Bradbury in Hollywood

May 8, 2020 by

When his mother introduced him to the motion picture at the age of three — they saw Lon Chaney as THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME — Ray Bradbury should have been a perfect fit for Hollywood. Unfortunately, that has not always been the case.

Ray Bradbury made his first professional sale in 1941, a collaboration with Henry Hasse that sold to SUPER SCIENCE STORIES. Within five years, his stories were being adapted for the mass medium – not Hollywood – but radio. NBC’s MOLLÉ MYSTERY THEATRE broadcast “Killer Come Back To Me” on May 17, 1946. Originally appearing in the July 1944 issue of Popular Publications’ DETECTIVE TALES, the novella was one of the young author’s first sales to the detective pulps. The issue featured cover art by Rafael DeSoto.

The NBC radio drama was followed over the years by adaptations on SUSPENSE, RADIO CITY PLAYHOUSE, ESCAPE and DIMENSION X. A 1950 – 51 NBC science fiction program, DIMENSION X was one of the first weekly “adult” science fiction anthology programs to be featured on radio. Considering that Bradbury’s stories were adapted for ten of its fifty episodes, his work was almost certainly admired by the creators and listeners of DIMENSION X.

Ray Bradbury had not yet written FAHRENHEIT 451 nor assembled DANDELION WINE — two of his finest works — when his work and DIMENSION X caught the attention of Hollywood. George Pal used the radio program to promote his 1950 science fiction film, DESTINATION MOON. The film was also adapted by the NBC radio drama. A few years later, Harry Essex wrote the screenplay for IT CAME FROM OUTER SPACE, largely following the shot sequence and the dialog from Bradbury’s original screen treatment.  A sequence in the Warner Brothers film, THE BEAST FROM 20,000 FATHOMS, was tenuously based on Bradbury’s short story of the same title. It had been published in THE SATURDAY EVENING POST for June 23, 1951. John Huston’s 1956 film adaptation of Herman Melville’s MOBY DICK is essentially the work of Ray Bradbury.

Throughout the 1950s and early 1960s, Bradbury’s stories were also adapted for television, including a few teleplays by Bradbury himself. Among the notables were ABC’s live TALES OF TOMORROW, ALFRED HITCHCOCK PRESENTS, and an original Christmas story for television’s STEVE CANYON. In 1961, Alfred Hitchcock secretly produced an hour-long television pilot, “The Jail,” another original by Bradbury for television. Unfortunately, the program never found a sponsor.

Rod Serling successfully launched his science fiction and fantasy classic, THE TWILIGHT ZONE, in 1959. The CBS program certain owed a lot to Bradbury, who recommended both Charles Beaumont and Richard Matheson to Serling. Bradbury also wrote several scripts for the series, although only one was produced. Unfortunately, the show spawned a good deal of professional jealousy between the two talented scribes.

Several years after the brilliant adaptations of Ray Bradbury’s “The Jar” and “The Life Work of Juan Diaz” for THE ALFRED HITCHCOCK HOUR in 1964, Francois Truffaut directed FAHRENHEIT 451 (1966) and Jack Smight brought THE ILLUSTRATED MAN (1969) to life on celluloid. In 1980, Bradbury’s friend, Richard Matheson wrote the script for THE MARTIAN CHRONICLES, an NBC miniseries that ran in 1980. Disney released SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES in 1983. The final release features re-shoots that were co-directed by Bradbury. More recently, THE SOUND OF THUNDER — based on the author’s 1952 short story of the same title — was considered to be one of the worst films of 2005.

Perhaps the most successful filmed adaptations of his work were THE RAY BRADBURY THEATERa Canadian-produced anthology series scripted by the author that ran on HBO and the USA Network from 1985 through 1992 — and THE HALLOWEEN TREE, an animated film produced by Hanna-Barbera for TBS. Bradbury received an Emmy Award for the latter in 1994.

To extensively cover the cinematic achievements of Ray Bradbury in less than an hour would require the imaginary visions of Bradbury’s time-travel concepts. Author Martin Grams, Jr. will present some of the highlights from the Hollywood career of Ray Bradbury featuring never-published archival materials. He’ll discuss Bradbury’s ten-year lawsuit against CBS for an unauthorized and uncredited adaptation of FAHRENHEIT 451 for PLAYHOUSE 90, examine the professional differences between Bradbury and Rod Serling, and more.

Join Martin at 9:30 PM on Friday, August 7, for “Bradbury in Hollywood,” one of the many informative and entertaining presentations planned for PulpFest 2020.

(Martin Grams, Jr. was 18 years old when he published his first book, a history of the radio/TV series, SUSPENSE. Since then, he has authored or co-authored over thirty books; contributed chapters, essays and appendices for numerous books; and written magazine articles for FILMFAX, SCARLET STREET, and Ed Hulse’s BLOOD ‘N’ THUNDER, to name just a few. He is the founder and organizer of the Mid-Atlantic Nostalgia Convention, a three-day festival featuring Hollywood celebrities signing autographs, vendors offering vintage memorabilia and collectibles, seminars and more.

For a look at our entire programming schedule, please click the Programming button below the PulpFest banner on our home page.)


Hardboiled Dicks, Dangerous Dames, and a Few Psychos III

Dec 5, 2016 by

doctor-death-35-02Beginning with its first convention in 2009, PulpFest has drawn countless raves from pop culture enthusiasts. Planned as the summertime destination for fans and collectors of vintage popular fiction and related materials, PulpFest seeks to honor pulp fiction and pulp art by drawing attention to the many ways they have inspired writers, artists, film directors, software developers, game designers, and other creators over the decades. That’s why PulpFest is renowned for its fantastic dealers’ room and wide range of interesting and entertaining programming. So what will be happening at PulpFest 2017?

Back in October, we told you about the hardboiled dicks that transformed the traditional mystery story into the tough guy (and gal) crime fiction that remains popular to this very day. In November, we focused on the dangerous dames of the pulps, the hardboiled ladies who helped to pave the way for such modern day gumshoes as Sue Grafton‘s Kinsey Millhone, Marcia Muller‘s Sharon McCone, and Sara Paretsky‘s V. I. Warshawski. This month we turn our attention to the psychos of the pulps.

Perhaps the most famous fictional “psycho” of them all is Norman Bates, the insane killer portrayed by Anthony Perkins in PSYCHOThis classic film — directed by Alfred Hitchcock — was based on a 1959 novel written by Robert Bloch. The author, born on April 5, 1917, got his start as a writing professional in the pulps. His first sale was made to his favorite pulp magazine, WEIRD TALES. Over the years, Bloch’s and Hitchcock’s “psycho” has served to inspire similar characters in popular culture.

terror-tales-40-03Like Bloch’s PSYCHO, the pulps were a breeding ground for madness. On a monthly basis, mad scientists, crazed hunchbacks, and foul cultists would threaten beautiful women with bodily injury and “fates worse than death” in the pages of weird menace magazines such as TERROR TALES and HORROR STORIES. Over in the hero pulps, New York City’s population would be decimated by one madman after another in the pages of THE SPIDERAmerica’s Secret Service Ace, Jimmy Christopher, would save America from tyrant after tyrant in OPERATOR #5. The Shadow would battle Shiwan Khan and Benedict Stark, while Doc Savage had his hands full with John Sunlight.

Eventually, the pulp publishers tested their marketing skills as they introduced “villain” pulps: DOCTOR DEATH, DR. YEN SIN, THE OCTOPUS, THE SCORPION, and THE MYSTERIOUS WU FANG. Although these series were all short-lived, they helped to popularize the concept of the diabolic madman. PulpFest will be celebrating both the hundredth anniversary of Robert Bloch’s birth and some of the psychos of the pulps at our next convention.

Start planning to attend PulpFest 2017 and its celebration of pulp fiction and pulp art. Join us next July outside of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania as we explore “Hardboiled Dicks, Dangerous Dames, and a Few Psychos.” Meanwhile, stay tuned to for news on our “New Fictioneers” readings, Saturday Night Auction, and much more.  We’ll have a new post each and every Monday in the weeks ahead. So visit often to learn all about PulpFest 2017, one of the largest and most popular pulp cons of the year!

(Doctor Death was first introduced in a series of stories credited to Edward P. Norris that appeared in Dell Publications’ ALL DETECTIVE. When that title was cancelled in 1935, it was replaced by a new pulp focusing on an arch villain. Entitled DOCTOR DEATH, the magazine lasted for a total of three issues. It’s first number — dated February 1935 — featured front cover art by Rudolph Zirm, a freelance artist who contributed a few dozen pulp covers to various publishers over a period of six years.

In the three Doctor Death pulp novels — all written by Harold Ward — Doctor Death is Rance Mandarin, “a master of the occult with an insane hatred of scientific progress and industrialization. He believes it is his mission to return the world to a blissful primitive state, which he attempts to do with the aid of zombies, elementals, dissolution rays and communist heavies.”

More wild pulp villainy could be found in such weird menace magazines as TERROR TALES, SPICY MYSTERY STORIES, and HORROR STORIES. Such titles often featured beautiful women threatened by terrors unimaginable — including the March 1940 TERROR TALES — also painted by Rudolph Zirm.)