Before Stanley Kubrick got his hands on Anthony Burgess‘ idiosyncratic dystopian tale A Clockwork Orange, Dr. Strangelove screenwriter Terry Southern was looking to adapt the book (per Rolling Stone) for the big screen using Blowup star David Hemmings.
As anyone familiar with cinema history knows, that didn’t come to pass — Kubrick ended up writing and directing a 1971 version of the book starring Malcolm McDowell in one of the screen’s most legendary performances.
But if The Beatles had gotten their way, movie history would be significantly different.
After Hemmings was rumored to be Southern’s preferred lead for the film, Mick Jagger lobbied him hard for the role, pulling together a petition signed by every member of The Beatles, Marianna Faithful, actress/model Anita Pallenberg (who had relationships with Rolling Stones members Brian Jones and Keith Richards) and others.
In Jagger’s vision of A Clockwork Orange, he would play Alex, the Stones would be his droogs and The Beatles would provide the soundtrack. That petition — an unusual piece of obscure history — is now up for auction via Paddle8, which expects the tattered oddity to fetch $18,000 to $25,000.
In the end, music’s first major transgender figure — Wendy Carlos — scored Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange, creating one of the most indelible electronic scores ever. Not long after this late ’60s petition, Jagger would star in two mostly forgotten 1970 films: Ned Kelly and Performance (the latter, however, is well-worth seeking out).
Another forgotten piece of A Clockwork Orange history: When published in Britain, Burgess’ challenging novel actually had a somewhat happy ending detailed in a final chapter that was cut for the American version, as the publishers specifically wanted to give his book a more sinister tone for U.S. release. It was the less-hopeful ending that found its way to Kubrick and the big screen.