The versions of this film can be summarised as follows:- The full Italian version runs about 175m- The "International Export" version supervised by Leone runs 161m - this is the version available on VHS, laserdisc and DVD in the UK and USA. The other 14m were never dubbed into English - these additional sequences appear as extras on both the UK and USA DVD releases and the last laserdisc release.- In the UK the theatrical release ran only 148m due to distributor cuts and censorship cuts - the main distributor cut was the removal of the entire scene with Eli Wallach in the gunshop; the censors hacked about 2m out of the scene when Wallach is tortured by Mario Brega in the prison. UK videos and DVD's are uncut and run 161m (allowing for Pal timing differences). Various other scenes may have been filmed but excised by Leone before release. One of the laserdisc releases contains a still on the inside cover of Eastwood in bed with a woman that has never appeared in any version of the film.
The original German theatrical version has been strongly cut. In 1995 it has been aired on German TV as a 167 minute "Director's Cut", with cuts restored and scenes added from Italian-only version (the ones included on the US DVD as bonus), these fragments redubbed.
On the American CED (not laserdisc) format, the Italian titles appearing as the three main characters are introduced have been translated into English.
The additional 14min in the original version (Italian release, then DVD bonuses) are only transitions scenes, heavily depicting the gloomy war background.- The first additional scene (the longest) comes right after Tuco failed to hang Blondie. Sentenza tracks Bill Carson and investigates among derelict confederate soldiers. He learns that the 3rd regiment has flown through the desert "which is not much better than the Union prison."[DAY]- After the scene in the desert where Bill Carson shares his secret, Tuco, steering the carriage in a grey uniform, asks a group of confederate soldiers where he can find a doctor for Blondie. He says he is Bill Carson then learns that the San Antonio mission is just a few miles away.[NIGHT]- While Tuco enjoys his railroad trip (with Corporal Wallace) Sentenza and Blondie are on their way to the cimetery. They stopped for the night by a river. Strangers show up, Blondie shots one and then learn they're Sentenza's henchmen. There are 5 new comrades plus Sentenza. Blondie: "6 - the perfect number." Sentenza: "I thought 3 was the perfect number." Blondie: "Yes but in my gun there's room for 6 bullets."
In 2003, MGM Studios (to whom the rights to this film had recently reverted) in association with Martin Scorcese, Clint Eastwood, and original producer Alberto Grimaldi, painstakingly restored the original 3-hour Italian version using the 14 minutes that had been previously cut (and used only as a supplement on the DVD). Because these scenes had never before been dubbed into English, Clint Eastwood and Eli Wallach (as well as voice doubles filling in for actors who had since passed away) were brought in to re-dub their lines into English. The film was also remastered in six-track Dolby Digital. This version premiered on cable's American Movie Classics network.
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