Director Andrew Dominik is no stranger to long first cuts. As anyone who followed the tortured post-production on the director’s contemporary classic “The Assassination of Jesse James By the Coward Robert Ford” knows, the director battled Warner Bros. over the length and tone of the movie, and numerous editors were brought in to try and cut down a film that reportedly originally ran more than three hours. Regardless, the resulting film was magnificent and Pitt remained one of the director’s biggest supporters. They reteamed for “Cogan’s Trade,” which was recently retitled “Killing Them Softly,” and it looks like the director had a lot of material to work with once again.
Garret Dillahunt, who played the simple Ed Miller in ‘Jesse James,’ is part of the large ensemble rounded up for “Killing Them Softly,” but he reveals that his part was relatively minor and may not have survived the editing room. “My role is just a cameo in that because Andrew was bringing back the whole ‘Jesse James’ crew,” he told The Insider. “Although the first cut of the film was two and a half hours long, and I know they had to trim that down to an hour and a half, so I might have been cut out. I don’t know. But it was great to see those guys again.”
In actuality, the final cut of the film according to the Cannes Film Festival where it will premiere, is 1 hour and 40 minutes, so there may be hope for Dillahunt yet. But was this another case of a movie studio and a director clashing, or just the usual case of a film being honed and structured in the editing suite? Our guess (and our hope) is that it’s the latter. Unlike the more contemplative ‘Jesse James,’ this film is apparently more of a thriller, focusing on an enforcer investigating a heist that goes down during a mob-protected game. And we’d wager a more compact running time probably benefits the material and tone Dominik is striving for. But it’s an interesting tidbit nonetheless.
Starring Brad Pitt, James Gandolfini, Richard Jenkins, Ray Liotta, Scoot McNairy and Bella Heathcote, “Killing Them Softly” will hit theaters on September 21st.