Twentieth Century Fox came close to making a Jasper Maskelyne movie forty years ago, based loosely on 'Magic Top Secret'.
American writers John Wilder and Jerry Ziegman (from Peyton Place) worked on a screenplay in 1968.
Their enthusiastic correspondence with Jasper gave every impression that his wartime adventures would definitely be turned into a Hollywood movie...
The Twentieth Century Fox version would have climaxed with Jasper's heroic rescue attempt of a female agent held by the Gestapo in Yugoslavia (fictional episode, of course).
Paramount's recent version, based on 'The War Magician', has stalled.
Australian director, Peter Weir was already having doubts about the subject matter. He flew up to Brisbane and interviewed Alistair, Jasper's son.
Alistair spoke candidly about his father and gave Weir an earlier copy of my research.
In October 2004 Weir contacted Alistair to say he was withdrawing from The War Magician film. Weir wrote:The decision not to proceed, while influenced by our meeting and the Stokes material, was finally my own. Ive avoided biographical material so far, and if I was to break my own rule I had to proceed from a solid factual base. That was not possible for reasons well known to you.
Paramount have spent (squandered?) a great deal of time and money on the new film.
For example, Peter Buchman has written a script. And he wouldn't come cheap.
I assume , following Fisher's embellishment, Buchman would have climaxed the movie with the Battle of Alamein (even though Jasper Maskelyne was not involved in the creation and implementation of the Alamein deception plan).
Paramount, incidentally, claim exclusive rights to Jasper Maskelynes name, likeness, writings, books and life story.
This stance has unfortunately impeded genuine research into the real Jasper Maskelyne.
Paramount don't appear to realise they have been sold a dummy.
Jasper's books were ghost-written by an inventive hack, Frank Stuart, who combined pseudo-biography with wartime ripping yarns.
But returning to this thread:
Given that so many pitches are rejected, and given that so many screenplays are shelved and never reach production, why is it that the few surviving films which emerge are so bad?
Wouldn't Darwinian selection produce fitter survivors?
What goes wrong?
Today I would like to take my children to the movies. It's holiday time in Australia. But the ten films on offer (mainly from the USA) are crap.