2008-07-09 15:22:38 UTC
This is related to the Christiane Kubrick interview. Big Kubrick week.
The letters of Stanley Kubrick
Page 1 of 3
(with Kirk Douglas, Laurence Olivier and Jean Simmons)
This was the film that would establish Kubrick as major force in
cinema. But not everyone was happy throughout filming.
June 5, 1959
To Laurence Olivier
Dear Larry, I am sorry the rushes were late yesterday and I was unable
to come by for that drink. I hope that when you see the finished film
you will be less disturbed about certain things than are now. In any
case, I should like to thank you for the decent way you have behaved
about the things with which you were in such disagreement. Good luck
and Best Regards, Stanley.
(with James Mason as Humbert and Sue Lyon as Lolita)
Olivier, who had originally agreed to star as Professor Humbert
Humbert if he could co-write the script, pulls out of the entire
December 15, 1959
To Stanley Kubrick from Laurence Olivier
Having scrutinised the book curiously and intensely during the last
week I do not feel my mind grasping a film conception of the subject
and I therefore don’t feel that I can very well bear the onus of the
responsibility of partnership in the script of a subject concerning
which strong doubts are so uppermost in my mind. These doubts come
from a conviction that the chief merit in the book lies in the
author’s brilliant original and witty descriptive powers and I can’t
see how this particular virtue is photographable. I fear that told in
terms of dialogue the subject would be reduced to the level of
pornography to which I’m afraid quite a few people already consign it.
I could not guarantee to myself that I would be much use in getting it
right and therefore cannot feel that I should guarantee to you that I
would play the part whatever happened. Full of admiration as I am for
the book my faith in it as a film subject is shaky.
Kubrick outlines the project to Peter Ustinov, perhaps with a view to
May 20, 1960
To Peter Ustinov
I think the most important thing to say about Lolita is that it is a
love story. A sad tender eventually heart-breaking story of passion-
love. Humbert’s love is a passion-love. It is in the tradition of the
middle ages, the tradition of courtly love, a love that is at once
scandalous, masochistic and tortured. It is a very different love than
the modern ideal, where the values are placed in “maturity”,
“togetherness” and “health”. The literal meaning of the word passion
will quickly suggest how far from the modern ideal it is. The passion-
lover is sick with his love. His passion fills his entire being to the
total exclusion of everything else. He expects his mistress to make
him suffer and submits willingly to her cruelty and enslavement... the
censorship thing does not concern me very much. The film will be
fairly innocent as far as what the eye will see.
And Kubrick shows that he is against “sexing up” the film for more
liberal European audiences.
October 3, 1961
To Eliot Hyman, Lolita’s executive producer
Dear Eliot, RE: Addition Humbert crawling into bed segment. Needless
to say the confusion and chances for screw-ups don’t seem to balance
the questionable gain of the sequence. The people who will be
disappointed that Lolita is not a filthy picture with slobber love
scenes, semi-nudity and outrageous postures will not be appeased,
while on the other hand there are some people who will be horrified,
shocked and offended by this sequence which is not in the same genre
of the film. Artistically it contributes nothing that would otherwise
be lacking. I would strongly recommend that we drop the idea.
DR STRANGELOVE OR: HOW I LEARNED TO STOP WORRYING AND LOVE THE BOMB,
1964 (with Peter Sellers as Dr Strangelove)
In pre-production, and casting matters arise, but Kubrick ever has his
eye on the money.
November 19, 1962
To James Harris, producer
Thanks very much for the Gene Kelly matter. I think he’ll be a
fabulous off-beat choice if we can work things out with him. Please
try to create the impression in his mind that we’re very tight on
money (we are).
July 22, 1963
To Jack Wiener, in Columbia Pictures, Paris
I have checked a number of sources (most of them in France) on the
subtitle. Bim bam bombe sounds like a Jerry Lewis picture.
The letters of Stanley Kubrick
Page 2 of 3
Telex to Editor of the London Evening Standard
I must correct a false impression… In the case of Dr Strangelove Or:
How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, the choice of
England was solely dictated by the fact that Peter Sellers’ presence
in England was required during the filming in order to appear in court
for his divorce. But don’t get me wrong. I love England.
To an un-named advertising executive
If you place any value on my friendship you will discontinue this
bewildering display of rudeness. I am not used to being treated as a
pest. I am used to having my phone calls promptly returned – not being
brushed off to assistants. You are the only one who has ever done this
to me and my willingness to accept this method of operation has
apparently destroyed all perspective as to what might constitute
reasonable treatment of me. The lack of what might even be considered
routine planning has resulted in no proper screening facilities being
available for the Academy. It has also resulted in an amateurishly mis-
booking at the Crest theater which can contribute little to the
nominations, opening the day before the ballots are sent. I know you
are very busy, but so am I. I am working around the clock with a
writer who has a tax deadline by which he must leave the country. And
I have two stars who are making almost daily trans-Atlantic phone
calls trying to juggle other start dates. The whole thing has
virtually stopped all work on my script and between the realities of
the problem and the maddening attempts to reach you the effect has
been disastrous to my time.
2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY, 1968
The process of collaboration between Kubrick and Arthur C Clarke
March 31, 1964
Dear Mr Clarke, It’s a very interesting coincidence that our mutual
friend Caras mentioned you in a conversation we were having about a
Questar telescope. I had been a great admirer of your books for quite
a time and had always wanted to discuss with you the possibility of
doing the proverbial really good science-fiction movie. My main
interest lies along these broad areas naturally assuming great plot
1. The reasons for believing in the existence of intelligent extra-
2. The impact (and perhaps even lack on impact in some quarters) such
discovery would have on earth in the near future.
3. A space probe with a landing and exploration of the Moon and Mars.
Would you consider coming sooner with a view to a meeting, the purpose
of which would be to determine whether an idea might exist or arise
which could sufficiently interest both of us enough to want to
collaborate on a screenplay?”
He approaches Robert Shaw to play the Moon-Watcher character,
eventually played by Daniel Richter.
February 17, 1965
To Robert Shaw
I am enclosing a sketch of an Australopithecine man-ape from Raymond
Dark’s “Adventures with the missing link”, without wishing to seen
unappreciative of your rugged and handsome countenance, I must observe
there appears to be an incredible resemblance.
Kubrick allows “cross plugging” for the film and asks companies to
redesign their products for the future world of 2001.
May 14, 1965
To an unnamed executive at MGM
I have hired Roger Caras [Polaris Productions] to implement the plan
to obtain co-operation and exploit cross plugging from companies such
as General Electric, General Motors, etc.
September 22, 1965
To Roger Caras
Dear Roger We are badly in need of a mad computer expert who can be
around and advise on dialogue and jargon to use in computer scenes. It
should be someone who has his eye on the future of computers and not
just a stick in the mud type. Can IBM assign someone from England to
serve as this part-time liaison. Stanley.