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As writer Harry Street lays gravely wounded from an African hunting accident he feverishly reflects on what he perceives as his failures at love and writing. Through his delirium he recalls his one true love Cynthia Green who he lost by his obsession for roaming the world in search of stories for his novels. Though she is dead Cynthia continues to haunt Street's thoughts. In spite of one successful novel after another, Street feels he has compromised his talent to ensure the success of his books, making him a failure in his eyes. His neglected wife Helen tends to his wounds, listens to his ranting, endures his talk of lost loves, and tries to restore in him the will to fight his illness until help arrives. Her devotion to him makes him finally realize that he is not a failure. With his realization of a chance for love and happiness with Helen, he regains his will to live. Written by
E.W. DesMarais <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Semi-Autobiographical, Often-Profound and Moving Story of a Writer's Life
Many critics and fans love this movie, the best of all Hemingway stories on film perhaps. I think this film is so because it is honest, somewhat autobiographical and derived from a splendid and mature short story of enduring fame. The plot line of the film is simple. In a fever because of an accident, Harry lies perhaps dying, tended by his third wife in a camp in Africa. His delirium causes him, through a long night spent waiting for help to arrive, to relive in his mind the triumphs, disappointments, sorrows, loves and moments of his somewhat unsatisfactory life as an author. He is bitter and takes it out on his wife; but he does not KNOW that he is going to die--so he continues to pester, ask questions, make demands, and study the reverie in his thoughts--which viewers see as extended flashbacks. As Harry Street, Gregory Peck is mostly very good indeed, exactly right for the role not of Hemingway but of a man who had lived what the author describes in the storyline. As the wives, Hildegarde Neff is cold, beautiful and skilled, showing us how she tried to control Harry and protesting that she had loved him as much as she could. The first wife, Ava Gardner, plays her part admirably as a young, not-important woman who wants domesticity not excitement (as Harry does), wrecks their union to have a child and drinks herself to death. The third wife, played amiably and with intelligence by Susan Hayward seems almost the product of Harry's training. And if finally she has come to understand, accept and even want his way of life, we assume that finally all will be well at the end. The medical help arrives; and Harry will live to write more; he wants in fact very much to live again. There are amazingly enjoyable scenes in this big-appearing film--bullfights, a wartime scene, Mediterranean yachts and villas, Paris, and Kenya; and more. it is beautiful, moving and often thought-provoking. Also in the cast are veterans Torin Thatcher, Leo G. Carroll and Marcel Dalio, all doing superbly. Henry King directed; Casey Robinson wrote the script; and Leon Shamroy provided stunningly beautiful cinematography. Harry may feel in the film that he has compromised something to become a success; but he still talks about the snow leopard once found frozen on Mt. Kilimanjaro at 18,000+ feet. He wonders what the leopard was seeking at that altitude--Hemingway's and Harry's parable for human mental curiosity and the sometimes perverse desire to invest much to achieve eventual greatness. The film may not quite measure up to this famous conception; but it is grand in mental scale and interesting throughout.
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