January 29, 2014
Twilight Zone creator and host Rod Serling once stated that it was nearly impossible to adapt Ray Bradbury to the screen, “because that which reads so beautifully on the printed page doesn’t fit in the mouth—it fits in the head.”
Film director and screenwriter Frank Darabont once shared with me a similar sentiment, asserting, “Ray Bradbury has never been properly served on the screen.”
To this end, in my estimation, the Chicago-based independent company Beverly Ridge Pictures have come as close as anyone to perfectly adapting Bradbury. Their 2011 take on Bradbury’s 1945 short story “The Small Assassin” is sublime. The attention to detail, the period authenticity, the script, the score—the entire 16-minute film—is, arguably, the best cinematic adaptation of Bradbury to date. No doubt, there are films and television adaptions that are good. Something Wicked This Way Comes (1983) has some terrific moments and wonderful acting by Jason Robards and Jonathan Pryce, who portrays Mr. Dark. Truffaut’s 1966 adaptation of Fahrenheit 451 is wonderfully Euro and visually captivating, though it is not the book. The 1982 short adaptation of “All Summer in a Day” is dark and somber and alluring. Bradbury’s own adaptation of “Banshee” for The Ray Bradbury Theater is the best of the 65-episode series.
“The Small Assassin” won the Jury Award at the Canadian International Film Festival, as well as the “Best Short Film” award at the Naperville Independent Film Festival. Ray Bradbury loved this adaptation. We watched it together one afternoon and he was delighted. The film perfectly captures the chilling nature of Bradbury’s first book, Dark Carnival, where the story appeared.