AKA Twinkle Twinkle Killer Kane
“Kane said quietly, ‘Why won’t you go to the moon?’
‘Why do camels have humps and cobras none? Good Christ, man, don’t ask the heart for reasons! Reasons are dangerous!'”
–William Peter Blatty, The Ninth Configuration (novel)
PLOT: Col. Kane, a U.S. Marines psychiatrist, is assigned to an experimental program in a castle housing delusional military officers who are suspected malingerers. There, he bonds with Cutshaw, a militantly atheist and misanthropic astronaut, with whom he engages in passionate dialogues about the existence of God. One night, Cutshaw breaks out of the compound and heads for a bar frequented by a rough motorcycle gang; Kane follows.
- William Peter Blatty (“The Exorcist”) adapted the screenplay from his own 1978 novel, which was itself a reworking of a 1966 novel (“Twinkle, Twinkle, ‘Killer’ Kane”) with which he had been dissatisfied. This was his directorial debut (in a career that reached three films with 2016’s Legion).
- Blatty originally wrote a “Kane” screenplay that he hoped would be filmed by William Friedkin in the early Seventies, but they could not find a studio willing to produce it. Blatty and Friedkin collaborated on The Exorcist (1973) instead.
- Although the script made the rounds in Hollywood for years, no studio would back The Ninth Configuration. Blatty eventually funded the film half with his own money and half with a donation from Pepsico, who were willing to provide funds for complicated international tax reasons so long as the film was shot entirely in Hungary.
- Blatty has fiddled with the editing through the years, deleting and restoring scenes, so that cuts run anywhere from 99 minutes to 140 minutes.
- According to Blatty, The Ninth Configuration‘s Cutshaw is the same character as the astronaut who attended the dinner party in The Exorcist.
INDELIBLE IMAGE: What else could it possibly be besides the crucifixion on the moon?
THREE WEIRD THINGS: Lunar Calvary; lunatic with a jet-pack; dog Hamlet
WHAT MAKES IT WEIRD: Obsession is fertile soil for a weird movie. The Ninth Configuration is a movie in a madhouse that sets out to do nothing less than to prove the existence of God; it doesn’t, naturally, but the ambition involved makes for some strange choices, invoking a passion that carries the story over some rough patches.
Clip from The Ninth Configuration
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