We’re all familiar with Tom Hiddleston’s gripping BBC adaptation of The Night Manager, but did you know there was nearly a big screen version of the novel made decades before?
It’s been revealed that legendary director Stanley Kubrick nearly adapted John le Carré’s spy story for a movie in the 90s, but declined as he thought it would be impossible to do the novel justice.
Literary agent Jonny Geller tweeted a scan of a fax sent from Kubrick to le Carre (real name David Cornwell), which sees him politely decline the chance to make the movie after reading a draft in 1992.
— Jonny Geller (@JonnyGeller) September 19, 2016
“Dear David, I loved the book, as I have loved all your work, and I’m sorry I had to ration my time to read it. But, for me at least, it was great to have a book you want to get back to and know it’s there each day,” the note reads.
“Unhappily, the problem is still pretty much as I fumbled and bumbled it out to you on the phone yesterday.
“Essentially: how do you tell a story it took the author 165,000 (my guess) good and necessary words to tell, with 12,000 words (about the number of words you get to say in a two hour movie, based on 150wps speaking rate, less than 30% silence and action) without flattening everybody into gingerbread men?” he wrote.
“I have only said this to John Calley [a studio exec at MGM in the 90s] who seemed to me unusually involved in this, and who I know loves and admires you and your work.
“I am very flattered and grateful you let me read the MSS so early on. I don’t suppose you want moronic-logic-of-the-audience feedback on any plot points: so none offered. Kasparov does not need the comments of the kibitzers,” Kubrick added.
Watch a Night Manager trailer below:
The Night Manager tells the story of a hotel worker who is recruited by an intelligence agency to spy on a fearsome arms dealer.
Despite his comments about word count, Kubrick successfully adapted Anthony Burgess’s A Clockwork Orange, which counts in at 60,000 words.
It’s surprising to read that Kubrick didn’t think he could do the novel justice – after all, this is the man who famously said: “If it can be written, or thought, it can be filmed.”
Kubrick died in 1999, just seven years after the letter was sent, and a movie based on the novel was never made.