Literary Free Store – Ernest Hemingway 1899 – 1961

Finca Vigia 1957. Yousuf Karsh

Literary Free Store.  Ace the test with this. There’s still something that tears at you about Ernest Hemingway, right?  Who was he?  How did he do it?  How did he write and publish and become so famous, a literary celebrity, and impress you not because you had to read “The Old Man And The Sea” in grade school, but because of just two stories?

“Soldiers Home” and “The Gambler, The Nun and The Radio”.  These stories stay with you.  They’re priceless.  And I wish I’d written them myself. Yeah, for sure.  Maybe I could be famous then. They’re the only reason I have left for still being interested in Ernest Hemingway.

A billion books have been written about “Papa”, but there haven’t been too many movies.  

None of his novels really impressed me.  Not really.  Now that you ask.  “Islands In The Stream” was okay. Maybe that’s because I got it as a Christmas present.  It was kind of cobbled together ten years after the guy who wrote it knelt down one morning in the front hallway of his house in Ketchum, Idaho.

Ernest Hemingway placed the butt of a double-barrelled shotgun on the floor and the other end against his forehead, reached down with his right hand and tripped the trigger and left a big mess for other people to clean up.

Finca Vigia 1960

And  how’s this for the opening of a novel published in 1926, back when there was no internet?

“Robert Cohn was once middleweight boxing champion of Princeton University.  Do not think that I am very much impressed by that as a boxing title, but it meant a lot to Cohn.”

That first couple of sentences is an impact statement for the literary crowd who reads books in 1926 and likes the sound of “The Sun Also Rises”.  Sort of biblical and it’s set in Pamplona, Spain.  Published as “Fiesta” in England, which was pretty lame.

“A Farewell To Arms”?  Good quips like “only seven thousand died of it in the army”, but a lot of it too something or other.

“To Have And Have Not”.  Published 1937.  “You know how it is there in the early morning in Havana…”  The novel has some merit as a cartoon.  It’s a Hemingway novel.

Same with “For Whom The Bell Tolls”.  It tolls for thee, Ernie.  But even more a bit too something or other although it sold like a bomb.

“Across The River And Into The Trees”?  No one would have bought it or read it if it wasn’t by Ernest Hemingway.  It’s a strange novel.  The esteemed author is doing as much as he can with pretty well nothing.  Colonel Cantwell.  There’s a reason that’s the guy’s name.

“The Garden Of Eden”.  I know nothing about this super-posthumous pastiche, there being no interest.

But we’re talking about Hemingway the movie.  “Papa Hemingway In Cuba”.  The question is why is this guy the subject of the picture?  What is “Papa” doing at the Finca Vigia?  Hacking at an old Remington and getting nothing out of it after winning the Nobel Prize for literature in 1954?  Que?

Papa isn’t even seen to be working on one of his best books, “A Moveable Feast”, published from a complete manuscript not long after he blew himself up.  He was certainly working on it in the late 50s at the Finca in Cuba.

This movie could have been much better.  That seems to be the consensus.  Adrian Sparks is the spitting image of old Hemingstein.  But although Minka Kelly tries hard she just doesn’t strike you as Mary Hemingway.  Too modern.

Not the sort of semi-matronly middle-aged refined looking woman Hemingway met in London, England during WWII and shared the rest of his life with after three previous marriages.  This version of Mary Hemingway just doesn’t seem to come across as the one.

Mary Hemingway Leading The Charge

The Finca looks finking perfect.  Hemingway’s real home in Cuba is retained as a museum by the Cuban government.  It’s a darn good reason for vacationing in Cuba, if you need a reason.  Put it on your itinerary.  Apparently, everything has been left pretty well as it was.

When you fly in tell them you want to go to the “Finca Vigia”.  Tell them we sent you.  They’ll know what you’re talking about. The sets in “Papa” are good.

The problem with the movie is Hemingway is just some sort of moody prick who’s accomplished things we just aren’t told anything about.  We’re supposed to know who he is and go from there.  What are we supposed to feel?  Movies are about feeling.  And there’s very little.

One and a half diamonds on the four diamond movie rating system.  ♦◊

Ernest Hemingway Channelling Yosemite Sam

Moving on.  Next we explain who Yosemite Sam was.  Have a beautiful evening…


Author: Steven Brown


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