Saturday, November 24, 2018

The Lost 'Novelization' of The Omega Man Discovered!

by John Scoleri

Mort Kunstler's The Omega Man/I Am Legend cover painting
This is not appearing as another "In Search of..." entry on bare•bones, since before it arrived in my mailbox I had no idea that it even existed. And I should start off by clarifying that no, you didn't somehow miss it—a novelization of the John William Corrington and Joyce H. Corrington screenplay to The Omega Man was never published.

In August of 1971, coinciding with the release of The Omega Man, Berkley-Medallion released Richard Matheson's novel I Am Legend in a movie tie-in edition featuring both titles and a nice painting by Mort Kunstler (reproduced above, from mortkunstler.com). This particular edition would go on to be reprinted at least five times. Those familiar with both the novel and the film know that a reader coming to the book by way of the film will be very surprised just how different they are. But the same was not true for moviegoers who happened to pick up the latest issue of Screen Stories magazine in October of 1971.

I recently came across an auction listing for Screen Stories magazine noting that The Omega Man was covered in this particular issue. I assumed it most likely contained a PR puff piece on the film, but I decided to add a copy to my I Am Legend Archive anyway. As you can see, there's nothing on the cover to suggest that The Omega Man is even featured inside.

When I received it, I was pleasantly surprised to find that it contained an adaptation of the film story (along with similar story adaptations of See No Evil, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, and Camille). While I wasn't aware of the fact when I ordered it, Screen Stories (which had been published since the late 1920s—originally as Screen Romances) regularly contained complete story adaptations of first-run films.

The adaptation of The Omega Man is illustrated with ten stills from the film, as seen in the shots below (I've included the full versions of the stills for six of the included images).




 

The adaptation was written by Jean Francis Webb, who had published several articles and stories in pulp magazines, and authored a number of gothic novels.


Webb's adaptation provides a reasonable, albeit abridged, retelling of the film story. Of particular interest is the inclusion of a scene that didn't make the final cut. After Richie shows improvement from Neville's blood transfusion, Lisa goes to visit the gravesite where she and her brother had buried their parents. In a nearby cemetery crypt, she finds a 'turned' woman weeping over her stillborn child. The scene was shot, yet ultimately cut from the film, leaving an orphaned end credit for Anna Aries (Invasion of the Bee Girls), who portrayed the "Woman in Cemetery Crypt."


The inclusion of that scene, along with dialog lifted directly from the screenplay that does not appear in the film, confirms that Webb was actually working from a copy of the Corrington's script.

While there wasn't an official novelization of The Omega Man published to coincide with the release of the film, this particular issue of Screen Stories magazine offers up the next best thing. At the very least, it's an interesting curiosity that has been hiding (at least from this fan) for the past 47 years!

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I'm sure that die-hard fans of The Omega Man have already hit up eBay in search of the October 1971 issue of Screen Stories, but for the rest of you, I've included the adaptation in its entirety below. Enjoy!


6 comments:

Todd Mason said...

Cool. I don't suppose you'd like to submit something like this for the FicitonMags Index, or sending along a screen shot of the Table of Contents so I can do so, of this issue?

The only issue of SCREEN STORIES currently in the FMI:
Screen Stories [v58 #5, June 1959] ed. Durbin L. Horner (Dell Publishing Co, Inc.; NY, 25¢, 82pp+, 8½" x 10¾")
“Best Movies of the Month in Short Form.” Details supplied by John D. Squires.
4 · Mike Connolly’s Exclusive Report from Hollywood · Mike Connolly · ar
17 · It’s Your Screen · [The Readers] · lt
19 · The Wild and the Innocent · Marcia Lawrence · ss [Gomberg. Sy; Jack Sher]; adapted from screenplay by Sy Gomberg & Jack Sher; story by Sy Gomberg.
24 · The Man in the Net · Jean Francis Webb · ss [Reginald Rose; Patrick Quentin]; adapted from screenplay by Reginald Rose, based on novel by Patrick Quentin.
26 · Say One for Me · Marcia Lawrence · ss [Robert O’Brien]; adapted from screenplay by Robert O’Brien.
30 · The World, the Flesh and the Devil · Jean Francis Webb · ss [Ferdinand Reyher; M. P. Shiel]; adapted from screenplay by Ferdinand Reyher— based on a story by Matthew Phipps Shiel.
36 · The Stratton Story · Jean Francis Webb · ss [Douglas Morrow; Guy Trosper]; adapted from screenplay by Douglas Morrow & Guy Trosper.
41 · “Women Obsessed” · Jean Francis Webb · ss [Sidney Boehm]; adapted from screenplay by Sidney Boehm.
44 · Last Train from Gun Hill · Jean Francis Webb · ss [James Poe]; adapted from screenplay by James Poe.
49 · Did Debbie [Reynolds] and Bob [Wagner] rekindle their old flame? · Mike Connolly · ar
52 · Screen Stories Previews · [Misc.] · ms; upcoming film notes.
55 · What’s Playing? · [Misc.] · ms; blurbs of current films.
56 · Screen Quiz! · [Misc.] · qz
57 · The Question Box · [Misc.] · ms
59 · Behind the Scenes with: This Month’s Screen Stories · [Misc.] · ms
59 · “The Man in the Net” · [Misc.] · ar
60 · “The World, the Flesh and the Devil” · [Misc.] · ar
60 · “The Wild and the Innocent” · [Misc.] · ar
61 · “Woman Obsessed” · [Misc.] · ar
61 · To Tell the Truth · [Misc.] · ms
62 · 20 Years Ago · [Misc.] · ar

http://www.philsp.com/homeville/fmi/t/t6070.htm#A136463

Thanks!

Todd Mason said...

Though two issues of SCREEN ROMANCES are given bare-bones (koff) entries, w/o realization the magazine changed titles:


Screen Romances (about)
Screen Romances [#1, (April 1948)] (Bear Hudson, 1/-, 24pp)
Details supplied by Steve Holland.
Broken Journey · Anon. (by Norman Firth) · ss
Idol of Paris · Anon. · ss

Screen Romances [#2, (July 1948)] (Bear Hudson, 1/-, 24pp)
Details supplied by Steve Holland.
Snowbound · Anon. · ss
End of the Rainbow · Anon. (by Norman Firth) · ss

Todd Mason said...

No, I was wrong...the two minimal listings, as I should've seen by their price, are UK magazines, possibly but not necessarily drawn from the US magazine. While six more US issues under the old title can be seen indexed here:
http://www.philsp.com/homeville/FMI/b/b335.htm#A5459

John Scoleri said...

Thanks, Todd! I've submitted the detailed contents to the FicitonMags Index.

Todd Mason said...

Excellent! Thank you.

Matthew Bradley said...

Wow--more minutiae I would have included in Richard Matheson on Screen if I'd been aware of its existence! Bravo again for your exemplary scholarship. You set the bar pretty high, my friend...