Possible and impossible projects 2
A Burnt-Out Case
Graham Greene´s novel of the leper colony. When Russell was interviewed by Huw Wheldon at the start of his career, his first suggestion for a documentary was "a film on Albert Schweitzer playing Bach to lepers in the jungle".
A novel by Virginia Woolf. It was later filmed with Vanessa Redgrave.
A Handful of Dust
The novel by Evelyn Waugh. It was filmed by Charles Sturridge, one of the directors on Aria.
The House of Mirth
Edith Wharton´s novel has been filmed many times, the latest with Gillian Anderson.
A novella by D.H. Lawrence. A woman in a failed marriage encounters the horse, St Mawr. Ken has filmed two Lawrence films and one television adaptation.
Gargantua by Rabelais. Ken calls it "the man with the biggest prick in the world".
King of the Crocodiles
The third part of Clouds of Glory, never made, concentrating on Lake District poet Southey.
Stories of Isaac Babel
Stories about the Jews of Odessa by the Russian writer who was tortured and executed in 1940.
The Living End
American comic writer Stan Elkin. A shopkeeper is killed in a robbery and ends up in hell because he opened his shop on Sunday. A wordy novel, with long monologues and characters either in Hell, or buried and unable to move. Difficult to visualise on film, so a filmscript would be especially interesting. The paperback version of the novel from 1977 has the label "soon to be filmed by Ken Russell".
Given a choice between The Rose, based on the life of Janis Joplin, and Valentino, Russell says "I foolishly chose Valentino".
The Revenge of the White Worm
Ken Hanke says "there was talk of a sequel [to Lair] Revenge of the White Worm, but the idea largely collapsed with Vestron [the film company which went bankrupt]". Some parts of the script took place in Buckingham Palace involving Prince Charles.
A script by Ken Russell´s friend Barry Sandler, it was finally filmed by tv director Anson Williams and starring Christopher Walken (info from Ken Hanke´s White Haired Filmmaker article). Barry Sandler also wrote Crimes of Passion.
How the West was Lost
A western with script by Ken Russell.
The Australian composer. Percy Grainger was a character in the Delius film Song of Summer.
Mike and Gaby´s Space Gospel
The bible as science fiction. Russell converted his script into a novel.
Casanova Part 2
Casanova 2 with Richard Chamberlain (who played Tchaikovsky in The Music Lovers), Faye Dunaway, Sylvia Kristel, Ornella Muti and Hanna Schygulla.
Shrine/ The Dark
In Ingrid Pitt´s interview for Shivers, Russell says "James Herbert [horror writer] gave me two of his books. One was called Shrine. It was about this girl who becomes a kind of second-hand Virgin Mary and there were things in the book that I thought were terribly good...but I think it had something like 2000 people at the end." Maybe the second book was The Dark: Ingrid Pitt reveals in her introduction to the biography of James Herbert (Devil in the Dark by Craig Cabell, 2004) "I was asked to write a screenplay based on his novel The Dark". The biography itself says of the possible filming of Shrine "perhaps some of this would be lost in a movie version, unless directed by somebody like Ken Russell: a girl floating in the air, her once pure white dress now soaked in blood and dripping over the faces of her smiling disciples".
J.M. Barrie, the creator of Peter Pan.
Beneath the Underdog
Russell had long wanted to film jazz musician Charles Mingus´ autobiography Beneath the Underdog.
The Temperance Seven
Russell suggested the British jazz group The Temperance Seven to Huw Wheldon as a subject for a Monitor short- Wheldon rejected the ideas as too low-brow. They were a 1960s London band performing easy listening Jazz and comedy. Unfortunately for them they were around when The Beatles emerged and changed music.
Venus in Furs
The novel by Leopold von Sacher-Masoch (from where the word masochist comes).
Nikola Tesla is now virtually unknown but he was regarded as the greatest inventor of his
time. The film would deal with aspect of his private life based on his
correspondence with close friends, Robert Johnson, poet and editor, and his wife
Katharine, in New York during 1890s. This is a story of complex and delicate
triangular relationship, and Tesla and Katharine's love. The screenplay
is by Ljiljana Kojic-Bogdanovich and Katarina Bogdanovich. Music is by
Michael Nyman. Russell renamed it Charged. 2004-2005.
The Wishing Tree
William Faulkner's childrens story. Twiggy says "I first met Ken when I was 17 when he was looking for a young character to appear in a film based on William Faulkner's The Wishing Tree and although it didn't happen, we became friends. Then, three years later, he cast me in The Boy Friend (info from here).
"The plot is a true story of two conjoined twins who were the frontmen in a rock band in mid seventies London. It follows their rise and fall through sex drugs and pub rock, playing alongside the likes of Kilburn & The Highroads". You can hear Ken talking about the film here. Thanks to Deborah for the information.
The basis was Brian Aldis' novel Brothers of the Head. The book was eventually filmed by Keith Fulton and Louis Pepe, with the original title. Ken appears in the films, along with some scenes from 2 Way Romeo. In the DVD extras Ken says that he paid Ł50,000 for the rights to the novel, but didn't realise that Brian Aldiss had based his novel on living people. So after Ken started filming Two way Romeo, he was faced with a lawsuit from the real-life people.
"Set in the Philippines of World War II, a headstrong and aristocratic young woman yearns to leave the islands and travel the world, only to fall in love with an American missionary and thereby come to terms with her heritage as a Filipina". Script was by Richard A. Lasser, screenwriter Peter J. Bartels. Click on the image for more details, thanks to Peter for the link. Ken and the film came together via this website!!! There were problems with financing and rumours of money disappearing.
Scriptwriters are Chris and Peter Cleverly and it is described as "A London professional woman takes revenge on gangland hardman after he destroys her life." Emily Lloyd was to be the star.
Ken Russell and then Joseph Losey were first choice for director of the novel Voss by Patrick White. Donald Sutherland and Mia Farrow were lined up to act. A young Sutherland appeared in Ken's Billion Dollar Brain. The image is from here.
King Ludwig of Bavaria
In The Times of 17 Feb 1970 there is talk of the third film of the United Artists films (The Music Lovers and The Devils were the first two) being King Ludwig of Bavaria. Ludwig was a patron of Wagner.
An opera not a film. This was planned for Geneva in 1985: "I see it as a psychological-schizophrenic trip in Wagner´s mind".
Tchaikovsky´s Eugene Onegin
Invited by Lorin Maazel to direct the opera on the stage for the Vienna State Opera in 1985: "Maazel saw my Music Lovers and thought I´d be very good doing a Tchaikovsky opera". The image is from here.
The Big Lebowski
Not real but an article on "What if those modern blockbusters were made in the 1950s? Artist imagines their posters and who would star in them". Ken directing Zappa, Bowie and Iggy Pop alongside Kinski, Warhol and Clint Eastwood. If only... The article is here.
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