Not Great Hemingway, but a Memorable Misfire!
Benjamin J Burgraff | Las Vegas | 03/30/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)
""The Sun Also Rises" was 20th Century Fox's big-budget 'prestige' film
for 1957, based on Ernest Hemingway's first novel, shot on location in Paris and Mexico (substituting for Spain), and starring the studio's long-reigning superstar, Tyrone Power, surrounded by legendary actors (Ava Gardner, Errol Flynn, Mel Ferrer, and Eddie Albert). With all the talent assembled in front of and behind the camera, producer Darryl F. Zanuck felt confident that the film would be an enduring classic for both his own independent company, and his studio.
It wasn't, unfortunately...
The film's problem was a fundamental one; the 'Lost Generation'
Hemingway wrote of were disillusioned young Americans, who, shattered
by the horror and brutality of the 'Great War', lost their innocence, and became a 'live fast, die young' crowd of expatriates, settling in Paris. These were men and women still in their twenties and thirties...yet the film's stars were all ten to twenty years older! The most glaring case can be seen in the film's star, Tyrone Power. As newspaperman Jake Barnes, a vet whose war injuries render him impotent, unable to satisfy the woman he loves (Ava Gardner), and, therefore, the 'perfect' observer of her romantic entanglements with other men, Power seems more a victim of a midlife crisis than a young man devastated about losing his manhood. In his next-to-last film, Power, at 44, was aging badly, his hair thinning and his slender, 'movie idol' good looks surrendering to a middle-aged paunch. Only when he smiles do the years seem to lift, a bit, and the "too handsome to be true" younger man appears. Adding to his physical deterioration was an undiagnosed heart condition, which would kill him, in less than two years.
His co-star, Ava Gardner, at 35, was going through a decline, as well, but, like her character, Lady Brett Ashley, her vices were the cause of her self-destruction. Both Brett and Ava were hedonistic women too fond of booze, bullfighters, and nightlife, and Ava's once-classic features were beginning to develop bags and wrinkles that makeup and lighting couldn't hide.
Coming off best are Errol Flynn and Eddie Albert. Flynn, at 48, long past his 'glamorous' prime (he and Power had been Hollywood's best-looking 'swashbucklers' of the early 40s), had become a very credible character actor, usually portraying variations of himself. His 'Mike Campbell', an alcoholic, impoverished but clinging to his pride, was, sadly, a dead-on assessment of Errol Flynn, as well. Like Power, he would be dead in two years, a victim of his own excesses. On the other hand, Eddie Albert, at 49, had long been health-conscious, and his performance as a drunk was simply good acting; paired with Flynn, they 'steal' the film, particularly during the famous Pamplona bull run, when the duo flee for their lives (while guzzling wine), and Flynn attempts to use a bad check as a cape to 'fight' a bull!
The drama seems overdrawn, the romance lacks 'fire', Robert Evans as a young bullfighter is dreadful, and the resolution is a hollow one. Even with the gorgeous scenery, Hugo Friedhofer's soaring film score, and Henry King's skill as a director, the film fails to generate more than a curiosity value, at the sight of so many actors, past their prime, trying to seem youthful and dynamic.
The DVD offers many 'added features', including 'behind the scenes' photos of Power, Flynn, and Gardner, and director Henry King's audio reminiscences of the production, possibly more entertaining than the feature, itself.
All-in-all, an ambitious misfire!"
The party has just begun.
Brad Baker | Atherton, Ca United States | 03/09/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)
"The 1926 "Sun Also Rises" was Ernest Hemingway's first full-length novel. In the 1957 movie-version, Hollywood stars portray Hemingway's "Lost Generation". Tyrone Power heads the cast as American news journalist Jake Barnes, who, after a World War I injury that has left him impotent, re-locates to Paris. Barnes links up with other lost souls, including the nymphomaniacal Lady Ashley(Ava Gardner) and the irresponsible drunkard Mike Campbell(Errol Flynn). Barnes and his friends move to Spain, and participate in the annual Pamplona running-of-the-bulls. The fun is just beginning. The cast includes Mel Ferrer, Eddie Albert, and Henry Daniell. The film's best performance is delivered by Errol Flynn. It has been said that, in his role of the hedonistic, hard-drinking Mike Campbell, that he was merely playing himself. True or not, Hollywood took note; a film career was re-vitalized. His moving performance here is classic. Sadly, decay from alcohol dimmed his future. He died two years later(Tyrone Power himself died two years later shooting "Solomon and Sheba" of a hear attack). Filmed on location in Pamplona, Paris, Biarritz, and Mexico, "THe Sun Also Rises" was budgeted at $5 million. This brand new DVD transfer is the second DVD release, as it was also produced in August 2006, in a bare-bones edition. Cinema Club's new DVD features many extras: Commentary by Frank Thompson, a conversation with director Henry King, a documentary on the production, the restoration, and Hemingway. There is also a trailer and a stills gallery. Colors are bright. Blacks are pitch. This is outstanding, as the DVD is a low bitrate, single-layered disc. Audio is adequate but without much range. "The Sun Also Rises" is the classic tale of American ex-patriates caught up in dancing, parties, and drinking-til-dawn. What fun. What sadness. As the picture ends, one character sums it all up: "It's all like a wonderful nightmare. I believe in anything. Including nightmares..""
Movie is wide screen
Plano Harry | Plano, TX USA | 01/22/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Very good wide screen restoration. DVD "Special Features" discussing the making of the movie are also very intersting. If you're looking for a movie version of the book - this isn't it. But it's entertaining."
Watch This Movie & Find The Meaninglessness of Your Life
Robert M. Khoury | Charlotte, NC | 07/05/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Many reviews of this film like to take issue with its meandering, aimless plot that starts anywhere and leads nowhere. The bad news is that criticism is spot on. The good news is that's the point exactly. You see, Hemingway is trying to show what happens to the first generation that loses its faith in reason, science, and progress. Instead of perfecting society, humanity, and the world, these ideals have only led to more effective, more efficient ways of killing our neighbors on a global scale. How to live when there is nothing left to believe in? Watch this film and find out! Ask yourself, are these characters so different from you and me? Tyrone Power is impotent. So are we. Wealth, fame, power -- our worldly pleasures are insatiable. Errol Flynn is a hopeless drunk. Our pleasures are also unfulfilling. Ava Gardner is an aging beauty. Even when a few of us manage to attain our worldly desires, they are fleeting, we just can't hold on to them. This film is more relevant today than it ever was. If you hit yourself on the head with a book, and you hear a hollow sound, it doesn't always mean the book is empty."