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The Lost & Unmade Projects Of Stanley Kubrick

Photo of Kevin Jagernauth By Kevin Jagernauth | The Playlist March 4, 2013 at 11:59AM


Marlon Brando One Eyed-Jacks
“Downslope”/”One-Eyed Jacks”/”Operation Mad Ball”
War was a longstanding subject of fascination for Kubrick. One project under consideration was a film set during the American Civil War, following Col. John S. Mosby who seeks justice after Custer hangs his men. A script was co-written by Kubrick and Civil War historian Shelby Foote, with a budget of $100 million (in today's dollars) being tossed around, and according to “Stanley Kubrick: A Biography,” Gregory Peck was eyed as a potential lead. While that incarnation never happened, in August of last year it was announced that eOne was now tackling the material with plans to turn it into a TV movie, with a new screen adaptation by Brit screenwriter Stephen R. Clarke

Around this time, the filmmaker also spent six months working with Marlon Brandon on the western “One-Eyed Jacks.” He rewrote Sam Peckinpah's original script, and while he was planning to direct, Brando eventually took over to direct himself.

Meanwhile, in 1957, after seeing the comedic war movie “Operation Mad Ball,” Kubrick and his producer James B. Harris liked it so much that they approached Ernie Kovacs with plans to reprise his character in a television series that would follow the commandant of a boy’s school. Development was started, and the trio actually went to Black Fox Military Academy to meet with a real-life commandant. While by all accounts these initial meetings were a success, the project never came to life. Kubrick would later scratch the war/comedy itch with “Dr. Strangelove: Or How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb.”

“I Stole 16 Million Dollars” AKA ”God Fearing Man”
Based on the book “I Stole 16 Million Dollars,” according to “Stanley Kubrick: A Biography” the project, now known as "God Fearing Man," is based on the true-story tale of Herbert Emerson Wilson, a priest who became the biggest bank robber in America in the early 20th century. Kubrick co-wrote the script with Jim Thompson (“Paths Of Glory,” “The Killing”), and it was set up under Kirk DouglasBryna Productions banner but the actor passed on it. It was also offered to Cary Grant. However, it’s another Kubrick project that's come back to life thanks to Stephen R. Clarke, and it’s now being looked at as a potential miniseries.

"The Burning Secret"/"Natural Child"
With MGM initially turning down “Paths Of Glory,” Kubrick decided to tackle another MGM property, “The Burning Secret.” According to “Stanley Kubrick: Visual Poet 1928-1999,” the filmmaker was excited as it was based on a book by Stefan Zweig, who penned the story that inspired “Letter From an Unknown Woman,” directed by Max Ophuls, a helmer Kubrick admired. He worked on the screenplay with author Calder Winningham. According to “The Wolf At The Door: Stanley Kubrick, History & Holocaust,” the story centered on a baron visiting a spa in the mountains, who sets out to seduce a woman, and befriends her son in the process.

Kubrick also apparently wanted to adapt Winningham’s 1952 book “Natural Child,” about “ two young men and two young women living the bohemian lifestyle of the time.” The sexuality of both stories was apparently deemed unlikely to pass the Production Code of the time, and they weren’t developed further. However, in 1988, “Burning Secret” would be brought to the big screen in a separate adaptation by director Andrew Birkin.

This article is related to: Features, Stanley Kubrick, Steven Spielberg, Napoleon, Ridley Scott, Ang Lee

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