Unfinished Projects

Rip Torn, Nicholas Ray and Marilyn Chambers discuss City Blues, 1976

Rip Torn, director Nicholas Ray, and Marilyn at a press conference announcing the production of City Blues, 1976.

"I'm kind of pissed off that I didn't get over the hump, pardon the expression, and get to do my major film."

-- Marilyn Chambers, 2004

Marilyn Chambers at a press conference announcing her role in Nicholas Ray's City Blues, 1976

Marilyn at a press conference announcing the production of City Blues, 1976.

One-sheet poster for Hardcore (1979) for which Marilyn Chambers was considered for a role

One sheet poster for the 1979 film Hardcore. Marilyn was up for a part but the producers said she didn't look enough like a porn star. The role went to Season Hubley.

Untitled Columbia Pictures Film with Keenan Wynn (1975)

 

In an interview with Genesis magazine that appeared in the January 1975 issue, Marilyn notes that she's about to begin work on a film for Columbia Pictures starring Keenan Wynn. This is also noted in her biography featured in the program for Mind With the Dirty Man which played Vegas in '75. There is no mention of a title in either publication, and there's no word on when and how this project fell through.

City Blues (aka Murphy) (1976)

 

Probably the greatest missed opportunity of Marilyn's career, City Blues was to have been directed by the legendary Nicholas Ray (Rebel Without a Cause, Johnny Guitar). Rip Torn was set to co-star, as was Norman Mailer, who had done rewrites on the script. The original title of the film was Murphy, and a full-page ad congratulating Marilyn on signing for the role appeared in Variety on April 30, 1976. Marilyn was hand selected by Ray who never saw Behind the Green Door.​ ​

 

From the book Nicholas Ray: The Glorious Failure of an American Director by Patrick McGilligan:​

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"Nick Ray Back: Lead is Porno Queen" screamed the April, 21, 1976 headline in Variety. The article described plans for a screen story involving a young hooker defended by a seedy lawyer. Blending courtroom drama (one of Ray's specialties) with a porno slant (a more recent feature of his career), the project would star Marilyn Chambers of the scandalous X-rated blockbuster Behind the Green Door. The lawyer was to be played by Rip Torn, whom Ray had directed before in King of Kings.

If the name Nick Ray still stirred excitement in film circles, the real attention-grabber was the casting of Chambers, a blond hard-core actress then at the peak of her notoriety.  The director said that he hadn't seen Behind the Green Door, nor attended Chambers's "Le Bellybutton" cabaret show currently running in a Manhattan hotel. For that matter, he hadn't even screen-tested the actress. "I have a camera in my head," Ray declared, then undercut this pronouncement by adding, more dubiously, that Chambers would "eventually be able to handle anything that the young Katharine Hepburn or Bette Davis could."

​Meeting with Chambers, Ray was informed by the performer that blue was the best color to flatter her looks. He was momentarily disconcerted, having long inveighed against that color. But rules were made to be broken, and Ray announced that he would shoot the film entirely in shades of blue and call it City Blues.

According to the same book, the start date was repeatedly postponed and within two months, tax shelter laws were changed and halted the unstable financing. At the same time, Ray, who had battled drugs and alcohol, had begun drinking again. He died in 1979.

The January 1977 issue of film magazine Take One, which featured a lengthy cover story and interview with Ray, noted that City Blues was still in production but Marilyn was no longer attached to the project. Chuck Traynor is quoted as saying that Marilyn had signed a contract that promised her $60,000 and 5% of the gross. Upon signing she received $10,000 but in the summer of 1976 the US tax shelter laws changed and the financing for the picture fell through. Traynor said that if enough money was raised Marilyn would be attached to the project.  

Inside A Doll's House (1976)​

Marilyn mentioned this project on Efrom's Underground, a New York public access cable TV show, in April 1976 while she was promoting Le Bellybutton. (You can watch the episode on the TV appearances page.) While she doesn't give too many details on the show, an article dated April 14, 1976, that appeared in Columbia University's newspaper the Spectator reads:

She will show her Bellybutton in London, Los Angeles and Las Vegas, and then will star in Inside a Doll's House, a softcore film version of Ibsen's play. 'It's a very high budget film. It involves the whole dialect of the Victorian era,' she rattled off with schoolgirlish glee. Ibsen's Nora may offer Chambers some serious challenges, but she doesn't doubt her ability to tackle the role ('Oh, sure,' she replied without hesitation to the question 'Do you consider yourself a serious actress?,' as if I had asked her if Katharine Hepburn has any talent). 'Besides, I'm getting a percentage of it. I don't do anything without getting a percentage of it.'

It's unclear what became of this project. Incidentally, the Columbia Spectator article was written by future Village Voice columnist Michael Musto.

Pick-Axe (1977)​

Referenced in several interviews during 1977, Pick Axe was to have been a horror film starring Marilyn, post-Rabid. However, no plot, storyline, costars or director were ever made public. In an August 1977 interview with the D.C. alternative weekly Unicorn Times, Marilyn said the film was put together by Chuck Traynor himself. "Not Academy Award winners," Marilyn admit, "but you've got to swing with the times." 

Goin' South (1978)​

 

In a wonderfully written and insightful article written by Bruce Rushton that appeared in the River Front Times in 2001, there is the following tidbit:​​

 

She says you can ask her anything. The mind boggles: The long-ago live performances in San Francisco, where police say Marilyn serviced 20 patrons at a time (prosecutors, however, declined to press prostitution charges); the 10 years spent with husband/manager Chuck Traynor, who wouldn't let her go to college or smoke cigarettes; the time Jack Nicholson and Art Garfunkel dangled a role in Goin' South, then asked her for cocaine and wanted to know whether she really got off during Green Door, angering her to the point that she stormed out midway through the interview.

Marilyn Chambers in California Living magazine, 1985

Marilyn in 1985 around the time she mentioned Insatiable 3 to a reporter from the San Francisco Chronicle.

Hardcore (1979)​

Another great opportunity lost, Hardcore starred George C. Scott as a religious father whose daughter runs away from home and makes a porno. (You know, normal teenage stuff.) Scott goes on a quest to find her and eventually meets a hooker, played by Season Hubley, who helps track her down. Marilyn was seriously considered for the role of the hooker although some reports suggest that she was considered for the role of the daughter. The casting director said Marilyn looked too wholesome to be a porn queen.

"Hollywood's concept of sex is so corrupt," Marilyn is quoted as saying in the book Bottom Feeders. "The Hardcore people wanted a woman with orange hair who chews gum, swings a big purse, and wears stiletto heels. That's such a cliche."

Insatiable 3 (1985)​

In a 1985 interview with California Living, the magazine featured in the Sunday edition of the San Francisco Chronicle, Marilyn said that the third installment to the successful Insatiable series was in the works. It's unclear why the project fell through, although since Marilyn retired from porn the following year -- in no small part due to the AIDS crisis and the death of John Holmes -- it could be surmised that the project simply ended when Marilyn left the business.

Untitled Mitchell Brothers Project (1990s)​​​

There were two books released after Jim Mitchell shot and killed his brother Art. The first was Rated X, which was later turned into a TV movie that aired on Showtime in 1999 starring Charlie Sheen and Emilio Estevez. The second was Bottom Feeders by John Hubner. Robert DeNiro purchased the rights to the book after its publication in 1992. DeNiro hired Marilyn as a consultant but did not want to proceed with the film without the consent of the Mitchell family, specifically Jim, who was in prison. Marilyn went to see Jim who flatly turned it down. "I felt stupid bringing it up," Marilyn said in the book The Other Hollywood. "I said, 'Okay, fine. I understand. And I agree.' So I had to go back and tell DeNiro to forget it." Marilyn was not affiliated with Rated X as far as production or consultation, however, she did attend the premiere in Hollywood in March 2000, and was photographed alongside actress Tracy Hutson who portrayed Marilyn in the film. She also participated in an interview that was featured as a bonus on the DVD release.