Possible and impossible projects
|Like all directors there have
been many projects Ken Russell was lined up for, which did not go
ahead. Many did not go beyond the early planning phase, some
stopped after shooting. The images are generally from other productions or
A Clockwork Orange
A package deal with Russell directing and the Rolling Stones starring. Russell only heard about the possibility years after.
Ken Russell submitted two scripts, one for Dracula and one for The Rainbow. The latter was accepted. In the film Sundown: The Vampire in Retreat there is a poster for the (unmade) film on the wall.
Vlad the Impaler
An unmade Hammer film, "This film was supposed to be directed by Ken Russell (Tommy, The Lair of the White Worm) and is possibly the most intriguing addition to this list of unmade nightmares. Would this have starred Christopher Lee? Would it have been a prologue to the Dracula cycle of Hammer films? Can you imagine the set and costumes involved in a period piece featuring the origin of Dracula? The mind reels." The quote comes from the Den of Geek site here.
Ken was sued for failing to complete this film adaptation of the Daniel Defoe novel. He won the court case. As payment Russell did a pop video for his lawyer.
Moll Flanders (second attempt)
A cast of Lucinda Rhodes Flaherty, Steven Berkoff and Barry Humphries. To be filmed in Croatia with a multi-million budget. Ken would also do the script and possibly appear in the film.
Pete Townsend and The Who´s follow up to Tommy.
Before Madonna´s involvement Ken had the first attempt to make a film of the Andrew Lloyd Webber/Tim Rice musical. He wanted Liza Minelli in the lead role rather than studio choice Elaine Page.
Ken decided not to film Cliff Richard and the Shadows on the double decker bus. The relationship with the girl in French Dressing (which he did instead) is almost identical to that of the girl disguised as a boy in Summer Holiday. Ken later directed a Cliff Richard video.
A film project with dancer Rudolf Nureyev. Russell later filmed Nureyev in Valentino.
Another dancer. Melvyn Bragg wrote a script which is now in the Brotherton Library in Leeds University.
The Gershwin Dream
David Puttnam commissioned six music films on Mahler, Liszt, Gershwin, Vaugham Williams and two others to be decided. Mahler and Lisztomania were made, the rest were not. Neil Diamond was to star as Gershwin (much as I love Ken, I am glad this did not go ahead!!).
The project got stopped at the writing stage.
Russell wanted Sophia Loren to star in the story of the opera singer.
The Beethoven Secret
Glenda Jackson, Charlotte Rampling, Jodi Foster and Anthony Hopkins.
The King´s Man
A script by Oliver Reed who would play Thomas à Becket, the Archbishop of Canterbury murdered on the steps of his cathedral in 1170. TS Eliot´s play Murder in the Cathedral covers the same event. The image is from here.
The Gospel of Linda
Regent/Moonstone announced at Cannes a "pre-production offering" of Ken directing Gospel of Linda. This did not go ahead.
The story of a ghost in the afterworld. It is based on Georges Neveux´s play Juliette which was made into an opera by Martinu, but Russell´s treatment would centre on commercialism (the beans advert, reappearing in a different form in Tommy). The script was completed but filming never started.
Russell calls composer Aleksandr Scriabin "a man after my own heart- a true mystic who many saw as a charlatan". The film did not go ahead, but it was converted and broadcast as a radio play.
The Eleventh Commandment
A film about Moses (mentioned in Empire magazine, Nov 1989).
Variety, 15 Dec 1997 states "Russell already has scouted locations in Turkey for the John Daly-produced "Son of Man", which will, he promises, "depict the life of Christ with a lot of joy and humor." Shooting could start in Istanbul in March (1998). Expect Jesus "to crack a few jokes," the jolly helmer adds." The image is from the Parish Church and Community Centre of St Paul's Goodmayes here.
Any details are welcome. The image is from University of California Museum of Paleontology here.
Visions of Eight
One of the eight short films about the 1972 Olympics. Directors included Milos Forman, Arthur Penn and John Schlesinger.
There were attempts to film it (without Russell) starring Malcolm McDowell but nothing has resulted.
"There is a picture named Kiplinger's Syndrome shooting in Seattle around the end of the summer (pending financing) and I've already spoken with the producers a few times this year about working on it. It would be great to work there since I just moved into my new house and there is no better time of year than summer in the Great Pacific Northwest" (from Joyce Wankable here).
Hamlet would have featured David Bowie and Elton John- Ken directed two Elton John videos including Nikita.
More Bowie, eventually filmed by Tony Scott. Info from Blitz magazine June 1983.
When I´m 64
Part of a Beatles tribute. Twelve directors would each do a video of one of the songs from Sgt Pepper. Ken directed Ringo in Lisztomania.
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