Early 1968, before Stanley Kubrick took the helm of A Clockwork Orange and created the classic we now know, Hollywood producer Si Litvinoff sent both a draft of Terry Southern‘s script and a copy of the original novel to John Schlesinger, just one of the filmmakers he approached to direct before pinning Kubrick down (incidentally, other potential directors, Litvinoff recently told me by email, included John Boorman, Roman Polanski, Ken Russell and Nicolas Roeg). Also sent to Schlesinger was the following letter, which is interesting if only for providing a fascinating snapshot of what could have been: an adaptation of Anthony Burgess’ novel starring a certain Mick Jagger in the lead role as Alex, accompanied by a soundtrack from The Beatles.
Indeed, the Stones frontman had his eye firmly on the role, but it seems David Hemmings was the favourite following his success in Blowup. This didn’t sit well with fans of Jagger, as evidenced by the petition also seen below, signed by such stars as Marianne Faithfull and all of The Beatles, that was sent to Southern.
Their efforts were wasted. A year after Litvinoff’s letter was written, Kubrick stepped in.
Enormous thanks to Si Litvinoff and the BFI.
(Letter source: BFI – reprinted with the permission of Si Litvinoff; Petition courtesy of John Harvey; Photo above, via.)
SI LITVINOFF PRODUCTIONS, INC.
SIXTY FIVE EAST FIFTY FIFTH STREET
NEW YORK CITY
February 2, 1968
Mr. John Schlesinger
22306 Pacific Coast Highway
1) A CLOCKWORK ORANGE – draft
2) A CLOCKWORK ORANGE – novel (USA Edition)
3) THE WANTING SEED – novel (USA Edition)
With regard to A CLOCKWORK ORANGE, we have in mind juxtaposing the “Nasdats” (in a futuristic-Edwardian look) and their unique language, against a totally science-oriented society (with their own attitudes and language). The “Nasdats” would thus be the equivalent of that age’s Renaissance men. Only in prison, where exposure to this new life is limited, is there “normal” life and “normal” language. This has not been treated in the first draft which is just a point from which to take off. This film should break ground in its language, cinematic style and its soundtrack. (The Beatles love the project, and Mike Jagger and David Hemmings have both been keen to play “Alex”.)
After you’ve read the script and novel, I’m sure you will see the incredible potential we all see in this project.
Please ring up when you’ve had a chance to read and think.
DEAR MR SOUTHERN, WE, THE UNDERSIGNED, DO HEREBY PROTEST WITH EXTREME VEHEMENCE AS WELL AS SHATTERED ILLUSIONS (IN YOU) THE PREFERENCE OF DAVID HEMMINGS ABOVE ****** MICK JAGGER ****** IN THE ROLE OF ALEX IN ‘THE CLOCKWORK ORANGE’…