Unfinished Films: Where Can I Buy My Ticket?

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This month  JODOROWSKY’S DUNE (2013) will finally be leaving the festival circuit and getting a wider release on March 21st. Frank Pavich’s new documentary chronicles the long strange and turbulent development of what many consider to be one of greatest unrealized films in cinema history and allows us to imagine what Jodorowsky’s unfinished film might have looked like if it had been completed. Jodorowsky’s unruly vision was based on Frank Herbert’s science fiction opus and featured production design by the Swiss surrealist H. R. Giger and French cartoonist Jean ‘Moebius’ Giraud, a soundtrack by the psychedelic rock band Pink Floyd and a cast that included Orson Welles, Gloria Swanson, Mick Jagger, David Carradine, Salvador Dali and Amanda Lear. Pre-production on this big-budget film started in 1974 and millions of dollars were spent before the project eventually fell apart. Unfortunately, Jodorowsky’s story isn’t uncommon and there are thousands of forgotten unmade movies that we’ll never get the opportunity to see although they may not have had the same ambition or scope as the long lost DUNE. With this in mind I decided to compile a list of some particularly intriguing film projects that never made it to the big screen. These are the forgotten dreams of frustrated directors and writers but from time to time I find them unspooling in my head and my imagination has transformed them all into minor and, in some cases, major masterpieces.

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Film Titles: The Game Is in the Name

I have a difficult time remembering film titles that are clichés. It is one thing if a title encapsulates the theme or point of the film, such as Field of Dreams or Unforgiven, or if it is a pun or twist on a familiar phrase, such as Pillow Talk or Dolphin’s Tale. But, unimaginative titles with little tie-in to the movie’s theme or storyline go in one ear and out the other. Contemporary comedies are the worst offenders, particularly romantic comedies:  Something’s Gotta Give, My One and Only, New in Town, No Strings Attached, Morning Glory, You Again, Just Go With It. I can’t remember the titles when I am trying to think of the films, and I don’t remember the films when I see the titles. As someone who writes about the movies, I always consider the connection between title and content, so perhaps I take them too seriously.

But, I do get a kick out of the stories behind the titles; that is, the journey from script to working title to the final version. Though it’s hard to believe that “Something’s Gotta  Give” would go through endless meetings and discussions, especially considering it was the well-known name of Marilyn Monroe’s unfinished last film, a great deal of effort does go into each Hollywood title. I thought I would offer a few behind-the-scenes rumors and tales about the evolution of some very familiar titles.

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