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13 Hitchcock Films That Were Never Made

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Even legendary directors like Alfred Hitchcock don't always get their way. Over the course of his illustrious career, Hitchcock had to abandon quite a few projects due to budgetary concerns, issues with stars, the whims of studio heads or, in some cases, his own instincts that the film wasn't going to turn out the way he had envisioned it.

On what would have been The Master of Suspense's 117th birthday, let's take a look at a few of the legendary auteur's unproduced projects, including the one that studio execs hated so much, they made Hitch sign a contract promising he wouldn't make it.

1. NUMBER 13

This silent 1922 feature for Gainsborough Pictures was set to be Hitchcock's directorial debut. The film was to star Clare Greet and Ernest Thesiger in a script written by "a woman working at the studio who had worked with (Charlie) Chaplin." Hitchcock only filmed a few scenes before the budget fell through, and the script is now lost. The film of the few completed scenes is also lost, possibly because the studio melted it down to recycle the film's silver nitrate. Don't worry too much about missing out on this one, though; Hitchcock later admitted, "It wasn't very good, really."

2. NO BAIL FOR THE JUDGE

Hitchcock spent the early part of 1959 preparing to adapt Henry Cecil's novel of the same name into a film starring Audrey Hepburn. On May 19th of that year, though, Hepburn dropped out of the project, with some sources saying she was reluctant to do a film so soon after delivering a child, and others claiming she refused the part when she found out her character was involved in a rape scene. The project died when Hepburn backed out, and although Hitchcock was privately livid, he regrouped nicely by making Psycho instead.

3. THE BLIND MAN

In 1960 Hitchcock and legendary screenwriter Ernest Lehman began to work on a script called The Blind Man about a blind pianist who regains his sight after receiving an eye transplant from a murder victim. Hitchcock envisioned Jimmy Stewart in the lead role, and one of the film's main scenes was to be set in Disneyland. That's where the trouble started; Walt Disney had seen Psycho and truly hated it. Disney reportedly wouldn't let Hitchcock shoot in his park, so the project died.

4. HAMLET

In the late 1940s, Hitchcock hit on an odd idea: He wanted to produce a modernized version of Hamlet set in England with Cary Grant in the title role. According to Hitchcock, the project "would be presented as a psychological melodrama." The idea hit the rocks after Hitchcock's studio, Transatlantic, announced the project and a professor who had written a modernized version of Shakespeare's tale threatened a lawsuit.

5. FLAMINGO FEATHER

In 1956, Hitchcock bought a story called Flamingo Feather from South African author and diplomat Laurens van der Post. The plot involved a Russian scheme to train South Africans for nefarious Communist purposes. When Hitchcock went to South Africa to scout shooting locations, though, the project quickly fell apart. The director wanted Jimmy Stewart and Grace Kelly as the leads, which would be pricey, and he felt he needed 50,000 African extras. Hitchcock didn't love the look of the country's terrain, and it became apparent that even in South Africa it would be tough to get together 50,000 extras when most of the country's population worked long hours at farming jobs. Hitchcock later said, "It was all so confusing that I dropped the whole idea."

6. MARY ROSE

Toward the end of his career, Hitchcock frequently mentioned an unproduced 1964 film called Mary Rose whenever he was asked about his professional regrets. In Hitchcock's amazing book-length interview with François Truffaut, he describes the project as "a little like a science fiction story" and details the plot, which involves a woman who hears celestial voices and mysteriously vanishes at odd intervals.

Hitchcock put a lot of thought into this project—he even explained to Truffaut exactly how he would light certain scenes and tried to talk the French director into making the film—but the ghostly supernatural elements of the film were a non-starter for studio execs. Hitchcock revealed in another late-career interview, "Do you know, it's written specifically into my present contract that I cannot do Mary Rose?" Hitch could allegedly make any film he wanted as long as he kept the budget under $3 million—and didn't make Mary Rose.

7. R.R.R.R.

In 1965, Hitchcock hired the Italian writing duo Age and Scarpelli—perhaps best known in America for their screenplay for The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly—to pen a script about an Italian immigrant to America who rises in the hotel world, then sends for his Sicilian family. Unbeknownst to the hotelier, his relatives are a pack of thieves. Eventually the sticky-fingered family tries to swipe a valuable coin collection from the hotel; the title comes from numismatic jargon. Hitchcock told Truffaut, "I dropped the project because it seemed to be shapeless. Aside from that, you know that Italians are very slipshod in matters of story construction. They just ramble on."

8. THE THREE HOSTAGES

The Three Hostages is another of the unsuccessful projects at which Hitchcock took a crack after making Marnie. The film was an adaptation of John Buchan's 1924 novel of the same name in which a government plans to crack down on a criminal gang on a certain date. The gang catches wind of the plan and kidnaps three children to regain some leverage against the government.

Hitchcock announced the project, but he ended up eventually abandoning it over difficulties in obtaining the screen rights and concerns over the script's reliance on hypnotism as a plot device. He later said, "I feel you cannot put hypnotism on the screen and expect it to hold water. It is a condition too remote from the audience's own experiences."

9. KALEIDOSCOPE/FRENZY

In 1969, Hitchcock planned to make a triumphant comeback after a string of films that received middling commercial and critical reactions by making Kaleidoscope (also referred to as Frenzy), a grisly tale of a serial rapist and murderer. The film was set to feature a handsome young killer who lured women to their death; Hitchcock considered it a prequel to his 1943 tour de force Shadow of a Doubt. The script included some elements—including necrophilia and the use of acid baths to dispose of bodies—that Hitchcock had pulled from newspaper reports about notorious British criminals.

Hitchcock actually shot an hour or so of silent test footage, but Universal nixed the film as it didn't think audiences would warm to a sex- and murder-filled flick that featured a serial killer as its protagonist. Hitchcock was irritated about having to abandon the project, but he revived a few plot points and one of the working titles when he made 1972's Frenzy, a serial killer tale that may have been the director's last great film in spite of a decidedly mediocre cast.

10. THE SHORT NIGHT

Hitchcock's final project before his death in 1980 was The Short Night, an espionage picture based on a Ronald Kirkbride novel and set in Finland. Hitchcock made it as far as considering Walter Matthau, Clint Eastwood, Sean Connery, Catherine Deneuve, and Liv Ullmann for the lead roles, but Universal squashed the project in 1979 due to the director's failing health.

11. GREENMANTLE

Hitchcock had such great luck with his adaptation of John Buchan's novel The Thirty-Nine Steps that when it came time to direct a follow-up, he decided to go back to the well with an adaptation of Buchan's novel Greenmantle. Hitchcock wanted to pair Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman in the lead roles, but Buchan's estate wanted too much money for the screen rights. Hitchcock eventually realized his dream pairing of Grant and Bergman with the 1946 classic Notorious.

12. THE BRAMBLE BUSH

Hitchcock spent part of 1951 adapting David Duncan's novel into a screenplay. The story involved a Communist agitator on the run from the authorities who steals another man's passport, only to learn that the man is wanted for murder. Hitchcock eventually decided "it wasn't any good," and he abandoned the idea to work on a project to which Warner Bros. had just purchased the rights: the Broadway hit Dial M for Murder.

13. THE WRECK OF THE MARY DEARE

Hitchcock always wanted to do a movie with Gary Cooper. He offered Cooper the lead role in Foreign Correspondent only to have the star turn it down because it was a thriller; Joel McCrea ended up memorably playing the part instead. In 1959, though, Hitchcock had another shot when MGM optioned the rights to the novel The Wreck of the Mary Deare for a Hitchcock-Cooper collaboration.

Hitchcock and Ernest Lehman spent weeks working on the script, but they eventually decided that the story really became a snooze of a courtroom drama and shifted their focus to the early planning for North by Northwest instead.

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8 Gonzo Facts About Hunter S. Thompson
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Hunter S. Thompson in Gonzo: The Life and Work of Hunter S. Thompson (2008)
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Like any real-life legend, there are many myths surrounding the life and work of Hunter S. Thompson. But in Thompson’s case, most of those stories—particularly the more outlandish ones—are absolutely true. The founder of the “Gonzo journalism” movement is one of the most fascinating figures of the 20th century. In celebration of what would have been his 80th birthday, here are some things you might not have known about the eccentric writer.

1. HE WAS NAMED AFTER A FAMOUS SCOTTISH SURGEON.

Hunter S. Thompson was reportedly named after one of his mother’s ancestors, a Scottish surgeon named Nigel John Hunter. But Hunter wasn't just your run-of-the-mill surgeon. In a 2004 interview with the Independent, Thompson brought along a copy of The Reluctant Surgeon, a Biography of Nigel John Hunter, a biography of his namesake, which read: "A gruff Scotsman, Hunter has been described as the most important naturalist between Aristotle and Darwin, the Shakespeare of medicine and the greatest man the British ever produced. He was the first to trace the lymphatic system. He performed the first human artificial insemination. He was the greatest collector of anatomical specimens in history. He prescribed the orthopaedic shoe that allowed Lord Byron to walk."

When pressed about what that description had to do with him, Thompson responded: "Well, I guess that might be the secret of my survival. Good genes."

2. HE MISSED HIS HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATION … BECAUSE HE WAS IN JAIL.

Just a few weeks before he was set to graduate from high school, at the age of 17, Thompson was charged as an accessory to robbery and sentenced to 60 days in jail. 

“One night Ralston Steenrod, who was in the Athenaeum with Hunter, was driving, and Hunter and another guy he knew were in the car,” Thompson’s childhood friend Neville Blakemore recalled of the incident. “As they were driv­ing through Cherokee Park, the other guy said, ‘Stop. I want to bum a ciga­rette from that car.’ People used to go park and neck at this spot. And the guy got out and apparently went back and mugged them. The guy who was mugged got their license number and traced the car, and within a very short time they were all three arrested.

“Just before this Hunter had been blamed for a nighttime gas-station rob­bery,” Blakemore added, “and before that he and some friends got arrested for buying booze under­age at Abe's Liquor Store on Frankfort Avenue by the tracks. So Hunter had a record, and he was already on probation. He was given an ultimatum: jail or the military. And Hunter took the Air Force. He didn't graduate with his class.”

3. IT WAS A FELLOW JOURNALIST WHO COINED THE TERM “GONZO.”

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While covering the 1968 New Hampshire primary, Thompson met fellow writer and editor Bill Carodoso, editor of The Boston Globe Sunday Magazine, which is where Thompson first heard him use the word “Gonzo.” “It meant sort of ‘crazy’ or ‘off-the-wall,’” Thompson said in Anita Thompson’s Ancient Gonzo Wisdom: Interviews with Hunter S. Thompson. Two years later, in June 1970, Thompson wrote an article for Scanlan’s Monthly entitled “The Kentucky Derby Is Decadent and Depraved,” which became a game-changing moment in journalism because of its offbeat, slightly manic style that was written with first-person subjectivity.

Among the many fellow journalists who praised Thompson for the piece was Cardoso, who sent a letter to Thompson that “said something like, ‘Forget all the sh*t you’ve been writing, this is it; this is pure Gonzo.’ Gonzo. Yeah, of course. That’s what I was doing all the time. Of course, I might be crazy.” Thompson ran with the word, and would use it himself for the first time a year later, in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.

4. HE TYPED OUT FAMOUS NOVELS TO LEARN THE ART OF WRITING.

In order to get the “feel” of being a writer, Thompson used to retype his favorite novels in full. “[H]is true model and hero was F. Scott Fitzgerald,” Louis Menand wrote in The New Yorker. “He used to type out pages from The Great Gatsby, just to get the feeling, he said, of what it was like to write that way, and Fitzgerald’s novel was continually on his mind while he was working on Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, which was published, after a prolonged and agonizing compositional nightmare, in 1972.”

"If you type out somebody's work, you learn a lot about it,” Thompson told Charlie Rose in 1997. “Amazingly it's like music. And from typing out parts of Faulkner, Hemingway, Fitzgerald—these were writers that were very big in my life and the lives of the people around me—so yeah, I wanted to learn from the best I guess."

5. HE RAN FOR SHERIFF IN COLORADO.

In 1970, Thompson ran for sheriff of Pitkin County, Colorado on what he called the Freak Power ticket. Among his political tactics: shaving his head so that he could refer to his opponent as his “long-haired opponent,” promising to eat mescaline while on duty, and campaigning to rename Aspen “Fat City” to deter "greed heads, land-rapers, and other human jackals from capitalizing on the name 'Aspen.'" Unfortunately, he lost.

6. HE STOLE A MEMENTO FROM ERNEST HEMINGWAY.

In 1964, three years after Ernest Hemingway committed suicide at his cabin in Ketchum, Idaho, Thompson traveled to the late author’s home in order to write “What Lured Hemingway to Ketchum?” While there, according to his widow, Hunter “got caught up in the moment” and took “a big pair of elk horns over the front door.” Last year, more than a decade after Thompson’s death, Anita returned the antlers to the Hemingway family—which is something she and Hunter had always planned to do. “They were warm and kind of tickled … they were so open and grateful, there was no weirdness,” Anita said.

7. HE ONCE USED THE INSIDE OF MUSICIAN JOHN OATES’ COLORADO CABIN AS HIS PERSONAL PARKING SPACE.

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Earlier this month, musician John Oates—the latter half of Hall & Oates—shared a story about his ranch in Woody Creek, Colorado, just outside of Aspen, which is currently on the market for $6 million. In an interview with Colorado Public Radio, Oates recalled how when he first purchased the cabin, there was a red convertible parked inside. “I happened to ask the real estate agent who owned the convertible, and he said ‘your neighbor Hunter Thompson,’” Oates said. “Why is he keeping his car in a piece of property he doesn’t own? The real estate agent looked at me and said ‘It’s Woody Creek, you’ll figure this out. It’s a different kind of place.’” After sending several letters to his neighbor to retrieve his vehicle, Oates took matters into his own hands and deposited the car on Thompson’s lawn. Oates said that the two became friends, but never mentioned the incident.

8. AT HIS FUNERAL, HIS ASHES WERE SHOT OUT OF A CANNON.

On February 20, 2005—at the age of 67—Thompson committed suicide. But Thompson wasn’t about to leave this world quietly. In August of that year, in accordance with his wishes, Thompson's ashes were shot into the air from a cannon while fireworks filled the sky.

“He loved explosions," his widow, Anita, told ESPN, which wrote that, “The private celebration included actors Bill Murray and Johnny Depp, rock bands, blowup dolls and plenty of liquor to honor Thompson, who killed himself six months ago at the age of 67.”

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15 Memorable Quotes from George A. Romero
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Hollywood has lost one of its most iconic horror innovators with the death of George A. Romero, who passed away on Sunday at the age of 77. “He died peacefully in his sleep, following a brief but aggressive battle with lung cancer, and leaves behind a loving family, many friends, and a filmmaking legacy that has endured, and will continue to endure, the test of time,” his manager, Chris Roe, said in a statement.

Though he rose to prominence as the master of zombie flicks, beginning with Night of the Living Dead, Romero honed his filmmaking skills on a far less frightening set: shooting bits for Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.

“I still joke that 'Mr. Rogers Gets a Tonsillectomy' is the scariest film I’ve ever made,” Romero once said. “What I really mean is that I was scared sh*tless while I was trying to pull it off.” (Rogers returned the favor by being a longtime champion of Romero’s work—and even called Dawn of the Dead “a lot of fun.”)

It’s that high-spirited sense of fun that made Romero’s work so iconic—and kept the New York City native busy for nearly 50 years. To celebrate his life and career, here are 15 of his most memorable quotes on everything from the humanity of zombies to the horror of Hollywood producers.

ON THE IMPORTANCE OF HAVING A SENSE OF HUMOR

“For a Catholic kid in parochial school, the only way to survive the beatings—by classmates, not the nuns—was to be the funny guy.”

ON THE HOLLYWOOD WAY

“If I fail, the film industry writes me off as another statistic. If I succeed, they pay me a million bucks to fly out to Hollywood and fart.”

ON BEING PIGEONHOLED

“As a filmmaker you get typecast just as much as an actor does, so I'm trapped in a genre that I love, but I'm trapped in it!”

ON ZOMBIES AS A METAPHOR

“I also have always liked the monster within idea. I like the zombies being us. Zombies are the blue-collar monsters.”

ON FINDING OBJECTIVITY AS A FILMMAKER

“There are so many factors when you think of your own films. You think of the people you worked on it with, and somehow forget the movie. You can't forgive the movie for a long time. It takes a few years to look at it with any objectivity and forgive its flaws.”

ON THE REAL VALUE OF THE INTERNET

“What the Internet's value is that you have access to information but you also have access to every lunatic that's out there that wants to throw up a blog.”

ON THE HORROR OF DEALING WITH PRODUCERS

“I'll never get sick of zombies. I just get sick of producers.”

ON THE IMPORTANCE OF COLLABORATION

“Collaborate, don’t dictate.”

ON THE BEAUTY OF LOW-BUDGET MOVIEMAKING

“I don't think you need to spend $40 million to be creepy. The best horror films are the ones that are much less endowed.”

ON HUMANS BEING THE REAL VILLAINS

“My zombies will never take over the world because I need the humans. The humans are the ones I dislike the most, and they're where the trouble really lies.”

ON BEING IMMUNE TO TRENDS

“Somehow I've been able to keep standing and stay in my little corner and do my little stuff and I'm not particularly affected by trends or I'm not dying to make a 3-D movie or anything like that. I'm just sort of happy to still be around.”

ON THE HUMANITY OF HORROR

“My stories are about humans and how they react, or fail to react, or react stupidly. I'm pointing the finger at us, not at the zombies. I try to respect and sympathize with the zombies as much as possible.”

ON THE ENDURING APPEAL OF HORROR

“If one horror film hits, everyone says, 'Let's go make a horror film.' It's the genre that never dies.”

ON THE IMPORTANCE OF SURROUNDING ZOMBIES WITH STUPID PEOPLE

“A zombie film is not fun without a bunch of stupid people running around and observing how they fail to handle the situation.”

ON LIFE AFTER DEATH

“I'm like my zombies. I won't stay dead!”

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