Apt Pupil - Novel

Remember The 1987 Apt Pupil Film…Wait, What?!

At first you might be thinking I’m joking about an Apt Pupil movie from 1987. In this case though I certainly am not. While there was of course the 1998 feature film by Bryan Singer. Starring the late Brad Renfro as well as Sir Ian McKellen. The fact of the matter is we came very close to a 1987 adaptation of Stephen King’s Apt Pupil.
Apt Pupil

Apt Pupil was a 1982 novella by King. Published in Different Seasons. The story concerns a young man named Todd Bowden, who has realized the terrible secret of Arthur Denker. This secret turns out to be that Arthur is in fact a Nazi war criminal known as Kurt Dussander. Soon Kurt and Todd’s friendship results in murder.

Both unknown to the other are stalking the homeless community in an attempt to rid themselves of nightmares. Things spiral out of control for both Todd and Kurt, thanks to not just the homicide but the web of lies and distrust the two spin.

Bryan Singer’s film in my opinion does a remarkable job of capturing the feel of the novella. The darkness of Kurt’s past of course as well as Todd’s acceptance and desire to feel the same. Some critics even made note that Singer’s adaptation managed to make King’s story even more darker by changing the ending. Having said that, I am in the camp that feels the ending doesn’t live up to the source material.

I was working at the Razorback Theatre back when Apt Pupil was released. I can tell you that it played to mostly empty auditoriums. It seems to have been mirrored in it’s theatrical run elsewhere as well. Regardless, as I’ve already mentioned in spite of the ending, I do like the film.

So imagine to my great surprise yesterday when I learned that there was a 1987 film adaptation. As much as I wish I could point you to a finished product at the present time there is none. Bear in mind, Apt Pupil wasn’t scuttled in the pre-production phase. Quite the contrary, as Director Alan Bridges had already been filming for ten weeks. I have read that nearly 40 minutes of footage had been shot.

So I’m guessing at this point you must be wondering why the film was never finished. It turns out the production company ran out of finances. And when after a year had passed Apt Pupil was ready to resume production, the actor who was chosen as Todd had aged too much to match the previous footage. Now who might you ask was the young man who becomes seduced by Kurt’s evil? Would you believe me if I told you it was Ricky Schroder from Silver Spoons?

I tell you it’s all true, friends. Now what about the role of Kurt Dussander? Before production began Apt Pupil had an embarrassment of riches in regards to the actors approached to the play the part. Salem’s Lot James Mason was asked to play the role but passed away from a heart attack before filming. Then you had the likes of Richard Burton, who I believe would have been amazing, but he died from a cerebral hemorrhage before signing on.

The actor who in fact played the role of the escaped Nazi war criminal was Nicol Williamson. Who I bet you film fans know best from his role as Merlin in 1981’s Excalibur!

So I will leave you with this. That 40 minutes of footage is of course not readily available. Although it has been said that Stephen King once saw the footage and thought highly of it. Perhaps in the future we shall be lucky enough to see what was filmed for 1987’s Apt Pupil?

Check Out Some One Sheet Art Of Bob Peak!

While the name of Bob Peak may not be familiar to you. I can certainly assure you that you’ve seen at least one of his amazing pieces of art in your time. In particular if you are a lover – a connoisseur of films. For example Bob Peak is the one responsible for the iconic design of 1973’s Enter the Dragon one sheet.
Bob Peak

The dystopian tones of 1975’s Rollerball?

Or how about the movie poster for 1981’s Excalibur?

That is in fact the tip of the iceberg, my friends. While Bob Peak got his start in advertising for magazines in 1953 – it was in 1961 when he found what I feel was his true calling. Movie posters. In addition it was that year that United Artists would hire Peak to come up with a design for their upcoming adaptation of West Side Story!

While that might be where Peak got his start he quickly began creating art for other films. Like 1964’s My Fair Lady. Work that shows why his work continues to inspire new generations of artists.

Image courtesy of Bob Peak.Net

In all Bob Peak would go on to create over 130 film posters not to mention having his artwork featured in the likes of Time, Sports Illustrated, and the TV Guide.

Image courtesy of Bob Peak.Net

Sadly Bob Peak passed away in 1992 but he truly left behind a stunning legacy of one sheet artwork. You can find out more about Peak by visiting the artist’s official site. Two in particular I found from his site made my jaw drop. The first being that alternate design for 1979’s Star Trek: The Motion Picture used at the top of the post.

As well as this unused concept for 1983’s Something Wicked This Way Comes. Which can be purchased among many other pieces of art by Peak at Artphoric.com

Image courtesy of Artphoric.com

Now that you’ve seen a little of some of my favorite artwork from Bob Peak. Take a moment and watch this episode of Beyond the Marquee with Jon Donahue.


In the the video, Donahue visits the DREW & BOB: Masters of Movie Art exhibit from 2014. Which featured artwork not only from Peak but Drew Struzan as well!
Drew Struzan