The Best Movies That Were Never Made

Suppose, by some outlandish quirk of life, you found yourself sitting in a movie theater, watching the new remake of The Great Gatsby, with a rap soundtrack. You don’t know how you got there: it’s like waking up in Dracula’s castle.

To save your sanity, you slide hurriedly into a trance. And now you’re in another theater, with another movie playing. One of these, in fact–great movies that were never made, but should have been.

1. Ulysses starring Toshiro Mifune, directed by Akira Kurosawa. It just doesn’t get any better than this. Homer’s epic would translate beautifully to an old Japanese setting, especially if the screenwriters concentrated on what happens when Ulysses finally gets home and finds his house occupied by “suitors” planning to rape his wife and murder his son. The Kirk Douglas Ulysses is one of my favorite films, but this would be even better. Much better.

2. Only in New England starring Joseph Cotten, directed by Otto Preminger. This is from a 1959 book by Theodore Roscoe, subtitled “The Story of a Gaslight Crime.” A writer vacationing in a New England shore town delves into a murder that happened some sixty years before, in the very house he’s staying in. As he uncovers the strange secrets of an extinct family, we get a strong impression that murder is sneaking up on him, too. In glorious and creepy black and white!

3. The Hollow starring Virginia Christine as an evil movie star, Michael Rennie as an egotistical doctor suddenly freed from his obsession with her, and Peter Ustinov as Hercule Poirot, called in to solve a murder. This is, as you’ve guessed, an Agatha Christie novel. (By the way, if you don’t think Virginia Christine would be up to the challenge of this role, see my Oct. 20 post, “Blessing the Mummy’s Curse.”) In this haunting tale, Christie created such complex characters, and peered so deeply into their troubled, complicated souls, we almost (but not quite) don’t care about the murder.

OK, that’s it for non-movie time today.

If you know of some other terrific movies that were never made, I’d love to hear about them.

12 comments on “The Best Movies That Were Never Made

  1. Good morning,
    I am nowhere near the movie buff or critic to compare with you, but I very often think of stories I really wish could be made into accurate portrayals, with nothing but the facts and truth, no Hollywood embellishments. Alas, it is almost impossible to find anything like this. I do have some Biblical stories in DVD that are very enjoyable, but even some of those have been
    screwed up in part by the aforesaid embellishments. No-spin truth is so rare and refreshing these days. sigh…

    1. I have a lot of “Bible movies” in my collection, and although I have found them inspiring, most of them do take liberties with the original. Not that the movie-makers wanted to debase the truth–but often the Bible narrative itself is too concise to support a whole movie screenplay. This can get out of hand, as witness Samson and Delilah starring Victor Mature and Hedy Lamarr. Also, movies depicting the life of Christ, no matter how lovingly or reverently presented, all seem to leave out the Transfiguration. I have no idea why.

      I admit we have to be careful with Bible movies. They must never, never, never be used as a substitute for the real thing!

  2. Lee, Where do you find these movies?? Paul

    Paul Herbert : family of Zimmerman sui juris sovereign living soul, holder of the office of Bexar County Sheriff Inhabitant on the land of Texas republic

    1. Sorry, Paul–and anyone else who might’ve been misled. I thought I’d made it clear that these movies do not exist. I only wish they did. In discussing them, I am indulging in fantasy–staying in shape, you might say, until God gives me the idea for my next book.

  3. Hi Lee!
    Virginia Christine is one of my fav actresses, no matter if she was playing lead, supporting or character actress. But to add Michael Rennie and Ustinov to co-stars would have been Heavenly. Really enjoy your blogs. Be Blessed!

    1. Ah, what I coulda done with movies! As a fantasy writer, I can cast anybody I want–and they can’t say no to me. But we will have to use our imaginations to appreciate these movies that were never made.

    1. Nah, that’d be sexist or something. It would show him *achieving* things, and achievement is bad. Toxic masculinity, doncha know. Psychiatrists will tell you that. So much healthier and sane to achieve absolutely nothing!

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