Unfinished Films by Famous Directors

Discuss films and filmmakers of the 20th century (and even a little of the 19th century). Threads may contain spoilers.
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David Ehrenstein
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#51 Post by David Ehrenstein » Wed Dec 20, 2006 11:37 am

Nicholas Ray went into pre-production on The Doctor and the Devils in Yugoslavia circa 1965. Barbara Steele was to have been one of the stars.

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Gordon
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#52 Post by Gordon » Wed Dec 20, 2006 6:50 pm

David Ehrenstein wrote:Nicholas Ray went into pre-production on The Doctor and the Devils in Yugoslavia circa 1965. Barbara Steele was to have been one of the stars.
Wow, really? That would have been a fascinating experience. Freddie Francis directed the 1985 film, which was apparently from the same screenplay that Ronald Harwood wrote in 1963 - is this true, David? I have not seen it, or read the book, but it sounds very intriguing. It's on DVD - here's the DVD Savant review. I might just give it go. Thanks for pointing the way, David!
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#53 Post by MichaelB » Wed Dec 20, 2006 6:58 pm

Talking of Napoleon, Abel Gance's 1927 film is technically "unfinished" for several reasons:

a) because he only made part one of a projected six-part cycle;
b) because he never completed a definitive cut and spent the rest of his life tinkering with the footage;
c) because Kevin Brownlow's restoration changes shape from screening to screening as more/better footage comes to light - but because of (b) there's no way of knowing whether or not he's putting too much back in.

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#54 Post by David Ehrenstein » Wed Dec 20, 2006 7:56 pm

Harwood adapted the screenplay that Dylan Thomas had written. Ray apparently planned to go with Thomas as is.

The Freddie Francis film isn't bad.

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#55 Post by Gordon » Wed Dec 20, 2006 8:28 pm

So what brought the Nick Ray production to a halt? Was Thomas writing the screenplay for any pther director in particular before Ray got ahold of it?

Freddie Francis, though a great cinematographer, never really seemed to take hold of the films that he directed and they often seem pedestrian. I think that he could have been a better director if his heart was in the material, though and The Doctor and the Devils seems like a more serious story than his other 'horror' films.

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#56 Post by David Ehrenstein » Wed Dec 20, 2006 8:40 pm

So what brought the Nick Ray production to a halt? Was Thomas writing the screenplay for any pther director in particular before Ray got ahold of it?
No idea what ended it. Financing fell through I'm sure. The screenplay was written many years befroe Ray took a try at filming it.

Party Girl was Ray's last American film. After that he was off to Europe, but never got a foothold the way Losey had. The Savage Innocents was given short shrift (unjustly -- it's a great movie) and while King of Kings was a big deal he wasn't as successful working from Bronson as Mann had been with El Cid. He was tossed off 55 Days at Peking and the rest of his life was a series of frustrated projects.

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La Clé du Ciel
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#57 Post by La Clé du Ciel » Wed Dec 20, 2006 11:02 pm

Hello there. I've just found the link to the script of Kubrick's Napoleon film on this thread! I shall be reading that with great interest when I have a spare moment or two… I remember reading an interview with Kubrick on the subject of his Napoleonic project and he mentioned Gance's film. I think he dismissed it as primitive and... hang on, I have a copy of the article somewhere. Ah yes, here we are:

What movies on Napoleon have you gone back to see?
I've tried to see every film that was ever made on the subject, and I've got to say that I don't find any of them particularly impressive. I recently saw Abel Gance's movie, which has built up a reputation among film buffs over the years, and I found it really terrible. Technically he was ahead of his time and he introduced new film techniques -- in fact Eisenstein credited him with stimulating his initial interest in montage -- but as far as story and performance goes it's a very crude picture.

Grr… Still, the version Kubrick saw way back in the late 1960s was no doubt a pale and distorted reflection of the latest restoration… He can't be blamed for having such a low opinion. We should feel sorry for him. Actually, if anyone can enlighten me as to whether Kubrick ever saw any of the 1980s restorations of NAPOLEON and if he changed his mind at all I'd be very grateful…

I also thought I could comment on MichaelB's comment regarding Gance's film.
MichaelB wrote:Talking of Napoleon, Abel Gance's 1927 film is technically "unfinished" for several reasons:

a) because he only made part one of a projected six-part cycle;
b) because he never completed a definitive cut and spent the rest of his life tinkering with the footage;
c) because Kevin Brownlow's restoration changes shape from screening to screening as more/better footage comes to light - but because of (b) there's no way of knowing whether or not he's putting too much back in.
It's perfectly true that his Napoleonic cycle is unfinished (although AUSTERLITZ, 1960, is based on screenplays written long before and Lupu Pick made the dull NAPOLEON AUF SAINT-HELENA in 1929, based on Gance's script). However, I would disagree with the idea that Gance never made a “final cutâ€

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Gordon
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#58 Post by Gordon » Wed Dec 27, 2006 10:41 pm

Though unfinished, John Huston's, The Red Badge of Courage is a great film, but imagine if he had completed the shooting?

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Unfinished Films

#59 Post by aox » Mon Aug 25, 2008 4:22 pm

Please regale us with tales of unfinished and/or incomplete films. I didn't want to start an individual thread for what I type below.

The other day, someone posted a trailer to this an unfinished 1992 film called Gengis Khan starring Charlton Heston, Pat Morita, and Richard Tyson. It looked pretty awful.

I can't find out much about it online except that imdb lists it as costing $55 million. That is a serious chunk of change to just lose. Judging from the trailer, it looks like the film was close to being, or even was, finished. Did they really need a lot more cash to finish this? I can't believe that they would need a lot more $$$ or that someone wouldn't help out if a project is this close to completion. Does anyone have any insight into this story? Was the footage ever released?

People end up in dumpsters for far less.
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#60 Post by myrnaloyisdope » Mon Aug 25, 2008 4:58 pm

Well the aborted I, Claudius by Joseph von Sternberg is the one I'm most familiar with.

There's a great documentary on it put out by the BBC I think in the 70's. They show a lot of the completed footage(if not all), and it looks excellent. Charles Laughton would have been great as Claudius.

As for why it got aborted, well it was a combination of several things: firstly, too much money was spent on set design, as they had to build the sets twice, although I forget why. Secondly, Charles Laughton's ego...err dedication to his craft meant that he spent a lot of shooting days trying to find his character and basically refusing to film until he figured out how he wanted to play Claudius, so production was way behind schedule. Thirdly, Merle Oberon got into a serious car accident during shooting which basically was the final straw, and production was shutdown.

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#61 Post by HerrSchreck » Mon Aug 25, 2008 5:09 pm

aox wrote:Please regale us with tails of unfinished and/or incomplete films. I didn't want to start an individual thread for what I type below.

Why just the tails? Why not the head and viscera too har har har..

A whole board could be devoted to tales viz Orson Welles and unfinished works...

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#62 Post by aox » Mon Aug 25, 2008 5:27 pm

HerrSchreck wrote:
aox wrote:Please regale us with tails of unfinished and/or incomplete films. I didn't want to start an individual thread for what I type below.

Why just the tails? Why not the head and viscera too har har har..

A whole board could be devoted to tales viz Orson Welles and unfinished works...
haha. good catch. Sometimes my boring desk job shuffling papers numbs my mind.

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Conversations with Dmitri

#63 Post by Ovader » Sat Oct 18, 2008 3:00 am

In Richard Brody's New Yorker article from November 2000 there was a film called Conversations with Dmitri Jean-Luc Godard wanted to do but fell through.
It was about the French film industry under a hypothetical Soviet occupation, and he intended it to be a comment on “the American cultural occupation, the German occupation, all occupations.”

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#64 Post by denis » Thu Oct 23, 2008 4:42 am

kubrick left A.I it wold be better if he had directed it

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#65 Post by myrnaloyisdope » Thu Oct 23, 2008 4:57 am

denis wrote:kubrick left A.I it wold be better if he had directed it
Care to elaborate or spell correctly? Don't want to be a dick, but for your first post that's pretty weak.

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#66 Post by Antoine Doinel » Thu Oct 23, 2008 9:38 am

denis wrote:kubrick left A.I it wold be better if he had directed it
He didn't leave it, he passed it along to Spielberg who he felt the material was better suited for.

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#67 Post by denis » Thu Oct 23, 2008 8:32 pm

myrnaloyisdope wrote:
denis wrote:kubrick left A.I it wold be better if he had directed it
Care to elaborate or spell correctly? Don't want to be a dick, but for your first post that's pretty weak.
sorry i'm not american, thanks for letting me know, tough
Antoine Doinel wrote:
denis wrote:kubrick left A.I it wold be better if he had directed it
He didn't leave it, he passed it along to Spielberg who he felt the material was better suited for.
that makes sense.

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#68 Post by Matt » Thu Oct 23, 2008 8:46 pm

Gordon wrote:Though unfinished, John Huston's, The Red Badge of Courage is a great film, but imagine if he had completed the shooting?
I read Picture just last year, so I ought to know (but I can't remember): didn't Huston actually finish shooting everything he had planned? It's just that he was off shooting The African Queen during the editing. In his absence, Dore Schary cut the film to ribbons.

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#69 Post by glaswegian tome » Tue Oct 28, 2008 2:59 pm

I've seen in several places that at the time of his death, Edward Yang was working on an animated film called Fifi, but it doesn't look like there's really any information on it anywhere. Does anyone know anything about this? How complete was it/are there any clips/did it progress beyond Yang just doodling/etc.

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#70 Post by Antoine Doinel » Tue Oct 28, 2008 3:04 pm

At a Harvard Film Archive retrospective of Yang films this summer, they showed from material from The Wind which I believe was in very early stages when he passed away.

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#71 Post by JonDambacher » Tue Oct 28, 2008 11:09 pm

Cinephrenic wrote:I always wondered if Kubrick had done Aryan Papers. Would have been something I think. He was planning it around the time of Schindler's List, but never got done.

Just to clear things up about the unfinished work of Kubrick:

Nap. has a script you can find, yes. Jack Nicholson was scheduled to lead. Waterloo came out, was a giant flop, Warner pulled the funds... He then did Barry Lyndon--a much better film, script, decision.

A. Papers also has a script that is hidden somewhere online (it's available to look at in the London Kubrick modern arts museum. Kubrick had done a large amount of research and work on the pre-production end. (He was also going to shoot in B+W) But within the time Stanley had been working for this mammoth undertaking, "Schindler's List" had already cast, shot, cut, released, and become a giant success before Stanley could really get the project further than pre-production. He stood down and congratulated Mr. Spielberg for his achievement.

A.I. Stanley, from the beginning thought Spielberg should be the guy to direct the movie--Stanley would help produce the picture. He had storyboards drawn up, this is widely known, he also pitched the project in his kitchen in England to Spielberg by having a title card drawn up, "A Spielberg film, A Stanley Kubrick production."

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#72 Post by PimpPanda » Tue Oct 28, 2008 11:46 pm

Antoine Doinel wrote:At a Harvard Film Archive retrospective of Yang films this summer, they showed from material from The Wind which I believe was in very early stages when he passed away.
Nowhere is the dilemma of the restricted viewpoint in closer focus than the six minutes that is all that currently exists of "The Wind." It's less an excerpt than a trailer, or more specifically a teaser for potential investors. "The Wind" would have made an unusual diversion in Yang's career for a number of reasons, being an animated film, set in the distant past, concerned with martial arts. The drawing for "The Wind" is lush and detailed, its deep-focus precision calling up comparisons to 19th-century Japanese painter Hiroshige as much as animation master Hayao Miyazaki.
In the short, Yang clowns around in his office with Jackie Chan, and a rapid-fire gallery of animated characters pose for the cameras, before the screen once more fades to black.
In Yang's hands, restricted viewpoints showed much

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#73 Post by John Cope » Wed Oct 29, 2008 12:26 am

JonDambacher wrote:A. Papers also has a script that is hidden somewhere online
If anybody comes across this please let me know.

As to A.I., my only real disappointment at this point is that the otherwise solid 2 disc DVD has virtually nothing on it (if I remember this right) from Kubrick's own pre-production period; and, as Jon says, he was very hands on at that time and much was, supposedly, produced. I have always regarded it as a real loss not to have made that stuff available (perhaps some is in the Kubrick Archives book--I don't know).

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#74 Post by eltopo » Wed Oct 29, 2008 5:40 am


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#75 Post by Awesome Welles » Wed Oct 29, 2008 9:43 am

JonDambacher wrote:Nap. has a script you can find, yes. Jack Nicholson was scheduled to lead. Waterloo came out, was a giant flop, Warner pulled the funds... He then did Barry Lyndon--a much better film, script, decision.
I also read/saw (can't remember where) recently that Kubrick had information on where Napoleon was every day and what he was doing, well as much as he could gather I guess. He wanted to know every single detail about Napoleon and if I remember correctly, according to Christiane, he read some fifty books on Napoleon.

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