Here's Stanley Kubrick's 1953 ''buried treasure'' -- Why the director would just as soon forget his first feature, ''Fear and Desire''

By Joshua Rich
Updated December 03, 2004 at 05:00 AM EST

Stanley Kubrick loathed his 1953 first feature, Fear and Desire, and it’s easy to see why. Brimming with stilted hyper-intellectual dialogue, corny overacting, and muddy sound, the $40,000 movie about a marooned platoon in a fictional war hardly fits alongside polished masterpieces like Dr. Strangelove and A Clockwork Orange. ”It’s sophomoric,” says director Paul Mazursky, who played a psycho-rapist soldier in the film. ”But even with limited equipment, Stanley” — then just 22 — ”had a great eye.” Though Desire landed a respected distributor and opened in Rockefeller Center to decent reviews, Kubrick resented its amateurishness and blocked it from being screened. (Bona fide copies do reside in a vault at the George Eastman House in Rochester, N.Y., and at the Library of Congress, but neither place regularly screens them.) ”He didn’t want it to be shown,” says Jan Harlan, Kubrick’s longtime associate. ”He didn’t like it anymore.”