The Illustrated Man

1969 Bradbury adaptation

Rating: 13/20

Plot: A man with skin illustrations (not tattoos!) harasses an amateur hobo and bores him with sci-fi stories.

I'm a fan of Ray Bradbury's work, and it's both because he's got great ideas and knows the words to turn those ideas into something magical or chilling or darkly humorous. The Illustrated Man is a collection of about twenty stories linked by a guy's skin illustrations. I don't remember if I've read it or any of the stories.

I have to stop and explain the "skin illustrations" thing I keep mentioned. There are a couple times when Rod Steiger's character snarls at Robert Drivas after the latter refers to his skin art as tattoos. "They're not tattoos--they're skin illustrations," he says. I couldn't stop imitating that, especially during the slower moments of the movie. My wife Jennifer loved it.

Actually, my favorite parts of this movie were when it was just Rod Steiger and Drivas talking out in the middle of nowhere. Steiger's got a dog named Peke with him, and the dog acting from Pogo is amazing. Sadly, that's Pogo's lone performance. Steiger's a lot of fun to watch in this. He chews the scenery beautifully. He urinates and makes a reference to a penis tattoo. Sorry, penis skin illustration. And I won't pretend the man isn't easy on the eyes. I mean, take a look at this poster:

And yes, I'm aware that he kind of looks like a young Donald Trump, and now I'm a little sick to my stomach and not sure that I can even go on.

Ok, I just found this image, and now I can go on:

The main problem with the movie were the stories within the story. Or the stories within the skin illustrations. There was one about parenting in the future, one with some fun Venus imagery and lots of rain that seemed almost endless, and a final one about the last day on earth that really never gets off the ground. I just didn't think the individual stories were as interesting as the conversations Steiger had with Drivas, and there really wasn't much going on there. It's just that the science fiction bits never really get going. They're ideas that probably work better with Bradbury's poetry. 

Made in the heart of the psychedelic era, there's some fun sets to see here, and the tattoos (sorry, skin illustrations!) themselves make for a cool visual. 

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