Abandoned Tarantino Babies? The Little Quentin Movies That Never Happened
Source: The Playlist
Though nearly ever filmmaker has a laundry list of movies-that-never-happened under their belt, it's Quentin Tarantino who seems to spend as much time (who are we kidding, more time) discussing and building up a list of movies-that-will-never-happen as he does actually making movies.
Last week, while discussing the "Kill Bill" sequels-that-may-never happen, Variety decided to make a list of some of the abandoned Tarantino babies. While the article briefly touches on various aspects of the laundry list of forgotten projects, we've made a more complete rundown of some of the Tarantino films that never were (and will probably never be):
“Double V Vega” aka “Vega Brothers” — The long-in-gestation prequel to both “Reservoir Dogs” and “Pulp Fiction,” would have followed the exploits of Vic (Michael Madsen) and Vincent Vega (John Travolta) during the latter’s time in Amsterdam. Tarantino held a torch for this project for years—even during press for “Kill Bill,” he claimed it was still very much a possibility. In a 2007 interview with "Opie & Anthony," he said he briefly considered making it a sequel (?!), “I actually came up with a way I could have done it, even being older and dead where they all had older brothers and both of their brothers got together because the two guys died. And they wanted revenge or something like that. But now, [the actors] are too old for that.” He concluded by finally admitting “it’s kind of unlikely now.”
“40 Lashes Less One” & More Elmore Leonard — After the success of “Pulp Fiction,” Tarantino reportedly asked the Weinsteins to buy the rights to several novels by the “filet of the crime genre,” Elmore Leonard for potential future projects: "Rum Punch" (made into “Jackie Brown”), "Killshot" (made into a terrible direct-to-video movie this year, with QT’s “executive producer” credit removed), "Bandits," "Freaky Deaky" and one of Leonard’s westerns, the 1972 novel, "40 Lashes Less One." The book concerns two prisoners — an Apache and a black former soldier — who, while on death row, are given a chance to be set free if they can hunt down and kill the five worst outlaws in the west (shades of “Kill Bill”). In 2000, some news outlets reported Tarantino was clandestinely making the film in Mexico, and in May 2001, a vague post on QT’s former writing partner Roger Avary’s blog led people to think the film would be playing at Cannes. However, Cannes came and there was no sign of any Tarantino film. Soon the call came from his people to confirm that there was no such film in the works. In 2007, the man himself said he now owns the rights, had completed 20 pages of a script, and “still might do it sometime.” Of this list, it’s the most likely to happen — but still highly unlikely, especially after Tarantino's recent claim on Charlie Rose that he will never direct another adaptation having felt in retrospect, slightly emotionally removed from "Jackie Brown" because it was not his own original work. It's similar to "Kill Bill" territory, but dunno, if he tackled this in say, 10 years? We wouldn't complain.
James Bond Project (“Casino Royale”) — Back before Americans knew the name Daniel Craig, Tarantino (as he has been reminding us lately) had the idea to go back and do a “small-scale, plot-driven” take on the only Ian Fleming novel that hadn’t been properly adapted into a James Bond feature — “Casino Royale.” The biggest difference between his take and the final Martin Campbell version was casting: QT was dead-set on keeping Pierce Brosnan as Bond. Tarantino hasn't kept a straight story about why the film never happened: in 2005, he claimed it was because of the producers dumping Brosnan, but in 2007, he claimed producers were "'afraid [Tarantino was] going to make it too good and f**k the rest of the series.' " He also basically has said that the producers stole his idea to retell, "Casino Royale." Suffice to say there was some bad blood here and his chance at Bond has probably come and gone.
“The Psychic” (Lucio Fulci remake) — A remake of the ‘70s Italian psychological horror film about a clairvoyant woman, inspired by visions, who smashes open a section of wall in her husband's home and finds a skeleton behind it...was an idea QT bandied about with "Jackie Brown" star Bridget Fonda. In an interview with AICN back in 2000, Tarantino talked about the project’s status, “It’s a project in the murky future. I don’t even own the rights to that stuff. It’s one of those things where it’s like if somebody buys the rights to make it, I won’t make it. They can totally fuck it up. If it’s meant to happen, it’ll happen.” Since it’s been almost ten years, we’re going to assume it wasn’t meant to happen.
“The Man from U.N.C.L.E.” — A feature adaptation of the James Bond-ish ‘60s spy series starring Robert Vaughn was one of a few blockbuster-style projects Tarantino was offered in his three years of downtime following the success of 'Pulp.' While he eventually turned them all down, it sounds like he may have briefly entertained the idea of making “U.N.C.L.E.,” later saying he thought of casting George Clooney in the lead role of Napoleon Solo and himself as Ilya Kuryakin. Instead, he and Clooney teamed up for "From Dusk Til Dawn" and Tarantino made "Jackie Brown" his next project, but clearly the spy genre is one that interests him and is one he may still venture into one day.
“Modesty Blaise” — An adaptation of the comic strip/adventure novel character starring an exceptional young woman with many talents and a criminal past (it's a bit 'Bourne' like, she's an amnesiac), Tarantino has reportedly been interested in bringing “Modesty” to the big screen for some time (John Travolta's character reads it on the toilet right before he gets shot in "Pulp Fiction"). Neil Gaiman at one point was commissioned to write a treatment for the project based on the I, Lucifer novel — whether this was at the instruction of QT or not is unclear. So far, the closest he’s come is sponsoring old friend Scott Speigel’s direct-to-video adaptation 2004’s “Quentin Tarantino Presents: My Name is Modesty.”
“Ultimate Jason Voorhees Movie” — Back in 2005, two years after New Line had a hit with “Freddy Vs. Jason” and failed to get “Freddy Vs. Jason Vs. Ash” off the ground, there were reports that Tarantino was meeting with the studio about writing, directing and possibly starring in what was dubbed “The Ultimate Jason Voorhees Movie.” Though the announcement caused much jeans creaming in the horror fanboy community, the project unsurprisingly never came to fruition—Tarantino made “Grindhouse” instead.
And these are just the ones we consider dead and gone — it seems like every other time Tarantino gives an interview, we hear about a new project he'd like to tackle, whether it be the the 1930s gangster picture, the western, the "southern," Klux Klux Klan revenge tale the Len Deighton British spy novels, the "Basterds" prequels/sequels, or the John Brown slavery biopic. Frankly, if it's between another "Kill Bill" installment (which, frighteningly enough, seems to be where his focus is at the moment) and any of these, we'd go for the latter — especially the British spy novels. Tarantino has shown a real affinity for the British spy genre, both with his Bond bid and the Archie Hicox plotline in "Inglourious Basterds," thought we only really just got a taste. If there's a genre we'd like to see him revive/rip off, it's this one (especially if Simon Pegg is involved). If you're unfamiliar with the British spy genre — which, while it isn't entirely removed from American spy films, has its own unique conventions that make it that much better— Netfllix "The Ipcress File" (another Deighton adaptation), "The Spy Who Came In From The Cold" or "The Small Back Room" and get educated. Either that or something on racism in America as the Klan/Slavery and '40 Lashes' book all seem to center on similar themes that are preoccupying the director; none of which he has yet explored.