Ray Bradbury intros exclusive to Northbrook film series
Steve Gianni, Northbrook Public Library MultiMedia Dept. manager, in the Marilyn Monroe projector room where Ray Bradbury films are featured this month on the big screen. | Karie Angell Luc~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: August 13, 2012 1:22PM
Attention movie buffs: Now playing at your local library are special attractions exclusive to Northbrook.
Ray Bradbury films, being screened this month via the Northbrook Public Library’s Wednesday Classic Film Series, are introduced on tape by the science fiction author himself.
And for that, MultiMedia Manager Steve Gianni, also a Northbrook resident, is grateful.
“Ten years ago,” said Gianni, “a friend of Donna Hicks, former (Northbrook Public Library) reader services manager, told us she was interviewing Ray Bradbury at his home in California for WTTW-Chicago.”
Ray Bradbury, who grew up in north suburban Waukegan (until he was 14), received the 2000 National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, the 2004 National Medal of Arts and the 2007 Pulitzer Prize Special Citation.
Bradbury, 91, of Los Angeles, died this past June 5.
In 2002: “So,” continued Gianni, “we came up with the idea of asking her (friend of Hicks) if she would ask him (Bradbury) questions about each of the films we were showing in our Ray Bradbury film series.
“She (the friend) agreed and he couldn’t have been nicer about it,” said Gianni, adding Bradbury’s paraphrased response was, “’I’m so glad you’re doing this (of giving his films arthouse quality screenings).’
“So now we have these videotaped introductions that were shot exclusively for the Northbrook Public Library’s Wednesday Classic Film Series which is great, because now, you know,” said Gianni, “we have this piece of him that we can show before our July films.”
Three Bradbury films are being screened in July in 35mm.
The series began yesterday with, “Something Wicked This Way Comes,” a 1983 Bradbury-adapted film featuring Pam Grier as the mystical Dust Witch.
On July 18, “It Came From Outer Space” (1953) tells the outlandish story of writer and amateur stargazer John Putman (Richard Carlson). Ellen Fields (Barbara Rush) is Putnam’s beautiful girlfriend.
After a meteor crash in the desert, our hero (Carlson) has trouble convincing townsfolk of reality.
The 1966 film “Fahrenheit 451,” directed by Francois Truffaut (based on the 1951 Bradbury novel), is featured on July 25.
In “Fahrenheit 451,” Guy Montag (Oskar Werner) is a fireman who lives in a society where books are banned by the government. Julie Christie (Clarisse/Linda Montag) dazzles.
Filmmaker Reid Schultz will discuss the entire Ray Bradbury series after the July 25 screening.
Bradbury’s Northbrook-specific film introductions captivated audiences 10 years ago when they were first released at the library. One decade later, still archived on original VHS format, Bradbury’s priceless observations inspire.
“What’s the coolest thing to hear,” observed Gianni, “is how Hollywood worked back then.
“For example, the film “It Came From Outer Space” was practically finished before he (Bradbury) was asked to come in and punch up the ending of the script.
“At which point,” added Gianni, “he told the producers (that) the story they just shot was from one of his short stories published in a magazine.
“So,” noted Gianni, “in other words, they (the producers) hadn’t given him credit yet.”
No science fiction fantasy in reality show biz, Bradbury received industry credit.
Summed up Gianni with a laugh: “He (Bradbury) was asked to come in and fix a story that someone else had pretty much stolen from him.”
Of Bradbury’s awareness of Northbrook: “He knew Northbrook.”
“He used to take the train into the city, so he must have been close (to Northbrook),” added Gianni, discussing Bradbury in a library third floor office near east windows overlooking Midwest railroad tracks.
Of Bradbury’s North Shore roots: “Well, it gives kind of a homey feeling to his writing.”
Dandelion Wine, Bradbury’s 1957 novel, takes place in the summer of 1928 in the fictional town of Green Town, Illinois, a nod to his Waukegan hometown.
Bradbury’s color commentary has arguably kept dandelions in perpetuity as sun-drenched symbols of summer.
“Especially Dandelion Wine,” Gianni added, “which most kids read in English class, when he (Bradbury) talks about running through the ravines…”
Said Gianni, with a smile: “I know where that is,” noting North Shore ravine glacial topography within biking proximity of Northbrook.
All three Wednesday films are screened this month at 1 and 7:30 p.m. via the auditorium’s fabled Marilyn Monroe projector room.
The Northbrook Public Library was named “Best Free Film Screenings” by the Chicago Reader’s “Best of Chicago 2012” published this past June 21.