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Will Terry Gilliam's 'The Defective Detective' Finally Hit The Big Screen?

Photo of Christopher Bell By Christopher Bell | The Playlist May 17, 2011 at 10:15AM

If there was a small sect of loose changers that devised a conspiracy theory concerning otherworldly powers preventing Terry Gilliam from catching a break in his profession, we might be inclined to become believers.
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If there was a small sect of loose changers that devised a conspiracy theory concerning otherworldly powers preventing Terry Gilliam from catching a break in his profession, we might be inclined to become believers.

After a string of successful 90s movies capping with the cult favorite "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" in 1998, the filmmaker has only seen disappointment in recent projects like "The Brothers Grimm" and "Tideland," the former which failed domestically and the latter a baffling miscarriage of a movie. But the aforementioned are just what he was able to make, at least in the way that was intended- "The Man Who Killed Don Quixote" has hit numerous roadblocks (some of the worst detailed in documentary "Lost in La Mancha") and while we aren't trying to belittle a tragic death, it's also not false that "The Imaginarium Of Doctor Parnassus" greatly suffered due to the loss of his lead actor Heath Ledger midway through shooting.

We have to give it to the man, despite his vocal lamenting on the business he still tries, even if his last decent film was more than a decade ago. While waiting for "Quixote" to come together, Gilliam has dug up another one of his troubled productions, "The Defective Detective," in hopes to finally get it in front of cameras. In a recent interview with Dreams, Gilliam let some info slide on the resuscitation of that project: "I’m just dredging up an old script – the one Richard LaGravenese and I wrote years ago after "The Fisher King" – "The Defective Detective." And we are just snooping around to see if there is any way we can move that one forward…"

For the unfamiliar, the story behind that movie is what you've basically come to unfortunately expect from aborted Gilliam pieces. The tale, sounding very much in the director's wheelhouse, follows a private eye as he investigates the disappearance of a young girl. He soon finds that she may have vanished into a fantasy land, one only detailed in story books - a land that he will have to figure his way in and out of if he ever hopes to close the case. The director has tried many times to get this one off the ground, but even with various talent that included Danny Devito, Nick Nolte, Nicholas Cage, Bruce Willis, and at key times such as the success of "The Fisher King" and "12 Monkeys," he was unable to get the project green-lit. The same online magazine details the history of the project, including the man's apparent depression and reclusiveness that resulted from his inability to get the script off the ground.

It's nice to see it resurfacing again, but considering the man's consistently poor luck and life's reluctance to ever throw him a bone, we'd be surprised to see this one actually get made. Things are especially pessimistic, as even the inclusion of big name thesps wasn't enough to convince studio heads for lift-off. However, we're more than eager to be proved wrong, as a project resurrected from the artist's heyday may reinvigorate this once-brilliant auteur.

This article is related to: Films In Development, Terry Gilliam, The Defective Detective


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