It’s not often that I report on something without having exact information surrounding it, but I have stumbled upon something that could be very exciting for fans of historical film epics. When the 150th anniversary of the Civil War came around, a director’s cut of Gods and Generals was finally released after such a long period of time that people had given up hope we would ever see it. Another recent historical film, The Alamo (2004), has also gone many years without even so much as a Blu-Ray release, much less a release of the director’s cut version. With the 175th anniversary of the siege and battle of the Alamo commemorated last year, one would have thought it was a now-or-never type situation, but we heard nothing, not even a whisper. All hope died down yet again…until now. According to Blu-Ray.Com, there is in fact a movie titled The Alamo being released (date and intricate details TBA), but there is some conflicting information as to exactly which film it is. If you visit the page, you will notice that the technical information (production company, year, running time, etc) are for the 2004 John Lee Hancock version, while the cast listed is for the 1960 epic directed by and starring John Wayne. Neither film has ever been released in this format, so it’s anyone’s guess at to which one is coming out now, unless you want to fantasize about a combo pack, which would make everyone happy.
Both films took entirely different approaches to the Alamo story (one was historically accurate and gritty, the other was grand Hollywood flair at its finest), but both have one major thing in common: they were big-budgeted box office failures, which is the reason why they have been neglected for so long, despite Wayne’s version being nominated for seven Academy Awards (winning one), and the newer one containing one of Billy Bob Thornton’s greatest acting performances. Another similarity is that they both have director’s cuts. The original “roadshow” cut of the Wayne film ran 203 minutes, while it was cut down for normal theaters to a running time of 167 minutes, which is the version you will get on the DVD. Despite many showings of the complete cut on TCM, the reason why it has never been released to DVD is that the deleted scenes were in such bad condition that they would stick out like a sore thumb compared to the rest of the film when transfer was complete. If you take this into account, Blu-Ray would seem out of the question, but with transfer technology ever-improving, was a way finally found? If not, I see no reason for there not to be at least a release of the edited version.
As for Hancock’s, the theatrical cut is 137 minutes, and while no one knows how much footage would be restored in a director’s cut, the speculation has been anywhere from 15 minutes to 45. Scenes we definitely know are missing are James Bonham’s ride back into the compound (sadly, the character played by Marc Blucas was reduced so greatly that he did not have a single line in the final cut) and more scenes of the aftermath of battle, such as what happened to Susannah Dickinson and her baby Angelina. There are also deleted scenes included on the original DVD that would no-doubt be inserted back in.
So there you have it: two films, four possible versions. Which one will be coming out? I expect more information will be forthcoming, but that could take a long time, as Blu-Ray.Com creates a page for film when the release is in its earliest stages. They have two different kinds of pages, one which is a film page (which could be for a title that does not even have a release date and might never be released) and one for actual Blu-Rays, no matter where they are in the process. As an example, Schindler’s List has had a page for nearly a year, and still no date has been posted, though we know it is definitely coming out. The Alamo definitely has a film page, so we can rest assured there. For a while, we can have ourselves a guessing game, but at least you’ll know it’s real.