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A Night in the Life of Jimmy Reardon


William Richert

Island Pictures

20th Century Fox

Aren't You Even Gonna Kiss Me Goodbye

Jimmy Reardon

Louanne Sirota

Suzie Middleberg

Bo Diddley

I'm a Man

Elmer Bernstien
Rio's Attic: Celebrating the Life and Times of a Dearly Missed River Phoenix
American EnglishEn Français

Aren't You Even Gonna Kiss Me Goodbye?

DVD Region
Spoken Languages: ENGLISH
Subtitles: None
Picture Format: Standard Pan and Scan
Sound Format: Mono

Aren't You Even Gonna Kiss Me Goodbye?

The digital revolution and the popularity of the DVD format has given A Night in the Life of Jimmy Reardon director William Richert the opportunity of releasing a "director's cut" version of his movie featuring newly restored scenes not seen in the original theatrical performances or the subsequent video and DVD retail releases.

This version, entitled Aren't You Even Gonna Kiss Me Goodbye? now exactly matches the original cut that the director handed over to Island Pictures and the first cut that anyone, including River, actually saw.

Richert admits that he has never been able to sit through the video or DVD release of Fox's version of his work. In his mind, the film was always intended to be viewed by an adult audience, the demographic that Island Pictures knew best and had always sought. On this occasion however, Island Picture executives re-cut the picture into what he regards as "a teen exploitation film" prior to its distribution by Twentieth Century Fox.

So, what of this "director's cut"? By just how much does it differ from the original film? Well, by quite a lot as it happens. Right from the start, the opening credits have been reworked, and gone is the familiar blues number with Bo Diddley singing the 1955 song I'm a Man. That's not to say that the rumored theme song that River is supposed to have written for the film makes an appearance here. Instead, we actually get what the director originally chose - a score by Elmer Bernstien and the London Philharmonic Orchestra.

But most surprising of all is what happens next, after the opening track has finished playing. It immediately becomes clear that River's narrative track that plays on-and-off throughout the length of the film has been completely replaced. This was a significant change that we were keen to ask the director about.

"River does a great job narrating A Night in the Life of Jimmy Reardon," the director quickly acknowledges, "but the use of his teenage voice over rambunctious scenes casts the character in the light of a braggart, almost. Requiring the audience to listen to voice as a narrator I think stunts the power of his performance, as the audience - in a sense - splits their reaction between him into two personas, and conflicting personas at that."

So, this time around, whilst the words making up the narrative are the same as in the original movie, it is William Richert himself who reads it. "The voice of the narrator is, as it was in the beginning, my Jimmy-Reardon-as-an-adult voice. This movie, the one we intended, was to have the reflective tone of a grown up man looking back on his youth in all its confusion and glory and stupidity and brilliance." Fox, deciding that Richert's voice was 'too old for River's market' insisted that the narration be redone 'younger' - "a process that was a difficult experience for both myself and River" recalls the director.

The re-casting of the narrator is a dramatic enough change, but without doubt, the most important change of all is the restoration of about six minutes of previously cut footage - specifically, what the director refers to as "the night-time scene." "This scene is crucial," states Richert. "It is the only one to show River's true character. We have seen him almost the entire movie, attempting, from everyone he knows, to obtain 88 dollars to go to Hawaii. He pleads, and cons, and even works a little. Now, his money is stolen. In his state, he actually believes that he can go out into the night-time streets of Chicago and find the blokes who took his dough."

"But when he finds his best friend Suzie Middleburg, in Louanne Sirota's best scene, locked and crying in the car, he makes a key decision - he forgoes the money and his future, for his friend," concludes the director poignantly.

We asked the director why a scene of this nature, a scene that completely turns the movie around, painting both it and the lead character in a whole new light, was cut. "The scene was removed, I have come to believe, so that the film would be only ninety minutes long and the distributor could get more showings into a day, so they would make more money."

The reworking of the movie delayed it's release by a year and the changes made to it must have been an unnerving and frustrating experience for River, the lead star of the movie. Still concerned about this, Richert admits, "It made River feel that maybe we'd done something wrong in making the film at all."

"River never said a negative word to me about the film," concludes the director. "I always thought he liked it a lot, but didn't like what they'd done to it. I have since learned that the film was an awkward subject for River, maybe even painful. No wonder."

The DVD can be purchased, from the director's own web-site,

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