The Gospel Truth

By John King Tarpinian: Jesus has a sci-fi link.

The director of the movie, King of Kings (1961), Nicholas Rey was having problems with the script. This is the movie with the definitive blonde-haired blue-eyed Jesus. That was Jeffrey Hunter, who would go on to play the original captain of the U.S.S. Enterprise, Captain Pike. In the early 60s Ray Bradbury did side-work as a Script Doctor and was called in to help. Ray was first told that they did not have an ending for the movie.  Ray’s response being, “Have you read the book?”

He wrote the ending that they pretty much used. Only Ray wanted an overhead shot showing J.C. walking onto the Sea of Galilee while the disciples were walking off onto the points of the compass to spread “the word.”  Renting the crane for the overhead shot was “too expensive” so the scene was modified and shot at ground level.

They knew they had other problems with the script but had no money for any reshooting of scenes.  Ray suggested they use a voice-over narration. They liked the idea and asked him to write the dialog, which he did.

Now they had another problem, they needed a powerful voice actor to read the narration. Ray suggested his friend, Orson Welles. After choking on their own spittle they said they did not have the money to pay Welles. Ray said he’d ask Orson to do it for scale, which Welles did. Orson had played Father Mable in Ray’s script of Moby Dick for John Huston.

This part I do not quite understand but for Ray’s and Orson’s names to appear in the credits they had to be paid another stipend. Not having the money the producers opted to not credit them. So if you watch the film over the weekend this story might be more entertaining than the one they filmed. One of the grand old men of science fiction and the writer/producer/director of what many argue is the best movie of all time are unsung heroes of King of Kings.

Unplugged Wordsmiths Unite!

TypewritersAreSexy.com invites everyone to celebrate and write on manual typewriters for free!  Come to Beyond Baroque, 681 Venice Blvd., Venice, CA 90291 on Sunday, September 23 from 1-5 p.m.

Who knew you could make typing on a manual typewriter sound like an E-ticket ride at Disneyland?

Use John Lennon’s, Ray Bradbury’s, or Orson Welles’ typewriter for $100 donation.

If I type on Ray’s and Orson’s keyboards I hope some of their residual talent will be osmotically transmitted through my fingertips. (How will you know? First clue: I’ll stop using words like “osmotically.”)

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian for the story.]

Casting Stones

“When Martians Invaded Concrete” is a title Warner Bros. might want to keep in mind if they ever cast Marvin the Martian in a Wyle E. Coyote vs. Roadrunner cartoon. However, that’s not what the news item’s about at all. 

The practically-forgotten town of Concrete, WA was famously panicked by Orson Welles’ War of the Worlds broadcast of 1938. In honor of Halloween, a writer for Seattle Crosscut tracked down and interviewed a surviving witness:

Several calls to the historical society and the senior center, among other places, led to a lot of dead ends – mainly folks too young to remember the show. I can’t remember how, exactly, but I finally was directed to Albert Frank (the Albert in Albert’s Serve-U, I was pleased to learn) who was then 89 years old. He was more than happy to talk with me.

“We were coming home from Everett,” driving back from an errand with a friend, Frank told me. “We hit into Concrete about the time of that lightning and thunderstorm, and people were kinda wandering around and yellin’ and screamin’ and we couldn’t figure out what was going on.”

Then, Frank said, they saw a woman who was obviously in a state of panic. “Here comes this woman out of the house there, yellin’ that the world was comin’ to an end. She was watchin’ Orson Welles’ movie [sic] in the house, it was on radio and it scared her.”

The local paper defended the townfolk for their wild-eyed reaction to the broadcast:

In an editorial following the broadcast (and after several days in the media spotlight), the weekly Concrete Herald said, “Our city is taking a lot of kidding this week because of the radio scare Sunday evening. Nationwide newspaper stories, radio comments, and even a dramatized playlet on the air depicted Concrete’s residents in panic when the combined horror of a realistic radio play and the coincidence of a power failure brought hysteria. If folks in other cities and towns also went wild, the local citizens who had to stand the sudden darkness, too, can’t be blamed for exhibiting alarm.”

The article also quotes a Seattle newspaper editorial that condemned the radio program for its irresponsibility. Interesting how times change. Today cable news broadcasters consider it a day wasted if they can’t spin a story to send people raving into the streets.

 [Thanks to David Klaus for the story.]