It may take some time but eventually some of our readers do respond to each other, and “chat” about classic films.

We ran a piece back in May of 2014 about films based on Ernest Hemingway novels and one of our regular correspondents, Jeff Woodman, asked:

Any thoughts on “Islands In The Stream” (1977)? I remember disliking it as a kid, and it wasn’t a hit, but it seems to be fairly well regarded today.

Well now, years later, Diana Berger, has written:

I know this is a bit late in coming, but I just had to respond any way. “Islands in the Stream” is one of a growing number of movies that I can’t bring myself to love or acknowledge as even all that good, yet keep coming back to. From the posts I remember on the (now defunct) IMDb message boards, I’d have to guess that my sentiments are typical, although the reasons might vary.I first discovered it on TV while visiting a foreign country – I came in at the end which struck me as emotionally overpowering. I’m always a sucker for end-of-life motifs, and ‘IitS’ is no exception. It would be over 20 years before I got around to finding the whole movie, and I realized that while that ending still packed an emotional punch, I could tell why it underwhelmed so many – and why the same might be true for Hemingway movies as a whole.

‘IitS’ is film richly endowed with beauty – not only its setting (oddly enough, it was supposedly filmed in the South Pacific), but also its characters. They live beautiful and passionate lives.

Tom Hudson is an artist, who works on sculpture at his beautiful Caribbean home. He has loved and lost beautiful women and fathered sons who hate him then learn to love him intensely after a monumental bout of marlin fishing.

Not only are the characters and settings epic, but so are the times, with the early days of the war heralding a new dark age. The story takes this epic scale as a given, and spares the characters the burden of having to earn their place in that setting.

It’s like one of those underwhelming adaptations of a famous superhero comic or YA Fantasy, where you get into the story having to accept the larger-than-life characters and settings as a given so much so that they lose any semblance of being cool.

So let’s look at Islands in the Stream. Paramount’s 1977 film starred George C. Scott, Gilbert Roland, Claire Bloom and David Hemmings.



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