12. FEAR AND DESIRE (1953) ^ Stanley Kubrick’s first feature film was long an embarrassment to the great director and was kept out of circulation for many years, with only brief screenings allowed on rare occasions. In truth, Kubrick had reason to be embarrassed: this drama of four American soldiers behind enemy lines in World War II is a pretentious, frequently amateurish B-Movie saddled with a verbose screenplay (written by Kubrick and Howard Sackler, who later authored “The Great White Hope”) and badly acted (especially by Paul Mazursky as an off-kilter private). The 68-minute “Fear and Desire” made absolutely no impact when first released and Kubrick would not gain attention until his stylish 1955 noir drama “Killer’s Kiss” and the 1956 mini-classic “The Killing. ^ WHY IS THE FILM NOT ON VIDEO? Kubrick controlled the rights to “Fear and Desire” and never allowed its video release. Even after the filmmaker’s death, the Kubrick estate would not allow the film to be included in the various home video/DVD re-issues of his works.
13. PORGY AND BESS (1959) ^ Legendary producer Samuel Goldwyn’s final film was this adaptation of the George Gershwin-DuBose Heyward opera. In many ways, the project was doomed from the beginning: director Rouben Mamoulian (who directed the original stage version and tried for two decades to get the film made) was abruptly fired after shooting began, replaced by autocratic Otto Preminger who, in turn, made life on the set hell for the emotionally fragile leading lady Dorothy Dandridge, his one-time protégé and lover. During production, a fire burned down the set, causing expensive delays. The film’s premiere came during the rise of the civil rights movement, which ridiculed the negative stereotypes of African-American life depicted in the film. Critical and audience response to the film was poor, but over time the film’s reputation have grown substantially to the point that “Porgy and Bess” has become one of the most sought-after films never released in the home entertainment channels. ^ WHY IS THIS FILM NOT ON VIDEO? The Gershwin estate was furious with the film’s approach to the source opera: specifically, it changed the source from an opera to a standard musical, with new dialogue bridging the gaps between sudden bursts of song. In 1971, the Gershwin estate had “Porgy and Bess” completely withdrawn from circulation. It has been unavailable for the past three decades except for private screenings arranged by appointment at the Library of Congress, although in the past year a handful of one-time-only non-theatrical screenings were allowed at a few festivals. No plans have been announced regarding a home video release.
Get more of the list in the next part of NEVER ON VIDEO: THE TOP 20 “MISSING” MOVIES>>>