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Young and restless Nick Adams, the only son of a domineering mother and a weak but noble doctor father, leaves his rural Michigan home to embark on an eventful cross-country journey. He is touched and affected by his encounters with a punch-drunk ex-boxer, a sympathetic telegrapher, and an alcoholic advancement for a burlesque show. After failing to get a job as reporter in New York, he enlists in the Italian army during World War I as an ambulance driver. His camaraderie with fellow soldiers and a romance with a nurse he meets after being wounded propel him to manhood. Written by
Hemingway's Adventure's Of A Young Man was still in the making when word of Papa Hemngway's suicide broke on the world. We'll never know what he would have thought of this film, he was not fond of most of the films done from his work. In fact since it's initial release, this film has not been exhibited too often for some reason.
The film is based on Hemingway protagonist Nick Adams and his coming of age as an ambulance driver in World War I. Ernest Hemingway's first experience with love and death came during those years when he was serving on the Italian front in their army as an ambulance driver. Watching this film you'll see the origins of the stories in The Sun Also Rises and A Farewell To Arms.
Hemingway's sparse style has always really been difficult to capture on film and the same is true here. Richard Beymer is the callow Nick Adams who is from a small town in rural Michigan which even today is as rural as you can get in the USA. Beymer does his best, but the part seems to have been tailor made for the late James Dean had he only lived. Hemingway's Adventures Of A Young Man would have been a well remembered classic with Dean in the title role.
The rest of the cast has some well placed cameos along Beymer's journey of life. Juano Hernandez and Paul Newman play a trainer and a long past his prime boxer who Beymer meets while bumming it to New York. This rarest of Newman films affords his fans a chance to see him in something totally different than anything he ever did before or since. Newman had done The Battler for a television film based on that particular Nick Adams story, but this is still a revelation.
In war Beymer's two closest companions are Ricardo Montalban his commanding officer and Eli Wallach as his interpreter/orderly. They will also be memorable as will Susan Strassberg in whom the origin of Catherine Barkley from A Farewell To Arms is found.
As they do with just about all film adaptations Hemingway purists will find fault with this film, but Hemingway's Adventures Of A Young Man will give one a good introduction to what was the origin of Papa.
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