Jack London (1943) – a biographical feature film about Jack London

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Jack London is a 1943 biographical feature film about Jack London!

It’s also available for download via Archive.org: |AVI|MP4|OGV|

This movie got me thinking. Is it the only biopic of an Science Fiction author?

So I looked around and found a list of biographical films on Wikipedia. And while I had remembered there had been movies featuring Mary Shelley, like Gothic – that isn’t a biopics per se.

Based on the Wikipedia list, it appears that Edgar Allan Poe has been a character in some quasi-biographical films, notably the recent John Cusak movie, The Raven (which has its roots in earlier dramatized biographical snippets like The Raven (1915)). The Adventures of Mark Twain (1944) is a true biographical film, but it’d be hard to argue that twain wrote Science Fiction (though the case for Fantasy is pretty easy). Robert E. Howard got a biopic, in a solid little movie called The Whole Wide World (1996) but it’s just a snippet of Howard’s life.

I don’t think there have been any other Science Fiction writers who’ve had an actual biographical film made about him or her. Maybe writer’s lives are too sedentary for good drama?

Posted by Jesse Willis

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7 thoughts to “Jack London (1943) – a biographical feature film about Jack London”

  1. There does not seem to have been a proper “biopic” about Arthur Conan Doyle (THE LOST WORLD, THE POISON BELT, etc.), but two episodes of his life were dramatized for TV: his defense of the unjustly convicted George Edalji was the basis of an episode of THE EDWARDIANS, with Nigel Davenport as Doyle; and his embarrassing embrace of the Cottingley Fairies nonsense was depicted in a BBC “Play of the Week” entitled “Fairies,” with James Grout as Doyle.

    Your citing of Robert E. Howard suggests that you are including fantasy in your definition of science fiction, in which case it is fair to mention the 1950 film MR. H.C. ANDERSEN (but not the Danny Kaye vehicle made two years later–that was pure fabrication).

  2. If we extend it to Fantasy I can think of at least one more – the one with Anthony Hopkins playing C.S. Lewis. Not sure that’s big enough in scope to count though – I seem to remember it being fairly limited to his later life.

  3. C.S. Lewis wrote a trilogy of science fiction books. And yes, there’s Shadowlands, both the tv movie/televised play version and the more recent movie. (Though the idea of smooshing two kids into one is creepy, especially since Lewis had a brother himself; and it’s pretty much a triumph of romantic filmmaking over accuracy. Which is sad, because the real romance of Lewis’ marriage was how unromantically, uncategorizably, and unstereotypically it worked. But as a romantic, I’m okay with that. at least as long as the movie is turned on.)

    There’s some Brothers Grimm fantasypic fakeries, both old and new. Nobody wants to write a flick about two awesome linguists and their awesome law.

  4. I’ve got a vague idea that there’s been a Jules Verne biopic, but I might be remembering some kind of Real People Fiction, like the TV show “Adventures of Jules Verne.”

  5. It occurs to me that, stretching the boundaries a bit, one could count Ian Fleming as a science fiction writer, on the basis of CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG and MOONRAKER. There have been two TV movies about him: GOLDENEYE (this was before the Bond film with that title) with Charles Dance, and THE SECRET LIFE OF IAN FLEMING with Jason Connery.

  6. Again, not true biopics, but: There are a couple of plays based on the correspondence of George Bernard Shaw (who ventured into science fiction with THE APPLE CART and BACK TO METHUSELAH), DEAR LIAR and THE BEST OF FRIENDS. These both received television production, with Edward Herrmann and Patrick McGoohan, respectively, as Shaw.

    Herrmann is very probably the only person to have played both Shaw and Lou Gehrig.

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