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Criterion 4K set with Theatrical / 50th Ann. / Final Preview Cut


The Covenant

The Truman Show

Needful Things

Scream 6

The Last Starfighter

Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid


  • Final Preview (Criterion)
  • Turner Preview (Warner)
Release: Jul 08, 2024 - Author: Muck47 - Translator: Muck47 - external link: IMDB

Comparison between the Final Preview version on Disc 2 of The Criterion Collection's US 4K/Blu-ray set and the Turner Preview version on Disc 2 of Warner's DVD edition

12 differences
* 4x additional material in the Final Preview version from Criterion (Blu-ray) with a duration of 3:56 min [without Criterion logo]
* 12x additional material in the Turner Preview version from Warner (DVD) with a duration of 3:48 min


Production history of Sam Peckinpah's PAT GARRETT & BILLY THE KID

In 1956, Charles Neiders wrote The Authentic Death of Hendry Jones and adapted the life story of Billy the Kid. Sam Peckinpah used this as the basis for a screenplay at the end of the 1950s, which was used at least in part in Marlon Brando's One-Eyed Jacks. So when MGM was planning a film version of the material at the beginning of the 70s, Peckinpah was very familiar with it and was happy to tackle a realization according to his ideas.

The casting of Kris Kristofferson as Billy dragged on and both the budget and shooting days were cut by the studio. Bob Dylan was actually only supposed to refine the score a little, but in the end he took over the entire soundtrack (in addition to a smaller role in the film) after arguments with Jerry Fielding, who was initially responsible for it. Peckinpah is said not to have been entirely satisfied with Dylan's input. Sam was also in the middle of a divorce at the time and his alcoholism was getting out of hand. It is more or less clear from various statements made by his collaborators at the time that the number of really productive daily hours spent working on Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid was significantly lower than on his other masterpieces. No doubt one or two of Peckinpah's personal experiences also flowed into last-minute changes to Rudy Wurlitzer's screenplay, which gave Garrett's character a more melancholy touch. MGM president James Aubrey also increased the pressure and Roger Spottiswoode, among others, was asked to complete the final cut in less than two months.

In May 1973, Peckinpah was able to present a "preview version", which MGM clearly rejected. As a result, the film was literally snatched from him and there was a legal dispute over the theatrical release in July 1973. The reviews were not exactly sympathetic and there was an unexpected, apparently happy ending in 1988 when a preview version was shown on Turner Classic Movies (TCM) in the USA. Misleadingly, this was also sometimes marketed as a "directors cut", although Peckinpah was never able to have a final say in the editing room, as described. It was released on laserdisc and also as a bonus on the 2-disc DVD Special Edition in 2005. The main film on this release was another version reconstructed by film restorer Paul Seydor, which set its own priorities compared to both the theatrical version and the Turner preview version and is referred to as the "Special Edition".

The 4K premiere has been available in the USA from The Criterion Collection since July 2, 2024 and there are three versions to choose from. In addition to a new scan of the theatrical version (which has not been released since VHS times), the "50th Anniversary Edition" as the main version of the release is virtually a further development of Seydor's 2005 Special Edition.

In addition, a new final preview version can be admired on a bonus disc, unfortunately unrestored and in rather mixed quality. Editing-wise, it is very close to the Turner preview version, but has a few more deviations of its own. As we learn in the highly recommended documentary "Passion & Poetry: Peckinpah's Last Western" by Peckinpah uber-fan Mike Siegel in the bonus material, this cut was stolen from MGM's screening room by Peckinpah's close confidant Chalo Gonzalez, whereupon Sam kept it privately hidden under the title "The Racquet Club". A real sensation, so to speak, about which Gonzalez, who sadly passed away in 2020, also speaks out himself in the documentary.


Overview of the main releases and all versions

From the history just described, the following main versions and some further details of the corresponding releases can be summarized:

1. Turner Preview - 122 min (Theatrical / NTSC speed or 118 min PAL)
An unfinalized cut delivered by Peckinpah shortly before release, which has been in circulation since 1988. Based on surviving notes, many consider it to be at least the closest to a "director's cut". After releases on VHS and laserdisc, it was also placed on Disc 2 of e.g. the German/American DVD.

1a) UK Turner Preview - 121 min or 117 min PAL
In the UK, a few BBFC censor cuts were necessary for the DVD release.

2. Final preview - 121 min (Theatrical / NTSC speed)
Also not final, but at a later stage than #1 a slightly refined cut version by Peckinpah. Allegedly stolen from the MGM archives by Peckinpah confidants and first exploited on the Criterion Blu-ray/4K UHD released in 2024 in the USA.

3. Theatrical version - 105 min (Theatrical / NTSC speed)
Trimmed by a few scenes compared to the preview version (against Peckinpah's will), but at the same time equipped with a little additional material. This version was virtually no longer available after VHS evaluations. It is included again as a new scan on the 2024 US Blu-ray/4K UHD.

4. 2005 Seydor Special Editon - 116 min (Theatrical / NTSC-Speed or 111 min PAL)
Reconstructed on the basis of Peckinpah's notes and in part apparently also simply his own editing decisions. This has since become a standard version, so to speak. Main film on Disc 1 of various DVD releases.

4a) UK Special Edition - 115 min or 110 min PAL
This version of the film was also slightly censored for the UK release (analogous to #1a) due to the BBFC.

5. 50th Anniversary Edition - 117 min
A modification of the 2005 reconstruction, more or less refined by Seydor and editor Spottiswoode, with further new adaptations (see screenshot of the description in the booklet as an appendix). It combines various editing decisions from previous editions. Presented for the first time on the 2024 Blu-ray/4K UHD from Criterion in the USA.

The differences between the two preview versions

In view of the many different versions, it is of course not so easy to get to the heart of what makes the version in focus for each report special. Here we will concentrate on the Final Preview Cut, now included for the first time on the Criterion 2024 release as a bonus Blu-ray, which was apparently made after the cut that was released on TCM in 1988 and included on Disc 2 of the DVD editions from 2005 onwards. Accordingly, it makes sense to compare it with this previous preview version, as the editing process still largely corresponds to it and does not yet show the massive interventions of the theatrical version.

First of all, it should be emphasized what can be seen exclusively in this version. On the one hand, this is the only version to include a short nude scene, which was probably a victim of censorship at the time and was also not included in the 2005 reconstruction. In addition, instead of the end credits, only here you can see a short epilogue text, which was apparently written by Sam himself. The meeting between Pat and his wife Ida (Aurora Clavel), which is already included here and missing from the Turner preview version, is not exclusive, as it was also included in the 2005 reconstruction. The fade-ins with year/place numbers in the flashback sequence at the beginning are present in both preview versions, although they look slightly different here.

Otherwise, it is mainly noticeable that a few scenes have been tightened up compared to the Turner preview version - as happened in other places in both the theatrical version and the 2005 special edition. Mr. Horrell's little story about his dead son is of course conspicuous here, as is the much longer conversation between Pat and Kip McKinney. In addition, there are several insignificant cuts that hardly any die-hard fan of the Turner version will seriously miss.

All in all, the new preview version is definitely a worthwhile addition - above all, of course, because of the exclusive material and the additional scenes that can be seen in both preview versions compared to both the theatrical version and the Seydor cut versions. This includes, for example, the fact that Bob Dylan's "Knocking in on Heaven's Door" cannot be heard in either preview version during Sheriff Cullen Baker's death scene. More on this later in the corresponding reports.

It is disappointing though that Criterion has not restored the final preview cut as well as the theatrical version and the new 50th Anniversary Cut on Disc 1. As also noted in the booklet, the version is clearly seen as "raw" bonus material and so the yellow tint is a great pity, especially in comparison to the old Turner preview version. Finally, for more information, please refer to the essay by Steve Erickson available on the Criterion website.

Running times are arranged according to the scheme
Criterion Blu-ray in 23.976fps / Warner DVD in NTSC
The final preview from Criterion still has the label logo at the start.

+ 16 sec

Additional material in the Final Preview

The two overlays in the 1st and 2nd minute have been reworked and appear on a slightly different position in the picture. (Incidentally, this flashback is completely missing in the theatrical version.)

Final Preview (Criterion Blu-ray)Turner Preview (Warner DVD)

Here is also a small picture comparison. Unfortunately, Criterion's newer preview scan has not been color-corrected or otherwise remastered. It has a yellow tint and looks somewhat pale compared to the Turner preview version from Warner, which unfortunately only exists in SD to this day.

Final Preview (Criterion Blu-ray)Turner Preview (Warner DVD)

In the 19th minute, it is quite interesting to see how both versions have the usual marks/scratches in the picture due to the change of reel. The same game continues every 20 minutes for the rest of the movie, although the unrestored Final Preview has much more of these signs of damage in the print.

Final Preview (Criterion Blu-ray)Turner Preview (Warner DVD)

Alternate / Additional material in the Final Preview
36:52-39:37 / 36:36-36:47

After Pat has taken a few steps forward, in the Turner Preview Cut from Warner there is only one more shot from outside, where he is walking towards the house. He hesitates a little and then opens the small gate.

In Criterion's Final Preview Cut, you instead get to see an appearance by Mrs. Garrett (Ida), which was missing from the theatrical version, but is also included in the 2005 Special Edition as well as the 50th Anniversary Edition. Inside the house, the obviously somewhat estranged couple talk to each other. Ida criticizes Pat for hardly being there for her since his appointment as sheriff and threatens to leave him. In response, he angrily pulls down a curtain and says that they will discuss it when the matter with Billy is settled. Ida gives him a less than encouraging comment before Pat leaves the house.

Ida: "They say William Bonney has escaped."
Pat: "He has. And he's in old Mexico, I hope. Where we should be if I had any sense. If not, I'II go after him. Got too much riding on it not to. I figure that's why they elected me. Anyways, I don't give a damn. I brought him in once, I can do it again. If I have to."
Ida: "You might say that you are glad to see me. It's been over a week that you've been gone."
Pat: "I'm sorry. I've gotta go down to the saloon. There's a drunk down there causing a lot of trouble. Goes by the name of AIamosa Bill. Said he rode with the Kid down in West Texas."
Ida: "Will you be blessing this house with your presence for dinner?"
Pat: "Oh, it Iooks Iike it's gonna be a Iong night."
Ida: "It's been an Iong year."
Pat: "Not now."
Ida: "My people don't talk to me. They say you are getting to be too much of a gringo since you've been sheriff, that you've made deals with Chisum. You don't touch me. You are dead inside. I wish you'd never put on that badge."
Pat: "Not now!"
Ida: "Si, ahora! Or I won't be here when you get back!"
Pat: "We'II deal with this...when it's over."
Ida: "I hope he gets away."
Pat: "Well, he won't. There's too much play in him."
Ida: "And not enough in you."

Note: The 50th Anniversary Cut and the 2005 Special Edition show both scenes, so first Pat in front of the gate and then the dialog inside.

Final preview 153.6 sec (= 2:34 min) longer

44:59 / 42:09-42:22

Pat and Wallace go a few steps further after the comment "Commendable notion, Sheriff" and it cuts briefly to Poe. Before Billy enters in the second preview and goes to Eno, we see him riding in and a first shot of Eno.

This is also included in both the 50th Anniversary and the 2005 Special Edition.
12.9 sec

54:02 / 51:25-51:28

After a shot of Pat, the following shot starts earlier and Sheriff Cullen says on screen: "This town's got no hat-size."
In the final preview, this can already be heard above the previous shot of Pat.

3 sec

67:30 / 64:56-65:15

Before Alias can be seen sharpening his knife, we see the carriage and Paco saying goodbye. Billy is watching this.

This bit is included in all other versions, including the theatrical version.

18.9 sec

74:38 / 72:23-72:25

Billy comes riding in the Turner version from a little further back.

2.6 sec

77:32 / 75:19-75:47

The conversation at the dinner table is a little longer in the Turner version: Alamosa stands up after his "We best get to it" and Mr. Horrell talks about his son who was killed.

Mr. Horrell: "Just got through putting up that new cottonwood door. Used the old one for my son, John. He got into a shooting with Olin Carroll. He's buried out yonder."
Billy: "I'm sorry to hear that, Mr. Horrell."
Mr. Horrell: "John was a good hand. Couldn't shoot, though."

This bit is included in all other versions, including the theatrical version.

27.2 sec

92:32 / 90:47-90:52

An additional shot of Billy approaching. In the Turner version, the subsequent rape scene begins an insignificant moment earlier.

4.6 sec

93:39 / 91:59-92:03

After Billy has finished off his tormentors, a long shot is a little longer.

4.7 sec

Additional material in the Final Preview
99:59-100:10 / 98:23

The final preview has a first, more explicit shot of Pat in bed with his playmates. One prostitute caresses another from her butt up to her shoulders. Only then do we see Poe in the hallway, knocking on the door.

Interestingly, this scene really only exists in the Final Preview, it is neither in the 2005 Special Edition nor in the 50th Anniversary.

+ 10.5 sec

103:15 / 101:29-101:30

Probably a master error: The bartender can be seen a moment longer.

1 sec

103:35 / 101:50-103:14

The end of the scene is a little longer. Pat remains in thought for a while and Kip McKinney says: "No, I ain't going."
Pat: "You owe it to me."
Kip: "I do? For what?"
Pat: "For not killing you over at Rosewater. For getting you this job and not seeing you run out of here. For pulling you out of that snowdrift up at Chamas. For coldcocking you over at Stillwater's saloon last fall and saving you from Rabbit Owen's biting off your ear and from just putting up with you for a hell of a lot longer than I ought to."
Kip: "Yeah. Well, I hope they spell my name right in the papers."
We briefly see riders outside.
Back inside, the bartender is still cleaning up: "Breaking up the goddamn furniture. Fucked up all my whores. Shit, I'm gonna get in another business."

84 sec (= 1:24 min)

Additional material in the Final Preview

From 120:08 / 119:57, only the final preview features a text describing the further fate of the characters, which was probably written by Peckinpah himself. The Turner Preview Cut has credits instead, which also run a little longer. In the Final Preview, the song runs to the end on a black background, but there are no credits.

Second Preview 1 sec longer

Final Preview (Criterion Blu-ray)Turner Preview (Warner DVD)

Booklet notes on the versions: