Clint Eastwood has had one of the most memorable careers in cinema. In that legendary career, the man has paved the way for Westerns and actors who have appeared in that genre of films. One of his best films was his final goodbye to the genre that arguably made him a household name. That film is Unforgiven. Unforgiven is a 1992 film that also saw Eastwood win Best Director and Best Picture. However, though the film was released 30 years ago, we are now learning that the film also held a much different ending than the one that was originally shot. The final scene sees William Munny arriving back home, where he lies to his two children about the killings he had just committed. However, in the original ending, Munny simply reunites with his children and ignores what he had just done.
Some context for Unforgiven is that Clint Eastwood plays William Munny, a former gunslinger who attempts to be a pig farmer after his wife’s dying wish is to have him stop his wild ways. Munny is approached by a teenager named the Schofield Kid, who tells Munny there is a bounty on two Wyoming Cowboys who cut up a prostitute. This leads Munny to come out of retirement when he runs into Little Bill, a seedy character played by Gene Hackman. Little Bill kills Munny’s best friend, Ned Logan. This leads Munny to go on a rampage, killing Little Bill and his compatriots in the town of Big Whiskey. Munny returns home to his children, after killing many people, but lies about it. The original ending is truly far better, as it accounts for the ashamed feeling that Munny has. The ending was said to be modeled after the end of The Godfather
David Peoples, a screenwriter that worked on Unforgiven, had apparently been enamored with the original ending. Something about William Munny returning home without guilt was something that Peoples enjoyed more. The tender family reunion after Munny slays many people seemed to have been a much better ending in his eyes. Peoples also stated that he is not sure where that ending is. It has never been released and likely will never be released. Clint Eastwood is just as good of a director as he is an actor, so Peoples stated that he was fully on board with whatever Eastwood wanted. He claimed that the man “got the film right.” Eastwood had stated there were too many beats and adding that moment with Munny’s children was just not the right way to go. He clearly got it right as the film obtained several Academy Awards.
We are not sure if Unforgiven is going to be getting some 30-year anniversary release with the original ending, but that would be spectacular. Then again, Clint Eastwood is likely fine with how the movie ended period. Again, it did win Best Picture. The Academy clearly agreed that Munny lying about his killings was the right way to go. We certainly wouldn’t mind seeing this ending though.