Good things come to those who wait patiently 17 years. After nearly two decades, Ryan Phillippe fans will finally get to see the heartthrob make out with Breckin Meyer in 54, the 1998 drama about the notorious New York City hotspot when it becomes available on Digital HD on June 2.
Originally, director Mark Christopher’s film was intended as a dark, sexy Saturday Night Fever-meets-Boogie Nights-esque tale of an ambitious Jersey boy (Phillippe) who tangles with a couple (Breckin Meyer, Salma Heyek) while catching the eye of Steve Rubell (Mike Myers), a real-life character who co-owned the famed nightclub, that wouldn’t stint on the hard drugs and harder sex so synonymous with the late-1970s party scene. Unfortunately, the film was heavily edited before its theatrical release by Miramax, then run by Bob and Harvey Weinstein and owned by Disney and it lost about 40 minutes and some cohesion. The film opened to mostly negative reviews and so-so business during the summer of ’98, but a VHS bootleg of the original cut began to circulate among film geeks and eventually it was secretly screened at L.A.’s Outfest in 2008. Phillippe told Vulture Christopher’s cut captured “the freedom of the time, but also the impending sobriety that would come with AIDS. It resonates.”
Since then, an officially restored cut of Christopher’s version of the film screened earlier this year at the Berlin Film Festival and last Friday at the San Francisco International Film Festival, which was followed with a discussion featuring Christopher, Meyer and Phillippe. The program for the SF screening, which described the new cut of the film as a “gritty masterpiece,” offered the following preview of what to expect:
The cut of the film released in theaters in 1998 removed more than 30 minutes of beautifully acted, Cabaret-like licentiousness in the form of amibisexual polyamory and rampant drug use at the Studio 54 nightclub and replaced it with 40 minutes of cloying romance and “aw shucks” dialogue in a bid to make the film palatable for mainstream audiences.
Phillippe also previously spoke about how pleased he is that people can finally see him lock lips with Meyer’s character.
Watch an early scene in the director’s cut of the film below (did anyone else forget Mark Ruffalo was in this movie?) and mark your calendars for June 2.