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GF WillmettsEvery successful scriptwriter who's ever worked in Hollywood has had scripts that never made production for one reason or another. Richard Matheson is no exception to this and this is a rare occasion to measure up their quality for yourself. Even more so, to test your imagination to see if you can visualize without having seen the films as I've done with other books in this Matheson collection.
Oddly enough, these three scripts spread across the genres so there is something here for everyone and two of them are specifically in our genre. The first is 'The Fantastic Little Girl', a sequel to the film 'The Incredible Shrinking Man'. This title is a bit of a misnomer as the girl in question is a very adult Louise, the wife of Scott Carey, who finds herself shrinking but willing to follow her husband's trail to find out what happened to him. Her attempt is hindered somewhat by doctors and scientists trying to stop her shrinking. The emphasis and focus is more on Louise with the medical staff coming across as more an annoyance but not very interested distraction. Had this been made into a film, I can see some director insisting on getting that element made a little more sturdier. The twist at the end is rather novel, even to a happy ending if I can say that without giving too much away.
The second is 'Appointment In Zahrain', a massive 192 page script that even Matheson says he would have edited down somewhat before it became useable. The fact that it wasn't was largely because it was to have starred Clark Gable after 'The Misfits' film. As we know, Gable died shortly after making that film and this version passed with him. Houston, Gable's character, is hardly the most heroic character but would have been undoubtedly been a meaty roll for him. Condemned prisoners in the Middle East narrowly miss their executions, escaping in a stolen ambulance with a nurse as hostage. This is an adaptation of Michael Barret's novel 'Appointment in Zahrain' and an interesting foray into how Matheson does adaptation.
The third is 'Sweethearts And Horrors' with the intention of providing the actors from 'Comedy Of Terrors' (1964) an opportunity to team up again. Looking at the painting on the cover this would have included Vincent Price, Peter Lorre, Basil Rathbone, Boris Karloff with Tallulah Bankhead. Now this one would have been made but for the passing of the actors one by one which might even have been considered a plot in itself. It wasn't difficult to figure out Vincent Price's character. I have to confess that I found the lines initially dry but once into the swing of things, especially when this family began to murder each other for their father's inheritance, humour was rife.
Obviously, if you're a Richard Matheson fan, you'll be wanting to add this book to your collection. If you're interested in studying some early scripts to learn technique then this will serve you in good stead as well for analysis. It also carries an important lesson in that having a decent script doesn't necessarily follow that it will ever get made when other circumstances ensures the films are never made. As such, these three are a real insight and will probably justify your money.
—© GF Willmetts, SFCrownest