Hemingway and the Movies

Hemingway was a prolific writer, and his stories have resonated with Hollywood movie makers from 1930 to present. I’ve attached the film posters from ten of Hemingway’s screen adaptations, in chronological order, just in case you might be interested in previewing one or more of them to see how Hollywood interpreted Hemingway. (The parenthetical ratings are from a consensus of critics’ views, based on a scale of 1 to 5 stars):

A Farewell to Arms, 1932, starring Gary Cooper and Helen Hayes (3 1/2)
Farewell to Arms

For Whom The Bell Tolls, 1943, starring Gary Cooper and Ingrid Bergman (3 1/2)
For Whom the Bell Tolls

To Have and To Have Note, 1945, starring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall (4)
To Have and Have Not

The Breaking Point, 1950, starring John Garfield and Patricia Neal (4)–this is a remake of To Have and To Have Not
The Breaking Point

The Snows of Kilimanjaro, 1952, starring Gregory Peck, Susan Hayward and Ava Gardner (3)
The Snows of Kilimanjaro

The Sun Also Rises, 1957, starring Tyrone Power and Ava Gardner (3)
The Sun Also Rises

A Farewell to Arms, 1957, starring Rock Hudson and Jennifer Jones (3)
A Farewell To Arms 1957

The Old Man and The Sea, 1958, starring Spencer Tracy (3 1/2)
The Old Man and the Sea

Islands in the Stream, 1977, starring George C. Scott and Claire Bloom (3 1/2)
Islands in the Stream

Hemingway and Gellhorn, 2012, starring Clive Owen and Nicole Kidman (3)
Hemingway and Gelhorn
Actually, “Hemingway and Gellhorn” is an HBO biography of Hemingway and his third wife, Martha Gellhorn, to whom he was married during World War II from 1940 to 1945 but was also with in Spain in the late 30s during the civil war there while he was still married to his second wife, Pauline. Clive Owen gives a blustery, over-the-top performance as Hemingway while Kidman as Gellhorn–who’s never looked more beautiful, by the way–smokes cigarettes as if she were in an ongoing Chesterfield commercial.

My favorite from the above group is “Islands in the Stream,” a screen adaptation of the posthumously published 1970 novel. George C. Scott is Ernest Hemingway, no doubt, not the fictitious character he’s playing, Thomas Hudson. Scott here gives one of his finest performances on film, and the entire cast is exceptional, in my opinion.


About powersron

I'm a member of the Tacoma Retired Men's Book Club.
This entry was posted in 2015 Selections, Hemingway Short Story Collections and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Hemingway and the Movies

  1. Ron Boothe says:

    Hemingway’s short story, THE KILLERS, was the basis for three films:

    Ernest Hemingway’s The Killers (1946), a black and white film noir starring Burt Lancaster and Ava Gardner

    Ubiytsy, aka, The Killers (1956), a soviet union short co-directed by Andrei Tarkovsky as a student project

    Ernest Heminway’s The Killers” (1964), “Explosively NEW in color”, starring Lee Marvin, Angie Dickinson, John Cassavetes, and Ronald Reagan

    The 1946 and 1964 versions are available from Netflix and the Tarkovsky short is one of the special features of the 1946 disk.

    What interests me in particular about Hemingway’s short stories is that often “what is not said” is as important, or more so, than “what is said”. How might a film-maker deal with that? Tarkovsky approached the task with a pretty much literal rendering of the short story that was accomplished in a short film. The two Hollywood versions had to expand the story to fill out a full-length movie — Unfortunately, not very successfully in either case.

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