Saturday, March 28, 2015
Bradbury on Screen: Twin Evils
Moby Dick (1956) was not Bradbury's first screenwriting job, but it was certainly the one which established him as a quality writer for the screen. He shares screenplay credit with John Huston, but a study of Bradbury's final draft script with the finished film shows that Bradbury wrote the majority of what was filmed - although he was, of course, working under guidance from Huston.
The film influenced Bradbury's career in many ways, and really echoed through much of his work that he did in the following forty years or so, some of which I discuss in my review of Moby Dick, which you can find here.
Our second Bradbury-scripted film can also be said to have occupied Ray for thirty-five years, in that it has its origins in a 1948 short story, "The Black Ferris", which Bradbury then developed into a screen treatment in the late 1950s, turned into a novel in the 1960s, and finally scripted (several times) in the 1970s and 1980s. Something Wicked This Way Comes, finally produced by Disney in 1983, was directed by Jack Clayton, and features some memorable scenes - such as the library confrontation between Mr Dark and Mr Halloway - which Bradbury refined through his many re-writings as the story evolved from initial premise through to final screenplay.
Clayton and Bradbury had a serious falling-out during the making of the film, and although they maintained a diplomatic silence about this while the film was on first release, Bradbury later let it be known that his and Clayton's decades-long friendship was over. The two had met in 1954 - when Bradbury was working on Moby Dick.
Both films play on ideas of evil, and both make use of omens to build an atmosphere of fear. The great Royal Dano appears in both films, and is the prophet of doom in each one.
In between the two films, there will be a discussion session, where Jon Eller and I will attempt to unravel the complex production histories of the two films. If you can join us, we'd love to see you there.
I've blogged quite a few times on Moby and Something Wicked: Moby Dick posts are here; and Something Wicked posts are here.