Filing Cabinet of the Damned

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Masked Men, Melted Cheese, and the Great Lost Film

The new movie Nacho Libre stars Jack Black and is the story of a Mexican friar who becomes a masked wrestler to raise money for his orphanage. All well and good.

But it had almost been done legends of the cinema, no less.

From Conversations With Wilder, a book of interviews of the legendary filmmaker Billy Wilder, conducted by writer/director Cameron Crowe:
Crowe: The Masked Marvel was another idea you had for [Charles] Laughton.

Wilder: The Masked Marvel. Yes. He was a wrestler who wrestled in the provinces, not too far from where he lived. He wore a mask when he wrestled--he was an English lord. And he did not unmask himself when he wrestled. But each week he would wrestle and take that three hundred dollars and drive off....In verity, in truth, he was the minister of a church, and there were insects eating away at the furniture. He needed the money to keep the church going. This part of his life was all without the mask.

Crowe: Did it ever get to script form?

Wilder: No. Never got to script form.

Crowe: Good idea, though.

Wilder: Yes. It was a good idea, the first one I brought to him. We had Laughton masquerading as an English lord who had lost his fortune. Some of his fights were fixed, some he won. He wrestled under the name of "the Lord," which people called him, not knowing that he was in fact wrestling for the Lord. He liked the idea, but later I brought him Witness [for the Prosecution], and that we did together.

Now that would have been a weird movie.


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