Will The Interview ever see the light of day? Probably, though maybe not officially. It’s only a matter of time before full-length torrents make their way online, and at that point, Sony MIGHT give it a video-on-demand release. The whole situation involving Seth Rogen and James Franco’s kill-the-leader comedy is so odd that no one knows what the hell is going on, but it’s not the first time a completed or near-completed major motion picture has been shelved. Here are a few others, not including Roger Corman’s The Fantastic Four, which we already covered.
All American Massacre
There are seven official Texas Chainsaw Massacre films, from the bloody great original to 2013’s unnecessary Texas Chainsaw 3D (starring Alexandra Daddario!), with plenty more to come, probably. Just don’t tell William Hooper, the son of Tobe Hooper, who directed the first film. He helmed a prequel about, to quote actor Bill Moseley, “Chop-top and the Hitchhiker together as twin brothers before Chop-top went off to Vietnam…It’s all told via flashback by an older Chop-top, who has been in a mental institution for ten years.” Massacre began as a 10-minute short before turning into a 60-minute feature, and guitarist Buckethead even composed the score. Alas, Moseley said “there were some rights concerns” and “different funding problems.” All that exists is a trailer.
In the summer of 1977, Roger Ebert and Malcolm McLaren wrote a screenplay for a movie called Who Killed Bambi? It was to star the Sex Pistols and be, charitably, a punk rock A Hard Day’s Night. Only a single scene was filmed, according to Ebert, who wrote on his blog, “There is more than one account of what went wrong. McLaren claimed 20th Century Fox read the screenplay and pulled the plug.” Five years earlier, another influential band, the Rolling Stones, were in a movie of their very own: Robert Frank’s Cocksucker Blues, a wonderfully-named documentary about the drugged-out band touring behind Exile on Main St. in America. In one scene, a groupie injects herself with heroin. It sounds great, but the Stones blocked the release of the film, for obvious track marked reasons, and Frank is only allowed to “screen [it] four times a year.”
The Day the Clown Cried
The Day the Clown Cried makes Life Is Beautiful look like The Lego Movie. The 1972 film was directed by and starred Nutty comedian Jerry Lewis, who plays a worn-down German clown named Helmut Doork who performs for the little Jewish boys and girls at a concentration camp…before they’re led into the gas chamber. To prepare for the role, Lewis toured Auschwitz and Dachau and lost a ton of weight, eating nothing but grapefruit.
Despite knowing better, every scene in the script was shot and Lewis didn’t realize the terrible mistake he had made until the press screenings. Lewis later said, “I was ashamed of the work, and I was grateful that I had the power to contain it at all, and never let anyone see it.” Not exactly — Simpsons voice actor Harry Shearer once memorably told Howard Stern that he had seen a copy, somehow. His review: “This movie is so drastically wrong, its pathos and its comedy are so wildly misplaced, that you could not, in your fantasy of what it might be like, improve on what it really is.” It’s the original Yesterday and Today cover of Holocaust clown movies.
Hippie Hippie Shake
Remember Sienna Miller? She was briefly a thing in 2008, when Hippie Hippie Shake, based on counterculture icon/Oz magazine editor Richard Neville’s memoir, was supposed to come out. Cillian Murphy played Neville, and Miller was his girlfriend, but a release was delayed, first because of “Sienna’s love life” and then because the writer and directer both left. Eventually, production company Working Title Films decided to never put the damn thing out and the original camera negative was allegedly destroyed. But the headline “Sienna Miller’s private parts digitally enhanced for film Hippie Hippie Shake” lives on.
Nothing Lasts Forever
Lorne Michaels’ filmography is filled with a lot of hits (Wayne’s World, Man on the Moon, Mean Girls) and just as many misses (Stuart Saves His Family, Superstar, The Ladies Man), but two years before Three Amigos came out, he produced a movie that still hasn’t officially seen the light of day. Written and directed by the great Tom Schiller, the black-and-white Nothing Lasts Forever is a sci-fi comedy about an American artist who, after a brief sojourn to Europe, returns to New York and finds that it’s been taken over by the Port Authority. It’s a terrifically high concept with a stellar cast, led by Zach Galligan (of Gremlins fame), Lauren Tom (Futurama‘s Amy Wong), Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, and Mort Sahl (John Belushi was going to have a small role, but he died six weeks before production began). Nothing Lasts Forever was set to open in September 1984, the same year Ghostbusters and Gremlins made BANK, but it was shelved by MGM for unspecified reasons (read: too weird), and isn’t expected to ever receive an official release. A rough copy appeared on YouTube earlier this year, but has since been removed for copyright reasons.
The Other Side of the Wind
Orson Welles is the king of the unreleased film. You can see the full list here, but the most what-could-have-been entry is The Other Side of the World, a satire of Old vs. New Hollywood that starred John Huston, Peter Bogdanovich, and Susan Strasberg, who plays a character based on famed critic Pauline Kael. Welles considered Other Side to be his “comeback film” — it’s about an aging filmmaker trying to make it big again — and he spent six years shooting it, beginning in 1970. Principal photography wrapped in 1976, but he continued to work on the movie until his death in 1985. The reasons are multitude, including legal disputes between Welles and the brother-in-law of the then-Shah of Iran and Welles’ daughter Beatrice and his girlfriend Oja Kodar. The Other Side of the World, which you can read MUCH more about on Wellesnet, will reportedly be released next year, to coincide with Welles’ 100th birthday, but we’ll see.
Uncle Tom’s Fairy Tales: The Movie for Homosexuals
Richard Pryor, one of the greatest comedians of all-time, the co-writer of Blazing Saddles, GUS GORMAN IN SUPERMAN III, once starred in a movie directed by a student. Penelope Spheeris would go on helm The Decline of Western Civilization and Wayne’s World, but in the late 1960s, she was just an up-and-comer who had her work cut out for her.
Uncle Tom’s Fairy Tales: The Movie for Homosexuals “tells the story of a wealthy white man abducted by a group of Black Panther-type militants [for raping a black woman] who hold him prisoner in a basement and put him on trial for all the racial crimes in U.S. history.” The story goes that Pryor’s then-wife, Shelley, ripped up the negative of the nearly-finished film because he was spending so much time on it. He assumed all copies had been destroyed — “[Pryor] says that all negatives, positives, prints, and soundtrack went missing from his house in the mid-1980s” — but in 2005, scenes from the film appeared in a Directors Guild of America retrospective. Pryor filed a lawsuit against Spheeris, who “discovered a reel of dailies from the shoot, approximately 30 minutes of raw unedited footage with no audio, and donated it to the Motion Picture Academy’s archive collection,” but he died before it could be resolved.