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H Entries
Earl Hamner, Jr.
Tom Hanks
Jonathan Harris
George Harrison
Ray Harryhausen
Byron Haskin
Howard Hawks
Ben Hecht
David Hedison
Robert A. Heinlein
Charlton Heston
Sir Alfred Hitchcock
Inoshiro Honda
Ron Howard
Rock Hudson
Gale Anne Hurd
Martha Hyer
 
HEINLEIN, ROBERT A.
(1908–1988). American writer.

SCIENCE FICTION, FANTASY, AND HORROR FILM CREDITS
Co-wrote: Destination Moon (with Rip van Ronkel and James O'Hanlon) (and technical advisor) (Irving PICHEL 1950); Project Moonbase (with Jack Seaman) (Richard Talmadge 1953).

Special thanks: StarCraft (video game) (Chris Metzen, Matt Samia, Mark Schwarz, Glenn Stafford, and Duane Stinnett 1998).

Film based on his work: Tom Corbett, Space Cadet (tv series) (1950–1955); "Ordeal in Space," "Misfit," "The Green Hills of Earth" (1951), episodes of Out There; The Brain Eaters (Bruno Ve Sota 1958) (uncredited adaptation of The Puppet Masters); Starship Troopers (anime tv series) (1989); Robert A. Heinlein's The Puppet Masters (Stuart Orme 1994); Red Planet (tv miniseries) (1994); Starship Troopers (Paul VERHOEVEN 1997); Roughnecks: The Starship Troopers Chronicles (animated tv series) (1999–2000); Starship Troopers: Terran Ascendancy (video game) (2000); Starship Troopers 2: Hero of the Federation (Phil Tippett 2004); Starship Troopers (video game) (2005).

 
After an unhappy retirement from the military (for health reasons) and a succession of failed careers, Robert A. Heinlein required only three years to become king of the world of science fiction. But there was not much to the world of science fiction in the 1940s—pulp magazines and associated fan ventures—so after he returned from civilian duty in World War II, Heinlein set out to conquer new worlds (and, not incidentally, to earn bigger paychecks). He sold his stories to high-paying "slick" magazines like The Saturday Evening Post; he signed a lucrative contract to write juvenile science fiction novels for Scribner's; and he got his foot in the door of Hollywood, potentially the most financially rewarding career of them all.

Only two results of his various film and television projects ever made it to the screen. The first was Destination Moon, a collaboration with producer George PAL. Officially an adaptation of Heinlein's juvenile Rocket Ship Galileo (1947), Heinlein and Pal quickly decided that they really wanted to make a realistic movie about space flight, to persuade the world that it could actually be accomplished, and so they jettisoned the novel's absurd plot (two nephews help their uncle build a rocket that takes them to the Moon, where they discover Nazis plotting to establish the Fourth Reich) and instead produced a sober account of how a team of visionary industrialists construct and successfully launch a rocket to the Moon. Blessed with excellent special effects in brilliant Technicolor and a few striking scenes (like the moment when the astronauts venture out of their rocket to make an emergency repair and confront the wonders of space while standing upside down on the rocket's surface), Destination Moon is generally dull, early evidence that Heinlein's desire to send a proselytizing message could overwhelm his instinctive knack for entertaining audiences.

Far more lively, though almost impossible to track down for viewing, was Project Moonbase, a film constructed out of the pilot for a proposed television series, Ring Around the Moon. With no budget to speak of, this black-and-white effort was technically inferior to Destination Moon, but actually more imaginative in its depictions of weightlessness, and a contrived plot about a saboteur on board the first Moon flight at least kept things more interesting than radio man Sweeney's wisecracks in the earlier film. There is also an unusual proto-feminist subtext, as a woman is made the commander of the flight by the order of the President of the United States—who, the closing scenes reveal, is a woman herself. (But male chauvinism triumphs at the end, as the commander's male assistant marries his boss and is promoted above her.)

After other, unsuccessful efforts to get projects off the ground, Heinlein realized that the world of science fiction had changed, and he could now make as much money as he wanted by writing novels; so he abandoned Hollywood, and he probably preferred the freedom of being his own boss to the bondage of being a film and television writer. While in theory, someone might dig out and film some of Heinlein's old scripts and scenarios someday, his continuing presence on the screen will probably depend upon the initiative and talents of adaptors. But their record to date has not been promising. Ignoring many more interesting Heinlein workss, filmmakers have focused their energies on two uncharacteristic novels with easy-to-dramatize story lines: his thriller about invading alien parasites, The Puppet Masters (1951), and the gung-ho space war epic Starship Troopers (1959). (The inept direct-to-video sequel Starship Troopers 2: Hero of the Federation, in which Heinlein's name thankfully never officially appears, even contrives to combine the two stories, as the giant insectoid aliens adopt the more insidious strategy of planting tiny insect parasites in the bodies of human hosts.) And the two major adaptations of these novels suggest that Hollywood may forever be unable to convey Heinlein's idiosyncratic passions for freedom and human advancement: Robert A. Heinlein's The Puppet Masters, while dutifully following the novel's plot, lacks any passion at all, and Starship Troopers imposes a layer of irony that is utterly foreign to Heinlein's vision. Still, since the people now controlling his estate seem to share Heinlein's powerful drive to make money, one can hope that such long-optioned works as Stranger in a Strange Land (1961) and The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress (1966) might finally move beyond pre-production; the miniseries Red Planet demonstrated that Heinlein's juvenile remain good material for adaptations; and there are any number of other Heinlein stories that would yield films far more intriguing than Star ship Troopers and The Puppet Masters, ranging from "Universe" (1940) and "Magic, Inc." (1941) in the 1940s to Friday (1982) and Job: A Comedy of Justice (1984) in the 1980s. Still, the worldly-wise Heinlein learned long ago that one should never expect too much out of Hollywood, and his present-day fans would be worldly-wise to maintain similarly low expectations.

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