The Illustrated Man

Year: 1968

Production: SKM Productions / Warner Bros.

Director: Jack Smight

Starring: Rod Steiger, Claire Bloom, Robert Drivas, Don Dubbins, Jason Evers, Tim Weldon, Christie Matchett

Screenwriter: Howard B. Kreitsek

Based on The Illustrated Man (1951) by Ray Bradbury

103 minutes; Color

Bradbury's idea of a man whose various tattoos each represent a different tale did not completely work as an afterthought frame work to link the stories of his collection, and it is even less successful in the film, which Bradbury hated. The stories are "The Long Rains" (astronauts seeking shelter on a rain-sodden Venus), "The Veldt", and "The Last Night of the World" (a couple giving their child a suicide pill the day before the world is due to end, only to be told that there was an error in the calculations and the world will survive); only "The Veldt" (virtual-reality nursery animals come to life and are used by future children to dispose of parents) is anything other than limp and literal-minded. The same actors appear in each episode; apparently Smight, the director, was aiming at an atmosphere of downbeat enigma and malign destiny, with Steiger, the tattooed man, as constantly reincarnated loser.

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