Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford is one of my most anticipated films this year.”

I wrote that almost exactly 12 months ago. Oops! The western, starring Brad Pitt as the outlaw Jesse James and written and directed by Andrew Dominik, started shooting in late summer 2005, and it just now got a release date of September 21 – almost two years after photography started.

So where has the movie been? Mired in behind the scenes struggle, according to John Horn at the LA Times. He says that the film that Dominik turned in to Warner Bros ran almost three hours and was similar in tone and pacing to a Terence Malick film, while the studio wanted something more like a Clint Eastwood movie. In fact, the LA Times is reporting that it has come down to dueling cuts – one by Dominik and one from Pitt, who is also a producer on the film.

Which version will see the light of day? Nobody’s saying, but in a statement Warner Bros said that the version of Jesse James that will be released "is true to the source material and in keeping with the creative vision of its filmmakers. We do not comment on the internal creative process of bringing a picture to the screen, but the goal of both the studio and the filmmakers is to deliver the best film possible…. We are all very pleased with the picture we are bringing to theaters this fall."

That’s assuming the film will be released this fall after all; this weekend sees the long, long, long delayed release of the Eric Bana/Drew Barrymore gambling movie, Lucky You, directed by Curtis Hanson. That movie is being thrown out against Spider-Man 3 like a Spartan baby being tossed off a cliff.