The Ernest Hemingway Film Collection

The Ernest Hemingway Film Collection is comprised of five Hemingway film adaptations made mostly in the ’50s for Twentieth Century Fox. Boxed nicely to resemble bound volumes, with ample, exhaustive extras (including featurettes on Fox mogul Daryl F. Zanuck, and "Hemingway on Film”) and engaging, informative commentaries by film historians Patricia King Hanson, Frank Thompson and Anthony Slide, the collection is a good example of thoughtful DVD packaging largely trumping the movies themselves. A recurring theme in the extra material is Hemingway’s dissatisfaction with the films made from his books. The movies bear this out, for the most part. The nearest thing to a find here is Hemingway’s Adventures of a Young Man (1962), based on the autobiographical "Nick Adams” stories. Working from a script by Hemingway biographer A.E. Hotchner, Martin Ritt directs with a keen eye for performance, standouts being a young Richard Beymer (of West Side Story and, later, Twin Peaks fame) in the lead and a nearly-unrecognisable Paul Newman as a punch-drunk ex-boxer known as the Battler. The film has a genuine feeling for the desperate melancholia of the stories and the damaged characters that populate them. Of the rest, only the unremarkable but sturdy Under The Skin (1950) comes close to capturing Hemingway, with its black-and-white terseness and John Garfield’s palpable world-weariness as the doomed jockey hero. The Sun Also Rises (1957) is at least reasonably faithful to its famous source. The Snows of Kilimanjaro (1952) is a dim hodgepodge of Hemingway themes and situations, with a tacked-on happy ending and Gregory Peck at his most stonily self-conscious, while A Farewell To Arms (1957) is a hopelessly dull, turgid affair. These three films all suffer from failings typical of big Hollywood productions of the period: boring picture-postcard travelogue tendencies, minimal-to-zero period flavour and an overall air of crippling self-importance. (Fox)