The co-drectorial attribution to producer Budd Schulberg is both miselading and unjustified. BP’s meddling “contribution” consisted of cutting and re editing a number of key sequences, beginning with the very opening. Thus Christopher Plummer’s train carraige shared with the array of befeathered floozies en route to Florida is weighed down by a banal voiceover making Ray’s subtle and amusing connection between the finery of the whores and the pillaging of native wildlife screaminlgy obvious, rather than visually graceful. Accordingn to Bernard Eisenschitz Ray was effectively locked out of the shoot for the final sequence – the film was shot largely in sequence- thus the closing scenes in the swamp were in fact directed by Bud Schulberg. But despite the difference in filmic “style” the scene as played out, if not shot, is very effective as the coda to Ray’s film. It’s as if BP felt compelled to maintain the tone that Ray establishes throughout the picture.
By and large, the cutting does not seem to have basically undermined Ray’s stark vision, and the dynamic narrative playout to the death between Plummer and Burl Ives against the stunning natural backdrop.
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