A short list of the most unobtainable, often talked about films ever produced by Hollywood:
There exists, in the film community, films that everyone has heard of but few have seen. These are films that were produced and then, for whatever reason, were pulled from release and locked away never to be seen again. I’ve compiled a short list of what I believe are the top five films that fit this criteria. Without further ado, let’s count them down!
#5 – The Fantastic Four (1994)
Produced by Roger Corman, it is believed that this $1.5 million film was never intended to be seen by any audience, anywhere, ever. Well, no one told Corman that! Fantastic Four co-creator, Stan Lee claims it was produced in order to retain the rights to the characters (producer Bernd Eichinger later went on to produce the 2005 version for Fox) and Lee goes on to claim it was never planned for release. Corman has said that it was his understanding that the film was on its way to a theatrical debut when Marvel CEO Avi Arad unexpectedly pulled the film. To this day the film has never been officially released; however, a copy has made the rounds (yes, I have seen it) and you can probably find someone willing to sell you a copy at your nearest comic convention (coming soon to a city near you).
#4 – SkateTown, U.S.A. (1979)
The theatrical debut of Patrick Swayze where we see two rival skaters forming a friendship while competing at a roller disco contest. It is the often told tale from the cutthroat world of roller disco! The first of the a number of disco skating movies to be released in the late 1970s. The film also starred Scott Baio and Maureen McCormick (Marcia Brady of “The Brady Bunch” fame). This low-budget stinker is also known for its reference in McCormick’s autobiography as she discusses the rampant cocaine use on set. The film reportedly ran into a ton of copyright issues with the soundtrack and will probably never be released to DVD/BD. About the film, Baio once remarked, “I have blocked that movie from my memory, it was so bad.” Professional skater April Allen portrays Swayze’s skating partner and girlfriend in the film. It is interesting to note that Allen was actually Swayze’s first roller rink skating partner as a child growing up in Houston, Texas. The film has turned up on the Internet from time to time but Sony has always quickly pulled it. They probably have other issues to worry about right now, so you can currently watch the film on YouTube, in segments (at least for now).
#3 – Song of the South (1946)
Set in the Reconstruction-era South, this live-action/animated Disney film follows gentle storyteller Uncle Remus as he spins the tale about the sharp-witted Br’er Rabbit who’s always outsmarting Br’er Fox. The film won an Academy Award for best original song, “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah,” in 1948, with its characters installed at all Disney theme parks. However, the film has been sealed away in the Disney vault since the mid-1980s, and is widely disavowed by the company. The film was controversial when it was released and regarded as overtly racist. Despite this, Disney re-released the film theatrically many times over the next forty years. However, the film has never been released on home video and is now considered to be permanently locked away, never to be released again. Disney has often responded swiftly to stop any unauthorized copies from circulating online, but for now the film can be seen on YouTube (again, for now).
#2 – Don’s Plum (2001)
The project started out as a short film: A group of L.A. teens hang out at their local diner and talk about their misfortunes. In 1995, filmmaker R.D. Robb asked his friends, Leonardo DiCaprio and Tobey Maguire to appear, which they gladly did. However, after the success of DiCaprio’s 1997 film, Titanic, Robb decided to recut the film as a full-length feature. When he tried to sell the film to distributors, DiCaprio and Maguire stepped in and blocked the release. Robb sued the pair and ultimately a settlement was reached that forbid any domestic release of the film, though it can be shown in other countries. Reportedly, due to the crude humor and bad behavior of the characters DiCaprio and Maguire portray, they believed it might not be good for their reputations (reportedly). If you really want to see it, move to Canada, or you can watch some of DiCaprio’s scenes online but that’s about it.
#1 – The Day The Clown Cried (1972)
Number one: the “Bigfoot” of movies; one of the most widely-discussed, never-seen films in Hollywood history. This is a horribly conceived mix of tragedy and comedy. It is a Holocaust tale of a circus clown imprisoned by the Nazis who finds himself performing for Jewish children condemned to death in a concentration camp. Written, directed and starring Jerry Lewis, it was never released, or even screened, originally, due to a financial disagreement. Later, the film was held back by Lewis himself who was reportedly unhappy with the final cut. Very few people have seen it. One of the rare few includes actor Harry Shearer (of “The Simpson’s” fame), who commented that the film was, “drastically wrong.” Jerry Lewis rarely discusses the film and usually will only comment that the one-and-only copy of the film is kept hidden away from the world, never to be seen by anyone, ever!
So there you have it, my list of the top five films you’ll probably never be able to see. Do you have others you think can top my list? Let me know!