Another Stanley Kubrick film is on the way though perhaps not in a package you might have imagined. Scarlett Johansson and Sam Rockwell are attached to star in “Lunatic At Large,” a Kubrick project that was long thought to be lost.
The film is based on a treatment by pulp author Jim Thompson (“The Grifters,” “The Killer Inside Me”) commissioned by Kubrick in the late 1950s, after working with the writer on “The Killing” and “Paths Of Glory.” Kubrick intended it to be his next project after “Spartacus” but at the time, the only copy of the manuscript was lost. After Kubrick’s death in 1999, his son-in-law and archivist Philip Hobbs found the manuscript among the director’s vast library (seriously, the guy never threw anything away).
Just one of many long lost Kubrick projects, the period set film is described as “a dark and surprising mystery” about which person among a group is “the true escapee from a nearby mental hospital.” Shades of “Shutter Island” perhaps? Here’s are some of the nightmarish details from the NY Times from a 2006 article:
Set in New York in 1956, it tells the story of Johnnie Sheppard, an ex-carnival worker with serious anger-management issues, and Joyce, a nervous, attractive barfly he picks up in a Hopperesque tavern scene. There’s a newsboy who flashes a portentous headline, a car chase over a railroad crossing with a train bearing down, and a romantic interlude in a spooky, deserted mountain lodge. The great set piece is a nighttime carnival sequence in which Joyce, lost and afraid, wanders among the tents and encounters a sideshow’s worth of familiar carnie types: the Alligator Man, the Mule-Faced Woman, the Midget Monkey Girl, the Human Blockhead, with the inevitable noggin full of nails.
The details above are from the finished script by screenwriter Stephen R. Clarke who fleshed out the original treatment. As of 2006, commercial director Chris Palmer was set to make his feature debut but there’s no word yet if he or Clarke are still attached to the project. Might we make a suggestion? How about Todd Field was has worked with and was mentored by Kubrick? Not only does have two incredibly accomplished features under his belt, he would probably have an understanding of the material from Kubrick’s perspective that a newcomer might not and also be able not to slavishly try and emulate the late filmmaker’s style, leaving his own imprint on the material.
In case you can’t tell, we’re excited for any project that has Kubrick’s name attached and we’re curious to see how this one turns out. It sounds like a delightfully twisty premise, with an old-school potboiler feel. We hope more news on this comes soon.