Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, November 17, 2016


THE GREATEST SCI-FI MOVIES NEVER MADE. David Hughes. A Cappella Books/ Chicago Review Press; 2001.

This entertaining and well-researched book examines the struggle to get many science fiction films made, (some of which have since materialized since the publication of this first edition). These include efforts to bring to the screen such novels as Alfred Bester's "The Stars My Destination;" and Arthur C. Clarkes' "Childhood's End." More often the book examines how the scripts of certain films metamorphosed from the screenwriter and/or producer's original conception into something entirely different. Superman Lives (as Superman Returns) and I am Legend were eventually made, but in very different form and with different actors and creative people attached. Spider-Man eventually came to the screen but without the participation of James Cameron, who was attached to the project for several years. Then there are dissections of why certain released films, despite promising starts, emerged as both critical and financial mega-bombs: Thunderbirds and The Island of Dr. Moreau are two examples. The latter, starring a morbidly obese Marlon Brando, was especially dreadful, but despite Hughes assertions, one can't imagine that the vision of Richard Stanley, supposedly a "life-long fan" of H. G. Wells' novel but who was taken off the project by others, would have been anything other than a campy mess. There's a chapter on the Star Trek films that never were and lots of backbiting from screenwriters saying how awful other writers' screenplays for the same project were. My favorite quote in the book has to do with Gerry Anderson, who created the TV marionette show Thunderbirds Are Go. When a live action film based on the series was in the pre-production stage, Anderson was told that his participation was not required: "We really have enough creative people on the crew, so we can't take on  another person." NOTE: There is an updated edition of this book.

Verdict: Another good read on the insanity of Hollywood filmmaking. ***.

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