that from when he was 10, Bennet would practice his shooting skills for 2 hours a day. Fletcher then uses Bennet's pistol to shoot a tree trunk, but hesitates when ordered to shoot a rabbit for their dinner. Bennet asks Fletcher if he had ever eaten rabbit before, to which he confirms but states that other people had done the killing so that he wouldn't have to think about it. Both men then spy on Charley Siringo as he approaches their hideout - Bennet wants to kill him, but Fletcher suggests a different method.
Fletcher then takes his first swing at the felled tree trunk.
24:10 / 30:33-30:40
Bennet tells Mrs. Reagen that his killing of her husband is "just business". As Reagen dies, he then walks away from the body.
36:43 / 43:13-45:55
Belle de Winton shows a Confederate Cavalry scarf to Fletcher. It is the only memento she has of her late lover, who was killed at Gettysburg. Fletcher tells her that she should be thankful for finding love, and that not everyone is so lucky. Bennet, overhearing this, upsets Belle further by implying that they have had an affair at least once, damaging the ladylike facade she was presenting to Fletcher. Bennet assures Belle that Fletcher is a "gentleman", to which he states that he's "learning".
Siringo returns to tell Bennet that a sheriff is coming to arrest him. The sheriff and his deputies surround Siringo, Bennet, Maximillian de Winton and Fletcher, but he is promptly shot by Siringo, while the deputies are killed by Jason and Vance as they and Aaron ride into town. A closeup reveals that, like the sheriff's star he keeps as a good-luck charm, Siringo had shot the sheriff through his star. Bennet then says Siringo's name.
43:05 / 52:17-54:01
The shot of Maria and Vance walking away from Fletcher lasts slightly longer.
Rusty Rodgers asks Aaron about the bounty currently offered for him. Aaron dismisses his worries, but Fletcher is in awe of Rodgers, and describes how he has effectively become a legend of the Wild West among cityfolk. He also informs him that the reward currently offered for him is $10,000. Elated, Rodgers thanks him and joins in the dance.
Max then tells Fletcher that Rodgers is a "ghost of the past", as are most of the people of Puerto del Fuego. Fletcher believes that he has never seen anyone seem more "real, happy, alive and free". (The English audio for this part of the scene was included in Explosive Media's original 2-disc release.)
The shot of Jason playing pool begins slightly earlier.
53:29 / 1.04:25-1.08:34
The shot of Bennet listening to Fletcher and Jason lasts slightly longer.
Bennet then orders Fletcher to come outside, apparently challenging him to a duel. Fletcher accepts the duel without question. Bennet reaches for his guns first, but Fletcher starts firing first - until he realises that his gun is unloaded. Bennet questions if Fletcher might have won had the gun been loaded, but Fletcher asserts that his opponent is faster. Bennet then decides that they'll do the bank robbery instead of rescuing Zachary Shawn. Fletcher tells the other Raiders to come back to the tent so he can explain his plan.
Fletcher narrates his plan as we see some of the gang arriving at their positions in Willow Creek - Aaron visits the barbershop, then waits with Jason at the post office while Max rides into town and enters the bank.
The shot of Bennet in his Mexican disguise begins earlier.
54:17 / 1.09:22-1.10:33
Bennet gets pestered by Paco, a peasent boy who wants to know if they are related. He tries to ignore the boy. Siringo watches as the lady who he accidently-on-purpose gave the letter regarding the bank robbery to tries to warn the sheriff, but he dismisses her, thinking the letter to be one of her many petitions to close down the saloon. The lady throws the letter away in anger.
58:17 / 1:14.33-1:14:36
A close-up of Fletcher as he anxiously walks towards the bag of stolen money.
1.04:45 / 1.21:04-1.21:54
The sheriff and mayor of Silvertown discuss Fletcher's userping of power in Puerto del Fuego, and his importing of criminals and gunfighters into Bennet's Raiders. A gang of vigilantes is being formed to attack Puerto del Fuego, and Siringo, who hasn't yet been seen since he began pursuing Aaron, is expected to lead them.
The shot of Siringo riding into Silvertown begins earlier.
1.06:39 / 1.23:47-1.23:50
A group of men watch as one of Fletcher's goons continues to punch Wallace.
(On Explosive Media's original 2-disc release, the groan Wallace makes offscreen is unique; on the current release, it is a repeat of his groan from a previous part of the scene.)
1.29:17-1.29:32 / 1.46:29-1.46:43
A title card with "Fine" (Italian) or "The End" (English) is shown. The Italian card fades in, while the English version fades in and comes towards the screen. (Note: As with the opening credits, the Extended Version as it appears on Explosive Media's current DVD uses the English title card; the screenshot of the Italian title card is taken from their original release.)
Here is a slightly more comprehensive image comparison of Explosive Media's two DVD releases.
2-Disc Release (2012)
Wild Wild West Release (2016)
Scene from the Italian version
2-Disc Release (2012)
Wild Wild West Release (2016)