based on what Frayling says, it seems that the 45-50 extra minutes Leone would have preferred to keep in the movie were complete, not unedited. We've quoted that p. 458 of STDWD many times, how Leone said he had to cut 45-50 minutes of "significant material" to get the movie down to 229 minutes. It would seem to me that cutting 45-50 minutes of "significant material" would means "significant material that was ready for release," and NOT "significant unedited raw footage which may only be 15-20 minutes once edited for release."
of course, that gives no indication one way or another as to whether those extra scenes were scored; and if necessary, dubbed. But IMO it definitely seems that the picture was in relatively, edited, releasable condition.
On the other hand, on the same page, just before saying that Leone had to very reluctantly cut between 45-50 minuted worth of "significant material," Frayling quotes Leone as saying that "his ideal running time would have been between 4:10 and 4:25"
Now, if his ideal running time would have been between 4:10 and 4:25, then in order to get down to 3:49, he would have had to cut between 21-36 minutes off his ideal running time, and not the 45-50 minutes!! When I brought up this issue a while ago, someone it may have been ONCE, don't remember for sure) suggested that at that point, Leone was just giving very approximate numbers of the running times.
However, I'd prefer to think that Leone (and Frayling) were being accurate about the number of minutes. So perhaps we can answer that question along these same lines of the issue of raw footage vs. edited footage: Maybe we can say those 45-50 mins. of "significant material" was actually not edited footage, but footage that was in the raw
stages, and it would have yielded about 21-36 minutes of final, usable footage.
So had he been able to actually use those 45-50 minutes of "significant material," that he ideally would have wanted to use, that amount of raw footage it would have would have yielded 21-36 minutes of final, usable footage, equaling a final cut of 4:10 - 4:25.
Of course, this is a very, very, very unsatisfying answer: when Frayling says that Leone had to cut 45-50 minutes of "significant material," I imagine he meant final, releasable material. So (assuming Frayling is reporting it accurately), I really don't know how Leone could say his ideal running time would have been between 4:10 and 4:25, had he been able to use those 45-50 minutes. Adding the 45-50 minutes to 3:49 should have equaled an ideal running time of 4:34 -- 4:39, and not 4:10 - 4:25. Neither suggested answer -- that their numbers of minutes mentioned were approximate; and that the material was unedited and not final, releasable material -- is very satisfying. (Heck, maybe I can't accept those answers cuz deep deep down, I am sooooo badly hoping that somehow, there is some 5-hour version or sumthin
Anyway, We really need someone to get in touch with someone IN THE KNOW and find out what's going on....