Unca Harlan's Art Deco Dining Pavilion

Discussion of the man and his work.

Welcome to the Art Deco Dining Pavilion! Here's the deal. This is Harlan's little breakfast nook at Webderland. When he's not here, we chat about him and his work. When he is, we act like we're guests in his home. That's about all there is to it. (link to More specific rules) Oh, and since the nook doesn't exactly hold a crowd (and to prevent the less frequent voices from being drowned out), please limit yourself to one post a day unless Harlan asks you a direct question. The Pavilion Annex is available if you're the logorrheic type. Also, we have archives of old posts. RSS Feed

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Displaying board posts 1 through 25 - showing messages at a time.

- Wednesday, October 18 2017 18:41:20

It's not a smear if it's true.

Marci Kesserich <marcik@hotmail.com>
Asheville, NC - Wednesday, October 18 2017 18:23:26

At least Harlan has had the wherewithal to apologize for lousy judgment. What you're seeing now is the continuation of the same mouth-breathers who demanded Connie Willis "get over it, it was all in good fun."


If you are the sort of person who looks at the long-standing problem of women being victimized by powerful men and your first thought is "how can I use this to smear my political opponents", then you are not only part of the problem, but an irreparably damaged human being to boot. Decent human beings don't look at the suffering of others and exploit it for their own petty nonsense.


- Wednesday, October 18 2017 12:58:49

There was a story, maybe apocryphal but I hope not, that when Miramax was preparing the English language version of HAYAO MIYAZAKI's great animated film PRINCESS MONONOKE for US release, and Weinstein was demanding extensive edits, MIYAZAKI sent Weinstein a samurai sword with a message attached, "No Cuts".

Chris Beckett <cmbeckett1972@gmail.com>
Hampden, ME - Wednesday, October 18 2017 6:25:22

re: Weinstein
With regard to all the people who knew about Weinstein and did not speak up -- not an exoneration or a call for their absolution, but maybe (coupled with E. Kang's spot-on remark below) a better understanding of the complex and ugly reality of the situation. From Scott Rosenberg, who benefited greatly from Miramax and Weinstein:


We all like to think we would do the "right thing." But it's far simpler in the abstract.
Certainly, our host has rarely taken the easy path, but this is one of many facets of Mr. Ellison's personality and life that elevates him, to my mind.

E. Kang
- Tuesday, October 17 2017 20:46:54

This sort of predatory sickness in human nature DOES go back a long, long way. From the first Neanderthal to its direct descendant, Pussy Grabbin' Cheetolini. Wealth and the delusion of entitlement are strong catalysts for this behavior. Doesn't matter what your professional or political affiliations might be. It's a human sickness you can find in any neck of the woods.

As of for those who knew of Weinstein's behavior for years and said nothing, try reading documentation of what happened to those who tried reporting harrassment by someone with power; women especially. They'd usually get discredited and jobless.

Maybe we're at the beginning of the end of this sort of cycle. Women are gaining ground in being able to protect themselves, in part because of social media.

- Tuesday, October 17 2017 19:22:21

That Guy
I know about Roy Price. Does not change the fundamentals. Amazon is cutting its losses. Smart.

That Guy
- Tuesday, October 17 2017 19:12:11

Nice theory, but now the Amazon studios head has stepped down for the same reason.

Also, one rumor is that now was deemed a safe time to go after "Winestain" because nothing of his is up for awards this year (if his company even has anything currently out). It has probably been a while since that was so.

Kenneth Stevens <stevens.kenneth@gmail.com>
Knoxville, Tennessee - Tuesday, October 17 2017 16:41:55

All about Harve

What's interesting about the current uproar in Hollywood is that many of the people now joining in on the attack on Harvey Weinstein were long aware of, and in most cases benefited from, his predilections.

Gwyneth Paltrow knew about Harvey. Angelina Jolie knew about Harvey. George Clooney knew about Harvey. Quentin Tarantino knew about Harvey. Helen Mirren knew about Harvey. Jennifer Lawrence knew about Harvey. Ben Affleck knew about Harvey. Matt Damon knew about Harvey. Barrack Obama's former National Security Council spokesman said Harvey had been a well-known quote scumbag unquote for years, which means Obama knew as well but saw fit to have his own daughter work for Weinstein as an intern anyhow. If Hillary Clinton didn't know about Harvey, which seems unlikely, she does now but still isn't handing back the money he gave her. And so on and so forth.

So brave!

Of course, this is only coming to light because the smart money is pulling out of Old Hollywood, which is on its way to becoming a legacy industry similar to the music business, and investing instead in new content creators such as Amazon and Netflix.

W. Owen Powell
Bloomington, IN - Tuesday, October 17 2017 15:48:59

Echoing what Brian said. I am not sinless, far from it, and owe a fair number of apologies to those willing to hear it for out-of-bounds behavior over the years.

And I too thought of the gopher when I saw yesterday's news item about Carrie. Though it needs to be said, Harlan still told his payback-with-a-lesson story far better.

Brian Phillips
McDonough, GA - Tuesday, October 17 2017 6:43:23

A Gopher With Your Name On It.
For those who do not involve themselves with Facebook or other social media, women have been asked to share the hashtag #metoo if they have been harassed, abused or sexually assaulted. This has resulted in a lot of #metoo-ing as well as backlash from men, which I shall not detail.

I'm adding this link, because of what Harlan did to a publisher using a dead gopher.

I've been a lout in the past and I can only apologize to those I've made uncomfortable. I pray that I've learned something in the ensuing years.

To all of you that feel it is acceptable to use your power in such abhorrent ways, there may be a gopher with your name on it.

Brava to the late Carrie Fisher!


- Brian Phillips

Dennis C
Glendale, CA - Monday, October 16 2017 21:19:47

A Harlan mention
Harlan and IHNMAIMS mentioned:


E. Kang
- Monday, October 16 2017 16:2:28

To Pennington, your humble lordship...

Took a crack at a search for that ad, hoping to see it floating somewhere near the atoll. No luck as yet. It may be lost among the coral, but will keep an eye open and the snorkel a blowin'.

- Monday, October 16 2017 14:38:24

Header should have been "Putting the 'psycho' in 'psychosurgery.'"

Kenneth Stevens <stevens.kenneth@gmail.com>
Knoxville, Tennessee - Monday, October 16 2017 14:23:9

Putting the
I suppose I ma not the only one who found it fascinating as a twelve-year old that Doc Savage lobotomized criminals.

Curtis Wiley Pennington
The Maldives Atolls - Monday, October 16 2017 14:5:38

An Illustrative Query

Greetings Webderlanders!

CWP checking in. Civets running the electrical generator treadmill have allowed us to nocturnally engage the recent BLADE RUNNER 2049 from a solid state device. A fairly large contingent of us here in the Maldives are enjoying it -- however the natives are curious of the origins of "The F Word." Having seen the film, they quite enjoy yelling this word aloud in the marketplace. All is good.

I digress. This is my inquiry, for those of you with the knowledge:

Is there a resource online, if you will, a location -- where we Ellisonians in the Maldives atolls may see the unique contour line image (a drawing) of Mister Ellison in the advertisement for the Harlan Ellison Recording Collection, aka HERC? This, in the day of twelve inch spinning discs and turntables.

If I recall, the image is a bit cartoonish, inspired looney, yet so creatively rendered upon a page in the July 1977 issue of THE MAGAZINE OF FANTASY AND SCIENCE FICTION. I believe Mister Ellison's glasses are alive with imaginative lines in this frozen moment.

In an event of misadventure, I witnessed a Doskacil case of said digests skitter overboard just as our flotilla of dhoni boats spotted Alif Alif upon the horizon! Any information regarding the illustrator and the image will be greatly appreciated. Please accept my thanks in advance, for electricity will soon be scarce after a few more projections of the BLADE RUNNER motion picture. The F Word shall be shouted throughout the atolls!

I, We, Us

CW Pennington on behalf of the Together League

Jarrod White <jarrodwhite19@gmail.com>
Boston, Massachusetts - Monday, October 16 2017 11:28:51

An Open Letter to Harlan Ellison
I shall be brief here, because the letter I have attached below says more than enough. I felt compelled to write to Ellison, and the world in whole, by strange passions. If anyone is able to pass this letter along to Mr. Ellison, then I would be compelled towards something just shy of indentured servitude (in reality, a most ecstatic of thanks would be in order).

-Jarrod White

An Open Letter to Mr. Harlan Ellison:

Jordan Owen <jordanowen@me.com>
Atlanta, Georgia - Sunday, October 15 2017 19:34:55

I Have no Mouth and I Must Cube...
Hello webderlanders-

Just popping in to let everyone know that one of the best indie science fiction trilogies, the Cube series, is on Netflix streaming in its entirety: Cube, Cube 2: Hypercube, and Cube Zero.

If you want similar "how did we all get here?" films I suggest Circles and The Exam.


Jeff R.
- Saturday, October 14 2017 21:59:49

This is strange...
For decades, Harlan has been talking about how Adrian Samish wanted a scene in Harlan's VOYAGE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA script in which a rubber mask is pulled or a beautiful young woman's face and we see that she's actually hideously ugly. Harlan refused to write such a scene and the resulting difference of opinion led to Samish having his pelvis broken. However, in the script as reproduced in on of the BRAIN MOVIES books, there is such a scene!!! What's going on?

ERIC KNIGHT <erk2@mac.com>
LOS ANGELES, CA - Saturday, October 14 2017 16:9:33

Someone programming the station is a Harlan fan!
Tonight (10/14/17) on ME-TV:
11pm PST Star Trek: CITY AT THE EDGE...
1AM PST Outer Limits: Demon With A Glass Hand

- Saturday, October 14 2017 13:51:19

I have so many great memories as a kid seeing those George Pal movies. The big one when I was a kid was WORLD OF THE WORLDS but my actual favorite is WHEN WORLDS COLLIDE. But I think his masterpiece is THE TIME MACHINE. As a movie it just breaks through to a level his other films, as entertaining as they are, never achieve.

But in these sorts of discussions the one that never gets mentioned is CONQUEST OF SPACE. It was a dud at the box office. And it is almost universally panned by critics. It is pretty clunky but it has its charms. The opening shot is great approaching the spaceship floating in orbit alongside the wheel shaped space station. And it has an interestingly negative view of space travel what with marital problems (those long distance relationships never work) and two characters in the film going bonkers, including the commander of the expedition to Mars. You know he's crazy because he starts reading the Bible on his off time and quotes the Old Testament in lieu of conversation.

It has s sympathetic portrayal of a Japanese scientist played by Chinese actor Benson Fong, this barely a decade after the war, who gets the best speech of the movie. And somebody correct me if I'm wrong but the film also features what I believe is the first depiction of a "burial at space" where the astronauts line up to push the sarcophagus of their fallen comrade out into the starry void. A strangely moving scene which has been duplicated several times in subsequent movies. Stanley Kubrick reportedly mined this film for ideas (compare the space antenna repair scene in COS with the one in 2001).

One thing you notice about COS but is true of a lot of these 50s SF movies is how resolutely militaristic they are. The space station is essentially a military base in space. The movie could be a WW2 drama except the folks in the movie are planning not the invasion of Normandy but a mission to Mars. But how little we seem to have progressed! How many of our SF movies and TV shows are just more cops and GIs in space? Now of course we let the women come along too.

E. Kang
- Friday, October 13 2017 23:51:5

Miklos Rozsa

As much as I like everything about Double Indemnity, I think Rozsa's theme for The Power is way more distinct and memorable, and not 2nd-tier at all. A matter of purpose, probably. I would say his music for Billy Wilder's movie did what it was suppose to do; his music for The Power did what it HAD to do. (The composer said he didn't understand the script, and sometimes that results in an esoteric quality which fits the material better). In the latter's case, the music practically MAKES the movie! I think it's brilliant. Has, in one section, a Hitchcock, sort of 'North By Northwest' sweep. It's also one of the few movie scores that breaks the fourth wall, and it's mostly that haunting cymbalum he uses that turns me on. It's my favorite score by Rozsa, and one of my favorites from movies in general.

Robert Nason <nightwriterblue82@gmail.com>
Whitestone, NY - Friday, October 13 2017 18:43:0

Jason Davis and Brian Phillips -
Jason, I had forgotten that Harlan reviewed THE POWER. I'm going to have to look that up in my copy of HARLAN ELLISON WATCHING. And incidentally, even those of us not hard at work on the Harlan Ellison Preservation Project are STILL trying to keep up with all of Harlan's many recommendations!

Brian, I agree that the Miklos Rozsa score helps give THE POWER some extra, well, power. It's not in the class of the brilliant score he wrote for DOUBLE INDEMNITY, but even second-tier Rozsa is better than none.

Unfortunately, the score for George Pal's final film, the wretched 1975 DOC SAVAGE: THE MAN OF BRONZE, is by John Philip Sousa, which already tips you off to one of the big problems with this movie, which I finally saw on TCM for the first time last night. Years ago I greatly enjoyed reading the Doc Savage novels with their unforgettable James Bama covers, and I was curious to see if George Pal's last film does justice to one of the great pulp heroes of all time, a precursor to both Superman and Indiana Jones. To be honest, I wasn't expecting much, since the word on the street has always been that the movie is a dud.

Nonetheless, I watched it with an open mind, which the film very quickly closed again. It seems the project was sold to Warner Bros. as a "camp" interpretation of Lester Dent's Man of Bronze, an ominous fact considering that camp had already played itself out by the second season of the Batman TV series nearly a decade earlier. Moreover the film plays on the nostalgia boom of the mid-1970s, setting the story in the 1930s with all of the usual props and references. Telling the story during the time period in which it was written is not a bad idea, but mixing it with a goofy camp sensibility and a tired nostalgia approach was a formula for disaster.

It's obvious from the very beginning the filmmakers don't take Doc Savage, his world, or this story seriously. Ron Ely is certainly big and husky enough to fit the role of Doc, though he looks less like the character on the cover of the original Doc Savage pulp magazines or James Bama paperback covers than he does a Southern California surfer who's gotten a well-paying gig in a feature film. It seems he was chosen because he had played Tarzan in the 1960s TV series, so hey, why not cast him as Doc Savage? I don't recall his Tarzan turn very well, but he brings zero personality to the role of Doc.

It doesn't help that the John Philip Sousa music often plays in the background whenever there's an action sequence (and sometimes even when there's not), which has the unhappy effect of mocking the characters and the story and make it it impossible to care about them on any level other than a kiddie film. (Actually most kids are brighter than this piece of lox would give them credit for.) Sometimes the music is even accompanied by a singer, with lyrics on the level of the Mighty Mouse theme song. And did we really need to have the close-ups of Ron Ely's smiling face with a bright glint sparkling on his teeth, a minor special effect stolen from 1965's THE GREAT RACE (Tony Curtis as the Great Leslie was the hero with the sparkling teeth in that one). After getting the joke the first time, did it need to be repeated, even in the penultimate scene with the obligatory love interest (which never materializes into love because Doc Savage doesn't drink or smoke or have sexual relationships). I'm guessing the producers were going for a kind of Adam West Boy Scout Batman effect. A film makes a point of Doc and his gang of geniuses drinking only milk or ginger ale, the mixture of which would probably produce the same taste that the movie does.

Yes, everything, everything is wrong with this film. Because the director and screenwriters don't have faith in their own story, they fill it with slapstick and corny gags and jokey dialogue which caused this viewer to wince and cringe repeatedly until the end. Doc's loyal crew of five brilliant chemists, engineers, lawyers, etcetera could have been an opportunity for some great character actors to strut their stuff. Instead they are the 1970s versions of The Three Stooges without the Stooges to make it at least minimally funny. Even a solid character actor like Darryl Zwerling, who was superb in the small but crucial role of Hollis Mulray in the previous year's CHINATOWN is wasted here.

It's especially regrettable that a producer like George Pal, renowned for the remarkable special effects in earlier films like WHEN WORLDS COLLIDE and THE TIME MACHINE, should offer as this films main visual effect something called the green death, essentially swirling semi-transparent green stripes which bite the characters, leaving streaks of blood on their face and arms. Oh, and there are also lots of plastic plants and tropical vegetation in the "South America" scenes.

I didn't mean to go on at such length about this turkey from decades ago, but it frustrated me that this was such a lost opportunity. The end of the film promises a sequel, much the way James Bond films have done, but the sequel never appear, for obvious reasons. I will confess that the movie moved fast enough to keep me watching to the conclusion, but it left me angry that it's sheer incompetence of concept and execution closed off the possibility of realy good Doc Savage films afterwards. (I see in the Internet Movie Data Base that one is in production right now, starring Dwayne Johnson. I thought Doc Savage was bronze, not black, but never mind.)

Of course, about five years after this dismal film was released, Steven Spielberg figured out how to do a Doc Savage story that works when he directed the first Indiana Jones film. I'm not a huge Spielberg fan, but he understood that if you're going to tell a story like this, you have to believe in it yourself before the audience does. It helped that he had an actor with genuine talent and personality like Harrison Ford. I don't blame Ron Ely himself for being cast in a role for which he was ultimately unsuited, and I'm happy to report he still alive and going strong at age 79.

The genuinely creative use of Doc Savage in the 1970s was not a film but Philip Jose Farmer's pseudo-biography, DOC SAVAGE: HIS APOCALYPTIC LIFE, any page of which is more stimulating then the whole of this final film of George Pal's.

Pal was one of the two screenwriters credited on the film. He should have stuck to producing and hired Harlan Ellison to write the script instead. What a pity Pal's stellar film career had to end on this silly note.

Jason Davis <the.jason.davis@gmail.com>
Burbank, CA - Friday, October 13 2017 17:6:42

Mr. Nason: Thank you for mentioning the TCM screening of THE POWER. I had--not 24 hours before your advisement--come across Harlan extolling the virtues of the film in an early 1980s essay. I found another screening this coming weekend to watch. (I also listened to Harlan's HOUR 25 interview with Frank Robinson a few months ago, and bought the revised version of the source novel at that time.*)


* The ongoing danger of reading everything Harlan wrote as part of the Harlan Ellison Books Preservation Project is all the stuff Harlan RECOMMENDS in his writing...

- Friday, October 13 2017 16:31:23

A George Pal Puppetoon...

...you will NEVER see on television:


Kenneth Stevens <stevens.kenneth@gmail.com>
Knoxville, Tennessee - Friday, October 13 2017 11:15:51

E. Kang
Your posts are so replete with virtue-signalling and bad faith argumentation that any apology you made would be pointless.

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