(director: Martin Ritt; screenwriters: A.E. Hotchner/based on stories by Ernest Hemingway; cinematographer: Lee Garmes; editor: Hugh S. Fowler; music: Franz Waxman; cast: Richard Beymer (Nick Adams), Diane Baker (Carolyn, teen girlfriend), Corinne Calvet (Contessa), Arthur Kennedy (Dr. Adams), Jessica Tandy (Mrs. Adams), Susan Strasberg (Nurse Rosanna), Eli Wallach (Sergeant), Ricardo Montalban (Major Padula), Dan Dailey (Billposter), Fred Clark (Mr. Turner), Paul Newman (Punchy Fighter), Juano Hernandez (Bugs), Michael Pollard (George), James Dunn (Telegrapher), Edward Binns (Brakeman), Simon Oakland (Joe Bolton), Marc Cavell (Eddy Bolton), Mel Welles (Italian Sergeant); Runtime: 145; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Jerry Wald; 20th Century-Fox & MGM Home Video; 1962)

“Overlong, sappy and rambling.

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Writer A.E. Hotchner uses the prose of 10 of Hemingway’s short stories to follow the path to maturity of Nick Adams (Richard Beymer), a character the author created to be his alter ego–becoming a sort of a semi-autobiographical character. Director Martin Ritt (“Sounder”/”Hud”/”The Outrage”) keeps it overlong, sappy and rambling, as he has his Michigan (not Illinois) born hero at 19 leave his weak but peaceful doctor father (Arthur Kennedy)and domineering religious mother (Jessica Tandy) to find his own path in the world–first as a journalist and then leaving for the Italian front to become anambulance driver during World War I. There Nick gains his life lessons that will help him become a writer. He also has a star-crossed romance with an Italian Red Cross nurse (Susan Strasberg). The return home, has Hemingway live the life of an adventurer who uses those experiences to develop into one of America’s more successful contemporary writers.

Though the pic has good intentions, it still is uneven, shapeless and unable to latch onto the Hemingway persona with any conviction. Some might find Paul Newman’s cameo as a punchy fighter one of the pic’s more diverting moments, even if it was short and bland, while others can better make the claim that Eli Wallach as the kindly efficient Italian sergeant from Chicago’s South Side was the pic’s most diverting character. In other noticeable supporting roles: Ricardo Montalban was the sensible Italian officer, Fred Clark was the slick but likable burlesque promoter, and Dan Dailey had a nice turn as a down-and-out advance man.

I found it dull Hemingway, that offers hardly any dramatic pleasures or many endearing insights into what made Hemingway tick. Hemingway died a year before the film’s release, and I doubt if he would have taken this half-baked depiction of him seriously. I found only a few scenes entertaining, and the visuals by Lee Garmes were pleasing; but most scenes were pretentious, bordering on being a total embarrassment–a time waster, for sure.

REVIEWED ON 3/4/2011 GRADE: C   https://dennisschwartzreviews.com/