There are many, ourselves included, who consider Stanley Kubrick one of the greatest American directors. The funny thing about that is, after almost fifty years of making classic movies like 2001: A Space Odyssey and Dr. Strangelove, he only completed 13 pictures before his passing in 1999. Whole books have been written about his unproduced projects, like an impeccably researched biography of Napoleon Bonaparte, but after Steven Spielberg's A.I. Artificial Intelligence was met with decidedly mixed responses from audiences and critics alike, it seemed as if nobody would be daring enough to try to complete the other films in Kubrick's absence. After all, if Spielberg couldn't make it work, who could?
Well, maybe Philip Hobbs can. That's the plan, anyone. Hobbs, who worked with Kubrick for over 15 years and co-produced his Vietnam drama Full Metal Jacket, is developing not one but two of the director's unproduced screenplays for Entertainment One, which will release them in a televised format, according to Hollywood Reporter. (Whether they intend to produce them TV movies, series or mini-series is not yet apparent.) Alas, or perhaps mercifully, neither film is Napoleon. They are, however, Downslope and God Fearing Man, two of the more obscure projects that Kubrick was involved with in his career.
Downslope tells the story of Confederate cavalry battalion commander John S. Mosby, aka "The Grey Ghost," and his rivalry with Union General George Armstrong Custer – he of "Custer's Last Stand" infamy – who captured and executed Mosby's men. Stanley Kubrick described his work on the Downslope as "an incomplete screenplay," but was unclear as to exactly how incomplete the script actually was.
God Fearing Man is based on a Kubrick script previously titled I Stole 16 Million Dollars, about former Canadian minister turned safecracking bank robber Herbert Emerson Wilson. The script was originally written with Kirk Douglas in mind to star, but Douglas "didn't like it" according to Kubrick. Cary Grant is rumored to have been considered for the original project, but if true, obviously nothing came of it.
Both Downslope and God Fearing Man were previously announced to be approaching production back in 2010, along with Lunatic at Large, a romance between "an ex-carnival worker and a barly," one of whom might be a mental asylum escapee, but despite originally having Scarlett Johansson and Sam Rockwell attached it doesn't appear to be among the projects picked up by eOne. The original reports of Philip Dobbs' intentions to produce the projects made his intentions clearer, with Downslope planned as a $100 million+ epic Civil War feature and God Fearing Man being developed as a television series. It's unclear whether Hobbs plans to continue along these lines. British TV writer Stephn R. Clarke was originally tapped to complete Kubrick's screenplays for each project, but Hollywood Reporter's article only indicates Clarke's continued involvement with God Fearing Man… for now.
Stanley Kubrick is not the first prominent director to have an unproduced screenplay filmed after his death. George Hickenlooper adapted and directed Orson Welles' screenplay for The Big Brass Ring back in 1999, fourteen years after the Citizen Kane director's death. That film is now best remembered for its novelty, not its quality, so we hope Philip Hobbs is going try harder to make certain Downslope and God Fearing Man don't meet the same fate. If these projects actually get off the ground this time, we'll be paying extra special attention to whom they get to direct them. Who the heck can hold up to Stanley Kubrick these days anyhow?
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