It's 1940 in the British-controlled Bahamas. While the war rages on in Europe, the islands are only peripherally affected by it, with Captain Ralph and his crew smuggling the occasional refugee escaping the war. Twice divorced American Thomas Mann, a man's type of man who works primarily as an industrial artist, has a small close knit group of friends including: Eddy, who, like Tom, drinks a little too much, and who gets into too many fights of his own making especially when he's had a few too many; Lil, a lady of the evening; and Joseph, who takes care of and captains his boat which is used for fishing among other exploits. Three chapters in this phase of Tom's life are told in chronological order. In "The Boys", Tom is expecting a visit from his three sons, who he has not seen in four years and who are going to spend the summer with him: nineteen year old Tommy from his first marriage to Audrey, and fourteen year old Davey and ten year old Andy from his second marriage to Joan. ...Written by
With Islands In The Stream, George C. Scott took his place as an existential Hemingway hero along side such Hollywood luminaries as Gary Cooper, Humphrey Bogart, Gregory Peck, Spencer Tracy, Tyrone Power and Rock Hudson. With that beard he grew for the film he even looks the part of Hemingway.
In this partially autobiographical novel it's first set in the Bahamas where Scott, a painter has gone to get away from the rest of the world. He fishes, he consorts with loose women, and when he's got time and a need for cash, he paints and sells the product to keep going. It sounds like an ideal existence.
Unfortunately World War II intervenes and his three sons by different women all visit him. The oldest, Hart Bochner, has made his mind up to enlist in the Royal Air Force. The two youngest go back to Europe.
One of Scott's good friend is charter boat captain Gilbert Roland who has a side living smuggling refugees, mostly Jews, from Europe to any place in the western hemisphere he can drop them off. A lot times that's Cuba, but the Cuban government is taking a dim view of his activities.
Scott also has as two good friends, native Bahamian Julius Harris, and David Hemmings a young man with a drinking problem. Hemmings's character is ripped off from Hemingway's previous story, To Have and Have Not although Walter Brennan was a good deal older. He even used the same name.
Claire Bloom is also around as the first wife who visits after their son leaves for service. Scott still loves her in his own way, but she's well aware of his fidelity problem. To remind them both is working girl Susan Tyrell.
Ernest Hemingway wrote the story in the early Fifties and discarded it and his widow published it in the early seventies. Probably Papa Hemingway didn't think all that much of it. It certainly doesn't rate with some of his better known work. But second rate Hemingway is better than first rate from most writers.
The cast all give uniformly good performances and the cinematography is just great. Reason enough to see it.
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