We’re kicking off Giving Tuesday early this year! Your donation today will be matched up to $10K, doubling your impact! If you donate $50 today, the Reader will receive $100.

The Reader is now a community-funded nonprofit newsroom. Can we count on your support to help keep us publishing?

  • Peter Sellers in a nonexistent adaptation of Herman Melville’s The Confidence-Man

I was planning to write an April Fools’ Day post about discovering a long-lost movie that didn’t actually exist. Then I realized that by the time it went up, most people would be tired of April Fools’ pranks, and I decided against pulling a ruse. I still want to write about this nonexistent film because I like it more each time I think about it, and because I suspect I’m not alone in dreaming up a movie I wish had been made.

Most filmmakers, even commercially successful ones, are unable to realize every project they want to make. Either they can’t find the money or a necessary collaborator drops out or for whatever reason the movie just wasn’t meant to be. The 2009 book Stanley Kubrick’s Napoleon: The Greatest Movie Never Made chronicles one of the most famous unrealized movies, but there could just as well be books about Kaleidoscope (an Antonioni-inspired art film Alfred Hitchcock wanted to make in the late 1960s), Alain Resnais’s Marquis de Sade biopic (intended as a vehicle for Dirk Bogarde), or several of Orson Welles’s uncompleted projects. These movies haunt film history as well as the careers of their would-be directors.