Pat Garrett And Billy The Kid: Three Films, One Man's Opinion... Comparing The Three Different Cuts(Now With Screenshots)

  1. Sam Peckinpah, 1973: There are now 3 versions. There is a rough directors cut(meaning it was never really fine tuned) which is now called the 1988 Turner Preview Edition and is available on vhs and on the second DVD of the new release. It is called the Preview Edition because it was just that, the preview cut Peckinpah put together under his own power to show the producers in post-production. It is also as far as Peckinpah ever got to bring it without the studio cutting it to pieces and Peckinpah eventually called for his name to be removed from the picture. The Preview cut is the cut Peckinpah screened for friends and family for the 10 years between finishing the film and his death, it was revived from his own personal copy of the film. The only difference is that somewhere along the way when they were putting together the television version they cut the scene between Garrett and his wife and never put it back in. So other than that one scene the preview cut really is the preview cut. The version the studio hacked to pieces and Peckinpah wanted to be removed from became the theatrical release which was canned by critics and fans alike, which I have seen on television, and I must say is the worst version, but not a horrible film. Even hacked up it's still a great movie, I mean it is all peckinpah footage. The third and most recent version is the version Paul Seydor(hollywood editor of such 'masterful' editing such as that of "turner and hooch", "tin cup", and "barbershop 2"... he also wrote a book on Peckinpah and is actually quite knowledgable on the subject) put together called the 2005 Special Edition Cut for the dvd release. Unfortunately because the Preview Cut is the only cut Peckinpah ever had a hand in Paul Seydor simply speculates what would constitute a final definitive cut of the film and on the dvd commentary he defends most of the changes as simply being choices he made based on what works in hollywood and what doesn't, because he's a hollywood editor. Worst of all, for some reason, Seydor believes this is in line with what Peckinpah would have done had he been able to make a final cut. Yet in my opinion he couldn't be farther from what Peckinpah would have done with this film and he only takes large bounds back from the '88 Turner Preview Cut, which is the best of the bunch. The rest of this will illustrate the difference between the two versions available on the dvd... the '05 version and the '88 preview version.
  2. DISCLAIMER: I should point out that at times the way I word things give Paul Seydor too much credit(or I should say discredit). Most of the changes pointed out on this list are changes that were made from the preview cut to the theatrical release(among others). Seydor speculates which changes Peckinpah would have made had he been given the power to cut his own theatrical release from the prematurely edited Preview Cut. That is to say, with the exception of a few changes, for the most part there are two versions of every scene. One from the preview cut and one from the theatrical. The changes listed on this list are the ones Seydor chose to take from the theatrical version(which Peckinpah had little control over, but was much more polished) and inject them into the Preview Cut(which Peckinpah had complete control over but was rushed). Therefore, the scenes in which I disagree aren't exactly complaints about Seydor's personal editing skills, just a disagreement on which version of the scene he chose.
  3. The Credit Sequence

  4. '05 Special Edition Cut:
  5. Here is where I believe Seydor made his biggest bonehead, no way in hell this is the way he would have cut it, mistake. He decides to shorten the first of the two bookend Garrett death sequences, and can the second one completely. Here the death sequence is shortened and there is less chicken target practice and the credits are changed from Wild Bunch-esque credits to some shitty looking airbrushing of scenes later in the movie(shown above). Why is this such a travesty? Mainly because the credit sequence used in this version was only put together because, much to the dismay of Peckinpah, the studio canned the bookend structured Garrett death sequences completely and instead made a whole new credit sequence without Peck's involvement at all... so why put it in there at all? Stupidity.
  6. Turner Preview Cut:
  7. Wild Bunch-esque(but better in my opinion) credit sequence(shown above), with de-colorized freeze frames that capture the action and a great signature "directed by Sam Peckinpah" freeze frame just after important hard ass dialogue where Garrett first threatens the kid. It also has a much longer and intercut Garrett Death scene with much more chicken target practice, it's all just much longer and melodic and laid back. In the '05 it's shorter, quicker, less intercut action, and is just fodder to get to the shitty credit sequence quicker.
  8. Verdict: Preview Cut by a long shot.
  9. The Cantina Warning Scene

  10. '05 Special Edition Cut: Paul Seydor said on the commentary he cut this scene short because in hollywood it's a known fact that you cut out of a scene at the height of the conversation. Well it's my opinion Peckinpah never got the memo. So Seydor cut out after the kid responds to holly's question with "why? he's my friend".
  11. Turner Preview Cut:
  12. Sticks with the scene for another minute or so and get's some good stuff of Bell walking out to join Garrett after telling the kid he's "playing a losing game".
  13. Verdict: Preview Cut, but only slightly, I don't mind cutting out early, but I like the "losing game" quote from Bell. And I also think you lose the fact that Bell used to run with Billy's gang without it.
  14. The Garrett Ambushes(the first time) Billy Scene

  15. '05 Special Edition Cut: Comes out of the ridiculously bad credit sequence straight into the 3 men waking up without the setup shots shown below. Garrett's presence is unknown until just before the "I ain't afraid of Pat Garrett" line.
  16. Turner Preview Cut:
  17. Has 3 or 4 shots that the '05 edition leaves out. They consist of Garrett's men and Garrett positioning themselves outside the bunkhouse(shown above).
  18. Verdict: Preview Cut, the shots of the men positioning themselves between the huge rocks are some great ones. I really like them anyway.
  19. Ollinger Shotgun And Poker Scene

  20. '05 Special Edition Cut: Identical minus R.G. Armstrong sreaming at Billy "I'll take you for a walk through hell on a spider web"... apparently Paul Seydor simply doesn't like the line, there is no evidence supporting taking it out for any other reason
  21. Turner Preview Cut:
  22. Identical with the above-mentioned line(scene shown above).
  23. Verdict: Preview Cut... no question one of the best lines in the movie(and an improvised one to boot)
  24. Bell Escorts Billy To The Outhouse

  25. '05 Special Edition Cut:
  26. Here they walk through some pigs while Bell tells the story of a horse that "loco'd" on him. There is also a beautiful shot from behind them of the blue sky as they walk toward the outhouse(shown above).
  27. Turner Preview Cut:
  28. While Bell starts the story of the horse that "loco'd" on him there is a shot of two bucking broncos(shown above) instead of the two shots with the pigs mentioned above.
  29. Verdict: '05 Cut... simply better shots, and the horses are shown in almost identical shots a few minutes later.
  30. Garrett's Wife Scene

  31. '05 Special Edition Cut: Has it. The only no-brainer as far as inclusions go for Paul Seydor, the rest are debatable.
  32. Turner Preview Cut: Doesn't have it, but really should have just been put back in. It should be there because it was only a goof years back that kept it out.
  33. Verdict: '05 Cut, but only slightly. Even though it should be in the preview cut, it's not essential. I've even grown to like seeing Garrett walk up to the gate, open it, and then cut away to later on... the way he opens the gate is all that is essential, but it's still a good scene to have in.
  34. Billy Rides Back To His Gang Montage

  35. '05 Special Edition Cut: Doesn't have a shot of billy filing down a bolt in his leg chains.
  36. Turner Preview Cut:
  37. Has a shot where Billy files down his leg chains until they are useless(shown above).
  38. Verdict: '05 Cut, It's really not needed.
  39. Cockfight Lead-In

  40. '05 Special Edition Cut: Just before Garrett meets Sherriff Baker(pickens) he has a run in with a guy they both know at a cockfight. Two shots of the cockfight are intercut with Garrett taunting the guy. In this cut each shot is basically cut in half, cutting down on the gore and cutting what looks to be a death-blow.
  41. Turner Preview Cut:
  42. Longer shots of the cockfight(shown above).
  43. Verdict: Turner Preview... The more cockfight the better.
  44. Picken's Death Sequence

  45. '05 Special Edition Cut: Both versions identical only this cut has "Knockin' On Heaven's Door" with the lyrics and all, but cuts out L.Q. Jone's wonderful line "paris, france" as a final answer to where the kid is.
  46. Turner Preview Cut: Like I said Identical visually, this one has just the guitar, bass, and the singers "ooo"ing over and over again. Oh and it has L.Q. Jones' final line
  47. Verdict: Push... I prefer the lyrics only slightly(I really like the lyric-less death sequence on it's own as well, more than most), what makes it a push is the '05 leaving out the "paris, france" line. Otherwise I'd take the '05 sequence over the preview one.
  48. The River Scene

  49. '05 Special Edition Cut:
  50. The only two differences between the two cut's is the location and the lead in shot of the clouds and trees(we drop down behind Garrett sitting at the bank of the river)(shown above). The location in the film in this cut is before Holly's death(the one where Dylan reads off food labels). Seydor's reasoning behind this was that after Garrett shoots Holly the movie goes into a tailspin towards the final showdown and this lighthearted scene sticks out like a sore thumb.
  51. Turner Preview Cut:
  52. In the preview cut this scene is located after Holly's death and starts with a shot from Garrett's front on the river bank, identical to the '05 cut from there on, but without the drop down shot to start it off.
  53. Verdict: Push... This is a tough one. Anything that makes this wonderful scene longer is a good thing. So the extended lead-in drop down shot is a plus, and Seydor actually makes a good case for putting it earlier in the film. But why fix it if it ain't broke, I never once thought "hey that shouldn't be there" when I first saw the Preview Cut. In fact Peckinpah injects 2 or 3 lighthearted scenes into the tailspin towards the final showdown... all of which seydor either removes completely or just removes the joke. So the lead-in and the changing location offset each other.
  54. Lemuel Talks To Garrett Scene

  55. '05 Special Edition Cut: This is a scene where Lemuel(the owner of the bar where Garrett kills Holly) is talking to Pat about a whore named Bertha after Garrett sends Poe off and before Holly shows up. In this cut they remove the joke at the end about cowboys only needing "loose boots, a tight pussy to play with, and a warm place to shit".
  56. Turner Preview Cut:
  57. Identical but with the line about the three things cowboys need.
  58. Verdict: Push... it's a funny line, but odd enough to be a bit awkward.
  59. The Outpost Scene

  60. '05 Special Edition Cut: Seydor decides to can the outpost scene with Dub Taylor where Poe beats Billy's location out of a couple of old men. Instead he favors a later scene where a whore named Ruthie Lee informs Garrett directly of Billy's whereabouts.
  61. Turner Preview Cut:
  62. Includes the scene(shown above).
  63. Verdict: Preview Cut... it's another one of those lighthearted out-of-leftfield scenes that Seydor took out or changed simply because he thought it disrupted the flow of the film, which at this point is heading towards the finale. Personally I think this was a conscious decision by Peckinpah to drag out the suspense. It's a very episodic western, you don't take out certain episodes simply because it gets you to the finale quicker.
  64. Brothel/Saloon Owner Scene

  65. '05 Special Edition Cut: Simply cuts out half of the conversation between Garrett and the Owner.
  66. Turner Preview Cut: Has a longer conversation, including some funny dialogue about going down to the Mayor's office and how many whores it takes Garrett to get off.
  67. Verdict: Preview Cut... again it's just lighthearted stuff that doesn't need to be cut.
  68. The Ruthie Lee Scene

  69. '05 Special Edition Cut: Seydor puts it in the film as an alternative to the Outpost scene with Dub Taylor. Basically a whore who spent a night with Billy recently tells Garrett where he is instead of Dub Taylor telling Poe.
  70. Turner Preview Cut: No Ruthie Lee Scene.
  71. Verdict: Push... I could do with or without the Ruthie Lee scene. But if it means getting rid of the Outpost Scene then no thanks. So either both in, or just Outpost in, could go either way.
  72. Peckinpah As The Undertaker Scene

  73. '05 Special Edition Cut:
  74. Shortened to almost nothing. One line, "well get on with it already". Which almost seems out of place, it seems like there should be more dialogue. In this cut it's simply an offer of alcohol(shown above) one line and done.
  75. Turner Preview Cut: Much more dialogue between the two and some good stuff. Including the undertaker insulting Garrett as he walks away.
  76. Verdict: Preview Cut... Seydor said he cut it because he knew Peckinpah would have saved himself from a horrible performance. Personally I just can't do without the line "when are you gonna learn Garrett? You can't trust anyone... not even yourself, you chickenshit badge-wearing son of a bitch"
  77. Poe Attempting To Cut Off Billy's Trigger Finger Scene

  78. '05 Special Edition Cut: Cuts out Garrett's line "What you want and what you get are two different things" because Seydor thought it was corny. Instead it just has Garrett kicking Poe off of Billy's body.
  79. Turner Preview Cut: After Garrett kicks Poe off of Billy's dead body he says "What you want and what you get are two different things".
  80. Verdict: Push... I don't mind the line(actually I kind of like it)... but it is a tad corny.
  81. Epilogue Garrett's Death Bookend Scene

  82. '05 Special Edition Cut:
  83. Just as Seydor shortened the first bookend, he completely cut the other bookend and for no aparent reason. Peckinpah fought the studio to have the two bookends. So Seydor decides to use the credit sequence the studio made so that they could can the bookends and decides to cut the final bookend. In it's place is Garrett simply riding off into the sunset... It also uses a different song, instead of Billy1 it uses Billy5.
  84. Turner Preview Cut:
  85. After Garrett rides off into the sunset it goes back to the grey-ish Garrett death sequence from the beginning(with different editing). This is set to Dylan's Billy1.
  86. Verdict: Preview Cut... I love the bookends, in fact I think they are the bread and butter of the film. The final one and the way Garrett falls off the wagon is a perfect cap to a great film. And the song is a much better fit than the one used in the '05 cut. Not that the ending without the bookend is bad, I just love the bookend.
  87. Final Changes Made To Preview Cut(in order to make '05 cut) List

  88. favorable(+)... not favorable(-)... push(p)
  89. Abreviated Opening Garrett Death Sequence(-)
  90. Abreviated Chicken Target Practice(-)
  91. Less Intercutting Action Of Opening Death Sequence And Chicken Target Practice(-)
  92. Different Credit Sequence(-)
  93. Abreviated Cantina Warning Scene(-)
  94. Removed Garrett's Men Positioning Themselves Outside First Hideout(-)
  95. Garrett's Presence Unknown Longer In First Ambush(-)
  96. Removed Ollinger "walk through hell on a spiderweb" Line(-)
  97. Bill And Bell Walk Through Pigs(+)
  98. Added Garrett's Wife Scene(+)
  99. Removed Shot Of Billy Breaking His Chains In Montage(+)
  100. Removed "paris, france" Line From L.Q. Jones(-)
  101. Abreviated Cockfight Intercuts(-)
  102. Added "knockin on heaven's door" Lyrics To Pickens' Death Scene(+)
  103. Extended Lead-in Shot To River Scene(+)
  104. Changed Location Of River Scene To Before Holly's Death(-)
  105. Abreviated Lemuel Joke(p)
  106. Removed Outpost Scene With Dub Taylor(-)
  107. Abreviated Saloon Owner Scene(-)
  108. Added Ruthie Lee Scene(p)
  109. Abreviated Peckinpah As Undertaker Cameo(-)
  110. Removed Garrett's "what you want/get" Line(p)
  111. Change Final Credit Song From Billy1 To Billy5(-)
  112. Removed Garrett's Death Scene Bookend From Ending(-)
  113. (+): 5
  114. (-): 16
  115. (p): 3
  116. DVD Picture Quality('05 cut on top, Turner Preview On Bottom)

Author Comments: 

Final Verdict:

Turner Preview Cut... Best of the 3 by far.
'05 Special Edition... Watchable, if you haven't seen turner preview cut and aren't a peckinpah superfan you won't miss anything.
Theatrical Cut... worst, still great.

This is fascinating reading. Good work, and thanks!

Shalom, y'all!

L. Bangs

it's my pleasure... and it's only like a third finished.

now it's finished...

Linked from Wikipedia.

wow... I guess I am now officially a member of the information superhighway... I'm not sure any of my lists deserve a nod on wikipedia, but I've always wanted to say that.

I think that you deserve plenty of nodding [except for the s****y part(s)] and it just goes to show you that intelligence, diligence, confidence and your-two-cents will get its just reward. Hopefully...



Also linked from GreenCine.

Wow, this is fantastic, thank you!

I'm surprised, though, given the overwhelming win for the Turner Preview cut, that you still recommend (to me, at least) that I watch the '05 Special Edition cut. Even though the picture quality of the Turner Preview cut is not as bad as you thought, is the '05 restoration "better enough" to warrant giving it the nod?

Can you do screen grabs from your DVD player? I'd be curious to see a side-by-side comparison of a Turner Preview vs. '05 Special Edition scene that showcases the quality difference (perhaps on an underlit—but not completely black—scene). Might be a nice addition to this article.

Thanks again! Great stuff. Even if I'm back to having no idea which version I should actually watch. :-)

I'm working on getting screenshots... the thing about which version to watch is that I prefer the Preview version but I'm a peckinpah superfan and have an unusual love for movies that most people think drag on and are a bit slow... the one thing I can give Paul Seydor credit for with the '05 version is that it picks up the pace a bit and tighten's up some of the loose ends... the '05 cut may be a more mainstream viewing with the editing being more tight. But being someone who would rather watch Peckinpah's home movies than any film edited by Paul Seydor I enjoy the Preview cut because it's more peckinpah than the '05 cut... it's tough but basically I've come to the conclusion that if you are interested enough to want to watch the inferior dvd quality then you should probably just buy the 2 dvds... and if not then I recomend the 1st disc because of the restoration job done to the quality of the picture and sound(the brilliance of Picken's death scene with the dylan lyrics makes it a tough choice as well)

Cool, thanks again!

yeah looking at these comparisons it's really not as bad as I thought... still too dark though... and the song in the final credits goes a little funky.

I caught a glimpse of a few of the comparisons, thanks! But I think you might have hit a bandwidth limit, as I'm just seeing a bunch of warnings now where the images used to be.

probably, they show up for me... but knowing nothing about computers and how the web works it was unlikely I'd be very successful at hosting photos anywhere

Loved your Garrett article. Boy, you sure musta loved this movie. I liked the bits where Katy Jurado stuffs shells down her shirt and also where the horse "summersaults" after the Kid fires. Garretts "orgy" was fun to watch, and one wonders if the scene Peckinpah shot with himself in the tub wearing wrapround sunglasses and surrounded by the women would have been all together out of place ! (Okay, kidding, he shot that scene to rub Jim Aubrey up the wrong way).
Paco's exit dialogue about building a house in ole Mex was touching and should have been left in. Too bad the Kid just up and leaves Paco's widow to fend for herself.
Pat Garrett is much like the death of Julius Caesar - everyone had a hand in it. I am sure that there will be a Blu Ray or HD DVD version out soon enough. Probably called The Katy Haber definative Version as she was closer to SP than his levis, God Bless him.!!

Are both cuts of the movie anamorphically enhanced, or is it just the 2005 cut?

With all your skill I still have no idea which version to watch only that I should avoid the theatrical version.
But I must admit, you are a clever little rascal and a grand show-off.
Do you sell second-hand cars?

yeah i'm stuck with the same problem, their all such great movies, I only wish they'd edited one exactly the way I wanted.

and thank you... no but I've thought about it.

Wonderful info on perhaps my favorite Western
What is cool here is that not only is it
reflective of the old west changing but it also
captures the flavor of the LA cowboy folkrock scene of say the notorious byrd brothers, kristofferson, dylan, eagles, Band, who were also reaching back to that time; that freedom ... well how do you say it? The sixties is there...
For those who lived thru that time this movie functions not only as the great story which it is but it captures the outlaw character of the late sixties perhaps the last generation of real character actors like Slim Pickens and Chill Wills. For boomers we grew up with those guys
at the Sat cowboy movies. I have the record from
the movie, the soundtrack dylan did i love the
stretched out guitar solo versions; its all about
capturing the mood, flavor, ambiance of a time
which is pretty durn near gone.
How do you find the Preview Directors Cut version to own? Thanks for your work. I guess you know AMC did a documentary on Sam Peckinpah
I believe its about four years old and Kris does the narration?

It's one of my favourite films and overall I entirely agree with you about the superiority of the Preview version. Just a few other thoughts:
- the 2 added scenes in the 2005 version both show Garrett in a negative light, hard/cruel in his dealings with women, which strengthens the contrast with Billy. Since I think the film is much more powerful if there's a strong identification with Garrett I dislike the Ruthie Lee scene, which reduces him to the same level as Poe (or would if there were a version which kept both scenes in). Somehow it never seems from Garrett's general demeanour that there's a real problem about working out where Billy is, rather the problem is about bringing himself to confront him. As Billy says at one point, "I reckon Garrett's given me about as long as he can", suggesting that the "search" is a bit illusory and Garrett doesn't really want to do the deed. So: it feels more satisfying to me if it's Poe who extracts the information by bullying rather than Garrett. The scene with Garrett's wife I can take or leave, but I agree with you that the hesitant push of the front gate already says most of what the scene says (and it mirrors the scene later as he reluctantly walks towards his confrontation with Billy)
- I don't understand what Seydor was thinking of cutting the "Paris, France" line: it's introduced by L.Q. Jones saying to Garrett he'll tell him where Billy is when he's lying on the ground and it'll be the last thing he ever hears. "Paris, France" is the beautiful punchline to complete that idea, and without it the earlier line seems a bit pointless. Regarding the Dylan song I actually prefer it without lyrics, though it's ok either way.
- the Lemuel obscene line: not a big deal, but again an unnecessary intervention, and the 2005 version seems to be obviously missing something when Lemuel finishes "you can't do better than that, can you?" and Garrett's eyes widen slightly. The point is lost through the cut.
- Brothel scene: there should be more of the banter at the start which is simply great fun.
- Editing down Peckinpah's cameo: not a big deal, but as you say there's so little left that it actually seems awkward in the 2005 version, might as well have cut it altogether. And I also like his line to Garrett as he leaves, even if it is a bit contrived.
- "What you want and what you get..." For me this is definitely not a 'push'. It's Garrett's last line in the film, and it sums up perfectly his ambivalent position, still sufficiently powerful to curb the Poes of the world and proud to do so, but also trapped by fate, forced to accept a destiny he would not have chosen. It's also beautifully delivered by Coburn, whose performance never ceases to amaze me however many times I watch the film. Cutting the line is Seydor's crassest blunder so far as I'm concerned, even worse than botching up the credit sequences.
- As someone else mentioned, the 2005 version's big plus is that it has been retouched so that the picture quality is clearly superior to the Preview version. Overall, if you haven't seen the Preview version the Seydor version is perfectly ok, and in the end it's only a very small percentage of the film that's different; but if you're familiar with the Preview version the little imperfections in Seydor's version do grate a bit.

Overall, I still think this film hasn't achieved the recognition it deserves, even if it now ranks in a good few "top 100s". It's still usually referred to as a 'flawed masterpiece', but I have trouble seeing the flaws. There's probably a bit too much of Bob Dylan the actor (though I love his soundtrack), but I really find myself pushed to criticise much else. Yes, it's slow and episodic: it's meant to be slow and episodic. The episodes are all beautifully crafted, with many wonderful details, and the strong identification that's engineered with both the Kid and Garrett lift it to a higher level than the usual good-versus-evil stories we get from Hollywood. So far as I'm concerned it's clearly Peckinpah's masterwork.

I have come to this issue rather late - I never picked it up when first issued. I was always disappointed by the theatrical version which I saw back in ´the 70´s and never really came to appreciate Sam´s vision until seeing the Preview cut.
I would like to thank most of all TCM for getting Sam´s cut back together.That´s the way it should be. Your article comparing the versions is excellent.It could not be clearer which is best although it raises an enormous question - Who appointed Seydor as judge, Jury and executioner on the special 2005 edition ? Just because he wrote a book and made a short doc. on Sam does not give him the credibility or the knowledge on deciding what was or was not on Sam´s mind when he made this movie.I find that the most telling point about which cut Sam prefered is that he constantly used this "director´s/Preview cut" whenever watching/showing it during the last 10 years of his life. The 2005 version should be consigned to the dump. I would suggest that WB restores completely the preview cut (adding the missing scene with Garrett´s wife)and issues it on bluray.
As for an extra audio track - only if they gather together the last remaining major personalities who were there at the time - like Kris K and Katy ect.But not some self appointed expert second guessing what was in Sam´s mind. That is revisionism and just distorts history.

Why can't I see the screenshots?

Amazing article. I just wish it had a quick summation of what the theatrical lacks. I don't want to watch it but it would be interesting to note how they butchered it.

The director cuts of this is up there as one of the most significant revised works along with Blade Runner. After watching the preview I can't imagine it any other way.