Thursday, October 9, 2008

Ray Bradbury at The Egyptian!

This week, the legendary Ray Bradbury joins forces with another venerable Los Angeles institution, The American Cinematheque, for Dandelion Wine: Two Evenings with Ray Bradbury.

On Friday the 10th at 7:30 pm, The Egyptian Theater screens the 1983 Walt Disney production of Ray’s novel Something Wicked This Way Comes, to be introduced by Bradbury in-person. While Bradbury had harsh words for the adaptation (and its director, Jack Clayton) at the time of the film’s release, time seems to have softened the writer’s initial disappointment. And while the movie takes some misguided narrative liberties with its source material, it still manages to capture Bradbury’s idyllic small-town atmosphere with particular effectiveness—aided considerably by an ensemble of performers whose work is always worth watching, including Jonathan Pryce, Jason Robards, Royal Dano and Pam Grier.

The following evening, Saturday the 11th, The Egyptian offers a double feature hosted by Bradbury, starting with John Huston’s film of Moby Dick, from a screenplay by Bradbury. Moby Dick proved to be a pivotal event for the writer, tremendously impacting both his life and professional career, while inspiring his subsequent work­—both directly and indirectly—for the rest of his life. His experience working with Huston on the project echoes through Bradbury’s short stories (“Banshee”), novels (Green Shadows, White Whale), plays (The Anthem Sprinters), non-fiction (Zen in the Art of Writing), and now in Subterranean Press’s recently-published edition of Bradbury’s original screenplay.

Moby Dick is followed by The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms, based on Bradbury’s short story “The Foghorn.” Though the unexpected melancholy that makes the original tale so memorable is in short supply in this dinosaur-stomps-New-York adaptation by director Eugene Lourie, the titular Beast—a “rhedosaur” painstakingly animated by Bradbury’s pal Ray Harryhausen—is a masterful creation that serves as an enduring testament both to the lifelong friends’ shared love of dinosaurs, and to their unparalleled gift for breathing life into creatures of the imagination.

Dandelion Wine: Two Evenings with Ray Bradbury, The American Cinematheque at The Egyptian Theater, 6712 Hollywood Blvd. Tickets available at the Theater box office.