The 9 Greatest Movies Never Made


A Straw Dogs remake starring the cast of Superman Returns is grinding into production.

Which, we're sure you'll agree, is a terrible idea.

So here's 9 amazing/awful movies that fell apart before they hit our screens.

Fingers crossed that the Straw Dogs rehash goes the same way...

1. The Man Who Killed Don Quixote (2000)

The Victims: Johnny Depp, Jean Rochefort, Vanessa Paradis, Terry Gilliam (director).

The Gist: A stressed-out modern-day ad executive finds himself transported back in time to the age of Cervantes’ eccentric, windmill-tilting hero.

The Death Blow:
First of all, there were scheduling conflicts. Then there were set-destroying flash floods. Then there was Rochefort’s nasty prostate problem that made it impossible for him to sit astride a horse – a bit of a problem given that his Quixote is on horseback for most of the movie.

This proved too much for the insurance adjusters, who shut the production down.

Were We Denied Or Saved?
If the footage revealed by 2003’s on-set documentary Lost In La Mancha is anything to go by, it’s very much the former. Hopefully, Gilliam’s dream of buying the film back from the insurers and starting again will one day come true.

Next: The Bells Of Hell Go Ting-A-Ling-A-Ling




2. The Bells Of Hell Go Ting-A-Ling-A-Ling (1966)

The Victims: Gregory Peck, Ian McKellen, David Baxter, David Miller (director).

The Gist: A squad of British airmen attempt to smuggle plane parts into enemy territory with the aim of reassembling them and attacking German targets.

The Death Blow:
“It was a disaster,” laughs Sir Ian McKellen, when asked about his first experience of moviemaking. “After five weeks of filming, the Alpine summer was invaded by early snow, which was forecast to persist through the following six months.

“The shooting was already well behind schedule so [producers] the Mirisch brothers decided to abandon the film and send us home.”

Were We Denied Or Saved?
The film sounds like a complete dud. However, had it been finished, it might have convinced McKellen to dedicate himself to screen acting far earlier, which could only have been a good thing.


Next: Dark Blood




3. Dark Blood (1993)

The Victims: River Phoenix, Judy Davis, Jonathan Pryce, George Sluizer (director).

The Gist: Travelling across the Arizona desert, a married couple (Davis and Pryce) encounter a strange young man (Phoenix) living on a nuclear test site where he has made two dolls that have special powers…

The Death Blow: By the early ’90s, River Phoenix had lost all interest in playing the Hollywood star game, which is why he signed up for this low-budget Britflick.

Tragically, a few weeks in to the shoot, River Phoenix collapsed and died outside LA’s Viper Room club. An autopsy revealed that the caffeine-abstaining, militant vegan had taken a massive overdose of cocaine and heroin.

Were We Denied Or Saved? Producer Nik Powell considered Phoenix’s performance to represent a career high. It at least would have been interesting to see whether the friction between Phoenix and co-star Davis came through the lens…


Next: Something's Got To Give




4. Something’s Got To Give (1962)

The Victims:
Marilyn Monroe, Dean Martin, Cyd Charisse, George Cukor (director).

The Gist: Nick Arden (Martin) thinks his wife Ellen (Monroe) is dead. Rather, he does until she turns up seven years later to find he’s just remarried.

The Death Blow:
Monroe’s tardiness, together with her drug-induced grogginess forced director George Cukor to fire his star. Since there was no substitute, however, Marilyn’s chances of a recall were good. Until she put the kibosh on things once and for all by passing away under suspicious circumstances.

Were We Denied Or Saved? What little exists of Something’s Got To Give was recently issued as part of a Monroe DVD box set. And very ugly viewing it is, too. Still, this one could have been the greatest film ever made if it had inspired Monroe to clean up...


Next: The Other Side Of The Wind




5. The Other Side of the Wind (1970)

The Victims: John Huston, Peter Bogdanovich, Orson Welles (director)

The Gist: An ageing director (Huston) embarks on an ambitious project. So, in no way autobiographical then.

The Death Blow: In his search for international backers, Welles wound up borrowing money from the brother-in-law of the Shah of Iran. It must have seemed like a smart move at the time, but the upshot was he lost his rights to work on the picture following 1979’s Islamic Revolution. The film became the property of the Ayatollah Khomeini who, hardly being renowned as a movie fan, declined to release the footage.

Were We Denied Or Saved? “It’s an incredible film,” comments the film’s star Peter Bogdanovich. “It’s quite unlike anything anyone had attempted before.”


Next: William Tell




6. William Tell (1953)

The Victims: Errol Flynn, Bruce Cabot, Waltraut Haas, Jack Cardiff (director)

The Gist: Blacksmith shoots apple placed atop his son’s head and, naturally, becomes Switzerland’s greatest hero.

The Death Blow: Once the biggest name in Hollywood, Errol Flynn was in dire need of a hit by 1953. He sank $500,000 of his own fortune into William Tell , securing further financing from an Italian nobleman, Count Fossataro. With a third of the film shot, it emerged that Fossataro was a fraud. Repo men appeared on set and cameras were auctioned to pay off the production’s debt.

Were We Denied Or Saved? If it would have ensured Flynn didn’t go on to make Cuban Rebel Girls , it would have been completely worthwhile.


Next: My Best Friend's Birthday




7. My Best Friend’s Birthday (1986)

The Victims: Craig Hamann, Quentin Tarantino (director/star)

The Gist: Mickey (Hamann) is devastated when his girl leaves him on his birthday. Determined to cheer his best friend up, Clarence (Tarantino) vows to show Mickey the best birthday ever.

The Death Blow: In 1986, Tarantino was an LA video-store worker who dedicated much of his spare time to making this, his first feature film. Unfortunately, the first batch of film was completely out of sync and a later reel was destroyed in a lab fire. Tarantino redirected his efforts towards acting and screenwriting; he wrote True Romance the following year.

Were We Denied Or Saved? QT told a documentary crew he finds the film “pretty embarrassing”, and since he's pretty hard to embarrass, we're sure this would have been a camp classic. 


Next: I, Claudius




8. I, Claudius (1937)

The Victims: Charles Laughton, Flora Robson, Merle Oberon, Josef von Sternberg (director).

The Gist: In his twilight years, the Emperor Claudius (Laughton) reflects on a life lived in a Rome that was every bit as grand as it was deceitful.

The Death Blow: Josef von Sternberg hated Charles Laughton. He became so desperate to quit the picture that, when Laughton’s co-star Merle Oberon received superficial wounds in a road accident, he exaggerated the injuries to producer Alexander Korda and walked out, forcing the studio to abandon the half-finished film.

Were We Denied Or Saved? Despite Laughton’s reservations, the I, Claudius fragments that appear on the documentary The Epic that Never Was suggest it would have been one of the great films of the '30s.


Next: Mata Hari




9. Mata Hari (1978)

The Victims: Calista Carradine, David Carradine (director)

The Gist: In the Netherlands, a girl is born, grows to maturity and becomes the infamous German spy of World War One legend. In glorious real time!

The Death Blow:
The plan was for David Carradine to shoot footage every year to capture his daughter, Calista, maturing. Designed to span 20 years, Mata Hari ought to have hit screens during the summer of 1998.


Were We Denied Or Saved? Definitely denied. It's an incredible concept that would have made a groundbreaking film that would have served as a fine legacy to Carradine.

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