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Will there ever be a DVD release of the superior director’s cut of “54″ starring Ryan Phillippe?

I was so happy to read Brent Hartinger’s article today on the original director’s cut of the 1998 film 54.

Brent recently viewed the original cut by writer-director Mark Christopher which included a scene of Ryan Phillippe’s character briefly kissing co-star Breckin Meyer.

Brett writes: It was yet another in a long line of Hollywood “de-gayings,” where gay content is removed from a movie’s source material or edited out of a film before its theatrical release, and it’s still one of the most notorious examples.


And it’s not just the kiss between Shane and Meyer’s character (who doesn’t reciprocate) that was cut from the theatrical release: the heart of the original version is a touching love triangle between Shane and the characters played by Hayek and Meyer — three more-or-less doomed souls.


In 1999, a DVD was released, which included some alternate takes and additional footage not seen in the theatrical release. But this was not the director’s original cut.

He mentions the 2008 screening of the film at the Outfest film festival. I was in the audience that night at the Fairfax Theatre and it was stunning to see how different – and far superior – the director’s original version was from the mess the studio ordered which included additional scenes ordered by the studio beefing up a relationship between Phillippe’s character and a soap actress played by Neve Campbell.

,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,54.jpgThe film was released in 1998 ago and also starred Salma Hayak, Mike Myer, and Sela Ward, among others. It chronicled the rise and fall of the famed NYC hotspot of the 1970s. Phillippe’s character is bisexual in the director’s version and Meyer’s character also seems ready to dabble in some man-on-man action.

We also get to see a bit more of a then-unknown actor named Cameron Mathison (All My Children) who was only seen briefly in the studio version. And his character is gay! We did not know this from before. But in the director’s cut, he’s in a relationship with one of the other bartenders and they even share a passionate kiss.

When I ran into Cameron a few years ago, I mentioned to him that he’s in the recut version a lot more than the one that was in theaters where he is only seen fleetingly.

“Am I? I’ve gotta check that out!” he said. “The scene in the restaurant where we’re throwing around all the drug paraphenalia?”

Yes. And I reminded him of the “lip on lip man on man action he was involved with.

“Oh yeah! That was my first on-screen kiss!” he said. “Was it with Ryan or was it with somebody else?” remind him that he had a boyfriend in the movie. Sounding disappointed that it wasn’t Phillippe, Cameron said: “Oh. Did I?”

Cameron was unaware of the secret screening last summer and unaware that another version even existed! He is supportive of the original seeing the light of day: “Absolutely. That’s the story that Mark Christopher wanted to tell and it sounds like he did it. Good for him.”

I think this film would have grossed far more than $16.6 million at the domestic box office if it had felt more complete and been more satisfying.

As far as I know, there is no deal to re-release the movie in its original form theatrically or on DVD.  Disney, which owns the rights the Miramax library, should take advantage of this opportunity and make the money off this title that they could have a decade ago. They have a really good film on their hands with terriffic performaces by big stars.



(All comments are reviewed before being published, and I review submissions several times per day.)

One Remark

  1. They make one version for the world, another for the American audience. The international versions are going to end up being the most lucrative and most valued to the studios. The American will be those that nobody wants to make and will decrease in quality, it would seem.

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