‘There was a four-hour cut that I actually loved, but it doesn’t exist now, and that’s a shame’
Roger and James Deakins appeared on this week’s episode of the Team Deakins podcast and were interviewed by Oscar-nominated cinematographer Greig Fraser (Dune, Lion, The Batman).
The Oscar-winning cinematographer, Roger Deakins, revealed that he shot four-hour footage ofThe Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, which was trimmed down to a 160-minute cut for a theatrical release by the Warner Bros.
“There was a four-hour cut that I actually loved,” he said. “I read somewhere that it was shown at the Venice Film Festival in its four-hour version, but it doesn’t exist now, and that’s a shame. The studio’s problem was they thought there’d be more train robberies, and Brad Pitt would be more of a traditional Western outlaw. And when Brad was killed and the film progressed in this way that followed Robert Ford…and the way he wasn’t celebrated like he expected to be later in life… of course nobody wanted that.”
Warner Bros released the film in 2007 to poor box office results. The Brad Pitt starred was declared an instant flop. However, over the years, Jesse James has acquired a steadily growing cult following and often topped the list of best looking 21st century films.
“We shot all these scenes. I thought it was a wonderful tapestry of all these things that happen to these characters that we set up in the first half of the movie,” the veteran cinematographer said.
In a September 2019 interview, Deakins urged The Criterion Collection to get their hands on the extended Jesse James cut. The cinematographer added, “I would really like to see the long version, the first cut that I saw, released on Criterion. That’s what I’d hope for. It was over three hours. I don’t think it ever will, because last time I talked to Andrew about it he was quite happy with the version that got released. But I still remember that first early cut that I saw and it was pretty stunning.”