Brad Pitt's 'Jesse James' comes under fire

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Every great western has a duel, and there's a showdown at the center of Brad Pitt's new movie about gunslinger Jesse James. The struggle hinged on the film's tone and length — at one point its running time was more than three hours — according to several people close to the production.

But running time wasn't the main issue. The thornier challenge was to come up with a cut of "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford" that satisfied audiences and Warner Bros., the studio making and distributing the film. At one point there were competing versions — one from writer-director Andrew Dominik and another from producer and star Pitt, according to a person familiar with the making of the movie. It's unclear which version of the film will be released.

Warner Bros. only recently announced a Sept. 21 release date for "Jesse James," about two years after it was filmed. (In the time since, Pitt has had daughter Shiloh Nouvel and completed two other movies, "Ocean's 13" and "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button." "Ocean's" will be in theaters more than three months before "Jesse James.")

Adapted from the novel by Ron Hansen, the film follows the last heist committed by James (Pitt), and Ford's (Casey Affleck) devoted and then vengeful relationship with the legendary outlaw.

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