Unproduced and Unfinished Films

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Marcello Mastroianni
Country: Mini italy.gif Italy / Italian
Mini usa.gif USA / English




In 1963 the Italian production company Produzioni Cinematografiche Mediterranee (P.C.M.) was working on a Mandrake film project, and announce the next release of the first Mandrake adventure film. By 1964 the Italian producer, Dino De Laurentiis, was involved in the project. When David Niven and his wife spent 10 days in Spain with Grace and Prince Rainier on their new yacht a raft of producers flew up to see him. In a press release from Chicago Tribune-N.Y. News Syndicate in 1964, David Niven wrote[1] that the producers dangled a super production of "Mandrake the Magician" under his nose, and that Dino De Laurentiis was to send up his group to discuss a new script. According[2] to "La Stampa" Freddy Mack was in Rome to act as Lothar in a "Mandrake" movie.

Alain Resnais, the French director and vice president of CÉLEG, said he was inspired by comics, especially by his favourite "Mandrake the Magician". In "Toute la mémoire du monde" (1956) there is a glimse of two French Mandrake comics, and in "L’Année dernière à Marienbad" (1961) the actors make use of cartoon-like rigid and artificial postures. While visiting New York in 1964, Resnais talked[3][footnotes 1] with Lee Falk and invited him the first International Exhibition of Comics (Salone Internazionale dei Comics) in Bordighera (Italy). After the Exhibition in Bordighera February 1965 Lee Falk spent[4] a few more days in Italy, to visit the publisher "Fratelli Spada" and talk with Duccio Tessari about the Mandrake film project.

In April 1965, Tessari said[5] the film was to be produced by Luciano Ercoli, Alberto Pugliesi and Rizzoli Film. Tessari said he would be the scriptwriter together with Lee Falk, and the film would be processed in September. The filming was said to last for four months, in Rome, London, Paris and Barcelona. He also said that for the role as Mandrake it had been thought up to David Niven, who was in agreement. Now the project needed to find an unknown actor, resembling the character and that can become the official interpreter for the other films that will certainly follow this first: a bit like Sean Connery for James Bond. According[6] to small notices in US newspapers Louis Jourdan had been asked to play "Mandrake the Magician".

In June 1965 Tessari said[7] the Mandrake project was four films and the first was to be put on place next September (1966 ?). He said that David Niven's contracts did not allow him to commit to the whole project and that he now was looking for a new actor for the role as Mandrake. According to[8] Shawn Levy, Paul Newman was attached to a Mandrake the Magician film: " - to be directed, perhaps, by Alain Resnais".

Tessari had not found an actress for the role of Narda, but would like her somthing similar as Joan Fontaine in "Rebecca" or as in "Notorious" by Bergman. Narda's clothes was to be made by Cardine and Chanel and with a necklace by Cartier. The role as Lothar was assigned to Serge Noubret. The first film was to be set in our days and had background from four countries, from England to Italy. Mandrake is tracking down an atomic scientist who has been kidnapped and in twenty very busy days saves him, before international complications occur. Mandrake, more like a scholar than a magician, quoting Diderot or reading Gide solves the most risky situations by hypnotic gaze of his mysterious eyes. The filming should last three months and plan is to present the film, titled "Mandrake", on Easter Saturday.

Also in June 1965 Duccio Tessari announced[9] in a press release, that he was going to England soon: "To try to find an actor to cast Mandrake in his movie based on the adventures of the comic strip magician". The script for "Mandrake" was written by Tessari himself.

About the role of Mandrake it was some kind of miscommunication between Tessari and Niven, since Niven in October said[10] that he after a picture[footnotes 2] was to do "Mandrake the Magician" in Europe.

Interesting Lee Falk copyrighted "Mandrake and the Power Mystery", a 61 pages script for a Mandrake movie in 1969.


Dino De Laurentiis was contriving to have Fellini direct a film about the famous magician of comics. When Lee Falk was in Italy, to receive "The Roman Lifetime Achievement Award" in Rome and to receive "The Yellow Kid Award" at the Lucca Comics Conference in 1971, he sent Lee Falk to Villa Borghese, where Fellini shooting scenes for "Fellinis Roma". Fellini said later[11] that he wanted to do "Mandrake the Magician" as a film, and that he had talked with Lee Falk many times about making the film. Fellini thought Marcello Mastroianni would be a perfect Mandrake and Claudia Cardinale a perfect Narda. Althought Mastroianni wanted Catherine Deneuve as Narda.

The director of French Vogue, Robert F. Caillé, offered Fellini the role as editor of the special issue of December 1972. Fellini made a homorous photography portfolio with Mandrake starring Marcello Mastroianni in the role of Mandrake and Claudia Cardinale as Narda.

In 1978 Alain Resnais said: "I once worked with Lee Falk on a film adaption of 'Mandrake the Magician,' but we never got very far, because we couldn't find the right cast," he recalls. "The character was a myth. The only actor I could think of was Ronald Colman. He would have been perfect for the part." (About 1973 when Lee Falk acted in the film "L'An 01" ?)

Alain Delon worked on a film project with himself as Mandrake and Cassius Clay as Lothar.

In an interview with Sergio Leone, who had a project on a Phantom movie (he started to write a screenplay and to scout locations), he declared that he would have liked to follow it with a Mandrake movie.


In 1980 Goldcrest Films (English sales agent-production company) and Neufeld-Davis Productions inc (US) worked on a film project, with Éric Rochat as producer and Julien Temple as director. They presented the project at the Cannes Film Festival in 1980. The screenplay was by Julien Temple, who imagined David Bowie in the lead.

Embassy Pictures picked up the idea, commissioning the screenplay by Temple. Embassy hired[12] Michael Almereyda to do a complete rewrite in 1982. At the Chelsea Hotel in New York he rewrote the script from top to bottom in three weeks, but a new studio head dropped the project before a director was attached. Fernando Hesye (head of the America Studios) said[13] he hoped to sign a contract for "Mandrake the Magician" to be filmed at America Studios in 1983.

In 1984[14] the Goldcrest Film's project was magically underway again. Now it was budgeted at $14 million and with Tom Sternberg as producer. William Hjortsberg scripted[15] the screenplay and Bob Swaim was to direct the film in fall 1985 starring Kevin Kline and Jeff Goldblum. Kevin Kline said[16] it was based on the 1940 comic strip and was a cross between "Thin Man" and "Raiders of the Lost Ark". In 1989 Temple said[17] that the De Laurentiis Entertainment Group had been interested in the Mandrake project. But the studio got into financial problems with that and decided they couldn't do it. He also said that his project was not dead, and that he recently had talked with David Bowie about the Mandrake movie.

Late 80s Penta America worked on a project with Bruce Willis and Mike Tyson.

In the freewheeling 1987 autobiographical film "L'Intervista" with Fedrico Fellini, Mastroianni appears outside the office window dressed like Mandrake the Magician, waving a wand.


In 2002 Hyde Park Entertainment and Crusader Entertainment bought a Mandrake script written by Josh Oppenheimer and Tom Donnelly. This movie was to be produced by Ashok Armitraj and Howard Baldwin. Jonathan Rhys Meyers was originally on board the project as the title character with Chuck Russell announced as director. In 2009, Hayden Christensen replaced Rhys Meyers in the title role of the film, with Djimon Honsou co-starring and Mimi Leder directing.

Warner Bros announced that they was developing the film version of Mandrake. In June 2016, Sascha Baron Cohen was cast as Mandrake.


In 1960 King Features Television Productions had several[18] immediate prospectus, among them a pilot based on "Mandrake the Magician". The pilot, scripted by John O'Toole, was set for fall 1960 with Al Brodax as producer. In the role of Lothar there was negotiations with Geoffrey Holder.

In 1966, after ABC's new twice-a-week "Batman" series, it was said[19] that a similar series with "Mandrake the Magician" was prospected for London production and that CBN had an option for a vidio animated version of "The Phantom". There exist a first draft of an unproduced script by Lorenzo Semple Jr, "Mandrake", which probably was written for the 1966 series.

In 1968, the producer Al Brodax said[20] his next feature was "Mandrake the Magician", and that he offered the title spot to Stephen Boyd. He said[21] in 1969 that he expected to shoot the "largely live-action feature in England this spring, with members of the Old Vic playing key roles". Lee Minoff said[22] he had done a scenario for Al Brodax on "Mandrake the Magician" before Brodax hired him to do a script on "Yellow Submarine"[23].


  1. The meeting was most likely also filmed
  2. picture=film, possible "Where the Spies Are", released January 21, 1965 (France)


  1. Hopper Hedda, "Cheaper by the Dozen", The Los Angeles Times (Los Angeles, California), 20 Aug 1964, p 26
  2. "Amonti tanta la rivincita contro il negro-attore Mack", La Stampa (Turin, Italy), 9 September 1964, p 10
  3. Giff-Wiff 12
  4. Svalduz Sandro, "Mandrake e l'uomo mascherato nelle parole del loro ideatore", La Stampa (Turin, Italy), 27 February 1965, p 7
  5. "Non è facile trovare un attore per il personaggio di Mandrake", La Stampa (Turin, Italy), 21 April 1965, p 9
  6. Wilson Earl, "It Happened Last Night", The Times Recorder (Zanesville, Ohio), 17 Jun 1966, p 8
  7. Campo Francesco, "Si cerca l’attore che sarà Mandrake", La Stampa (Turin, Italy), 5 June 1965, p 8
  8. Levy, Shawn Paul newman : a life, Thorndike Press (2009), p 458
  9. "Mandrake Wanted", The Kingston Daily Freeman (Kingston, New York), 25 Jun 1965, p 15
  10. Hopper Hedda, "Rasputin Suit is a Repeat", Detroit Free Press (Detroit, Michigan), 23 Oct 1965, p 11
  11. Chandler Charlotte, "I, Fellini", Random House (New York) 1995, p 242
  12. King of Infinite Space - Filmmaker Magazine. filmmakermagazine.com. Retrived 2015-07-20
  13. Sussman, Soll, "Devalued peso makes Mexico attractive to film makers", Messenger-Inquirer (Owensboro, Kentucky), 27 May 1983, p 43
  14. Crawley Tony, "Mandrake Lives", Starburst Magazine 86 (vol 8, no 2)) (Marvel Comics Ltd UK), 1985 October, p 6
  15. Scapperotti Dan, "Mandrake in the Movies", Comic Scene #1, volum 3 - series #12 - 1987, p 72.
  16. "That's show biz....", Edmonton Journal (Edmonton, Alberta, Canada) 25 Aug 1985, Sun, p 14
  17. Scapperotti Dan, "Under Mandrake's Spell", Comic Scene #8, volum 4 - series #18 - 1989, p 67.
  18. Tralfaz: Cartoons of 1960, Part 1
  19. "More Comic Book TV Series Set", Wisconsin State Journal (Madison, Wisconsin), 10 Feb 1966, p 45
  20. "Works Magic", Valley News (Van Nuys, California), 13 Dec 1968, p 39
  21. Weler A H, "Mandrake the Magician Soon To Appear On Film", Calgary Herald (Calgary, Alberta, Canada), 18 Jan 1969, p 35
  22. Transcript of Interview with Lee Minoff 12/15/97 by Bob Hieronimus
  23. [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yellow_Submarine_(film) WikiPedia: Yellow Submarine


External links

YouTube short clip from Intervista

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