Legendary filmmaker Hal Ashby has no shortage of classics to his name — “Harold and Maude,” “The Last Detail,” “Shampoo,” “Being There” and more — and ’70s American cinema would not be the same without his contributions. But it seems he had another project that never saw the light of day.
Friend and former co-worker Michael Dare recovered “Vital Parts.” The script, which has been lost for 30 years, was the cult director’s adaptation of Thomas Berger’s novel of the same name.
In the same satirical fashion as Joseph Heller’s “Catch-22,” the drama tells the story of a degenerate, middle-aged war veteran who gets into cryogenics, the 1960s fad that consists of freezing dead bodies for future restoration. Much like many of the themes and conversations in the novel itself, the script was written in the abstract. The original script was sparse, containing few stage directions.
Though Ashby originally wrote the script with Marlon Brando in mind, the actor later passed on it. Ashby eventually dropped the script after he couldn’t drum up enough interest from producers and left to direct the short-lived TV series “Beverly Hill Buntz.” After he died, the script was thought to be forever lost – until now.
Thanks to Michael Dare, who originally dug it up for the upcoming documentary “Once I Was: The Hal Ashby Story,” it has been given a new life. The upcoming documentary explores the life and legacy that the trailblazing director left behind. Read the script below. [Vanity Fair]