|Cattlemen Karl Malden, Charles Grey and William C. Bryant (rear) go gunning for sheepherders – and maybe a few MGM suits – in Wild Rovers.|
His feud with MGM began with the 1971 western Wild Rovers, which photographed scenes at Sedona, Flagstaff, Monument Valley and 46 other Arizona locations. Edwards maintained that he conceived the film as a “classic Greek tragedy,” but after the studio arbitrarily chopped 40 minutes from his cut, it left nothing, he lamented, but a prototypical cowboy movie.
“There was no discussion; an integral part was simply removed” Edwards griped to The New York Times in 1972. “If I take a chair and remove one leg, you still have a chair,” he said to rationalize his anger with the tampering, “but it won’t stand up, will it?”
But Edwards had the last laugh on MGM. Most of Wild Rovers’ deleted footage was restored for the film’s 1986 home video release, which resulted in a critical reevaluation of the film’s many merits. Unfortunately, Edwards’ cut of Wild Rovers, which can be seen occasionally on Turner Classic Movies, has yet to be released on DVD.––Joe McNeill