The movies of Michael Winner that have been cut or banned in Australia.
See also, LAWMAN (1970) in the Film Censorship Database No. 2.
Directed by Michael Winner / 1972 / UK / IMDb
In June 1972, an 8697-feet (96:38) print of THE NIGHTCOMERS was censored by 94-feet (01:02) for an R-rating.
The cuts were made to remove ‘indecency’. Presumably, this was the bondage scene, which takes place a third of the way in, where Quint ties up Miss Jessel before they have sex.
20th Century Fox was the applicant.
In July 1983, PBL Video had a 92-minute version of THE NIGHTCOMERS passed with the Special Condition ‘that this film/tape will not be exhibited in any State in contravention of State’s law relating to the exhibition of films’.
The tape, released on their Embassy Home Video label, was incomplete.
What was modified?
Embassy Home Video (au) – VHS – 92:15 (PAL)
Despite having a similar running to the 92:21 uncut version, this tape is still heavily cut. It appears that PBL Video may have accidentally sourced a TV-print, as there is no question the complete film could have passed.
The following scenes are missing or modified.
13:30 – Quint (Marlon Brando) pulling down Miss Jessel’s (Stephanie Beacham) top and grabbing her bare breast.
28:00 – The tying up of Miss Jessel is shown in full. However, the subsequent sex between Quint and her is superimposed over shots of darkened trees, which makes it impossible to see what is going on. A shot from this scene is shown on the cover of the tape.
53:00 – Miss Jessel reveals her naked breast to Mrs Grose (Thora Hird), believing it to have been Quint.
90:00 – Miles (Christopher Ellis) finishing Quint off with an arrow to the head.
In December 1985, Communications and Entertainment (CEL) had a 92-minute tape passed with an M-rating.
It was awarded for ‘adult concepts’.
This fact that it avoided an R-rating indicates it was the same version as the Embassy Home Video release.
Death Wish 2
Directed by Michael Winner / 1982 / USA – Canada / IMDb
In May 1982, a 2510-meters (91:29) print of DEATH WISH 2 was refused due to violence, that was said to be:
…and also for ‘sexual violence’.
Later in the month, a ‘soft version’ running 2426.26-meters (88:26) was passed with an R-rating. The violence was now described as being:
There was no mention of ‘sexual violence’, which indicates this too had been removed.
In both cases, the applicant was Fox Columbia Film Distribution.
Winner defends the violent content
The director, Michael Winner, appeared on British TV at the time of the theatrical release. He was challenged by journalist Anna Raeburn on the sexual violence and, in her opinion, generally poor quality of the film.
The clip is available on YouTube and mentions the British censorship where it lost four-minutes at the hands of James Ferman’s BBFC.
In 1983, RCA/Columbia Home Video released DEATH WISH 2 on tape.
It was trimmed by nearly four-minutes and ran only 84:49 (PAL). It is unclear if this was the same as the theatrical version.
It was missing the following footage.
The Australian DVD (Columbia Tristar) runs to 87:50 PAL (87:56 DVD counter time) or 91:30 film or 91:35 NTSC, while the VHS rental runs to 85:11 PAL (including the Columbia opening, which is missing on the DVD), a difference of 2:39 PAL.
The Australian VHS rental (RCA/Columbia/Hoyts) contains the following cuts compared to the local DVD. Time references are from the DVD
(a) 9:35 – A shot of Rosaria’s panties are pulled down all the way by a thug, who then puts his hands on her backside.
(b) 9:56 – The thug licks her bum.
(c) 10:32 – Rosaria is taken from behind by the thug, who makes exaggerated thrusting movements, even to the extent of causing his bandana to fall off.
(d) 11:26 – After Rosaria is thrown onto the bed and has her dress ripped up the back, there are additional shots of her top coming off, exposing her breasts, then a shot of her struggling naked with a thug who climbs onto of her and starts humping.
(e) 11:51 – A second thug climbs on top of her as she is hit with a leather belt by another thug. He thrusts into her from behind as they lay on the bed. She is struck several more times with the belt.
(f) 12:15 – The thugs turn her over and the thug played by Lawrence Fishburn starts thrusting into her near the side of the bed. There is a close up of her agonized face.
(g) 12:41 – Rosaria is pulled by the hair along the floor toward the leader and has her face shoved into his crotch after he pulls his pants down over his buttocks.
(h) 13:51 – Rosaria is hit in the mouth with a crowbar. The first impact shot is the same as the tape, but there are two additional shots, one showing her falling toward camera, then another as she falls to the floor, starts to get back up again, looks behind her, and finally looses consciousness.
(i) 14:40 – The shot of Rosaria lying nude, presumably dead, is cropped so that everything below her waist is hidden. On the DVD, you see her whole body.
(j) 15:36 to 17:15 (99 seconds) – The rape of Paul Kersey’s daughter is almost entirely missing on the VHS tape. There is a wide shot of the girl with a thug’s hands on her legs. All footage from this point on is cut, including the removal of her bra, the fondling of her breasts, and her quiet rape when she lies mute as the thug thrusts into her. The tape picks things up again as he climbs off her body.
(k) 17:29 – The moment when he dismounts, right after his orgasm, is prolonged by a few seconds on the DVD.
The first rape sequence involves alternate editing choices in order to make the cut shots flow together more smoothly.
The scene where the daughter jumps to her death is identical frame-for-frame in both versions. When she hits the fence, blood pours from her mouth – according to IMDb, this was one of the shots cut from the US version to gain an R rating. Which means that this DVD appears to be the fully uncut international version.
The rest of the violence in the VHS rental tape matches the DVD.– RCA/Columbia Home Video cuts
– The Chopping List
Banned video No. 1
In May 1984, an 87-minute tape was refused due to violence, which was said to be:
The applicant, Valley View Video Library, had presumably imported a tape from overseas.
Banned video No. 2
In February 1984, it became law for all tapes to be classified and the Film Censorship Board began the slow task of reviewing all previously issued titles.
The RCA/Columbia Home Video was Refused Registration due to ‘gratuitous sexual violence’ in April 1985. This was despite it having already been heavily cut.
R-rated on appeal
In September 1985, DEATH WISH 2 was once again refused due to ‘gratuitous sexual violence’.
Although it was not listed as such, the 85-minute running time indicates it had been pre-cut before submission.
An appeal to the Films Board of Review saw it awarded an R-rating the same month.
The applicant was Amalgamated 16mm Film Distributors.
Back on VHS
In the 1990s, DEATH WISH 2 was reissued on tape by RCA/Columbia Pictures and CEL.
It was not resubmitted for classification, so carried no consumer advice.
This was followed around 2000; by a ‘no-name’ label VHS. The running time of 88:12 indicates it may have been uncut.
The cover’s consumer advice of R (High level violence, Adult concepts) was fake.
DVD No. 1
In 2003, it was released on DVD by Columbia Tri-Star with the original DEATH WISH (1974) as part of a set titled DEATH WISH: ULTIMATE COLLECTORS PACK.
DEATH WISH 2 was fully uncut and ran 87:50.
In September 2005, DEATH WISH 2 premiered on Foxtel’s Showtime Greats Channel. At 85:35, it was over two-minutes shorter than the uncut DVD. It did, however, include slightly more footage than the RCA/Columbia Video release.
The rape of Rosaria was slightly longer, as was the rape and death of Carol Kersey.
The print was credited to Sony Pictures International Television.
DVD No. 2
Sony Pictures released all five films on DVD in April 2006 as part of a DEATH WISH: THE VIGILANTE COLLECTION boxset.
DVD No. 3
It was reissued on DVD for a third time in August 2014, this time by Umbrella Entertainment.
Again, we presume it was uncut.
In August 2017, Umbrella Entertainment released it on Blu-ray.
It was part of a CANNON CLASSICS DOUBLE FEATURE with DEATH WISH 3 (1985).
Death Wish 3
Directed by Michael Winner / 1985 / USA – Canada / IMDb
In November 1985, a 2479.00-meter (90:22) print of DEATH WISH 3 was refused due to violence, which was described as being:
A censored print, running 2468.70-meters (89:59), was passed with an R-rating in March 1986.
The violence was now described as:
In both cases, Hoyts Distribution was the applicant.
In late April 1986, a 90-minute ‘edited version’ was passed with an R-rating.
It was awarded for violence, which was once more described as:
Late April/early May 1986 saw DEATH WISH 3 banned once again.
This version ran 89-minutes and was Refused Registration due to violence, which had now been increased to:
In both cases, Hoyts Distribution was once again the applicant.
As the film already been awarded an R-rating in March 1986, then presumably these two submissions were related to the RCA/Columbia Home Video release.
Despite being heavily censored, the 86:28 (PAL) tape ran slightly longer than the uncut version. It appears to be television edit, as the language has been toned down and at least one scene makes use of alternative footage.
The following is a small sample of the cuts and alternative material.
TV Edit vs. Uncut
RCA/Columbia (au)- VHS 86:28 (PAL) – Censored ‘clothed’ version
Sony Pictures (au) – DVD – 86:22 (PAL) – Uncut ‘topless’ version
All times quoted below refer to the uncut DVD.
The rape of the woman
Before (VHS) – The woman is grabbed and the gang begin to tear her top.
Censored – 41:11 to 41:14 – The top is torn off and they begin to fondle her breasts.
After (VHS) – An old couple arrive and one of the gang members tells them to ‘get out of here!’. In the DVD they say, ‘get the fuck out of here’.
Before (VHS) – The car stops and the woman is pulled out.
Censored – 41:57 to 41:60 – The woman is pushed around and there are brief shots of her breasts.
After/Before (VHS) – The woman is carried down a corridor, followed by a shot of one of the gang pushing her.
Censored – 42:07 to 42:18 – The woman lands on the mattress and gang jump on top and fondle her breasts.
After (VHS) – Man saying ‘They raped her’.
74:21 – The topless woman is dragged from the house by the gang. In the VHS, she has a top on. The scene goes on to show several other shots of her.
74:30 to 74:32 – She is carried up the stairs; again alternative clothed footage is used in the VHS.
74:36 to 74:38 – She runs topless to escape gunshots, but is clothed in the VHS.
Before (VHS) – Bronson shoots a gang member who is wearing a blue T-shirt. He falls backwards down the stairs and we see a brief shot of the bloodstain on his top.
Censored – 74:44 to 74:48 – The fall continues to the bottom of the stairs. We also see a brief shot of the girl’s face as she cries and cowers in the doorway.
After (VHS) – Shot of Bronson’s face.
Shooting burning victims
Before (VHS)- The gang throws petrol bombs into a house, which then explodes.
Censored – 76:13 to 76:23 – Two people run from the house on fire as the gang leader machine-guns them.
After (VHS) – Gang members are shown running away from the police.
This footage would eventually appear as an extra on Umbrella Entertainment’s 2017 Blu-ray release.
VHS No. 2 & 3 – Are they uncut?
In the 1990s, DEATH WISH 3 was reissued on tape by Hoyts Polygram Video.
It was rereleased again in 1992 by MGM/UA Home Video as part of the ‘Charles Bronson Collection’.
Neither had consumer advice after the R-rating because they had not been resubmitted to the OFLC. It is unknown which versions they contain.
In 2002, DEATH WISH 3 premiered on Foxtel’s Encore Channel.
The censored 85:30 print was awarded it an MA15+ rating by the station. The cuts were presumably made due to the restrictions on them screening R-rated content.
DVD No. 1
In April 2006, Sony Pictures released the DEATH WISH: THE VIGILANTE COLLECTION.
This boxset contained all five films, including an uncut, 86:22 version of DEATH WISH 3.
DVD No. 2
It was reissued on DVD in August 2014, this time by Umbrella Entertainment.
We presume this version was uncut.
In August 2017 by Umbrella Entertainment released it on Blu-ray double-billed with DEATH WISH 2 (1982).
Both films on this CANNON CLASSICS DOUBLE FEATURE are uncut.
It contains an Easter egg titled DEATH WISH 3: EXTENDED AND DELETED SCENES. This is the aforementioned extra footage that first appeared on the 1986 RCA/Columbia video.