American Beauty (lost alternate ending of drama film; existence unconfirmed; 1999)

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220px-American Beauty poster.jpg

American Beauty advertisement poster.

Status: Existence Unconfirmed

American Beauty is a critically acclaimed drama film released in 1999. It was directed by Sam Mendes and starred Kevin Spacey, Annette Benning, and Thora Birch. The film won the Oscar for Best Picture in 2000 and Spacey won Best Actor for his performance.


The film's plot focuses on American middle-class Everyman Lester Burnham struggling with a mid-life crisis. He blackmails his boss to be fired from his job as a magazine executive and later takes a job at a fast-food outlet, which doesn't improve his already troubled relationships with his wife Carolyn and teenage daughter Jane.

Lester also has new next-door neighbours: retired U.S. Marine Colonel Frank Fitts, his wife Barbara and their teenage son Ricky, an aspiring filmmaker with whom Jane later falls in love. Col. Fitts is deeply homophobic and soon begins harassing neighbouring couple Jim Olmeyer and Jim Berkley.

Increasingly bored and restless, Lester attends a high school basketball game with Jane and becomes infatuated with his daughter's cheerleader friend Angela Hayes. After Col. Fitts sees Lester and Ricky together through Lester's garage window and later finds his son's video of a nude Lester lifting weights, he comes to the conclusion that his son is gay and plans on killing Lester, whom he assumes is responsible.

Alleged Alternative Ending

In the released cut's ending, Lester Burnham is shot to death by Colonel Fitts. In an alternate ending, Lester's daughter Jane and Colonel Fitts' son Ricky are arrested and put on trial for Lester's murder. The prosecutors use Ricky's videos against him as evidence. One version of this ending resulted in the two being found guilty, while the other showed them both found innocent.[1] However, the arrest & trial scenes were eventually cut entirely due to concerns that they would detract from the film overall.

Alan Ball, one of the film's screenwriters, told "We actually shot it, and when it got into editing it was just too cynical and too awful."[2] An interview about this deleted ending with Ball can be found here.

As no footage has been found or released, and Mendes hasn't commented on the subject, it cannot be confirmed how much of the intended ending was filmed, or if it was how close it came to completion. However, many other members of the film's crew besides Ball have recalled shooting at least some part of it.