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Wednesday, May 21, 2008


Released at low-tide in the reps of star George C. Scott, director Franklin Schaffner & Ernest Hemingway, this flawed film was given short shrift, but the passage of time has helped considerably. With a tropical island setting, WWII background, "rummy" best-pal & final boat chase heroics, it’s something of a TO HAVE AND HAVE NOT rewrite, already twice filmed*, with a double prologue (getting to know the kids over a summer; coming to terms with ex-wife #1) before the action finale out at sea. Lushly shot by Fred Koenekamp, this is tourist-class Hemingway, but that’s closer than other adapters got. Scott makes a superb Papa figure and there's great support from David Hemmings, a stunning Claire Bloom, Gilbert Roland & Julius Harris. Even the kids are good. Awkward bits abound, a pillow fight epiphany, over-articulated macho posturing, technical gaffs in the marlin fishing sequence), but the film delivers a real emotional charge.

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