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November 28th, 2016

The Man With The Power

Those interesting little intersections between my gay heritage and my science-fiction geek child heritage. On a Facebook page I follow, dedicated to Retro Sci-Fi good stuff, someone posted the trailer to the George Pal film version of Frank M. Robinson’s novel, The Power. I wrote in the comments…

If you haven’t watched this, see if you can find the novel it is based on by Frank M. Robinson and read that first. It pulls a pretty impressive rabbit out of the hat at the end that you don’t see coming and the movie had a hard time giving it the same kind of impact. Pal gave it his best shot but he went for the science-fiction visuals and the book reads more like a dark cinema noir detective story.

I’d bought my copy whilst browsing the paperback shelves on the basis that it had been made into a George Pal movie and I was a fan of his. But it was better I read the book first, because as I say there it really throws you a very clever plot twist at the end that you don’t see coming, but it retrospect it was all there. Robinson played fair. And as I said, it read more like a dark cinema noir detective story than a science fiction thriller about a man with superhuman powers of mind over matter. It’s a good read…I highly recommend it.

While googling more about it I discovered this, from Robinson’s obituary in the New York Times…

Frank M. Robinson, a well-regarded science fiction writer whose credits include a novel adapted for the 1974 blockbuster film “The Towering Inferno”,┬Łand who was also a speechwriter and adviser to Harvey Milk, the San Francisco city supervisor assassinated in 1978, died on Monday at his home in San Francisco. He was 87…

He made his name as a writer on the basis of The Power, and got screen co-credit for two Irwin Allen blockbusters and with that money settled in San Francisco where he met Harvey Milk and worked for him as a speechwriter. He had a small role in the movie Milk and its star Sean Penn interviewed him extensively about his memories of Harvey…

Mr. Robinson had little or no dialogue in most of his scenes. But at one point he improvised a line, standing at a window to shout a profane coming-out announcement about his sexuality. I’ll tell my brothers!” he said. Mr. Van Sant liked the moment well enough to film it a second time.

Mr. Robinson had never told anyone in his family that he was gay, neither his parents nor his four brothers. And though the scene did not end up in the film, saying the words had made him tremble with emotion, he told The Chicago Reader. It had been his coming out.

“I suddenly realized I was saying goodbye to all that baggage.”

Power, power, who had the power…? You did Frank. Well done.

 

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