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The Illustrated Man

4.1 out of 5 stars 109 customer reviews

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(Dec 19, 2006)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Rod Steiger plays the tattoo-covered title role in this fascinating vision of doom and danger based on the classic short story collection by futurist Ray Bradbury. Robert Drivas portrays a good-natured drifter who can't tear his eyes from Steiger's freakish illustrations. And Claire Bloom is the mysterious seductress who created the "art" that curses its bearer - and comes to life in a nightmarish trio of tales. Two spoiled children turn playtime into slay time (from The Veldt). Shipwrecked astronauts wander across a planet cursed by The Long Rain. And loving parents choose their children's fate when the end nears (from The Last Night of the World). Every one of The Illustrated Man's pictures tells a story. And every story ends in terror.

DVD Features:
Featurette:Vintage Featurette Tattooed Steiger
Theatrical Trailer

Ray Bradbury's celebrated fiction has been notoriously resistant to screen adaptation, but that hasn't stopped the flawed film version of The Illustrated Man from gaining a small but devoted following. First published in 1951, Bradbury's classic book consisted of 18 stories framed by the tale of a man whose entire body is a living canvas of exotic tattoos, or "skin illustrations," each inviting the reader/viewer into Bradbury's ominous realm of science fiction, fantasy, and horror. In the film, this framing story takes place in Depression-era America, where a young drifter named Willie (well played by Robert Drivas) encounters Carl (Rod Steiger), the gruffly eccentric Illustrated Man. Gazing upon Carl's mesmerizing tattoos, Willie is transported into three of the 18 stories in Bradbury's collection. A pioneering exercise in virtual reality, "The Veldt" features a high-tech playroom (a precursor to Star Trek: The Next Generation's holodeck) where two children select an African veldt as their favorite virtual playground, ultimately trapping their parents (played by real-life couple Steiger and then-wife Claire Bloom) in a place of deadly danger. "The Long Rains" finds a quartet of astronauts (including Steiger and Drivas) stranded on Venus, where an incessant downpour preys on their sanity. "The Last Night of the World" takes place on the eve of a nuclear holocaust, as a desperate couple (again played by Steiger and Bloom) agonizes over the decision to euthanize their children before the end of the world.

As adapted by Howard B. Kreitsek and directed by Jack Smight (best known for Airport '75 and episodes of the original Twilight Zone), none of these stories work as well as the framing device, in which Steiger gives a brashly volatile performance. The story selection is curiously misguided and poorly executed, and Smight predictably fails to capture Bradbury's elusive quality of poetic allegory. Anthology films are always hit-or-miss anyway, but The Illustrated Man is more pretentiously frustrating than most (and more dated, especially in terms of sets and costumes), although it effectively captures the dreamy, contemplative tone that prevailed in many "art" films of the late '60s. If seen in the right mood, it's the kind of failed experiment that makes a lasting impression, despite its many shortcomings. --Jeff Shannon

Special Features

  • Vintage featurette: "Tattooed Steiger"
  • Original theatrical trailer

Product Details

  • Actors: Rod Steiger, Claire Bloom, Robert Drivas, Don Dubbins, Jason Evers
  • Directors: Jack Smight
  • Writers: Howard B. Kreitsek, Ray Bradbury
  • Producers: Howard B. Kreitsek, Ted Mann
  • Format: Color, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 1.0), French (Dolby Digital 1.0)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    Parental Guidance Suggested
  • Studio: Warner Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: December 19, 2006
  • Run Time: 103 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (109 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00005JP4M
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #85,518 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Illustrated Man" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Wayne Klein HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 23, 2006
Format: DVD
It's rare that I'll write an indifferent or negative review because I try to stick to stuff that I like. I had high hopes for "The Illustrated Man". The film has been critically lambasted over the years so was anxious to see if the film was a solid version of Bradbury's stories. Fans who enjoyed the film when it was first released will probably enjoy this the most. It reminds me of the minor classic "The Fool Killer" which had a promising story that just doesn't quite live up to its true potential. Regardless, Steiger gives a powerful and occasionally quirky performance as a drifted tatooed by a woman from the future from head to toe. When you look at the tatoos, they come alive setting up three different stories from Bradbury's famous book of the same name.

The framing device set during the Depression works well as does the very last story in this set. Carl (Rod Steiger in a commanding occasionally unhinged performance)plays a carnival worker who is lured into the parlor of a "Skin Illustrator" Felicia(Clarie Bloom). She works her magic with her needles and die using Carl's body for a canvas to create illustrations that come to life if the viewer stares at them for too long. Carl borders on madness because of the experience (he says he can feel them crawl on his skin literally itching to tell a story I suppose)and because he's now an outcast is trying to find Felicia so he can kill her. Carl meets a drifter Willie (the late Robert Drivas --who looks a bit like Nathan Fillion from "Firefly", "Serenity" and "Slither"-- in a fine performance where he holds his own throughout the film against Steiger). Carl unfolds his story about becoming an illustrated man and Willie finds himself drawn into three of the "tattoos" that ensnare him in their stories.
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Format: VHS Tape
It is possible that some viewers may find this classic late 60's
sci-fi not up to the standard of Ray Bradbury's creative style. But since childhood, I have always enjoyed this movie. Rod Steiger (one of my favorite actors) is unique and believable in his role as the "illustrated man", and Claire Bloom is beautiful as always. The movie gets a bit slow in parts but somehow with the musical score is mysterious and entertaining. If you enjoyed 451 I think you will be pleased with this captivating film.
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Format: DVD
Perhaps this was cutting edge fantasy forty years ago. Today, it might better be called a "cult classic," enjoyable as much for its dated look and effects as for its association with Bradbury's brilliant set of short stories, The Illustrated Man. This captures just a few of the short stories originally collected in the IM anthology. It starts with "The Veldt," one of the greats of the creepy-little-kids genre. The next story tracks astronauts stranded on Venus, back when Venus's shroud concealed a verdant monsoon instead of a burning desert, baking under sulfuric acid clouds. It ends with a tragic (if somewhat predictable) story of intellectual hubris gone wrong. The whole set is bound together by the Illustrated Man, whose magical tattoos act out these scenes - or cause them to appear in the viewers' minds.

The illustrations - Steiger's painted-on tattoos - form another story in the extras section of this disk. That goes through the months of planning, followed by long hours of intensive work transferring the images onto his skin. Today, the job would probably be done post-production in the bowels of a compute farm. Back then, it was real ink on real skin, producing a Peter Max-ish look that evokes Yellow Submarine.

Nostalgia buffs and Bradbury completists will enjoy this immensely. It dates from the era of the original Star Trek series, though, and carries some of the same look and acting style, for better or worse. If that works for you, great - it works for me.

-- wiredweird
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By C. R. Dun on December 20, 2005
Format: VHS Tape
This is my favorite movie. Hard to say why....its something to do with the higher element of it. Rod Steiger gives one of his best performances, Claire Bloom and Robert Drivas are also very powerful and the direction of Jack Smight is masterful. Its a film about the human condition, watch it with a very open mind and you'll be blown away. Ok, so why isn't it available on DVD?
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Format: DVD
...Rod Steiger's finest performance, and along with "Something Wicked This Way Comes", and "Farenheit 451", one of the best adaptations ever of Bradbury put to the big screen..... and YOU can't see it on DVD, unless you, and everyone you know votes for it. PLEASE vote for this great film, it's a classic that TRULY deserves to be treasured, restored, and preserved on DVD. You won't regret it.
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By A Customer on May 27, 2001
Format: VHS Tape
Firstly, this is an unusual movie. Don't get hire it out for a Friday night video session with friends. Someone is bound to demand you take it off, and so you may get put off and never see it. One wonders how it ever made it into production since it has virtually no mass market appeal. It is a little rough in execution and it is not something one can watch passively.
The film approaches the task of interpreting the book by presenting the stories as distinct events within the stream on consciousness of the writer: as the experience of lives within a life.
The scenes dealing with the merging of reality with virtual reality are very powerful. The film was well ahead of its time in 1969.
I'll not say more, since I try not to give plots away, but I will tell you this. You will miss out on an extra treat if you don't watch it on a day when it is raining cats and dogs, if it has been raining all week it is even better.
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