Readers may recall that in August’s Digest, we alluded to scuttlebutt that Stanley Kubrick’s people approached Henry’s people about making a film of “Tropic of Cancer.”
At first we thought — to quote George Harrison — it was “just a rumor.” But thanks to our intrepid archivist Michael, like most rumors, it’s true!
Michael was recently going through the Miller archives at UCLA and stumbled upon the following files. You can see for yourself, but to summarize, James Harris, who was part of Kubrick’s production company, wrote Miller expressing an interest in “discussing with you some very interesting ideas we have.”
While we don’t have Miller’s response to that initial letter, we can infer that Miller expressed concerns that the film wouldn’t do “Tropic of Cancer” or “Tropic of Capricorn” justice since they were both still illegal in the U.S. Harris responded that “we feel the escapades could be handled tastefully and in keeping with the motion picture code.”
Miller, ever the bad-ass, was having none of it! (In fact, he suggested another movie that Kubrick should explore…)
Talk about artistic purity….
Two ancillary notes:
-Readers may note that Harris’ letter was dated June 10, 1958. Kubrick wasn’t KUBRICK yet. Harris name-dropped “Paths of Glory” in his letter, but a film like, say, “2001,” was still ten years away.
-A rejected Kubrick then proceeded to Plan B. In 1962, he released “Lolita,” which was, naturally, based on the novel which, surprisingly, was never banned in the U.S., suggesting perhaps, that while Uncle Sam had serious beef with Miller’s’ whoring it was cool with child abuse from an “untrustworthy” narrator. (Kubrick’s film was nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay at the 35th Academy Awards.)