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Oscar Madness

Today’s look at What Could Have Been revolves around one of the most respected filmmakers of all time and a dream project he was never quite able to get to the screen.

Fresh off the success of “2001: A Space Odyssey,” director Stanley Kubrick set out to make an epic film based on the life of Napoleon Bonaparte in 1968. The Hollywood Reporter broke the news in July that same year:


As Kubrick developed the film, he tried to pull together an impressive cast including a number of major actors ranging from Jack Nicholson to Audrey Hepburn. But despite his efforts, MGM's precarious financial situation doomed the project and it was shelved.

Just six months after it had initially been reported in the Hollywood trades, Variety announced that the deal was off:


With his dreams of a Napoleon film temporarily dashed, Kubrick decided to shift his attention to another project in 1971 – “A Clockwork Orange.” But he never gave up on his desire to tell Napoleon’s story.

Kubrick would later spend years amassing research material for the film and developing his screenplay without success for United Artists. And after he wound up working with Nicholson on "The Shining," there was a moment when it seemed like the two might be able to make “Napoleon” after all.

Nicholson addressed the possibility in this February 1983 issue of Variety:


All images courtesy of the Margaret Herrick Library

Unfortunately, the Napoleon project never saw the light of day. All that remains of its potential are these news stories and Kubrick’s archive of related material that was finally published after his death.

What dream role would you like to see Jack Nicholson play? Tell us in the comments below:

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