The Illustrated Man


1h 43m 1969
The Illustrated Man

Brief Synopsis

A man's tattoos tell frightening tales of the future.

Film Details

MPAA Rating
Genre
Drama
Adaptation
Sci-Fi
Release Date
Jan 1969
Premiere Information
New York opening: 26 Mar 1969
Production Company
SKM Productions; Warner Bros.--Seven Arts, Inc.
Distribution Company
Warner Bros.--Seven Arts, Inc.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the short stories "The Veldt," "The Long Rain" and "The Last Night of the World" by Ray Bradbury in his book The Illustrated Man (New York, 1951).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 43m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.35 : 1

Synopsis

Willie, a young man hitchhiking to California in 1933, stops by a country lake and meets Carl, a former carnival roustabout who says he is looking for an old farmhouse and a mysterious woman, Felicia, whom he plans to kill. He tells Willie that 20 years before Felicia covered his body with skin illustrations and then "went back into the future." Carl warns that if anyone looks at the one bare spot on his body, his left shoulder, that person will see his own future. Willie stares at one of the illustrations and is transported into the future in which Carl and Felicia are the parents of two precocious children, John and Anna, who have a nursery where they can electronically create any environment they wish. Disturbed that the children have chosen an African veldt inhabited by lions and vultures, Carl and Felicia order the youngsters to play in a different environment. Upon hearing the children scream, Carl and Felicia race into the nursery and are devoured by the lions. Returning to reality, Willie listens raptly to Carl's tale of how Felicia seduced him into subjecting himself to her tattoo needles. Willie then stares at another illustration and becomes, along with Carl and two other men, part of a crew of shipwrecked astronauts stranded on a small planet where it rains incessantly. While attempting to reach a sun dome, one of the other two men is shot by Carl for disobeying orders; and the second, driven mad by the driving rain, drowns himself. After Willie commits suicide, Carl, the sole survivor, reaches the sun dome and is greeted by Felicia. After the hallucination, the distraught Willie tries to leave Carl but is once more drawn into a trance by one of the illustrations. This time he is projected into the 40th century, where a world forum has decreed that the last night of the world is at hand and that all children must be given lethal sleeping tablets to spare them the ordeal. Felicia persuades Carl not to give their children the pills, but she awakens the next morning and discovers that, although the world still exists, Carl has poisoned their children. Back in the present, Willie accuses Carl of murdering his own children. Later, while Carl is sleeping, Willie gazes into the blank spot on his shoulder. Upon seeing himself being strangled by Carl, Willie picks up a rock, bashes in Carl's head, and flees in terror. The illustrated man staggers to his feet and, accompanied by his faithful dog, starts out after Willie.

Film Details

MPAA Rating
Genre
Drama
Adaptation
Sci-Fi
Release Date
Jan 1969
Premiere Information
New York opening: 26 Mar 1969
Production Company
SKM Productions; Warner Bros.--Seven Arts, Inc.
Distribution Company
Warner Bros.--Seven Arts, Inc.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the short stories "The Veldt," "The Long Rain" and "The Last Night of the World" by Ray Bradbury in his book The Illustrated Man (New York, 1951).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 43m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.35 : 1

Articles

The Illustrated Man - Rod Steiger & Claire Bloom in Ray Bradbury's THE ILLUSTRATED MAN on DVD


An attempt to translate Ray Bradbury's poetry to the screen stumbles in Jack Smight's The Illustrated Man, a science fiction fantasy that comes up short on both imagination and production value. Star Rod Steiger puts his all into a potentially interesting character whose tattoos introduce a tame trio of 'stories of the future.'

Synopsis: En route to California, young Willie (Robert Drivas) meets Carl (Rod Steiger), a man covered in tattoos from his neck to his toes. Carl claims that the 'skin illustrations' are the work of Felicia (Claire Bloom), a mysterious woman who subsequently disappeared, along with her house. Carl believes Felicia returned to the future, as each of the dozens of illustrations on his body has the power to relate a hypnotic story of times to come. 1.) A futuristic household is disturbed when the parents discover that their children are using a holographic playroom to conjure an African veldt, complete with man-eating lions. 2.) Astronauts marooned on an eternally rainy planet Venus go mad in a search for a rest station. 3) When their society determines that the world will end before dawn, another futuristic couple is told to spare their children the worst by giving them suicide pills.

Rod Steiger and Claire Bloom give their best efforts to The Illustrated Man, enhanced by the direction of Jack Smight (Harper, No Way to Treat a Lady). Smight's introduction makes Carl both energetic and enigmatic, and Bradbury's florid language mixes well with the illustrations on Steiger's skin. For a few minutes, the movie works up a feeling of mystery.

But the rest of the show lacks a sense of direction. Producer / writer Howard B. Kreitsek's previous credits were on cheapie Rock 'n' Roll musicals like The Teenage Millionaire, and his biggest contribution seems to be his skill at pinching pennies. The Illustrated Man takes place in the 1930s and Carl is supposed to be a carnival roustabout. We see no carnival and just one old truck. Most of the show is filmed on a generic movie ranch. The flashback to Carl meeting Felicia remains in the same monotonous Southern California scenery. Two of the stories conjured by the illustrations are likewise filmed out on the Warner ranch. Only an elaborate modern house and a fairly impressive rain-swept Venusian landscape appear to have been constructed for the film.

The magical words "Ray Bradbury" raise expectations of wonderful new worlds to explore. The Illustrated Man demands interesting visuals to match its fanciful stories, but most of it is filmed in broad daylight with a zoom lens. The Night scenes are done Day For Night. The film plays like an under-budgeted TV movie.

Kreitsek's framing story does leave room for some interesting psychological possibilities. Carl comes upon Willie bathing naked in a pond. He carries a yapping dog wrapped up in a gunny sack, and is quick to mention that his tattoos cover every part of his body ("Do not call them tattoos! They are skin illustrations!'). Carl claims that his only desire is to exact revenge against the betrayer Felicia, if only he could find her.

Carl's cursed illustrations terrify the people who 'read' them. One conspicuously bare patch functions as a "mirror to the soul," in which viewers can see their own future. Ironically, it's high on Carl's back so he can't see it. Like The Flying Dutchman, Carl is possibly immortal: He lives on even after his head is bashed in by a rock. The script doesn't elaborate on any of several possible themes.

Rod Steiger is in all three of the 'tattoo' stories. The Venus episode has only one memorable visual, a fountain of mud-like fungus that rises to consume a fallen astronaut. In the two remaining stories Steiger is a futuristic father with domestic problems. The first 'African veldt' tale uses a predictable Twilight Zone twist for an ending, and the final 'The Last Night' story is a fragment too weak to serve as a radio skit. Again, the sameness of the settings is fatal to the film's mood. The holographic veldt, Felicia's yard and the home of the parents in 'The Last Night' are more or less the same dry meadow. The movie has almost zero texture.

Claire Bloom is underused as the phantom illustrator. We never see her at work. Steiger's attitudes range from threatening bully to concerned paternal figure, and he's clearly invested in the role. Voted a "promising newcomer" by exhibitors, young Robert Drivas conveys the emotional turmoil caused by the sinister tattoos. But he cannot make sense of the open-ended finale, and The Illustrated Man never goes beyond a murky character study. Do Carl's skin illustrations represent stories from the future? The Original Sin? The burden of Knowledge?

Warners' DVD of The Illustrated Man is presented in a handsome enhanced widescreen transfer, with the troublesome Day For Night scenes carefully timed. The view of the naked Carl reclining on a dark sofa still has a weird feel, even after decades of Japanese Yakuza movies and our own tattoo-embracing culture.

Jerry Goldsmith's score compliments the film's changing moods without deciding on any particular genre style, as he did so successfully in the previous year's Planet of the Apes. This disc's extras menu leads one to the film's original trailer, and a short subject about the body paintings applied to actor Steiger. Knowing that this visual is The Illustrated Man's one real special effect, producer Kreitsek is seen 'supervising' the painting process. The tattoos resemble images on a Fillmore West concert poster from the Summer of Love, and add to the film's stylistic confusion.

For more information about The Illustrated Man, visit Warner Video. To order The Illustrated Man, go to TCM Shopping.

by Glenn Erickson
The Illustrated Man - Rod Steiger & Claire Bloom In Ray Bradbury's The Illustrated Man On Dvd

The Illustrated Man - Rod Steiger & Claire Bloom in Ray Bradbury's THE ILLUSTRATED MAN on DVD

An attempt to translate Ray Bradbury's poetry to the screen stumbles in Jack Smight's The Illustrated Man, a science fiction fantasy that comes up short on both imagination and production value. Star Rod Steiger puts his all into a potentially interesting character whose tattoos introduce a tame trio of 'stories of the future.' Synopsis: En route to California, young Willie (Robert Drivas) meets Carl (Rod Steiger), a man covered in tattoos from his neck to his toes. Carl claims that the 'skin illustrations' are the work of Felicia (Claire Bloom), a mysterious woman who subsequently disappeared, along with her house. Carl believes Felicia returned to the future, as each of the dozens of illustrations on his body has the power to relate a hypnotic story of times to come. 1.) A futuristic household is disturbed when the parents discover that their children are using a holographic playroom to conjure an African veldt, complete with man-eating lions. 2.) Astronauts marooned on an eternally rainy planet Venus go mad in a search for a rest station. 3) When their society determines that the world will end before dawn, another futuristic couple is told to spare their children the worst by giving them suicide pills. Rod Steiger and Claire Bloom give their best efforts to The Illustrated Man, enhanced by the direction of Jack Smight (Harper, No Way to Treat a Lady). Smight's introduction makes Carl both energetic and enigmatic, and Bradbury's florid language mixes well with the illustrations on Steiger's skin. For a few minutes, the movie works up a feeling of mystery. But the rest of the show lacks a sense of direction. Producer / writer Howard B. Kreitsek's previous credits were on cheapie Rock 'n' Roll musicals like The Teenage Millionaire, and his biggest contribution seems to be his skill at pinching pennies. The Illustrated Man takes place in the 1930s and Carl is supposed to be a carnival roustabout. We see no carnival and just one old truck. Most of the show is filmed on a generic movie ranch. The flashback to Carl meeting Felicia remains in the same monotonous Southern California scenery. Two of the stories conjured by the illustrations are likewise filmed out on the Warner ranch. Only an elaborate modern house and a fairly impressive rain-swept Venusian landscape appear to have been constructed for the film. The magical words "Ray Bradbury" raise expectations of wonderful new worlds to explore. The Illustrated Man demands interesting visuals to match its fanciful stories, but most of it is filmed in broad daylight with a zoom lens. The Night scenes are done Day For Night. The film plays like an under-budgeted TV movie. Kreitsek's framing story does leave room for some interesting psychological possibilities. Carl comes upon Willie bathing naked in a pond. He carries a yapping dog wrapped up in a gunny sack, and is quick to mention that his tattoos cover every part of his body ("Do not call them tattoos! They are skin illustrations!'). Carl claims that his only desire is to exact revenge against the betrayer Felicia, if only he could find her. Carl's cursed illustrations terrify the people who 'read' them. One conspicuously bare patch functions as a "mirror to the soul," in which viewers can see their own future. Ironically, it's high on Carl's back so he can't see it. Like The Flying Dutchman, Carl is possibly immortal: He lives on even after his head is bashed in by a rock. The script doesn't elaborate on any of several possible themes. Rod Steiger is in all three of the 'tattoo' stories. The Venus episode has only one memorable visual, a fountain of mud-like fungus that rises to consume a fallen astronaut. In the two remaining stories Steiger is a futuristic father with domestic problems. The first 'African veldt' tale uses a predictable Twilight Zone twist for an ending, and the final 'The Last Night' story is a fragment too weak to serve as a radio skit. Again, the sameness of the settings is fatal to the film's mood. The holographic veldt, Felicia's yard and the home of the parents in 'The Last Night' are more or less the same dry meadow. The movie has almost zero texture. Claire Bloom is underused as the phantom illustrator. We never see her at work. Steiger's attitudes range from threatening bully to concerned paternal figure, and he's clearly invested in the role. Voted a "promising newcomer" by exhibitors, young Robert Drivas conveys the emotional turmoil caused by the sinister tattoos. But he cannot make sense of the open-ended finale, and The Illustrated Man never goes beyond a murky character study. Do Carl's skin illustrations represent stories from the future? The Original Sin? The burden of Knowledge? Warners' DVD of The Illustrated Man is presented in a handsome enhanced widescreen transfer, with the troublesome Day For Night scenes carefully timed. The view of the naked Carl reclining on a dark sofa still has a weird feel, even after decades of Japanese Yakuza movies and our own tattoo-embracing culture. Jerry Goldsmith's score compliments the film's changing moods without deciding on any particular genre style, as he did so successfully in the previous year's Planet of the Apes. This disc's extras menu leads one to the film's original trailer, and a short subject about the body paintings applied to actor Steiger. Knowing that this visual is The Illustrated Man's one real special effect, producer Kreitsek is seen 'supervising' the painting process. The tattoos resemble images on a Fillmore West concert poster from the Summer of Love, and add to the film's stylistic confusion. For more information about The Illustrated Man, visit Warner Video. To order The Illustrated Man, go to TCM Shopping. by Glenn Erickson

TCM Remembers - Rod Steiger


ROD STEIGER, 1925 - 2002

From the docks of New York to the rural back roads of Mississippi to the war torn Russian steppes, Rod Steiger reveled in creating some of the most overpowering and difficult men on the screen. He could be a total scoundrel, embodying Machiavelli's idiom that "it's better to be feared than loved" in the movies. But as an actor he refused to be typecast and his wide range included characters who were secretly tormented (The Pawnbroker, 1965) or loners (Run of the Arrow, 1965) or eccentrics (The Loved One, 1965).

Along with Marlon Brando, Steiger helped bring the 'Method School' from the Group Theater and Actors Studio in New York to the screens of Hollywood. The Method technique, taught by Stella Adler and Lee Strasberg, insisted on complete immersion into the character's psyche and resulted in intense, dramatic performances and performers. Steiger made his first significant screen appearance as Brando's older brother in On the Waterfront (1954). Their climatic scene together in a taxicab is one of the great moments in American cinema.

It was a short leap from playing a crooked lawyer in On the Waterfront to playing the shady boxing promoter in The Harder They Fall (1956). Based on the tragic tale of true-life fighter Primo Carnera, The Harder They Fall details the corruption behind the scenes of professional boxing bouts. Steiger is a fight manager named Nick Benko who enlists newspaperman Eddie Willis (Humphrey Bogart in his final screen appearance) to drum up publicity for a fixed prizefight. While the boxing scenes were often brutally realistic, the most powerful dramatic moments took place between Steiger and Bogart on the sidelines.

As mob boss Al Capone (1959), Steiger got to play another man you loved to hate. He vividly depicted the criminal from his swaggering early days to his pathetic demise from syphilis. In Doctor Zhivago (1965), Steiger was the only American in the international cast, playing the hateful and perverse Komarovsky. During the production of Dr. Zhivago, Steiger often found himself at odds with director David Lean. Schooled in the British tradition, Lean valued the integrity of the script and demanded that actors remain faithful to the script. Steiger, on the other hand, relied on improvisation and spontaneity. When kissing the lovely Lara (played by Julie Christie), Steiger jammed his tongue into Christie's mouth to produce the desired reaction - disgust. It worked! While it might not have been Lean's approach, it brought a grittier edge to the prestige production and made Komarovsky is a detestable but truly memorable figure.

Steiger dared audiences to dislike him. As the smalltown southern Sheriff Gillespie in In The Heat of the Night (1967), Steiger embodied all the prejudices and suspicions of a racist. When a black northern lawyer, played by Sidney Poitier, arrives on the crime scene, Gillespie is forced to recognize his fellow man as an equal despite skin color. Here, Steiger's character started as a bigot and developed into a better man. He finally claimed a Best Actor Academy Award for his performance as Sheriff Gillespie.

Steiger was an actor's actor. A chameleon who didn't think twice about diving into challenging roles that others would shy away from. In the Private Screenings interview he did with host Robert Osborne he admitted that Paul Muni was one of his idols because of his total immersion into his roles. Steiger said, "I believe actors are supposed to create different human beings." And Steiger showed us a rich and diverse cross section of them.

by Jeremy Geltzer & Jeff Stafford

TCM Remembers - Rod Steiger

ROD STEIGER, 1925 - 2002 From the docks of New York to the rural back roads of Mississippi to the war torn Russian steppes, Rod Steiger reveled in creating some of the most overpowering and difficult men on the screen. He could be a total scoundrel, embodying Machiavelli's idiom that "it's better to be feared than loved" in the movies. But as an actor he refused to be typecast and his wide range included characters who were secretly tormented (The Pawnbroker, 1965) or loners (Run of the Arrow, 1965) or eccentrics (The Loved One, 1965). Along with Marlon Brando, Steiger helped bring the 'Method School' from the Group Theater and Actors Studio in New York to the screens of Hollywood. The Method technique, taught by Stella Adler and Lee Strasberg, insisted on complete immersion into the character's psyche and resulted in intense, dramatic performances and performers. Steiger made his first significant screen appearance as Brando's older brother in On the Waterfront (1954). Their climatic scene together in a taxicab is one of the great moments in American cinema. It was a short leap from playing a crooked lawyer in On the Waterfront to playing the shady boxing promoter in The Harder They Fall (1956). Based on the tragic tale of true-life fighter Primo Carnera, The Harder They Fall details the corruption behind the scenes of professional boxing bouts. Steiger is a fight manager named Nick Benko who enlists newspaperman Eddie Willis (Humphrey Bogart in his final screen appearance) to drum up publicity for a fixed prizefight. While the boxing scenes were often brutally realistic, the most powerful dramatic moments took place between Steiger and Bogart on the sidelines. As mob boss Al Capone (1959), Steiger got to play another man you loved to hate. He vividly depicted the criminal from his swaggering early days to his pathetic demise from syphilis. In Doctor Zhivago (1965), Steiger was the only American in the international cast, playing the hateful and perverse Komarovsky. During the production of Dr. Zhivago, Steiger often found himself at odds with director David Lean. Schooled in the British tradition, Lean valued the integrity of the script and demanded that actors remain faithful to the script. Steiger, on the other hand, relied on improvisation and spontaneity. When kissing the lovely Lara (played by Julie Christie), Steiger jammed his tongue into Christie's mouth to produce the desired reaction - disgust. It worked! While it might not have been Lean's approach, it brought a grittier edge to the prestige production and made Komarovsky is a detestable but truly memorable figure. Steiger dared audiences to dislike him. As the smalltown southern Sheriff Gillespie in In The Heat of the Night (1967), Steiger embodied all the prejudices and suspicions of a racist. When a black northern lawyer, played by Sidney Poitier, arrives on the crime scene, Gillespie is forced to recognize his fellow man as an equal despite skin color. Here, Steiger's character started as a bigot and developed into a better man. He finally claimed a Best Actor Academy Award for his performance as Sheriff Gillespie. Steiger was an actor's actor. A chameleon who didn't think twice about diving into challenging roles that others would shy away from. In the Private Screenings interview he did with host Robert Osborne he admitted that Paul Muni was one of his idols because of his total immersion into his roles. Steiger said, "I believe actors are supposed to create different human beings." And Steiger showed us a rich and diverse cross section of them. by Jeremy Geltzer & Jeff Stafford

Quotes

Each person who tries to see beyond his own time must face questions to which there cannot be absolute answers.
- Felecia

Trivia

Makeup director Gorden Bau and a team of eight assistants spent 10 hours applying the temporary tattoos to Rod Steiger's torso, plus another full day tattooing his hands, legs and lower body.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States Spring April 1969

Released in United States Spring April 1969