There was some intriguing news out of the film world reported by The Guardian on Sunday: A once-lost screenplay written by Stanley Kubrick has been discovered. According to The Guardian, Kubrick wrote the screenplay with novelist Calder Willingham, who later collaborated with him on Paths of Glory.
Titled Burning Secret, the screenplay is adapted from a 1913 Stefan Zweig novella (the author who also provided cinematic inspiration to Wes Anderson for 2014’s The Grand Budapest Hotel) and tells the story of “a suave and predatory man” who is so intent on seducing a married woman at the spa resort they’re staying at that he befriends the woman’s 10-year-old son and uses him to assist in his scheme.
Film adaptations of the novella were made in Germany in 1933 (though it was apparently criticised by Joseph Goebbels because of the theme of adultery) and, more recently, in a 1988 version starring Faye Dunaway. Even though one adaptation existed by the time he got to work on his version in 1956, we can assume Kubrick took some creative liberties with Burning Secret; it’s something he would do with other literary works he adapted to film later in his career, as was the case with 1980’s The Shining. The Guardian’s report notes minor differences, like the young boy’s name being changed from Edgar to Eddie and the setting is moved from Austria to contemporary America.
The Burning Secret screenplay was discovered by Nathan Abrams, a professor in film at Bangor University and Kubrick expert. Speaking to The Guardian, Abrams recalled his reaction to finding the lost screenplay. “I couldn’t believe it. It’s so exciting. It was believed to have been lost. Kubrick aficionados know he wanted to do it, [but] no one ever thought it was completed. We now have a copy and this proves that he had done a full screenplay,” later remarking that the 100-page screenplay provides enough material that it “could be completed by film-makers today.”