10 prominent films that have never had a proper release

Mark highlights 10 movies that remain stuck on the shelves, in spite of either the profile of the project, or the people involved...

It would be reasonable to assume that, given the time and effort to make a full length feature, most films would actually make it to the silver screen, or at least the silver disc. But some, for a variety of reasons, don’t make it that far, and either sulk in the film cans where they now reside or have been destroyed.

Here are ten movies that either have no cinema release date, or little prospect of getting one.

A Thousand Words (2010)

This is yet another of those amazingly poor career choices that Eddie Murphy makes on a regular basis, when he’s not coining it being a donkey. The movie is supposedly completed but has no release date yet (save for IMDB suggesting it’s coming out in Argentina in 2011). This situation isn’t exactly something new for Eddie. Famously, The Adventures Of Pluto Nash was completed at least two years before the production company had the nerve to actually release it.

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In retrospect, maybe that was a hasty decision.

We wrote more on the A Thousands Words delay here.

The Fantastic Four (1994)

This movie has almost myth-like status, in that it was made by Oley Sassone yet never actually made it to the cinema or even DVD. It’s been hawked about as a pirate video for years now, with no possibility of an official release.

In an interview that Stan Lee once did with Kevin Smith he revealed it was made without any intention to ever be released. Production only started because the rights would revert from the studio if it didn’t start by a specific date. Those bits that have since appeared on YouTube explain better than I can why the world dodged a cinematic bullet with this comic conversion.

Ladies And Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains! (1982)

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Frankly, with a title like that, what were they were thinking? This early 80s vehicle for Laura Dern, which oddly had a young Ray Winstone in it, was also was something of a fiasco in movie production terms.

Technically, it was released, but I can only find a couple of instances where it actually played in a theatre to paying customers, as such. Some of the weirdnesses in this production are that the ending was shot two years after the rest of the movie, meaning Laura Dern not only looks completely different but is actually much taller.

It was, apparently, a cult underground bootleg hit that influenced the girl band era, which isn’t really a recommendation, as such.

The Day The Clown Cried (1972)

If you were pitching a movie idea would you include both clowns and the holocaust? No, these aren’t two natural bedfellows, but that’s exactly the combination that Jerry Lewis used in a movie where he contributed directing, screenwriting and a serious acting role.

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Actually, it wasn’t entirely his fault, as the movie ran out of money part way through production and then it transpired that Joan O’Brien was never paid for the rights to the story. Perhaps it’s just as well, really, that it never saw the light of day. According to IMDb, Jerry Lewis has the only copy locked in a private vault where he vows to keep it from ever being viewed again.

My Best Friend’s Birthday (1987)

If I said to you how about a Tarantino movie you’ve never seen, some people might get excited. But My Best Friend’s Birthday was co-directed by Quentin before he shot Reservoir Dogs, and is apparently, not a great movie.

It’s therefore not massively disappointing that it suffered the indignity of being mostly destroyed by a mishap in the film processing lab, and only a small portion still exists.

You can find what’s left of it on YouTube.

How To Be (2008)

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To be clear, this movie was shown at a number of festivals, but it was never released to cinema outside that forum to my knowledge. According to the production company, the plot revolves around a young man having an existential crisis who convinces a Canadian self-help guru to come to London and become his personal life coach. Er…I’ll get back to you on that.

What makes this drama/comedy mildly interesting is that one of its stars is Twilight heartthrob Robert Pattinson, who allegedly sings in this movie.

For those curious to see a pre-vamp Pattison yodelling, the movie has since come to DVD, presumably to pick up some sales from New Moon. But I can’t see it will go on general release any time soon.

The Devil And Daniel Webster  (2004)

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This Faustian tale of a farmer who sells his soul to the devil only to attempt legal redress was directed and produced by Alec Baldwin, and starred the same actor, Anthony Hopkins and Jennifer Love Hewitt (who’s the devil, incidentally).

If you don’t remember this movie that’s because it was never released under this title. A film called Shortcut to Happiness was released some three years later, but the film was then so heavily modified from the original edit that Alec Baldwin requested his name be removed as producer and director from the credits. The original version seems now lost to posterity.

The Local Stigmatic (1990)

From what I understand. this Al Pacino movie, which has a running time of just 56 minutes, was only ever shown officially once, by the New York Museum of Modern Art, who own a private copy of this film. They only got that print on the basis that they can only show it with Pacino’s express permission, apparently.

But the version they have might not be the current one, as Pacino occasionally works on re-editing the movie since it was first shown.

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In 2007 there was a brief DVD release in the US, for those who like rarities, but this isn’t heading to cinema anytime soon.

In God’s Hands (2004)

Finding out anything about this movie is really tough, but I’m assured by others that Peter Sarsgaard and Maggie Gyllenhaal are in it and it was produced by Steven Soderbergh of all people.

The story goes that they shot the whole movie and then when they finally looked at the footage at the editing stage they discovered that the entire film was out of focus due to a fault with the camera. But I’ve also seen the excuse that the negative was ruined by the labs. Whatever the truth, this isn’t a movie we’ll be seeing.

The Other Side Of The Wind (1972)

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This is the infamous movie that Orson Welles made with John Huston, Peter Bogdanovich, Dennis Hopper and Oja Kodar. How long this movie took is legendary, as Welles said it was a ninety-six percent done in 1972, and ‘almost competed’ four years later.

By the time of his death in 1985 it was estimated that, while entirely shot, it was still only 40 percent edited. Since then, Peter Bogdanovich has tried to finish the film, but admitted that, although the negatives are in good quality, so many legal wrangles exist over who owns what part of the movie that it might never be fully assembled or released.