The Illustrated Man (film)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
The Illustrated Man
The Illustrated Man 1969 poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Jack Smight
Produced by Ted Mann
Howard B. Kreitsek
Screenplay by Howard B. Kreitsek
Based on The Illustrated Man
by Ray Bradbury
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
  • 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".


Set in the backroads of America, the film enacts three of Bradbury's short stories set in the future, with Steiger as a man named Carl telling tales behind some of his tattoos, which he insists are not to be called tattoos, but only ever "skin illustrations." 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, accompanied by his dog, Peke, tells his tales to Willie, a traveler. 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.

Story summaries[edit]

  • "The Veldt" - Parents in a futuristic society worry about their children's mental health when their new virtual reality nursery, which can produce any environment the children imagine, continually projects an African veldt populated by lions feasting on carcasses. A child psychologist suggests that the automated house is not good for the children's development, and insists they disable the automation and become more self-sufficient. The children are not pleased with this decision, but later coolly agree to it. The children trap their parents in the nursery, where they become prey to the lions. They later have lunch on the veldt with the child psychologist, who sees the lions feasting. Unlike the original story, the psychologist realises what has happened and is horrified.
  • "The Long Rain" - A group of astronauts are stranded on Venus, where it rains continually and heavily. The travellers make their way across the Venusian landscape to find a "sun dome", a shelter with a large artificial light source. The first sun dome they find has been destroyed by the native Venusians. Searching for another sun dome, the characters, one by one, are driven to madness and suicide by the unrelenting rhythm of the rain. At the end of the story, only one sane astronaut remains to find a functional sun dome.
  • "The Last Night of the World" - A married couple awaken to the knowledge that the world is going to end that very evening. Nonetheless, they go through their normal routines, knowing and accepting the fact that there is no tomorrow.



The Illustrated Man comprises three science fiction short stories from Ray Bradbury's collection of short stories The Illustrated Man. 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.[clarification needed] 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 tattooed man, the director cast Rod Steiger, whom he had known since the 1950s.[2]


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]

Ray Bradbury said: "Rod was very good in it, but it wasn't a good film...the script was terrible".

According to John Stanley, "a major disappointment, for producer Howard B. Kreitsek's script fails to capture the poetry or imagination of Ray Bradbury's famous collection. Jack Smight is too conventional a director to give this the technique it screams out for.".[6]

The movie was nominated for the Hugo Award best dramatic presentation, but did not win.

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.[7]


In August 2007, Zack Snyder signed on to direct a remake of The Illustrated Man with Watchmen co-screenwriter Alex Tse as screenwriter.[8]

See also[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. ^ John Stanley. Creature Features: The Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Movie Guide". NY: Berkley Boulevard, Aug 2000 (updated ed), p. 260
  7. ^ Kehr, Daveurl= (December 26, 2006). "Critics' Choice: New DVDs". The New York Times. 
  8. ^ Billington, Alex (August 27, 2007). "The Illustrated Man Remake Directed by Zack Snyder". Retrieved February 9, 2017. 

External links[edit]