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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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Art
Get Crazy With the Official Bob Ross Coloring Book
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If you watched Bob Ross's classic series The Joy of Painting for hours on end but didn’t come away a terribly capable artist, you can still enjoy replicating the amazing public television personality’s work. You can now pretend you’re painting along with the late, great PBS star using a brand-new adult coloring book based on his art.

The Bob Ross Coloring Book (Universe) is the first authorized coloring book based on Ross’s artistic archive. Ross, who would have turned 75 later this year, was all about giving his fans the confidence to pursue art even without extensive training. “There’s an artist hidden at the bottom of every single one of us,” the gentle genius said. So what better way to honor his memory than to relax with his coloring book?

Here’s a sneak peek of some of the Ross landscapes you can recreate, all while flipping through some of his best quotes and timeless tidbits of wisdom.

An black-and-white outline of a Bob ross painting of a mountain valley

A black-and-white outline of a Bob Ross painting shows a house nestled among trees.

A black-and-white outline of a Bob Ross painting shows a farm scene.

And remember, even if you color outside the lines, it’s still a work of art. As Ross said, “We don’t make mistakes. We just have happy accidents.”

You can find The Bob Ross Coloring Book for about $14 on Amazon. Oh, and if you need even more Ross in your life, there’s now a Bob Ross wall calendar, too.

All images courtesy of Rizzoli.

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entertainment
8 Movies That Almost Starred Keanu Reeves
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He may not have the natural ease of Al Pacino, the classical training of Anthony Hopkins, the timeless cool of Jack Nicholson, or the raw versatility of Gary Oldman, but Keanu Reeves has been around long enough to have worked alongside each of those actors. Yet instead of Oscar nods, the actor whose first name means “cool breeze over the mountains” in Hawaiian has a handful of Razzie nominations.

While critical acclaim has mostly eluded Reeves during his 30-plus years in Hollywood, his movies have made nearly $2 billion at the box office. Whether because of his own choosiness or the decisions of studio powers-that-be, that tally could be much, much higher. To celebrate The Chosen One’s 53rd birthday, here are eight movies that almost starred Keanu Reeves.

1. X-MEN (2000)

In Hollywood’s version of the X-Men universe, Hugh Jackman is the definitive Wolverine. But Jackman himself was a last-minute replacement (for Dougray Scott) and other, bigger (in 2000) names were considered for the hirsute superhero—including Reeves. Ultimately, it was the studio that decided to go in a different direction, much to Reeves’ disappointment. “I always wanted to play Wolverine,” the actor told Moviefone in 2014. “But I didn't get that. And they have a great Wolverine now. I always wanted to play The Dark Knight. But I didn't get that one. They've had some great Batmans. So now I'm just enjoying them as an audience.”

2. PLATOON (1986)

For an action star, Reeves isn’t a huge fan of violence, which is why he passed on playing the lead in Oliver Stone’s Oscar-winning Vietnam classic. “Keanu turned it down because of the violence,” Stone told Entertainment Weekly in 2011. “He didn’t want to do violence.”

3. THE FLY II (1989)

Few people would likely mistake Reeves for the son of Jeff Goldblum, but producers were anxious to see him play the next generation of Goldblum’s insectile role in the sequel to The Fly. But Reeves wasn’t having any of it. Why? Simple: “I didn't like the script,” he told Movieline in 1990.

4. SPEED 2: CRUISE CONTROL (1997)

Speaking of sequels (and bad scripts): Reeves was ready to reprise his role as Jack Traven in Jan de Bont’s second go at the series … then he read it. “When I was offered Speed 2, Jan came to Chicago and so did Sandra, and they said, ‘You’ve got to do this,’” Reeves recalled to The Telegraph. “And I said, 'I read the script and I can’t. It’s called Speed, and it’s on a cruise ship.” (He's got a point.)

Even when the studio dangled a $12 million paycheck in front of him, Reeves said no. “I told [William Mechanic, then-head of Fox], ‘If I do this film, I will not come back up. You guys will send me to the bottom of the ocean and I will not make it back up again.’ I really felt like I was fighting for my life.”

5. HEAT (1995)

Reeves’ refusal to cave on Speed 2 didn’t sit well in Hollywood circles. And it didn't help that he also passed on playing Chris Shiherlis (Val Kilmer’s role) in Michael Mann’s Heat in order to spend a month playing Hamlet at Canada’s Manitoba Theatre Centre. From that point on, Reeves told The Telegraph that it’s been a struggle for him to book any studio movies. “That’s a good old Hollywood story! That was a whole, 'Hey, kid, this is what happens in Hollywood: I said no to the number two and I never worked with the studio again!’”

6. BOWFINGER (1999)

By the time Frank Oz’s Bowfinger rolled around, Eddie Murphy was pretty much the go-to guy for any dual role part, but the movie wasn’t always intended to play that way. Steve Martin, who both starred in and wrote the movie, had actually penned the part of Kit Ramsey for Reeves (whom he had worked with a decade earlier in Parenthood).

“When Steve gave me the script for Bowfinger, it wasn't written for Eddie Murphy,” producer Brian Grazer explained. “It was written for a white action star. It was written for Keanu Reeves, literally. I said, 'Why does it have to be an action star?' He said, 'That's the joke.' I said: 'What if it were Eddie Murphy, and Eddie Murphy played two characters? That could be really funny.' He said: 'You know, that'd be great—that'd be brilliant. Let's do that.' He processed it in about a minute, and he made a creative sea change.”

7. WATCHMEN (2009)

A year before Zack Snyder’s Watchmen hit theaters, Reeves confirmed to MTV what many had speculated: that he had turned down the chance to play Dr. Manhattan in the highly anticipated adaptation. But it wasn’t because of lack of interest on Reeves’ part; it just “didn't work out.” Still, he made it as far as a set visit: “They were shooting in Vancouver while we were filming so I went over to the set to say, 'hi.' They showed me some stuff and it looks amazing! I can’t wait. It’s going to be so killer, man!”

8. TROPIC THUNDER (2008)

By the time Ben Stiller’s Tropic Thunder made its way into theaters in the summer of 2008, the meta-comedy had been more than a decade in the making. So it’s understandable that the final product veered from Stiller’s original plan for the film, which included Reeves playing the role of Tugg Speedman (Stiller’s eventual part). Initially, Stiller had planned to cast himself as smarmy agent Rick Peck (Matthew McConaughey picked up the slack).

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