The Illustrated Man (film)

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The Illustrated Man
The Illustrated Man 1969 poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Jack Smight
Produced by Ted Mann
Howard B. Kreitsek
Written by Howard B. Kreitsek (screenplay)
Ray Bradbury (book)
Starring Rod Steiger
Claire Bloom
Music by Jerry Goldsmith
Cinematography Philip H. Lathrop
Edited by Archie Marshek
Distributed by Warner Bros.Seven Arts
Release date(s)
  • March 26, 1969 (1969-03-26)
Running time 103 minutes
Country United States
Language English

The Illustrated Man is a 1969 American science fiction film directed by Jack Smight and starring Rod Steiger. The film is based on three short stories from the 1951 collection The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury: "The Veldt", "The Long Rain", and "The Last Night of the World".

Plot[edit]

Set in the backroads of America, the film tells three of Bradbury's stories set in the future, with Steiger as a man named Carl telling tales of some of the tattoos he has on his body. The stories are about virtual reality (The Veldt), a mysterious planet (The Long Rain) and the end of the world (The Last Night of the World). Carl is accompanied by a dog and meets a traveler who listens to his tales. The tie-in prologue tells of how Carl came to be tattooed after he encountered a mysterious woman named Felicia (Claire Bloom) in a remote farmhouse.

Production[edit]

The Illustrated Man comprises three science fiction short stories from Ray Bradbury's collection of the same name. Howard B. Kreitsek wrote the screenplay that encompassed the stories "The Veldt", "The Long Rain", and "The Last Night of the World", Jack Smight directed the film. Bradbury was not consulted for the adaptation.[1] The author sold story rights to the film in December 1967 for $85,000, but he did not sell the film rights. Since the collection included eighteen short stories, Smight chose three stories and used the carnival sideshow freak who appeared in the collection's prologue and epilogue as the film's primary narrative. As the freak, the director cast Rod Steiger, whom he had known since the 1950s.[2]

Cast[edit]

Reception[edit]

The Illustrated Man was considered a critical and financial failure.[2] Time wrote, "Responsibility for the failure of The Illustrated Man must rest with Director Jack Smight. He has committed every possible error of style and taste, including the inexcusable fault of letting Steiger chew up every piece of scenery in sight."[3]

Vincent Canby of The New York Times wrote, "Mr. Kreitsek's screenplay is unsharp, without focus, working into and out of the hallucinations with great awkwardness." Canby found the film to have "moments of eerie beauty" but believed that the director was limited by the screenplay. The critic said, "Everything remains foetus-like and underdeveloped, although shrouded in misty pretentions of grandeur."[4] Echoing Canby, Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times wrote, "Smight's confused, wandering film never does quite come to terms with what it wants to be." Ebert pointed out the film's weaknesses to be of acting and of character but did not find them to be fatal. He believed that film's major flaw was "inadequate attention" to the audience's expectations, distracting it with logic and lack of logic in the film's three stories. He concluded, "And so the film finally doesn't work for the same reason that comic Westerns usually fail: Because it's risky to fool around with a genre unless you know what you're doing."[5]

When The Illustrated Man was released on DVD in 2006, a retrospective review of the film wrote that the counterculture of the 1960s was evident in the film and that its depiction of the future did not age well.[6]

Remake[edit]

In August 2007, Warner Bros. hired director Zack Snyder to remake The Illustrated Man, and screenwriter Alex Tse was hired to write the screenplay.[7] The remake has yet to be produced.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Reid, Robin Anne (2000). "The Illustrated Man (1951)". Ray Bradbury: A Critical Companion. Greenwood Press. p. 37. ISBN 0-313-30901-9. 
  2. ^ a b Weller, Sam (2005). "Remembering the Future". The Bradbury Chronicles: The Life of Ray Bradbury. William Morrow. pp. 279–280. ISBN 0-06-054581-X. 
  3. ^ "New Movies: Walking Nightmare". Time. April 4, 1969. 
  4. ^ Canby, Vincent (March 27, 1969). "The Illustrated Man (1969)". The New York Times. 
  5. ^ Ebert, Roger (August 6, 1969). "The Illustrated Man". Chicago Sun-Times. 
  6. ^ Kehr, Dave (December 26, 2006). "Critics' Choice: New DVDs". The New York Times. 
  7. ^ "Zack Snyder to Direct Illustrated Man". ComingSoon.net. August 28, 2007. Retrieved March 15, 2010. 

External links[edit]