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C Entries
Edward L. Cahn
James Cameron
Lewis John Carlino
Richard Carlson
John Carradine
Helena Bonham Carter
Leo G. Carroll
Maurice Cass
Lon Chaney
Lon Chaney, Jr.
John Cho
Arthur C. Clarke
Phyllis Coates
Joan Collins
Sir Sean Connery
Roger Corman
Buster Crabbe
Richard Crane
Tom Cruise
Peter Cushing
 
CARLINO, LEWIS JOHN
(1932– ). American writer and director.

SCIENCE FICTION, FANTASY, AND HORROR FILM CREDITS
Wrote: Seconds (John FRANKENHEIMER 1966); A Reflection of Fear (with Edward Hume) (tv movie) (William A. Fraker 1973); Where Have All the People Gone? (story; screenplay with Sandor Stern) (tv movie) (John Llewellyn Moxey 1974); I Never Promised You a Rose Garden (Anthony Page 1977); Resurrection (Daniel Petrie 1980); Haunted Summer (Ivan Passer 1988).

Film based on his work: Resurrection (tv movie) (Stephen Gyllenhaal 1999).

 
If science fiction fans do not recognize the name of Lewis John Carlino, that is in a sense a matter of design; for this very serious writer, noted for films that attracted major stars and were nominated for major awards, never sought to be identified with the genre. Indeed, if told thirty years ago that he was being added to a Biographical Encyclopedia of Science Fiction Film, Carlino might have called his lawyer and sued to have his named removed, in order to avoid tarnishing his distinguished reputation by being associated with the likes of Star Trek and Star Wars. Today, however, one hopes that the now-retired Carlino would feel differently, for most people now recognize that science fiction does not have to involve spaceships or special effects and can instead emphasize sincere human drama in response to subtle alterations in reality, the sort of story that Carlino could write with unusual skill. And there would be practical reasons for acquiescence as well, since Carlino is probably figuring out by now that nobody is ever going to remember The Great Santini (1979), but they just might remember Seconds or Resurrection.

Carlino first worked primarily as a playwright, with occasionally forays into the theatre of the absurd which might been seen as anticipations of his cinematic dalliances with science fiction: Epiphany (1963), evidently inspired by Eugene Ionesco's Rhinoceros, features an unhappy man who tries to turn himself into a chicken, while in High Sign (1962), a man pretends to be God and briefly fools one of his friends. None of his plays were noticeably successful, however, so in the 1960s, in search of either new challenges or higher salaries, he moved to Hollywood and began writing for the screen. Recognizing his talents, John FRANKENHEIMER assigned him to adapt David Ely's novel Seconds, and he did remarkably well, inspiring what is surely Rock HUDSON's greatest performance as an old man, given the apparently desirable opportunity to begin life again as a young man, who ultimately regrets his decision. Seconds remains one of science fiction's unacknowledged masterpieces, long overdue for reassessment and serious attention.

Unfortunately, the film was not successful, so that Carlino had to spend the next seven years alternating between films and television work which included the horror film A Reflection of Fear and the post-holocaust drama Where Have All the People Gone? Described in the entry on Peter GRAVES as an effort to remake Panic in Year Zero without its interesting parts, the film might be appreciated by an older, wiser critic for its decision to eschew lurid melodrama to focus on the quiet struggle of a few bewildered survivors to adjust to a world that is suddenly and mysteriously uninhabited. Although it has not been seen in over thirty years, I am not surprised to find people on the Internet who still remember the film and (like me) would be eager to see it again.

Perhaps, in the next few years, Carlino deliberately sought to suppress all memory of Where Have All the People Gone? as he strived with new energy to establish himself as a major film screenwriter and occasional director, beginning with The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea (1976), a film which almost qualifies for inclusion in his science fiction credits on the grounds of its sheer weirdness, and I Never Promised You a Rose Garden, which actually makes the cut because of the fantasies of its mentally ill protagonist. Another triumph was Resurrection, which inspired another uneven performer, Ellen Burstyn, to a career-best performance as a woman who gains the power to heal after a near-death experience. Finally, Haunted Summer merits a mention because one of its characters is Mary Shelley, author of Frankenstein, although the film does not deal with the circumstances of its composition.

In his fifties, a time when many writers carry on with undiminished enthusiasm, Lewis John Carlino instead faded away, leaving behind a singular corpus of science fiction and fantasy works involving unassuming, ordinary people who try to adjust as their lives are altered by unusual developments. Now, I like Star Trek and Star Wars as much as the next person, but Carlino's best works are also science fiction stories, even if they lack overt generic markers, and they are films that true fans of the genre should be able to appreciate and cherish.

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