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New Details On David O. Russell's 'Nailed,' Film Unlikely To Ever See The Light Of Day

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by Kevin Jagernauth
August 22, 2012 1:50 PM
9 Comments
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The sorry saga of David O. Russell's "Nailed" is really a cautionary tale of working with shady financiers. The tale is one that has been told a few times over in the past couple of years, but in case you missed out, we'll recap it for you.

Shooting started in the spring of 2008 with a promising cast of Jessica Biel, Jake Gyllenhaal, Catherine Keener, Tracy Morgan and James Marsden. With a script from Kristin Gore, the film centerd on a socially awkward and uninsured waitress (Biel) who accidentally gets shot in the head with a nail. She goes to Washington on a crusade to fight for the rights of the bizarrely injured and meets an immoral congressman, played by Gyllenhaal, who takes advantage of her sexually and politically. Sounds great right? Well, the film ran into numerous financial issues and stopped and started a handful of times as bills weren't paid, and eventually was shut down with only one day of filming left to complete it. Various legal manuevering found the film, initially "financed" by troubled producer David Bergstein, falling into the hands of upstart construction magnate-turned-moviemaker Ron Tutor, but Russell wasn't able to come to terms with him to finish the movie. And the story doesn't end there.

The new owners of the movie tried to cut it themselves (a folly which will be explained in a moment) with a very raw, rough assembly cut of the movie screening last spring (check out our reader report) with John Swihart ("Youth In Revolt," "New In Town") hired shortly after to score the film (previously, Russell tasked Squeak E. Clean -- a.k.a. Sam Spiegel one half of the quasi hip-hop duo N.A.S.A. -- with soundtrack duties). And there hasn't been anything heard from the movie since, and as producers Doug Wick and Lucy Fisher candidly tell Collider, there are good reasons why we'll likely never see this. And it's mostly because the crucial scene of Biel getting the titular nail in the head, hasn't even been shot (sorta).

“...oddly enough the last scene that we had scheduled—partly because we thought this way [the financier will] have to finish the movie—is the scene where Jessica Biel gets a nail in her head. That’s why it’s called 'Nailed,' she doesn’t have insurance and she can’t get the nail out. So the last two days were getting the nail in her head, and we shut down so we didn’t have the final scene that was the scene that was the premise of the movie," Wick explained. "There was no way to cut the movie together without that scene, so I don’t know what he was thinking by shutting us down then. At that point everybody was like, ‘We can’t cut the movie together, there isn’t a movie.’ And then [the financier] never came through with the rest of the money.”

That's not entirely true. The sequence was shot and was present in the assembly version that was shown, but what we were told is that it's poorly lit and confusing, and indeed, in that screening last spring, it appeared with a title card at the bottom that said "to be reshot." At any rate, it's a key scene and unfinished to say the least. And moreover, the material itself needs to be shaped by a director with some vision, and Wick doesn't see an anonymous third party coming in and making it work -- even with key sequence.

"Particularly in this kind of comedy that’s finding a specific tone, the post-production is sort of a third of the whole process. So I think there was just a little bit of a sense from a financier point of view, ‘Well just glue it together and put it out, we’ll just skip that process who needs it? It’s just indulging creative people.’ Obviously post is a huge part of the process and so many movies come alive in post,” Wick says. And ultimately, the fractured process and the time that has since passed -- now that Obamacare has been signed into law, a healthcare comedy seems out of date -- doesn't make it seem like the movie will ever be completed.

“I think everyone’s lives have moved on, I don’t foresee particularly, in the polluted circumstance, anyone just coming in and doing the careful three or four months of work,” Wick says realistically. And we'd have to agree. Russell has completed "The Fighter" and "Silver Linings Playbook" since then, and moves on next with "American Bullshit" and as Russell himself told us at the end of 2010, the experience hasn't made him eager to return.

"I think you kinda keep going and stay with the forward moment. That’s kinda what you have to do. So that’s what I’m doing," he said, adding: "There was a lot that was going on that I liked, but it was kinda a stillbirth, you know? So when that happens, the whole thing gets kinda weird."

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9 Comments

  • ashly | October 5, 2013 6:31 PMReply

    darn it :( so me missing school for weeks staying up each night till 1:00am walking up and down stairs for the scene they just couldn't get right eating candy all night to stay up till my stomach hurt as an 8 year old wasn't even worth the trouble? I was looking forward to seeing it at least one time in my life

  • Morgan | September 3, 2012 3:44 PMReply

    me. my dad. my dads friend. and my cousin were in that movie. i missed alot of school truthfully, its heartbroken to see it not come out, it was my first ever movie and i wish it wouxldve been finished, and my dad passed away a year ago, he was so proud of being in a movie. that's all he talked about after it was over. its sad to see it not be finished and we had an amazing experience acting in it, even though we were extras. we loved meeting all they people. i hope David comes back and actually f inishes it. i doubt it though. its been almost 5

  • Kim | August 28, 2012 2:13 PMReply

    I still think there should be a place to get those films that were left to die. Especially so close to completion. So many "unaired pilots" and "incomplete projects" would be worth the 10cent copy to dvd---sell 'em for $5 bucks at Walmart---I'd buy it.....

  • Sean | August 22, 2012 8:50 PMReply

    Russell relates the situatin to a "still birth"? Um okayyyy.... kinda a weird & gross analogy, find a less insensitive word Russ!

    The whole premise doesnt even sound appealing to me to be honest. Maybe cuz Russell can be a great director it coulda been something great but that for now we wont know

  • Yod - telling it like it is. | August 23, 2012 12:18 AM

    Don't be so moronic. It's an apt description. Do you get your knickers in a twist when someone says a project dies? Oooh, someone said dies. Oh, no!!

  • Leonardo | August 22, 2012 3:25 PMReply

    Nailed will pass to the history as one of those what could have been...

  • Kate Erbland | August 22, 2012 2:40 PMReply

    Biel talked a bit about NAILED during the TOTAL RECALL junket. She also expressed that she didn't think it would ever see the light of day and that she believes that Russell is the only person who could salvage it. She called the experience a "heartbreak." For her and us both, really.

  • Alan | August 24, 2012 3:42 AM

    I imagine that 'Nailed' was a bit of a turning point in her career, but not the one she intended. Before that, Biel was finally moving beyond the 'hot-girl-in-action-film' roles that she previously received, branching out with something like 'Easy Virtue' (shit film, but she was pretty good in it) and turning down 'Justice League'. Subsequently, she has had to return to mediocre supporting roles in action films like 'The A-Team' and 'Total Recall'. Nailing (sorry) the lead role in a David O. Russell would have cemented her seriousness as an actor, and allowed her to better define her career.

  • rotch | August 22, 2012 2:07 PMReply

    Russell has completed The Fighter AND Silver Linings Playbook, so yeah, Nailed feels like something left behind. Too bad.

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