The story of president Andrew Jackson from his early years, the film begins when he meets Rachel Donaldson Robards. The plot concentrates on the scandal concerning the legality of their marriage and how they overcame the difficulties.
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
Steve McQueen turned down the lead role of Thomas Hudson as he had temporarily retired from acting and was traveling the United States on his vintage Indian motorcycles. The part in the end was cast with George C. Scott. See more »
When the boat is slowly cruising up the river in Cuba looking for refugees, a crew member's hand can be seen moving tree branches away from the camera. See more »
Tom, I love you you son of a bitch. Try to understand if you can.
I am trying, Joseph.
Oh hell. You never understand about anybody that loves you.
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Carved out of the abandoned wreckage of his 'Land, Sea and Air' trilogy by literary salvage experts, 'Islands in the Stream' is Hemingway's wish-fulfilment seascape. In life, he made a nuisance of himself during World War Two: he cruised the Caribbean on an armed boat purporting to hunt German submarines, before getting in the way during the liberation of Paris. In the novel-- published long after Hemingway shot himself-- his alter ego, Tom Hudson, actually contacts the enemy and bests him, while learning lessons about selfishness and sacrifice.
Hudson is not a writer but a sculptor, and needless to say a macho one: he fashions cast-iron abstracts with a blowtorch like a real workman. It is 1940 and he has run away from Europe and its war, but he is sound at heart, treating Julius Harris as an equal. And he knows how to party, carousing in his adopted West Indian hideout on Queen Mary's birthday: a pointer to Hemingway's latter-day Anglophilia, like Hudson's friendship with David Hemmings's cockney "rummy".
Like Papa, Tom is free with advice on how to live. He has problems relating to his three sons and the divorced wife for whom he still carries a torch, but he makes his peace with them en route to a rendezvous with heroic self-sacrifice. Claire Bloom, popping in as the ex-wife, is quietly competent, no more.
It's episodic and quite conventional stuff, slipping down easily. Jerry Goldsmith's lush score is too obtrusive at times, nudging the spectator in the direction Franklin Schaffner wants. Scott's gruff, grizzled Hudson is like most of this great bear's characterisations, simpatico below his rebarbative surface. The adventurous redemption towards the end comes after a whole lot of talk and brooding, sugar-coated by gorgeous Caribbean scenery. The youngest son's struggle to land a big fish is almost all the action you get until an hour has passed.
This film was a letdown at the box office and for the main participants. Schaffner was on the creative descent which took him from 'Patton' to 'Yes, Giorgio' in 13 years. Co-star Hemmings, never the most distinctive of personalities, had begun to lose his Swinging Sixties prettiness, turning into a portly actor-director. For Scott, his Patton, 'Islands in the Stream' was intended as a comeback vehicle... but he was no longer stretching his talent .
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