lost stanley kubrick

Terry Gilliam, the Monty Python alum and director of films like Brazil, Time Bandits, and 12 Monkeys, was all set to direct a film that was based on a lost Stanley Kubrick film treatment. But Gilliam just can’t seem to catch a break. He finally completed his Don Quixote movie after spending decades encountering an almost comical number of obstacles, and now the coronavirus pandemic has “ruined” his latest plan and seemingly put the Kubrick project on ice once again. Get the details below.

“I was supposed to be shooting in September this year,” Gilliam revealed to La Repubblica (via The Film Stage). “I was doing a film that was originally an idea by Stanley Kubrick. And there was a script and I had a cast, but the lockdown has ruined everything.”

According to Cinergie, that abandoned Kubrick project was a film adaptation of Lunatic at Large, a 70-page treatment based on a Kubrick idea that Kubrick’s then-producing partner James B. Harris commissioned from acclaimed crime writer Jim Thompson in the 1950s. Thompson, who is probably best known for writing The Killer Inside Me, had teamed up with Kubrick to write the script for the 1956 Sterling Hayden movie The Killing, but Harris hoped Thompson’s fleshing out of Lunatic at Large might also catch Kubrick’s eye and result in his next movie. The project fell by the wayside and was never made, but the treatment was re-discovered in 1999; in 2010, Sam Rockwell and Scarlett Johansson were attached to star in a movie version, but that never happened.

We don’t know who Gilliam had lined up to star his version of Lunatic at Large, but here’s an old synopsis for the project:

Set in New York in 1956, it tells the story of Johnnie Sheppard, a former carnival worker with serious anger-management issues, and Joyce, a nervous, attractive barfly he picks up in a Hopperesque tavern scene. There’s a newsboy who flashes a portentous headline, a car chase over a railroad crossing with a train bearing down, and a romantic interlude in a spooky, deserted mountain lodge. The great set piece is a nighttime carnival sequence in which Joyce, lost and afraid, wanders among the tents and encounters a sideshow’s worth of familiar carnie types: the Alligator Man, the Mule-Faced Woman, the Midget Monkey Girl, the Human Blockhead, with the inevitable noggin full of nails.

This wouldn’t be the first time that Gilliam entered into Kubrick’s orbit. In 2013, Gilliam explained that he learned Kubrick had once wanted him to direct a sequel to Dr. Strangelove called Son of Strangelove, but Kubrick died before that that could come to fruition.

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