Stanley Kubrick Screenplay Found 60 Years After Completion

Stanley Kubrick fans knew the director wanted to make Burning Secret, but didn't know the screenplay was film-ready.

A screenplay Stanley Kubrick co-wrote sixty years ago was found by a Kubrick scholar, according to Variety. The script for Burning Secret was co-written by director and is so close to completion it could be developed into a feature film.

The long-lost screenplay was found by Bangor University film professor and Kubrick expert Nathan Abrams while researching his upcoming book, Eyes Wide Shut: Stanley Kubrick and the Making of his Final Film. The book is scheduled to be published by Oxford University Press next year.

The screenplay is an adaptation of the 1913 novella Burning Secret by Austrian writer Stefan Zweig.  Kubrick wrote it in 1956 with Calder Willingham, who wrote the novel The Graduate. Kubrick and Willingham went on to collaborate on the anti-war film Paths Of Glory in 1957.

Kubrick historians knew the director wanted to make Burning Secret into a film but this is the first time we know the 100-page screenplay was written and stamped by the MGM script department in October 1956.

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“It’s a full screenplay so could be completed by film-makers today,” Abrams told The Guardian. “Kubrick aficionados know he wanted to do it, [but] no one ever thought it was completed. We now have a copy and this proves that he had done a full screenplay.”

“I couldn’t believe it. It’s so exciting. It was believed to have been lost,” Abrams said about the screenplay. “Kubrick aficionados know he wanted to do it, [but] no one ever thought it was completed. We now have a copy and this proves that he had done a full screenplay.”

Burning Secret follows a man makes friends with a 10-year-old boy in order to his mother at a spa resort. Abrams calls it “the inverse of Lolita,” the Vladimir Nabakov novel Kubrick to film in 1962.

“The child acts as an unwitting go-between for his mother and her would-be lover, making for a disturbing story with sexuality and child abuse churning beneath its surface,” Abrams told The Guardian.

Most people thought the project was shelved because it would have been in conflict with Paths of Glory, which Kubrick was making for MGM.  Abrams believes the studio may have found the subject “too risqué” for audiences in 1950s America.

There is no word yet on whether a studio will consider picking up the film, but Steven Spielberg turned Kubrick’s android child adoption story concept into the film A.I.: Artificial Intelligence, which came out in 2001. Kubrick had been working on the project off and on for decades after buying the story rights in 1969. He gave the project to to Spielberg in 1995.

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Kubrick Kubrick, who also made 2001: A Space Odyssey, Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, Barry Lyndon, Spartacus, A Clockwork Orange, The Shining and Full Metal Jacket, moved to the U.K. in 1961 after becoming disillusioned with the Hollywood system.


Culture Editor Tony Sokol cut his teeth on the wire services and also wrote and produced New York City’s Vampyr Theatre and the rock opera AssassiNation: We Killed JFK. Read more of his work here or find him on Twitter @tsokol.