Tinseltown's history is awash in unrealized cinematic dreams, from the most ardent indie approach to the most mild of mainstream conceits. This week we present the list of 'legendary' films that Hollywood failed to make... much to their detriment and film fan's chagrin.
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#5 -- Flamingos Forever (John Waters)
John Waters had long thought about spinning a sequel out of his high art trash triumph. He even wrote a script involving the return of Babs Johnson to Baltimore and her latest rivalry with a necrophiliac mortuary owner and his sour wife. The entire family would be back, and there was even a giant turd involved. While Troma was willing to say yes, Divine nixed the idea, and then important concept component -- the Egg Lady herself Edith Massey -- died. Water lost interest and the project remained rumored until the filmmaker published the actual screenplay. Reading it reminds us of Waters' genius, as well as what might have been.
#4 -- Geek Love (Tim Burton)
Before he started to take himself seriously as a commercial auteur, Tim Burton seemed destined to blaze a cinematic trail loaded with arcane and unusual projects, such as this. Centering on the story of a family of carnies and how Mom and Dad deform their children for fun and profit, it seemed like the perfect vehicle for the gloomy Goth genius. Unfortunately, those writing the checks didn't agree, even if the book upon which the film was based was a massive cult hit. The concept of manmade freaks forced a rash reconsideration, leaving the material to bounce around from filmmaker (David Lynch?) to filmmaker (Terry Gilliam?).
#3 -- Ronnie Rocket (David Lynch)
Another unsung Lynch masterwork, a script so chock full of his subversive signature beats it could almost rewrite the language of film itself. Alternately about energy and a red haired dwarf with physical difficulties, it is perhaps the ultimate post-Eraserhead statement from the man who more or less invented the type. The script is still available online, and once read, immediately announces the reasons it has been shunned by Hollywood. Not only is it weird -- Lynchian weird -- it's a spectacle where scope and size don't really matter, an allegory without a recognizable point of reference but all the mandated meaning. It has since been abandoned by its potential creator.
#2 -- Napoleon (Stanley Kubrick)
Blame Waterloo and Rod Steiger. All throughout the '60s, Kubrick had wanted to make a broad, sweeping biopic of the famous French Emperor. He read numerous books on the subject and secured cooperation from the Romanian government to use 50,000 of its military troops. With possible leads such as David Hemmings (Blow-up) and/or Jack Nicholson, it seemed like another solid vision from the master. Then a version of War and Peace tanked, followed by the failure the aforementioned Napoleon/Wellington standoff. Kubrick couldn't get the money he wanted, so he dumped it. He would later recycle some of the element for Barry Lyndon, though until his death, he dreamed of reviving the project.
#1 -- Dune (Alejandro Jodorowsky)
Perhaps one of the greatest cinematic missed opportunities of all time. After crashing genre expectations with this acid spaghetti western El Topo and the genius religious iconography sacrilege of The Holy Mountain, the famed filmmaker rallied his friends, found financing help from John Lennon, and dove head long into an adaptation of Frank Herbert's messianic sci-fi novel. Hiring renowned artists such as H. R. Giger and Moebius to plot out his preproduction, the epic slowly became a sprawling, exciting work of avant-garde wonder. So naturally, no major studio would sponsor it. When Star Wars arrived on the scene, knocking such intellectualized speculation off the possible production radar, Dune was doomed. Still, what might have been circulates around the web, and this past May, a documentary on the aborted project made the rounds at Cannes.