between John Huston and The Teeth of the Sea, the false classic that ate lion

Imperfect, too quickly forgotten, Shadow and Prey almost was a great movie. Its carcass deserves to be rediscovered for a last feast.

The history of cinema is full of disaster shoots. Some have been abused by producers in conflict with directors, others have suffered devastating weather. Fatal accidents have mutilated more than one, and some human adventures have come to an end, the fault of a recalcitrant star, when a cut-off cut has not completed the last. So many cataclysms that make the legend of the classics, and the curse of works that fail to recover.

Shadow and the prey has experienced absolutely each of these catastrophes, so much so that they ended up undermining the ambitions of director Stephen Hopkins. A Hollywood tragedy all the more regrettable as the filmmaker’s project was so promising, so much so that the footage still has some very fine remains today.

A very nice poster


If his name is now completely unknown to the general public, Stephen Hopkins is far from being just anyone. Technician more than capable, we owe him in the middle of the 80s square entertainments, perfectly honored orders. No one will claim that Freddy 5 has established itself as an imperishable creation, but already, the project manager keeps his story, despite an order of mission and means promising a nightmare film.

From Blown Away, to which we recently devoted an explosive declaration of love, it revealed a care in the composition of the frames and the iconization of its dramaturgy which announced a desire for classicism and an appetite for the epic dimension, which should have been s. ‘flourish in Shadow and Prey.

However, when he inherits the project, he finds himself at the head of a site that is intimidating to say the least, and of which he is clearly not the most suitable director, at least on paper. This tale of adventure was set in motion under the impetus of a Hollywood script legend, William Goldman. Screenwriter of Butch Cassidy and the Kid or even Men of the President, he is one of the rare authors able to get the studios moving and trigger the launch of a production just because of his investment.

The importance of aiming right

Written to transform into an instant classic, this story inspired by real and astonishing events (the hunt for two man-eating lions having devoured more than 100 people on the construction site of a railway line at the end of the 19th century) was to be led by Brian de Palma. But the intransigence of the artist and the spectacular flop of Bonfire of vanities were right about his investment, and the studio wants to replace him.

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