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'Village of the Damned' delayed production

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  • 'Village of the Damned' delayed production

    Is there any contemporary evidence of the filming of 'Village of the Damned' being delayed in production by the Catholic lobby in the states?

    MGM bought the rights in October '57 and it was penciled in for production by Milo Frank soon after. Milo persevered for about two years before Milo left MGM under a bit of a cloud.

    I'm listening to this podcast (see link) - but can't find anything in the trade press or newspapers about Ronald Colman being cast or religious groups.

    Any references would be appreciated.

    Last edited by Anthony McKay; 10th July 2017, 12:37 PM.

  • #2
    Originally posted by Anthony McKay
    From the Independant's Stirling Silliphant obituary:

    "It was not until MGM hired Silliphant to write an adaptation of John Wyndham's The Midwich Cuckoos for Ronald Colman in 1958 that Silliphant really hit his stride as a screenwriter. Colman's death the same year and worries over the film's potential offensiveness to the powerful Catholic League of Decency kept it off the screen until 1960, when it was filmed as Village of the Damned. The infuriated Silliphant broke his contract with MGM and went back to television for several years...."

    Anybody got any lead as to where this story comes from? Larry Bachmann when talking about the project, later on, only mentions problems with abortion being mentioned in the book as being an issue. I can find contemporary references to the female leads proposed by Frank - but no mention of Colman.
    Sorry, Anthony, I can't answer your question but, out of curiosity, who were the proposed female leads?


    • #3
      I found the original source: Starburst #4 a Stirling Silliphant interview. I dubious about his statement about Ronald Colman being the definite pick for the lead role as he was quite ill with pneumonia during 1957 and he never really recovered. When the project started there was an intention to rush the film out around the time of the book release.

      Actresses in the frame - Gloria Moreland and Julia Meade. Like a lot of those involved in the project - they had a TV ceevee.


      • #4
        Originally posted by Anthony McKay View Post
        Actresses in the frame - Gloria Moreland and Julia Meade. Like a lot of those involved in the project - they had a TV ceevee.
        Interesting choices, I guess by Hollywood standards this was a low budget movie. Even George Sanders and Barbara Shelley hardly qualified a 'A' list


        • #5
          Originally posted by Anthony McKay
          It must have been originally a prestige project as MGM was given access to the manuscript 6 months before publication - possibly they had some of the book before the final version was finished.
          Not sure that necessarily follows. Agents often sell the rights to novels while they are still in the galley stages. I know, for example, Tigon picked up Witchfinder General before it was published, and that was a pulp novel followed by a low budget horror movie. The creative personnel, writer/director/cast, appointed and the budget allocated are a much clearer indication of 'prestige'.


          • #6
            After a month's research and the help of the archivist in the US and two Wyndham experts - I can confirm that the manuscript sent to MGM was a copy of the first complete typescript for the novel. This was transcribed from Wyndham's handwritten text and then used in the editing process to produce the finished novels - yes 'novels' as there are significant differences between the UK and US versions. I didn't know that either.

            So what has been re-discovered is the original complete text - most of the individual pages were used to make up Wyndham's manuscript which he sent to the publisher and this is the earliest know version until now. What has been 'found, 60+ pages which where thought to be lost including one complete chapter and a pretty hefty section where three chapters had been reduced to two. I've also found an undocumented name for one of the two missing chapters 'Extra Mural.'


            • #7
              I've manged to see some of the original manuscript now. The only major difference between this and the published versions is 'Chapter 10' called 'Extra Mural,' none of which appears in either published version. It concerns a visit by Polly's father to the vicarage to demand of Leebody an explanation for his daughter's condition. Basically a long confrontation during which the vicar has to face the reality of the situation.

              95% percent of the material in the manuscript ended up in the American version of the novel as far as I can see, There are a few paragraphs here and there and minor changes.

              Wyndham went to town on editing his original for the Penguin edition - that's where most of the missing pages were lost.


              • #8
                Looks like Catholic groups had no trouble at all with 'Village of the Damned' - here is the League of Decency rating for the film and a review from a Catholic newspaper - December 1960

                - also, the dates of Production Code correspondence suggest the original script got the OK after two submissions before December 1957

                WARNING - contains spoilers!

                Click image for larger version  Name:	Capture.JPG Views:	1 Size:	151.3 KB ID:	56034
                Last edited by Anthony McKay; 14th April 2018, 01:24 AM.