Stanley Kubrick was a devoted, meticulous filmmaker, if not a particularly prolific one. He made only 13 films across his 45-year career, yet the majority of them are considered masterpieces. There were, however, a number of projects that Kubrick was just never able to make before passing in 1999, including A.I., which was subsequently reworked by Steve Spielberg in 2001. Now, another unrealized project from the filmmaker has been discovered, a finished screenplay called Burning Secret
Kubrick co-wrote the adaptation with novelist Calder Willingham, with whom he also wrote 1957’s Paths of Glory. Burning Secret’s screenplay was completed the previous year, as a stamp from MGM’s script department is dated October 24th, 1956. An adaptation of a 1913 Viennese novella, It tells the story of a predatory man who befriends a 10-year old boy as a means of seducing the child’s married mother.
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The script, which is owned by the son of one of Kubrick’s former collaborators, was discovered by Nathan Abrams, a Kubrick scholar who teaches at Bangor University. Abrams described it as “an inverse of Lolita,” referring to the filmmaker’s 1962 adaptation of Vladimir Nabokov’s novel of the same name. He told The Guardian, “In Burning Secret, the main character befriends the son to get to the mother. In Lolita, he marries the mother to get to the daughter. I think that with the 1956 production code, that would be a tricky one to get by. But he managed with Lolita in 1962 – only just.”
“It’s a full screenplay so [it] could be completed by filmmakers today,” he added.
The project, which was considered “lost,” is well known among Kubrick fans, but it was unknown that the project had progressed as far as it had.
For insight into the breadth of Kubrick’s career, check out Consequence of Sound’s Filmography podcast, which recently wrapped up a four-part series on the filmmaker.