A UK university professor claims to have unearthed a long-lost screenplay by the great Stanley Kubrick.
Entitled Burning Secret, the script is an adaptation of the 1913 novella by the acclaimed Austrian writer Stefan Zweig. In Kubrick’s adaptation of the story, a suave insurance salesman befriends a 10-year-old boy at a spa resort so he is able seduce the child’s married mother.
Kubrick wrote it in 1956 with the American novelist Calder Willingham (The Graduate), with whom he went on to collaborate on anti-war movie Paths Of Glory the next year.
The screenplay was found by Nathan Abrams, professor in film at Wales’ Bangor University and a leading Kubrick expert. The professor told The Guardian, “I couldn’t believe it. It’s so exciting. It was believed to have been lost.”
“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.”
In Zweig’s original, the woman and her son are Jewish and the story is set in Austria. Abrams said, “Kubrick rewrites it and it’s contemporary American with American names.”
The script is so close to completion that it could be made into a movie, the professor claims. Apparently, the screenplay has the stamp of the script department of MGM and is dated 24 October 1956, when Kubrick was still forging his career, having just made his crime pic The Killing.
It is not clear why the picture didn’t see the light of day but Abrams speculates that a contract dispute or the film’s risqué subject could have played a part.
Abrams described Burning Secret as “the inverse of Lolita”, Kubrick’s version of Vladimir Nabokov’s controversial story of love and lechery in which a man marries a mother to get to her adolescent daughter.
The screenplay is reportedly owned by the son of one of Kubrick’s former collaborators who wishes to remain anonymous. Abrams discovered it while researching his next book about Kubrick.
A version of Zweig’s novella, based on a different screenplay, was made in 1988 by Kubrick’s former assistant Andrew Birkin. There was also a 1933 Austrian-German version from Robert Siodmak.