Our main man, John Saxon takes centre stage in this episode of Ray Bradbury’s Theatre – a rather self congratulatory teleplay, The Wonderful Death of Dudley Stone.
In it, Saxon plays Dudley Stone, the world’s greatest writer. You can tell Dudley is successful because he wears a turtleneck beneath his blazer and sports a very neatly groomed goatee beard.
Not everyone is pleased with his success however, and failed writer, Alan Scarfe makes his intentions to kill Stone loud and clear at a book signing event.
Curiously, Dudley seems keen on the threat and invites his potential murderer over to his beach side house the next day (coincidentally his 40th birthday), to discuss the plan in more detail…
It transpires that Dudders has had enough of writing works of genius and wants to throw the towel in. Left, literally, on a cliff hanger, we fast forward 20 years to a Dudley Stone memoriam event where the now successful Scarfe is ready to admit his role in Stone’s “death”.
Bradbury himself is on hand in the episodes prologue to brag about how many unpublished works of wonder he has collecting dust in his library. The show-off. The Wonderful Death of Dudley Stone, essentially a self portrait in smug narcissism, determines that time spent with the family is of more value than time spent making works of “art” and is evinced through the heavy handed-ness of Copelands direction, be it the sugary sentimental shots of unpublished transcripts floating upon the seashore, some tinkling piano stuff that sets my teeth on edge and the “I’m not famous anymore, but I’m happy” message that rounds things off at the end.
Alan Scarfe, a wilder eyed Brad Dourif lookalike, is simply cast to look on in bewilderment to Stone’s testimonial, but Saxon’s performance, it must be said, is excellent. His delivery is superb, his faint detachment from proceedings completely apt and, yes! his handling of a cordless telephone truly delightful…