I just finished reading Ray Bradbury’s A Graveyard For Lunatics, and can’t help but share his description (rant) about film studios. It takes place during Chapter 39, and is a speech delivered by the character of Constance Rattigan, an aging Hollywood star, as she looks at the studio gates of ‘Maximus Films’. I wonder how much it reflects Bradbury’s own feelings concerning the movie industry.
“First, they drive you crazy. Then when they have driven you nuts they persecute you for being the babbler at noon, the hysteric at sunset. The toothless werewolf at the rising of the moon.
“When you’ve reached the precise moment of lunacy, they fire you and spread the word that you are unreasonable, uncooperative, and unimaginative. Toilet paper, imprinted with your name is dispatched to every studio, so the great ones can chant your initials as they ascend the papal throne.
“When you are dead they shake you awake to kill you again. Then they hang your carcass at Bad Rock, OK Corral, or Versailles on backlot 10, pickle you in a jar like a fake embryo in a bad carny film, buy you a cheap crypt next door, chisel your name, misspelled, on the tomb, cry like crocodiles. Then the final inglory: Nobody remembers your name on all the pictures you made in the good years. Who recalls the screenwriters for Rebecca? Who remembers who wrote Gone With the Wind? Who helped Welles become Kane? Ask anyone on the street. Hell, they don’t even know who was president during Hoover’s administration.
“So there you have it. Forgotten the day after the preview. Afraid to leave home between pictures. Who ever heard of a film writer who ever visited Paris, Rome, or London? All piss-fearful if they travel, the big moguls will forget them. Forget them, hell, they never knew them. Hire watchamacalit. Get me whatsisname. The name above the title? The producer? Sure. The director? Maybe. Remember it’s deMille’s Ten Commandments, not Moses’. But F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby? Smoke it in the Men’s. Snuff it up your ulcerated nose. Want your name in big type? Kill your wife’s lover, fall downstairs with his body. Like I say, that’s the flickers, silver screen. Remember, you’re the blank spaces between each slot-click of the projector. Notice all those pole-vault poles by the back wall of the studio? That’s to help the high jumpers up across into the stone quarry. Mad fools hire and fire ’em, dime a dozen. They can be had, because they love films, we don’t. That gives us the power. Drive them to drink, then grab the bottle, fire the hearse, borrow a spade. Maximus Films, like I said. A graveyard. And, oh yeah, for lunatics.”
[Bradbury, Ray, A Graveyard For Lunatics: Another Tale of Two Cities (London: Grafton Books, 1990), pp. 141-142.]