Tuesday, April 06, 2021

Bradbury 100 - April 2021 update

I've produced another brief episode of my audio podcast Bradbury 100, intended to bring you up to date with some things in the Bradbury universe. Listen to the episode below, or through your podcast app.


 

Show Notes

My Bradbury 101 Youtube channel is here.

Orty and Sandy on Ray Bradbury & Comics, and Ray's Waukegan can be viewed here

Listen to Bradbury biographer Jon Eller on Ray and the FBI on the Dead Writer Drama podcast from American Writers Museum.

Listen to Bradbury Center director Jason Aukerman and RBEM's Patrick Mullins on the Nation of Writers podcast from American Writers Museum.


 

Thursday, April 01, 2021

Bradbury (and others) versus John Huston

A well known part of Ray Bradbury lore is the time the author spent working on Moby Dick (1956) with Oscar-winning writer-director John Huston. Bradbury spent less than a year with Huston, yet that brief period had a lasting effect on the rest of Ray's life and career.

The screenplay credit on the film opened doors for him, enabling him to become a screenwriter who had freedom to choose which projects to devote his time to. The historical accident of Huston wanting to work in Ireland (where he had a home) led to Ray falling in love with Dublin and its people, some of whom would turn up as characters in the plays and stories he was inspired to write in the following decades. And the intense engagement with the text of Moby Dick itself led Bradbury to a fascination with the novel's mechanisms and symbolism, a fascination he had to work through for himself in his play, radio play, opera and novella Leviathan '99 - a space-age retelling of Herman Melville's book.

Eventually - about forty years after working with Huston - Bradbury felt compelled to pull together his recollections and his fantasies into a novel: Green Shadows, White Whale. The reader is left wondering how much of the novel to believe. On the one hand, it is a genuinely accurate reminiscence of some of his adventures with Huston, confirmed by third parties who were there at the time. But on the other, there are stories within - such as the ghostly "Banshee" - which can't be anything but the work of a master fantasy writer.



 

Bradbury isn't the only person who felt compelled to put their experiences with Huston on record...

Novelist Peter Viertel fictionalised his adventures in White Hunter, Black Heart, later filmed by Clint Eastwood. It can't be coincidence that the wording and rhythm of Bradbury's title Green Shadows, White Whale matches that of Viertel's.

 


 

Katharine Hepburn, who suffered through Huston's filming of The African Queen, wrote up her experiences in The Making of The African Queen. Bradbury reported that it was Hepburn's book which confirmed that there was a good story to tell of working with Huston.

 


 


But way back before anyone else was writing up accounts of time with Huston, there was Charles Hamblett. He was with Huston in the Canary Islands during the filming of some of the shipboard action of Moby Dick, and found the whole thing so bizarre that he had to write a humorous novel about the whole affair, The Crazy Kill.