Maybe they should have called it Some of the Pretty Ponies. Billy Bob Thornton’s original version ran nearly four hours, but when All the Pretty Horses hit theaters, it had been whittled down to 112 minutes (the director had final cut only if it came in under two hours). The film promptly flopped.
You’d think the excised footage might be restored on video, but it’s nowhere to be seen. On the small screen, Horses feels even scrawnier (at least the wide-screen presentation preserves the majestic west Texas and Mexican vistas). The oddly truncated tone is a shame, because there are hints of fine performances here. Matt Damon makes a surprisingly credible cowboy, and he enjoys a nicely laconic camaraderie with Henry Thomas as the compadre who heads south of the border with him. Lucas Black (from Thornton’s Sling Blade) sparks the movie to life whenever he pops up as a runaway with a caliente temper. Sadly, any evidence of the talent of Penelope Cruz (as Damon’s forbidden love) seems to have been left on the editing room floor. Perhaps that perception will be refuted in a longer cut someday. Isn’t this why God made DVDs?