Friday, April 21, 2023

Unnecessary Rewrites: John Mortimer (1923-2009)

100 years ago today, writer John Mortimer was born. He's best remembered for his Rumpole of the Bailey stories and TV series. But did you know that he was an uncredited contributor to the screenplay of Something Wicked This Way Comes (1983)?

Ray Bradbury wrote the original Something Wicked script, but the film's director Jack Clayton commissioned a re-write from Mortimer - without telling Ray. This caused a serious rift in their working relationship. Ray and Jack came to the film as friends, but departed as strangers.
[Update for clarity:
Having read Bradbury's screenplay drafts as well as the Mortimer/Clayton version which was filmed, it's clear to me that Bradbury needed no re-writing. What underpinned these shenanigans was a difference of philosophy between Bradbury and Clayton. Bradbury rightly believed that fantasy stories need plotting that carefully builds, and this can include partial repeating of, or reminders of, events that have gone before. Clayton on the other hand believed that it was wrong to have repetition in a script, and that scares and suspense required constant novelty. He repeatedly expressed this as "a mouse doesn't come out of the same hole twice".]

Ironically, two years earlier Mortimer was himself a victim of an uncredited rewrite, when his scripts for the award-winning Brideshead Revisited TV series were scrapped by director Charles Sturridge. Mortimer retained the sole script credit for Brideshead (and, presumably, entitlement to any royalties), just as Bradbury retained the sole credit for Something Wicked.

In this BBC Archive clip, John Mortimer talks about his father and Rumpole:

Tuesday, April 18, 2023

Follow Me On Facebook

Just a short post to say:

I'm making a renewed effort to keep a flow of Ray Bradbury news on my Bradbury 100 Podcast  Facebook page. Most days, you will find at least one brief post with a link - and I'm also going to try to mark significant (and not so significant) anniversaries. Find it at

By the way, this should be seen as an extra rather than as a replacement for Bradburymedia, which will continue right here as normal!