Zane’s review published on Letterboxd:
I got my hands on the "First Very Rough Draft" of the Buffalo '66 screenplay, which is likely the one first dictated by Gallo and typed up by Alison Bagnall. I've scanned and uploaded it here if you're interested: archive.org/details/buffalo-66-script
Here are what I thought were the substantial changes from the finished film:
- The descriptions of Buffalo seem to suggest the film taking place during a harsh winder day, with strong winds and intense snowfall. This is dialed back in the film, which suggests a more mellow autumn day.
- Some key effects from the film, like the frame within frame flashbacks (the prison flashback sequence isn't mentioned at all, and all the other flashbacks are denoted by straight cuts) and the "Moonchild" tap dance number are absent.
- Billy's dad plays as a much angrier, less goofy character, acting much more maliciously towards Billy. Billy also does not talk back to his father in the script and is consistently meek around him. I remember in an interview Gallo mentioned that as time passed and Gallo forgave his parents for his difficult upbringing, he started to view them as more ridiculous and comedic figures rather than malicious.
- The flashback scene between Billy and the bookie takes place at a lounge, and the bookie's dialogue is much much courser. Also, instead of testifying to the crime of another person, Billy is ordered to transport some drugs and gets caught in an added sequence. Personally I think this reads as the weakest part of the script, especially in comparison to how smooth the scene plays in the film version.
- Sonny, the bowling lane owner, has a fair bit more dialogue in the script, and is a more subservient character in awe of Billy in comparison to the down to earth Sonny in the film.
- Layla has a greater amount of dialogue and generally reads like a more grounded character than in the film. She more explicitly lays out her reasoning for staying with Billy throughout and has more wit when talking to Billy. She also has a fantastic monologue during the motel bathtub scene near the film's end (pp. 92-93) that fleshes out her background and I think is probably the best part of the script that didn't make it to the film. This is followed by an endearing moment where she sings "When Fools Rush In" for Billy.
- The very end of the script is slightly different, involving Jan watching the Superbowl 25 footage as the credits roll.
Really though I'd say overall it's fairly remarkable how closely this initial, "Very Rough" draft resembles the final version of the film. I wouldn't say its the most revelatory end-to-end read but it's some cool insight into how Gallo polished this initial idea into the very streamlined final cut of the film.