Welcome to my column dedicated to the appreciation of physical media supplements called: Feature Presentations. The goal of this column is not to say whether a film is good or bad and worth picking up or not—I would like to highlight the discs that go the extra mile and provide film fans with enough tasty tidbits to satisfy even the hungriest of cinephiles. Today’s article will conclude the two-part series diving into the Imprint Films release of The Osterman Weekend.
The first half of this article was a deep dive into the physical media release for Sam Peckinpah’s director’s cut. Imprint Films and Mike Siegel did a heck of a job compiling behind-the-scenes features that film fans were guaranteed to enjoy. While I may not have celebrated The Osterman Weekend as some reviews have as of late, the work that went into this Blu-ray from Imprint Films is top-notch.
As one might expect, the director’s cut gets more love and attention as this release closely aligns with director Sam Peckinpah‘s vision. Not to say that Imprint Films skimps on the extras for the theatrical cut disc; far from it! There’s still plenty of meat to chew on with this release. With all that out of the way, today’s article will focus on the theatrical cut of The Osterman Weekend from Imprint Films.
I have mentioned that the director’s cut of The Osterman Weekend was a confusing mess—I should have saved those words for the theatrical cut. After Peckinpah got the boot from the film, the producers stepped in to try and salvage what they could. Unfortunately, their tinkering around took a sloppy movie and made it an even more incomprehensible mess. The one saving grace I can say is that the first few moments play better than Peckinpah’s “funhouse mirror-style” opening scene. Beyond that, the same messy script hangs around only with additional editing that chops up any narrative flow the director’s cut had going for it. There was no salvaging The Osterman Weekend, it was dead on arrival, but if you’re giving the disc a spin, the director’s cut is the way to go.
On the features side, the theatrical cut includes the documentary “From Alpha to Omega: Exposing the Osterman Weekend.” This feature-length making-of has been around for many years but is essential on any release of The Osterman Weekend. For a movie made under such turbulence, it’s refreshing to have a documentary that details the production in immense detail. Working to trace The Osterman Weekend from pre-production through the troubled release and the years afterward, “From Alpha to Omega” is a warts-and-all masterwork.
Before The Osterman Weekend, Sam Peckinpah garnered a reputation as a challenging director. According to those on “From Alpha to Omega,” the same rang true with his final film. The documentary discusses Peckinpah’s standing within Hollywood around the script started garnering attention. The producers talk about the apprehension of hiring such a lightning rod and the potential for the formidable shoot. Peckinpah’s reputation haunts the entirety of “From Alpha to Omega” for obvious reasons, yet the actors and crew associated with The Osterman Weekend share sentiments towards the opposite.
And speaking of, the other factor that made me fall in love with “From Alpha to Omega” is the amount of the film’s talent that the documentary was able to get together. All the on-screen talent are brought together, except for Dennis Hopper, to talk about their experiences on set. Rutger Hauer talks about coming from Ridley Scott‘s Blade Runner and found intrigue in the lead, seeing the villain role not as interesting. Craig T. Nelson talks about having multiple scenes with large amounts of dialogue in front of John Hurt. There are many more moments between the cast and crew diving into the ups and downs of one of the most notorious film productions of all time.
The other aspect of “From Alpha to Omega” that brought joy to my face are hearing from many people who are no longer alive. As of this writing, Rutger Hauer, John Hurt, producer William Panzer, and others have left us. This documentary works in multiple ways—hearing from those who were there and as a time capsule for those who weren’t there to understand what an arduous film shoot The Osterman Weekend was. “From Alpha to Omega” is an excellent making-of and a must for those who love cinema.
The theatrical cut includes a feature-length audio commentary with film historians Paul Seydor, Garner Simmons, David Weddle, and Nick Redman. I have to admit I enjoyed this track much more than the theatrical cut. While the commentators occasionally speculate about Peckinpah’s thoughts and motives for certain aspects of the film, there are just as many, if not more, moments rich in detail and analysis. The historians talk about Peckinpah’s struggles adapting Robert Ludlum’s undercooked novel, Peckinpah’s infusion of attempted satire, and the positives and negatives they feel from the finished product. The commentary track is an engaging listen with a group of historians gathering together to offer their knowledge and analysis on a film that needs plenty of both.
The last feature on the disc comes courtesy of Mike Siegel. The disc includes a 1.66:1 aspect unrestored alternative feature version of The Osterman Weekend. As the comments dictate: this is an “unrestored 35mm print from the German theatrical release in 1983…scanned in 2K.” While this additional feature will not have non-fans do a 180, this is a welcome surprise and makes an already spectacular release that much better.
Imprint Films rounds out the disc with the U.S. theatrical trailer.
And there you have it! The theatrical cut of The Osterman Weekend didn’t do much for me except strengthen my opinion that the director’s cut is the better version—yet, I still feel the film is an unmitigated mess. The film is more of a curiosity piece for hardcore cinephiles than must-watch cinema for the average film fan. Imprint Films and Mike Siegel went above and beyond to provide the definitive version of The Osterman Weekend with this box set that includes two discs, three versions of the film, and multiple bonus features. There’s more than enough here to justify the retail price and satisfy any and all fans of the film and those curious about Sam Peckinpah’s last hurrah.