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The 50 Greatest Movies Never Made Paperback – July 30, 1999
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From Publishers Weekly
In a business that produces over 40,000 spec scripts each year, of which only 3000 are optioned, and a mere 50 made, a project that never sees the light of day isn't a failureAit's the norm. In the spirit of Film ThreatAGore's alternative movie glossyAthis book celebrates the most remarkable of aborted projects: "they might not have turned into great films," he writes, "but as ideas they were truly great." Many of these jettisoned movies are already Hollywood legends, and Gore's descriptions of the surviving material are full of promise: potential classics by Hitchcock and Wells, Garbo's comeback film, a Walt Disney/Salvador Dali collaboration called Destino. Among the star turns we'll never see are Frank Sinatra in The Jimmy Durante Story and Marilyn Monroe in Something's Gotta Give. Other ideas are intriguingly demented: Howard Stern's superhero parody Fartman, or a gangster movie about a Mafia don made out of ice cream. For some of these projects, there's still hope. The major players are still alive and the ideas are still film-ready, as is the case with The Betty Page Story, which Variety recently announced was slated to feature Liv Tyler. But as Gore demonstrates, casting the lead is merely a beginning, and a beginning doesn't get you far in Hollywood. This archive of stillborn pictures attests to the great feats of development and persuasion necessary to get a major film off the ground, and to the countless projects that crashed and burned along the way. (July)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
About the Author
Top customer reviews
The author seems to think quite highly of his own opinion, and his attempts at wit are rarely humorous. I would have preferred a more neutral accounting of these movies that were never made, without as much personal commentary. A lot of his attempts at humor fall flat, such as using the phrase "The Short-Sighted States of America", and labeling the powerful heads of Hollywood as "kings" who are more interested in protecting their kingdoms than making (in his opinion) quality films. Some of the chapters (such as "Say It with Music") were positively dripping with scorn.
It becomes apparent very quickly that the author is using the subject of movies never made as a soapbox in which to express his hatred for all things Hollywood. His insults are mainly aimed towards the studios and producers, but he has plenty to spare for various directors and writers.
I don't know enough about the inner workings of Hollywood to determine if his criticisms are justified, but his complaints come across as more petty and childish than rational and intelligent.
This could have been a good book if it had been in the hands of someone less biased. As it is, it was mildly entertaining, but by the end of the book it wound up being a headache-inducing slog. And ending the book with "if you want a sequel buy more copies of this book and send lots of requests to the publisher" is just plain weird. Given that this book was written in 1999 and I don't see a sequel on amazon, this plea wasn't very successful.
This book is a fun quick read that focuses mostly on movies that Gore wished would have been made. Anyone who was an avid reader of Film Threat back in the 80s and 90s will find the subject matter of these movies very interesting. Betty Page to Sci-Fi, to very strange indie movies, all of the films discussed reflect the author's unique taste in film. And that is not going to be everyone's taste, as past reviews clearly show. However, I found this book to be very interesting and well researched. Why all of these movies have not been made was not clear to me back when it was first published.
UPDATE. Since this book was released, several of the movies from this book have in fact been made. Star Trek Academy (with a squeal soon to be released), the "Senior Citizen Animal House"? Old School with Will Ferrel anyone? The Silver Surfer never got his own movie, but did show up in The Fantastic Four movie. Alien finally fought Predator. And several Betty Page bio-pics have been released to critical acclaim. And even TIme Gate was released. But the fact that you are probably hearing about it for the first time by reading this review lets you know how successful it was.
Read this book. And let us hope that a updated second edition will one day pop up.
The book lovingly details 50 films which never got beyond the planning stages for various reasons. Many of them involved heavy Hollywood hitters, from Steven Spielberg (who helped to get the first ROGER RABBIT off the ground), to DOUBLE INDEMNITY director Billy Wilder (who brainstormed the aborted Marx Brothers film as well as a Laurel & Hardy comedy), to Alfred Hitchcock (who proposed a movie about a blind pianist whose sight is restored).
While the book is a fast-paced, popcornish read, the book's not-so-subtle point is to make film purists gnash their teeth at the thought of these potential film classics never getting made. For me, the book's only surprise was that they left out many of my favorites, including Buster Keaton's proposed take-off of Grand Hotel, Charlie Chaplin's The Freak (about a girl who sprouts wings), and an aborted Western starring The Beatles.
It's easy to cry about potential film masterpieces that never got beyond the planning stage. The trouble is that, like many real lost films that come to light after being re-discovered, they often turn out to be classics only if they remain lost. And considering some of the awful ideas which do make it to the light of a movie theater--as witness the recent bomb AT FIRST SIGHT, starring Val Kilmer as (shades of Hitchcock) a blind artist who regains his sight--maybe these movies have rotted in Development Limbo for some very good reasons.
That said, the book will be an eye-opener to novices who have never heard the term "turn-around," and brain candy for those who have seen awful ideas that *did* get made into movies.