The Illustrated Man is classic Bradbury, a collection of eighteen startling visions of humankind's destiny, unfolding across a canvas of decorated skin, visions as keen as the tattooist's needle and as colorful as the inks that indelibly stain the body. The images, ideas, sounds and scents that abound in this phantasmagoric sideshow are provocative and powerful: the mournful cries of celestial travelers cast out cruelly into a vast space of stars and blackness, the sight of gray dust settling over a forgotten outpost on a road that leads nowhere, the pungent odor of Jupiter on a returning father's clothing. Here living cities take their vengeance, technology awakens the most primal natural instincts, Martian invasions are foiled by the good life and the glad hand, and dreams are carried aloft in junkyard rockets.
Directed by: Jack Smight
. Starring: Rod Steiger
, Claire Bloom
, Robert Drivas
, Don Dubbins
, Jason Evers
, Tim Weldon
, Christine Matchett
. Music by: Jerry Goldsmith
Recently I read online the last interview that Rod Serling gave before his untimely death. He mentioned great movies made from science fiction stories and bad ones, and one of the worst movies made in his opinion was The Illustrated Man. Three very good actors, classic story material, ruined by a bad adaptation and direction.
Rod Steiger's character is so obnoxious in this film you have difficulty watching it, much less have empathy with his tattooed character's plight and quest for revenge against the woman he submitted to having tattoo him. This mystery character and her motivations are never explained, nor is Steiger's masochistic fascination with her. The vignettes are extremely disjointed, the scenes between him and the mystery woman (who seems to appear and dissappear at will, without explanation)are irritating, and Steiger does a good job at playing an off-putting character we don't want to spend any time with.
The ending is a classic 60's vague and unexplained "heavy, man" ending, which leaves a feeling that you've just spent two hours of your life waiting for many threads to be tied up which won't be, and are expecting to get a "lesson" from this. Or not. One can understand why Serling, who wrote very tight scripts that always made sense no matter how bizarre the subject matter, was not impressed. This film barely qualifies as sci-fi, and doesn't belong in the sci-fi section at video store. It is more of a fantasy, and not the kind one enjoys indulging in. As sci-fi, or even a coherent story, it almost guarantees to dissappoint the viewer.
Review by mercuryix from the Internet Movie Database.