Back in February I posted about the creative relationship between Stanley Kubrick and Anthony Burgess, which resulted in A Clockwork Orange and a rejected draft for Kubrick's unfilmed biopic of Napoleon. Today's Letter of Note returns us to Burgess' novel and the film adaptation, but gives us an insight into what might have been had Kubrick not got involved.
In early-1968, Hollywood producer Si Litvinoff was trying to get a director to film A Clockwork Orange based off an early draft by Terry Southern, co-writer of Dr. Strangelove and author of The Magic Christian. Litvinoff approached a flurry of famous faces, including John Boorman (director of Deliverance), Roman Polanski (who was working on Rosemary's Baby), Ken Russell (who was in pre-production on Women in Love) and Nicolas Roeg, then best known as a cinematographer.
Litvinov finally wrote to John Schlesinger, who would go on to make Midnight Cowboy. His letter pitched the film with Mick Jagger of The Rolling Stones as Alex with music being provided by The Beatles, saying that it "should break new ground in its language, cinematic style and... soundtrack". Jagger was a popular choice for the role, but Southern preferred David Hemmings, star of Michelangelo Antonioni's Blow-Up who would later appear in Ridley Scott's Gladiator. Southern was subsequently sent a petition, signed by all of The Beatles, arguing that Jagger should be cast.
You can read both Litvinov's letter and the petition to Southern here. Jagger did make his screen debut shortly afterwards, working with Roeg on Performance in 1970. For more things Kubrick-related, you can read my February post on him here or read here about his encounters with Arthur C. Clarke around the making of 2001: A Space Odyssey.