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The Illustrated Man (1969)

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In 1930s, a psychotic drifter who's after the mystery woman who covered his whole body in illustrations that foresee distant future shows three of them (The Veldt, The Long Rain and The Last Night of the World) to a mesmerized traveler.

Director:

Jack Smight

Writers:

Ray Bradbury (book), Howard B. Kreitsek (screenplay)
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1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Rod Steiger ... Carl
Claire Bloom ... Felicia
Robert Drivas ... Willie
Don Dubbins ... Pickard
Jason Evers ... Simmons
Tim Weldon Tim Weldon ... John
Christine Matchett Christine Matchett ... Anna (as Christie Matchett)
Pogo Pogo ... Peke
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Storyline

The Illustrated Man is classic Bradbury, a collection of eighteen startling visions of humankind's destiny, unfolding across a canvas of decorated skin, visions as keen as the tattooist's needle and as colorful as the inks that indelibly stain the body. The images, ideas, sounds and scents that abound in this phantasmagoric sideshow are provocative and powerful: the mournful cries of celestial travelers cast out cruelly into a vast space of stars and blackness, the sight of gray dust settling over a forgotten outpost on a road that leads nowhere, the pungent odor of Jupiter on a returning father's clothing. Here living cities take their vengeance, technology awakens the most primal natural instincts, Martian invasions are foiled by the good life and the glad hand, and dreams are carried aloft in junkyard rockets. Written by Stig Ohara

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Don't dare stare at the illustrated man.


Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

26 March 1969 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Der Tätowierte See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

SKM See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Average Shot Length = ~6.8 seconds. Median Shot Length = ~7.1 seconds. See more »

Goofs

Just after Felicia has finished drawing the rose on Carl's hand, his hand is resting on a pillow and the rose can be seen in close-up. It is surrounded by four green leaves. Felicia then takes Carl outside to "look at it in the sunlight". Once outside, it can be seen that the rose is now surrounded by five green leaves. The leaves are also differently shaped. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Felicia: Each person who tries to see beyond his own time must face questions to which there cannot yet be proven answers.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Wild animals affection-trained at Africa, U.S.A. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Mystery Science Theater 3000: Indestructible Man (1992) See more »

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User Reviews

Not a classic, but not half-bad for a lot of reasons!
2 June 2003 | by ES-IIISee all my reviews

From the opening scene, director Jack Smight (Damnation Alley, Midway, Airport 1975) exhibits an ability to `show' the story through cinematography and action rather instead of telling it through dialogue and actors – viewers actually learn a lot before any single character really opens his/her mouth (a tribute to the mood of Ray Bradbury stories, perhaps). This story, which, like The Matrix, struggles with question of existence and the relationship between the real and the perceived, is based on a collection of Bradbury short-stories by the same title. Only three are selected here (including "The Last Night of the World," `The Long Rain,' and `The Veldt,' about a virtual reality play-room of `free involvement and instantaneous atmosphere'). All center around alternate realities, future occurrences, and imagined stories (you be the judge).. It all starts when carnival worker tuned cursed drifter Carl (Rod Steiger) meets up with transient Willie (Robert Drivas) and reveals his `skin illustrations' (don't ever call them tattoos). Unfortunately, Carl's beautiful artwork transmits realistic stories in paranormal emissions to whoever stares long enough, which gets the stories started. They're done in the tradition of The Twilight Zone, The Hitchhiker, Tales From the Crypt and The Outer Limits, only with more involvement from the narrator here. In a flashback, viewers learn about the artwork's origin as Carl arrives at Felicia's house. When we're introduced to him in the past, he's nothing more than a lowly bumpkin pitching tents for a traveling carnival. Horny, he sits under the needle only hoping for sexual gratification. Now, I understand the `tattooing' as an intimate and sexual metaphor here, albeit a `mystical' one, but why does this woman produce such beautiful artwork for free… and why doesn't Carl bleed from all the etching, which would takes months and months to complete? As they kiss, she utters, `Pain is part of anything good,' which further points to the edge of sadism the film carries. Steiger's performance of Carl throughout is a bit too vigorous much for me. I thought the film could have played better if the audience could feel more sympathy for his character, but the screenwriters obviously thought differently and had another agenda. As a result, Steiger is violent, gruff, and obnoxious, though a bit wiser and hardened after his altercation with Felicia (even the contrast between the Carl of the present and the Carl of the past is way overdone). Whatever the case, Felicia certainly gives Carl a new perspective and deeper insight (`Maybe she went back to the future… maybe 1000 years?' he laments). Outside of the hints to sadism, there's a lot of homoerotic content between Carl and Willie… unless it's just a clever ruse to get Carl's shirt off for most of the film. Creepy, nonetheless… unless you're into swinging stranger-hobos! I mean who parades around shirtless in front of strangers and owns a Pomeranian dog named Peke (as in `Pekinese'). I also liked Jerry Goldsmith's experimental electronica, and Steiger's costume in `The Long Rain' sequence. Playing a futuristic space-colonel, he looks like The Beast Rabban from Dune in his apocalyptic rippled-rubber suit!


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