I first saw The Hemingway Play on PBS back in the seventies, before the network went all "politically correct" and still aired good plays, old and new, on a regular basis. Written by the relatively unknown Frederic Hunter, it tells of the life and loves of the great and often troubled American novelist Ernest Hemingway. We see Hemingway as a young man, eager and idealistic; a middle-aged man, cynical but still optimistic; and as an old man, depressed and defeated. His complicated relationships with women are highlighted rather than his artistic accomplishments, but I don't consider this a flaw, as this is not what the author had set out to do. The play is about Hemingway the man, and a fascinating man he was; so gifted and yet so flawed; so profoundly troubled; and in the end so like all of us, just a human being, passing through his life, full of ups and downs, fears and desires.
The very fine cast includes Tim Matheson, Samantha Eggar and Alexander Scourby, among several other gifted players. There are no bad performances. Don Taylor's direction gives full rein to the actors. I wish there were more plays like this on television, on PBS, cable, anywhere. It's a memorable and moving piece, and I remember it vividly almost thirty years after it was first broadcast.
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