Sometimes the wrong person has been cast in a film and the producers and director recognize it in time to replace the actor.  Such was the case with 1943’s For Whom the Bell Tolls.

The film had started production with Vera Zorina in the female lead.  She was soon replaced with the boyishly beautiful  Ingrid Bergman (pictured above with Gary Cooper).

Hello everybody.  Joe Morella and  Frank Segers, your classic movie guys here.  We welcome back today our Books2Movies maven, our pal Larry Michie, who muses on other Ernest Hemingway works that made it for better or worse to the screen.

Writes Larry:

In 1957 came a film version of Hemingway’s first novel, a classic that enraptured millions of readers and defined what came to be known as ‘The Lost Generation.’

Unfortunately, on the big screen 1957’s The Sun Also Rises seemed to set before rising.

This despite a glittering cast that included Tyrone Power and Ava Gardner, Mel Ferrer and Errol Flynn, Eddie Albert, Juliette Greco and the young Bob Evans as a matador. (Yes, THAT Bob Evans, Darryl Zanuck’s ‘the kid stays in the picture’ protégé).

So far as is known, the effort didn’t dazzle audiences around the world. But fugetaboutit. FloppsvilleThe Sun Also Rises was revived in a 1984 made-for-tv creation starring Jane Seymour, Robert Carradine, Leonard Nimoy, Stephane Audran.

Much earlier there was 1952’s The Snows of Kilimanjaro. The casting sounds perfect – Gregory Peck, Susan Hayward, Ava Gardner, Hildegard Neff and Leo G. Carroll. The film simply didn’t work – no chemistry, nothing to grab the audience.

1958 finally brought a winner: The Old Man and the Sea, directed by John Sturges. Its success was attributed to the popularity of the solo star, Spencer Tracy (who was chosen for the lead over Humphrey Bogart and James Stewart).  There was a 1999 remake with Anthony Quinn doing the solo turn. There was even a Japanese cartoon version.

(The classic movie guys note that Hemingway himself endorsed Tracy as his geriatric protagonist before the movie was made. The pair got along splendidly during their initial meetings in Cuba, where most of the movie was shot. I feel like I’d known him about 150 years, exclaimed the author. Referring to the arduous production of the movie, Hemingway, who feared The Old Man and the Sea would be turned into a commercial love story, wrote that he was looking forward to the long fight we’ll win together…There won’t be any great picture…unless Tracy and I carry the ball most of the time.) 

So, alright already, the Hemingway movies are mostly terrible. But don’t give up. You might consider reading/re-reading the novels. There are reasons why Hemingway won the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Thanks for your take on it, Larry.


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