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Ray Bradbury’s Impact on Movies, from Huston and Truffaut to Spielberg

Ray Bradbury's Impact on Movies, from Huston and Truffaut to Spielberg

I have a signed copy of Ray Bradbury’s “Dandelion Wine,” complete with a drawn flower. Bradbury sent it to me after I told him at a party that it was my favorite of his books. He was that kind of guy. He touched many people’s lives, in myriad ways over 91 years, not only with his novels and short stories, but the movies based on them and such Hollywood film and TV scripts as “The Twilight Zone,” “The Halloween Tree,” and “The Ray Bradbury Theater.”

“The Martian Chronicles” author died Tuesday night in Los Angeles, without having seen an astronaut land on Mars, where he had requested that he be buried. Apollo astronauts did name the Moon’s “Dandelion Crater” in honor of “Dandelion Wine.” And an asteroid was named 9766 Bradbury.

“What I have always been is a hybrid author,” Bradbury explained in 2009. “I am completely in love with movies, and I am completely in love with theater, and I am completely in love with libraries.”

Despite his genre roots, Bradbury was taken seriously as a literary author. In 2000 he received an honorary National Book Award medal for lifetime achievement and in 2007 accepted a special Pulitzer Prize citation “for his distinguished, prolific and deeply influential career as an unmatched author of science fiction and fantasy.” 

Bradbury had an enormous impact on generations of writers and filmmakers, from Arthur C. Clarke to voracious sci-fi/fantasy readers James Cameron and Steven Spielberg, who stated: “He was my muse for the better part of my sci-fi career.  He lives on through his legion of fans.  In the world of science fiction and fantasy and imagination he is immortal.” (Bradbury considered himself a fantasy writer, as opposed to sci-fi.)

Here’s a ranking of Bradbury’s movies. Trailers are below.

1. “Fahrenheit 451” (1966), directed by French critic-turned-director Francois Truffaut, is a must-see paranoid sci-fi thriller starring Julie Christie in a dual role as a short-coiffed woman who questions “fireman” Oskar Werner’s purpose in life: burning books. She also plays his long-haired wife, who is threatened when he comes home full of new ideas. (Michael Moore referenced the book’s title, without Bradbury’s permission, for his documentary “Fahrenheit 9-11.”)

2. “Moby Dick” (1956), directed by John Huston from Bradbury’s adaptation of the Herman Melville novel, starred Gregory Peck as Captain Ahab.

3. “Something Wicked This Way Comes” (1983) is an unsettling thriller about two teen boys who start having vivid nightmares just as a strange carnival arrives in town.

4. “Icarus Montgolfier Wright” (1962) was nominated for an Oscar for animated short.

5. “It Came From Outer Space,” directed by Jack Arnold, was the first movie inspired by Bradbury’s work. It’s about the crash-landing of an ominous craft in the 1953 Arizona desert.

6. “The Illustrated Man”(1969) stars a tattooed Rod Steiger in full-on angry mode.

The LATimes reports that new films adapted from Bradbury’s writing are in various stages of development in Hollywood–including a “Martian Chronicles” (Paramount), “Fahrenheit 451” (Universal) and “illustrated Man” (Warner Bros.).


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