Directed by: Larry Peerce
Actors: Charlton Heston, John Cassavetes, Martin Balsam, Beau Bridges, David Janssen
Also known as: Pánico en el estadio, Un tueur dans la foule, Panico nello stadio, Zwei Minuten Warnung
Description: For anyone who has already watched director Larry Peerce’s TWO-MINUTE WARNING (1976) they will be familiar with it as being both a bloody and suspenseful variant of the all-star disaster thrillers that haunted movie screens in the 1970s. In lieu of a natural disaster the movie offers a sniper who sets up at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum during a football game, and as the running time ticks down he begins randomly blowing away both spectators and police officers alike. When the movie was sold to NBC for television broadcast the network became nervous about the subject matter, and set about amending it for television broadcast. Movies being either trimmed for TV due to content or alternately expanded with deleted scenes is nothing new, but in the instance of TWO-MINUTE WARNING the practice was taken to crazy new heights. Large sections of the original movie were edited out, and brand new footage was filmed which gave the movie an entirely different story line. Director Peerce understandably disowned this version, which is credited to Gene Palmer (as director) and Francesca Turner (for teleplay, alongside original screenwriter Edward Hume). The new footage features actors such as James Olson, Paul Shenar, Joanna Pettet, William Prince, Rossano Brazzi, and Michael Pataki. The alternate version’s storyline presents a gang of well-heeled art thieves plotting to heist a multi-million dollar exhibit at the Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History. One of the crew is a Vietnam vet sharpshooter whose job is to set up at the adjacent Coliseum during the football game and create enough havoc to divert police attention and allow the heist to take place. Beyond the inclusion of this new storyline one of the huge changes made to the original theatrical version is that the deaths of many characters have been removed altogether, allowing them to live and enjoy another day. Anyone who saw the movie theatrically must have been gobsmacked when they first caught it on television, and that was probably twice as true for the original cast members as well. NBC first ran this extended alternate cut in February 1979, and for many years after it was this version that was most frequently shown.