Cine-sleuths hunt for an extended cut of The Devils, but I'd be just as happy with an obscure Olivia Newton-John sci-fi musical

Olivia Newton-John has been driving me nuts.

Not literally, of course, but for years I’ve been convinced I saw her in a sci-fi movie musical. The problem is it didn’t seem to exist. I’ve certainly never seen it on TV, or on disc or tape.

I can’t even remember that much about the film. She was one of a group of teens. It was set in swinging London. There were aliens and there were songs, which I remember quite liking. I thought it was called ‘Tomorrow’ but that didn’t help on Google.

Much to my relief, I recently discovered it wasn’t 
a figment of my imagination, but a film released in 1970, entitled Toomorrow, which transpired to be the name of Olivia’s group in the movie. They use a weird musical instrument which apparently strikes a chord with some aliens, who decide to abduct the group for their own entertainment.

What I thought was a fever dream is actually one of a curious cabal of ‘lost’ movies, features which have either perished or found themselves unreleasable, thanks to their convoluted production history.

Going up in flames
Most lost movies date from the early days of cinema and it’s not difficult to imagine why they have fallen from view. Early nitrate film stock was nothing if not flammable: the only known print of Lon Chaney’s London after Midnight (1927), best known now for 
its iconic vampire imagery, was destroyed in an infamous MGM vault fire in 1965.

Toomorrow was produced by Don Kirshner, largely responsible for The Monkees success, and Harry Saltzman, ditto James Bond. But any hopes it would become a similar pop culture phenomenon were dashed when the film's director, Val Guest, issued an injunction against Saltzman, claiming he wasn’t paid. This led to the film being pulled from release, and it’s been largely unavailable ever since. The only existing print was shown at a film festival in Los Angeles in 2000, while a DVD, apparently of terrible quality, 
had a limited release in 2012, but I’ve never seen it.

Toomorrow was only in cinemas for a week or so before being pulled, so I count myself lucky having caught it then. I’ve got my fingers crossed it turns up on a streaming service at some point. It’s not only a grail for Newton-John fans, but a rare time capsule of late sixties/seventies London – much of it was shot in and around Camden’s Round House music venue.

It could happen. Norman Wisdom’s There Was 
A Crooked Man (not to be confused with the Kirk Douglas movie of the same name), has dropped onto Amazon Prime. This curio was last broadcast 
in the UK in 1965, having been withdrawn from circulation in 1960, following American objections that it portrayed the US military in a poor light. 
Its Prime debut marks the first time this period piece has been generally available in sixty years.

I suspect we might have to wait just as long before we get to see another lost cause célèbre, 
the Director’s Cut of Ken Russell’s The Devils (1971, pictured). Warner Bros. has refused calls to release this extended version of the notorious movie, seemingly wary of being seen to support the film in any guise. In 2012 the BFI was granted access to the original 'X' certificate theatrical version, distinguished by cuts demanded by the BBFC at the time of release, but could only distribute it on DVD. No high definition masters have ever been made available.

Bizarrely though, one of the nuns from The Devils cameos in Space Jam 2: A New Legacy. Heaven alone knows what message that sends out...