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The Greatest Movies You'll Never See: Unseen Masterpieces by the World's Greatest Directors [Hardcover]

Simon Braund
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Book Description

1 Nov 2013

From Hitchcock and Dali to Peckinpah and Lynch, cinema history is littered with masterpieces that have never seen the light of day. Now, The Greatest Movies You’ll Never See unveils the fascinating – and frequently heart-breaking – stories of these projects’ faltering steps from green light to movie graveyard.

Opening at the dawn of contemporary cinema with Charlie Chaplin’s Return from St. Helena, and closing with the collapse of Tony Scott’s Potsdamer Platz, following the director’s suicide in 2012, this riveting compendium of celluloid ‘what ifs’ goes behind the scenes of more than fifty ‘lost’ films to explain exactly why they never made it to the final cut.

Discover the meticulous preparations behind Ray Harryhausen’s War of the Worlds and Stanley Kubrick’s Napoleon; learn why Brazzaville, a sequel to Casablanca, and Night Skies, a science-fiction horror story by Steven Spielberg, fell by the wayside; and read about the unrealized dreams of sometimes ill-fated auteurs Tim Burton and the Coen Brothers. The Greatest Movies You’ll Never See details all the obstacles encountered, from unsympathetic studios and preposterous plots to the untimely deaths of stars.

Alongside these compelling tales from development hell are script extracts, storyboards, concept artwork and frames of surviving footage. In addition, all the unmade movies are accompanied by original posters from acclaimed modern designers, including Akiko Stehrenberger (Funny Games, Kiss of the Damned) and Heath Killen (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Never Let Me Go).

An endlessly absorbing alternative history of the silver screen, The Greatest Movies You’ll Never See is an essential read for all true cineastes.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Aurum Press Ltd (1 Nov 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1781310750
  • ISBN-13: 978-1781310755
  • Product Dimensions: 24.4 x 19 x 3.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 202,200 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


‘This is such an intriguing book, you wonder why it hasn’t been compiled before ... an exhaustive account of stifled ambition that reads like an alternative history of cinema; a tantalising line-up of what-ifs and if onlys'

(The Sunday Times)

'Does what it says on the tin ... a fun one for the downstairs loo'

(Evening Standard)

'Fascinating film-by-film compendium'

(Empire magazine)

'An easy read with genuine academic credentials. Engaging, funny and - crucially - rigorous throughout'

(Total Film)

'The research is impeccable, and some of the stories are jaw-dropping. You'll find lots of fascinating anecdotes about the art of film-making'

(SFX magazine)

‘an exhaustive account of stifled ambition…overstuffed with fascinating trivia’

(The Oldie)

About the Author

SIMON BRAUND, a British author living in Los Angeles, wrote the definitive history of Alejandro Jodorowsky’s failed attempt, in 1975, to adapt Frank Herbert’s Dune. He has been a contributing editor to Empire, the UK’s leading movie magazine, for a decade and has written for numerous magazines and newspapers, including the Sunday Times, Q, the Observer, and Time Out.


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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Reccomended... 8 Mar 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Really interesting and revelatory. I know a fair bit about film but a lot of these were new to me. Very imaginative mocked-up poster art.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Purchased of a gift 16 July 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Purchased as a gift, just the right amount of packaging
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10 of 18 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Good topic 27 Nov 2013
I bought this book as I love movies and am fascinated by things considered lost. So this purchase seemed like an ideal read for me. After having read the entries about planned but scrapped movies I felt I had paid more for the art work in the book than for the information provided. Maybe there aren't that many facts available about these unproduced movies but I felt that such subjects Hitchcock's "Kaleidoscope" and Kubrick's "Napoleon" could have had more than 3 or 4 pages each. That's the problem with this book: the writers don't have enough material on these never realized films.

So instead this 250 page book is crammed with some artists idea of what the posters for these unmade films could have looked like. Too much space is given for these supposed posters that look instantly dated and amateur. I think the editors thought the posters would be "cool" in a Criterion Collection cover art kind of way. If the pictures had been smaller and not so blatantly taking up so much space I could have overlooked it. But they are not good enough to warrant so much attention and the price of the book. Otherwise, it is a riveting idea to write about potential and "lost" films.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 5.0 out of 5 stars  4 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A concise look at a cinematic world that could have been 13 Mar 2014
By Michael A. Weyer - Published on
Imagine going to the DVD section of your local library and seeing…

*Sequels to “Casablanca” and “Gladiator.”
*”War of the Worlds” with FX by stop-motion master Ray Harryhausen.
*The Marx Brothers doing a movie with Salvador Dali.
*Stanley Kubrick directing a biography of Napolean.
*Legendary animator Hayao Miyazaki adapting Pippi Longstocking.
*Nicolas Cage as Superman.
*Alejandro Jodorowsky adapting “Dune.”
*Ridley Scott directing real-life thriller “The Hot Zone.”
*”Batman Year One” instead of “Batman Begins.”
*A story of the 300 Spartans starring Bruce Willis and directed by Michael Mann.
*An adaptation of video game “Halo” by the director of “District 9.”

All these and so many more are covered in this fantastic book. It’s amazing to read of the various projects Terry Gilliam and Orson Welles were unable to get off the ground despite hard work and also the original idea for the revival of “Star Trek” in motion pictures and an unused James Bond starring Sean Connery. In some cases, the decision to shoot these down could be disastrous such as Carloco passing on the Arnold Schwarzenegger epic “Crusade” in favor of the mega-bomb “Cutthroat Island” which put them out of business. It even goes into movies that were actually mostly made like Marilyn Monroe’s final film; Jerry Lewis’ infamous Holocaust drama “The Day the Clown Cried”; and David O. Russell’s “Nailed” that folded just two days before production was complete with just one key scene barring it from being released. In each case, it’s pointed out that these films could have been hits and truly amazing but remain unused and unmade.

If there’s a complaint, it’s that the book is too short as any of these could be grounds for a major volume for much more detail. But Braund does a pretty good job mixing together the stories, going into how each developed and nurtured only to die. Sometimes it’s budget, often creator clashes but does make you see how things could have changed. How would Walt Disney have fared if “A Princess of Mars” had been the first animated feature film? Would Steven Spielberg’s career taken a different direction if he’d made horror film “Night Skies” rather than “E.T.?” Not to mention the stars variously affected and the legacies left behind. The last chapter does capsules of other projects from Joss Whedon’s “Wonder Woman” to the seemingly cursed “A Confederacy of Dunces.” Each one has a little bit on what projects the directors moved onto and the chances of said movies being made today. It’s an eye-opener to how brutal Hollywood can be to ideas that sound great on paper but also how making said dreams come true is a real struggle. While one could wish for more detail, the great images provided (complete with mock posters for each film) offer a very intriguing glimpse at cinema that could have been and makes you see more than a few careers in new lights.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars But I WANNA!!!!!!! 2 Mar 2014
By S. Berner - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A truly marvelous read for any film buff (or even highly polish)

Unlike some other books of a similar bent, the films discussed here are not rumours or speculations.

Every one of them was at various stages of production from script to casting to, in the case of David O Russell's entry, almost totally completed.

And (almost) every one of them reads as a truly great (or, at least very good) loss to the art of film.

That Braund brings them to life so well is the magic of this book.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lost Films, Lost Opportunities 31 May 2014
By R. Hardy - Published on
Whittier told us, “For of all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these: ‘It might have been!’” But it is only half true. What if one of the things that might have been was a movie with Jerry Lewis as a clown in a Nazi concentration camp? What if there had been a movie sequel to _Casablanca_? These are “might have beens” about which we can be anything but sad. These two examples are anomalies, though, included in _The Greatest Movies You’ll Never See: Unseen Masterpieces by the World’s Greatest Directors_ (Cassell Illustrated), edited by Simon Braund. All of these movies were proposed, planned, and may even have been in production, but they are movies that we can only dream about seeing. Some of them had the potential to have been masterworks, and so there is a Whittier-tinged regret over most of the chapters, but the stories of what was proposed and what went wrong are often amusing and surprising.

Let’s clear up that Jerry Lewis movie first. Unlike the other films described here, _The Day the Clown Cried_ isn’t imaginary. It exists. It was made in 1972, and a few people have been shown the rough cut, but it is supposed to be worse than you can imagine. The sequel to _Casablanca_ was written and even casted, and it would have turned the original on its head, revealing that Rick had been a secret agent all along. But let’s get serious. What movie fan wouldn’t want to see the thriller _No Bail for the Judge_ starring Audrey Hepburn and Laurence Harvey, directed by Alfred Hitchcock? It had a dark, humorous script, and was set in Britain, to which the director wanted to return when the film was being contemplated in 1958. Both Hepburn and Hitchcock longed to work together, and it isn’t clear why it didn’t come to pass (stories clash), but perhaps Hitchcock’s tiring of big-budget Technicolor movies was part of it. What he did go on to make was the low-budget, black-and-white _Psycho_, so perhaps we should be happy that Judge never happened. There are many such contingencies here. Charlie Chaplin thought himself up to playing Napoleon in the 1920s, and even had Alistair Cooke to co-write a script. It morphed over years into a fiction project about Napoleon and his doppelganger. It never happened, but the seeds of the plot, a world leader and his double, bore fruit when Chaplin wanted to attack Hitler and anti-semitism in _The Great Dictator_ of 1940. What if Louis Malle had been a little faster in 1982 with _Moon Over Miami_, a comedy starring Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi, fresh off success in _The Blues Brothers_? It was a comedy based on the Abscam scandal, and had a lot going for it, except Belushi died of a cocaine and heroin overdose. Malle was to speculate that if the script had been ready, it would have saved Belushi’s life. It might have been, indeed. Orson Welles is here, over and over; he must be the patron saint of lost films. There is Kubrick’s film of Napoleon, the most heavily researched of films, and with planned thousands of soldiers fighting on the actual battlefields of history. And, golly, how I would have paid gladly to have seen Steven Spielberg’s _The Trial of the Chicago Seven_ with Sacha Baron Cohen, Heath Ledger, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Will Smith, and Kevin Spacey. Rats.

There are patterns of problems: illnesses, deaths, endless cycles of rewrites, and of course the crises of getting money. The stories are often funny, full of the foibles of players who are rich, obsessive, or egotistical. Braund has written some of the chapters here, but he has sixteen contributors and their work is surprisingly uniform and droll throughout. Each movie gets around four pages, including a tantalizing poster; these are expertly done by a crew of designers, each poster evoking the style of the time the movie would have come out. Each movie has a rating of the likelihood that it might in some form come to a theater near you some day. It’s fun to think that might happen, but for most of these films, they are irrevocably lost dreams.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars To know beyond the screen 5 May 2014
By Blaine Dunzweiler - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Unexpectedly good. It rounds out the movie buff's interest. This book is about an area of Hollywood that is not talked of.
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