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Sun Also Rises


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As a part of their day tribute to Tyrone Power, TCM will be having a premiere today of the 1957 film adaption of Hemingway's 1926 novel, The Sun Also Rises. The film received mixed critical reviews upon its release but, undoubtedly due to its big name cast, was a hit at the box office.







Filmed in Paris, Biarritz, Morelia and Mexico City, it was certainly every inch a huge Cinemascope production for its time, produced by Darryl Zanuck and released through 20th Century Fox. Zanuck selected favourite Fox house director Henry King to guide a huge cast of stars in what turned out to be a somewhat rambling, only intermittently interesting adaption of the novel.


One of the chief criticisms that has always been levelled against the film is the age of its cast. Hemingway's novel is about the "Lost Generation" of young men and women feeling disillusioned after WWI who sat around Parisian cafes drinking and dissipating and endlessly talking. Many members of this particular cast, however, look more like they're going through middle aged crisis.







This is particularly true of Power, unfortunately, whose glamour days as one of Hollywood's most handsome leading men were clearly behind him. Power was only 43 when he made this film but he was not aging particularly well. He looks soft, almost pasty faced. He has a slightly unhealthy look, almost as if he was badly in need of sleep. Nor is he able to convey much in the role of Jake Barnes, a journalist residing in Paris, whose war wound has left him impotent and therefore incapable of physically satisfying the lady around whom this otherwise all-male cast swarms, Lady Brett Ashley. The latter role was played by Ava Gardner, perhaps showing a few signs of nightlife wear and tear but, otherwise, still a beautiful woman.







For those watching the film for the first time be warned that the first hour set in Paris is fairly slow moving, as some of the film's main characters get established. Interest definitely perks up in the second half of the production in which the action is transferred to Pamplona, Spain (scenes actually filmed in Mexico City and Morelia).







It is here that the viewer can feel the excitement of the famous "running of the bulls," made legendary through Hemingway's prose, and a tradition that still continues to get into the news every July.







For myself, the principal interest of the film lies is the casting (fourth billed) and performance of Errol Flynn as Mike Campbell, Lady Brett's alcoholic bankrupt fiance. How did you go bankrupt, he at one point is asked.







"Two ways," Flynn responds, "Gradually and suddenly."







Flynn's glory days as a box office superstar were long over by the time this film was made. After his Warners contract had terminated in 1952 and he had failed to have any successes in European film ventures, he had largely lead the life of a wastrel, sailing his yacht between Jamaica, where he owned an estate, and Spain, drinking, indulging in drugs. Flynn himself later stated that he was a "bum" at this point in his life.







When Zanuck then unexpectedly offered him a serious dramatic role in this all-star production, Flynn, lacking confidence in himself as an actor, paused. The fourth billing in the film was also a blow to his ego. His wife, actress Patrice Wymore, had to work on him into accepting the part which, fortunately, he did.







Critics would praise his performance, and there would be much talk for a short period after the film's August, 1957 release of a Flynn comeback. Once again he would start to get some newspaper headlines, and there seemed to be something of a renewed respect for him as an actor. Typical Flynn, though, after receiving his best personal notices as an actor in years, he then largely put down his own performance by saying that he was just playing himself.







Sadly, that self assessment is largely true. However, that still doesn't prevent the viewer from appreciating his colourful portrait of a man, with a moneyed past, who has turned himself into a souse. Flynn, undoubtedly looking into the mirror for inspiration, captured the complexity of a character who could, by turns, be proud, a bit philosphical, as well as suddenly turn mean or play the fool.







Flynn has, in particular, three wonderful scenes in this film. One is a prolonged sequence, without doubt the one humourous highlight of the film, portraying the running of the bulls, in which he, accompanied by Eddie Albert, at one point uses a rubber cheque to drunkenly challenge a young bull. It's a spirited, amusing sequence, in which Flynn at one point crawls on hands and knees through a crowd in search of that cheque after he has lost it.







The other two scenes allow Flynn the opportunity to bring a poignance to his role, to briefly reveal the inner anguish of his character. The first is set in a cafe patio. Flynn, slightly drunk, has a sarcastic exchange with Lady Brett. By this time in the film his character knows that he has lost her to a bullighter lover, and Gardner walks away, leaving Flynn brooding in silence.







One of the film's most beautiful moments of acting then occurs when the audience sees the rage start to build in Flynn's face, as he suddenly explodes, "To hell with the bullfighter!" knocking his table over in the process and causing bottles and people around to scatter. Briefly embarassed by his public display of emotion, Flynn then tries to quiet the situation down but within a moment is ready to get into a fistfight with a policeman who touches him.







It's a wonderful portrait of a proud, hurting man who is powerless. His life is a ruin and he knows it and he has now lost the woman he loves. His only answer is a brief awkward drunken display in which the chief victims of his anger are some beer bottles scattered on the ground. It was a long way for Flynn since Robin Hood.







The other scene in the film, and the principal one for which the actor is probably remembered, shows Flynn sitting alone in his room consuming alcohol. Tyrone Power knocks on the door.







"Enter, friend or foe," Flynn calls out.







Power enters the room and there is a brief dialogue exchange. Flynn tries to put on a show of bravado but his words ring hollow. He admits that with Lady Brett's disappearance it feels as though six people have left the room, and there is pain in his eyes as he says it.







As Power is about to depart the room Flynn raises his glass.







"**** ho, old boy!" he calls out, with a smile on his face as broad as he can manage.







Power leaves the room. The smile vanishes from Flynn's face and there is a profound sadness in his eyes. He sits on the edge of his bed a lonely figure. He places his hands to his face and the scene fades. Like the actor portraying him, this is a character without much of a future.







It's worth sitting through the rest of the film if only to see a moment of truth like this.







It's a bit ironic that the only time two of Hollywood's most famous dashing leading men, Power and Flynn, were co-starred was when they were both past their prime. Power's muted performance is clearly not representative of the actor at his best. Flynn's performance, on the other hand, is highly effective but it's sad to see what his self destructive lifestyle had done to him. Both men would be dead of heart attacks within two years.







However generally unsatisfying The Sun Also Rises may be as a film (Hemingway, predictably, had no use for it), it did give us that haunting image of a dissolute Flynn sitting on the edge of his bed. The actor, as insecure as he was about his abilities, had the courage and honesty to give us this performance and that moment.







And in regard to that, Errol, old boy, **** ho!















































































































































































































































































































































































































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See Richard Barthelmess in THE LAST FLIGHT, 1931.


It's the same story, based on a book published in 1931.


There is even a bullfight sequence in this film too, also a newspaper reporter, also the lone girl traveling with several guys.


Hemmingway's book was published in 1926.


The Last Flight (1931)




Cary, Shep, Bill, and Francis are pilots during World War I. Cary and Shep's plane is shot down, and they barely survive; they're released from the hospital on Armistice Day, damaged both physically and psychologically. The four friends, haunted by the devastation of the war, head to Paris instead of home, where they meet Nikki, an eccentric and wealthy young woman. Nikki is drawn to Cary, and the five friends--tagged by the boorish reporter, Frink--drink their way from Paris to Lisbon. Few of these members of the "lost generation" make it out of their travels intact.




The Sun Also Rises (1957)




Europe, 1922. The post-war 'lost generation' of expatriates who 'continued to live as if they were about to die' includes newspaperman Jake Harris, impotent due to a war wound; gorgeous party girl Lady Brett Ashley, hopelessly in love with Jake whom she can't marry because of her sexual needs; Brett's purely nominal fiance, Mike; and writers Robert and Bill. They wander about Europe in berets, drinking, having affairs, and finding no lasting satisfaction in anything.

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Hi Fred. I have seen The Last Flight, and, yes, there are strong similarities between the two stories. Obviously Hemingway's novel had a big impact. In The Last Flight, however, the film cast is a younger one, which is more appropriately in a portrait of what Gertrude Stein labelled a "lost generation."


Thanks for the reminder, Fred. TCM shows The Last Flight on occasion, and it's an interesting film.

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What a great writeup Tom :) I caught the last half of this movie, unimpressed by Power but moved to almost tears watching Flynn... Who is too modest. Playing yourself, even a drunken shell of a man isn't easy to do without adding some ego to it. Flynn stripped himself down and while he didn't have resurangnce after this film, as any Flynn fan knows, this is one of his most powerful performances.


It makes me sad that was one of the lasting images of Flynn.. sitting on the edge of the bed broken but also proud to know that his career as an actor finally got the respect he always deserved.


Edited by: Lazyking on Aug 25, 2012 2:40 PM

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This is the film , that according to the story, the cast all signed a letter to Darryl F. Zanuck stating they did not want to work with an unknown actor { Robert Evans } in the leading role of the bullfighter. All signed the letter except Errol Flynn. Zanuck flew to Spain and watched a scene and announced "The Kid Stays in the Picture". Of course Evans left acting {good move} and became head of Paramount Pictures and produced among other things, "The Godfather", "Rosemary's Baby", "Chinatown", "Love Story", marry Ali MacGraw and lose her to Steve McQueen and then the world fell out from under him. Pick up the book or the DVD of "The Kid Stays in the Picture". A terrific look at the man who had it all and lost it...


Edited by: fredbaetz on Aug 25, 2012 2:46 PM

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I believe Robert Evans was already in the film when everyone wanted him out of it because he wasn't any good.


Though Tyrone Power doesn't look his best here, there was a reason. He was working on a couple of hours sleep and he made it clear to his girlfriend, Mai Zetterling, that he knew he looked awful and he didn't care. Anyone here over 25 knows you can't get away with a couple of hours sleep past a certain age - probably college.


In candids and also around the time of Solomon and Sheba, he looks 100% better.


I thought he was good in this film. I just think Zanuck should have either chosen something else or gone with a younger cast.

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Robert Evans, prior to Darryl Zanuck's arrival in Morelia and overruling the cast-signed letter asking for Evans' removal, was treated like an outsider by the cast, with the exception of Errol Flynn. Evans said the most fun times were with Flynn at night, without specifying the activity (gee, I wonder why).


After Zanuck's public declaration of Evans remaining in the picture, Evans wrote, there was a welcoming party being thrown for producer. When Evans arrived alone at the party he saw Ava Gardner at the producer's side, trying to talk him into replacing Evans as the bullfighter Romero with her own boyfriend at the time. Once the mariachi music really got heated Evans wrote that he walked up to Zanuck's table, taking Gardner without a word onto the dance floor where they danced for 40 minutes. According to Evans, "In a total sweat, without a word between us, we made it back to Zanuck's table. The silence was eerie; so were the stares. She sat. I left. From that moment, it wasn't only Zanuck who thought I was Pedro Romero."


After that evening he was accepted by the other cast members. He delicately implies, well, pretty well states, that he had an affair with Gardner. For a brief while he thought he was in love with her. He called Gardner "a haunted soul," torn by her poverty childhood, stormy relationships and fading beauty. He wrote that, unlike Tyrone Power, whom he called an artistocrat as a human being, Gardner considered herself unworthy of the beauty with which she had been gifted.



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Ernest Hemingway disliked the film version of The Sun Also Rises.


He said, "Any picture in which Errol Flynn is the best actor is its own worst enemy."


Keep in mind, however, that the author had always had a deep dislike of Flynn, going back to the actor's 1937 trip to Spain during that nation's civil war. That trip of Flynn's had always been cloaked in mystery, and a lot of negative rumours have been spread about Flynn and Spain, many of them probably having very little to do with reality.


Hemingway was macho, as is well known, and disliked competitors. With Flynn's reputation as a macho ladies man, it may well have prodded at Hemingway's insecurity and ego. The author, accusing Flynn of not contributing to a Hollywood fund raiser for the Spanish Loyalists, said many times "that the money in Captain Blood's pants had been stitched closed."


Later, in talking of Flynn fiancial problems with his first two wives, Hemingway took another pot shot at the actor when he wrote, "Flynn claims to have been a fighter but he loses fights even with dames and I think if he had been a champion he would win at least one of his non-professional stunts." (The irony is that Hemingway would have four wives to Flynn's three).


Undoubtedly Flynn woud have encountered Hemingway in the author's favourite Havana bar, El Floridita. Interestingly, in spite of the occasional public snipping that Hemingway levelled at the actor, I have never heard of Flynn responding in kind.



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Truthfully I can't remember a film version of a Hemingway book that I've liked. He's tough to film.


That's such a wonderful photo of Flynn and Hemingway. I remember seeing one of Flynn and the character actor Tom D'Andrea. Flynn must have been very interesting to talk to, and he seems to have been a great listener if the photos I've seen are any indication.


I knew someone who worked for Flynn and liked him very much. To me it's a tragedy that so many people are villified after they're dead. Flynn's suffered the worst, I don't know how his family stands it. And the stories get more exaggerated each year.

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chandler5710, there have been, in my opinion, two wonderful screen adaptions of Hemingway, The Macomber Affair (1947), based on his great short story The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber, and The Breaking Point (1950), a reasonably faithful adaption of the author's To Have and Have Not. Hemingway himself is said to have called the latter film the best adaption of any of his work, according to Patricia Neal. I also think For Whom the Bell Tolls is an interesting film, though far from a great one.


As for Flynn, if you read his autobiography, My Wicked Wicked Ways, it's apparent that he was not only witty but extremely intelligent. His diary writings, in particular, originally not intended for publication, really reveal the inner man and he could be quite philosophical, questioning the existence of God, wondering about man's place in the cosmos. If you caught the man at a good time (when the drinking or, particularly, the drugs hadn't really taken hold) I think he might, as you indicated, have been a fascinating conversationalist. It's his hedonistic lifestyle that gets all the publicity, and it was that hedonistic lifestyle that, in the end, overwhelmed and destroyed him.


But take a look at this diary reference of Flynn's about alcohol:


"Alcohol is a far greater killer than all opiates. You can buy alcohol on any street corner throughout the world. It gets your brain, your liver. It destroys your morals, destroys your vitality, kills the sexual potential, and you become sluggish. It is a great pity that Prohibition failed. The experiment was too radical. Instead of barring it altogether, the dispensation of alcohol should have been under prescription, or some other control. . . . Drinker that I am, I think essentially I am the victim of an addiction that is here in the world, revealed to all, exposed to all. It is there. We who are weak take to it and are destroyed by it, but is is essentially a weakness of governments everywhere to allow this poison to circulate like a river through the bloodstream of the human race. As one of the heartiest drinkers in the world, I speak with a voice of authority."




(Errol Flynn, January 23, 1952)


That's an insightful observation. Typical Flynn, also controversial. He knew the stuff was killing him but acknowledges that he was too weak to stop using it. What wasn't discussed as much in Flynn's time was his additional drug use.


Flynn is also a figure that seems to have inspired so many terrible rumours, with a couple of hateful books having come out that truly tried to destroy his reputation. His family wanted to take the author of the most infamous of the Flynn lie books to court but weren't able to. That book, by the way, has had greater sales than any other book about Flynn, outside of his own autobiography.


Speaking of which, My Wicked Wicked Ways, first published in December, 1959, is still printed today. The book has lived longer than its author. I also believe that it holds a record as *the longest selling show business autobiography in history*, a fact to which no one ever refers.


Flynn was one of the great film stars of a bygone era. Who represents the glamour of the Hollywood of the '30s and '40s better than him? He was also, in his prime, one of the most magnetic figures to ever be on screen, in my opinion.


But he's also a fascinating, contradictory personality. And in regard to the contradictions, Flynn acknowledged that in many ways his friends didn't understand him. I don't think the actor himself really understood them either, writing that contradictions were a part of human nature. They were certainly a part of his.

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Thank you, TomJH, for that look at Flynn.


I have just finished _The Sun Also Rises_ and feel Hemingway and Flynn shared more similarities than differences. It has been good reading the take Hemingway had on Flynn, and knowing stuff about Hemingway which I found to be just as paradoxical. Maybe Hemingway's criticism is projection.


I watch the post-war movies and find much more of the "show the story" element, which I see in Hemingway's novels as well. Hemingway writes like a journalist; brief, encompassing sentences that quickly paint the picture for the reader. No languishing prose. Movies were becoming like that too, in the Forties.


Then, came the High Drama novels of the Fifties and those movies followed suit, like _Peyton Place_.

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casablancalover, you are probably correct about the similarities between Hemingway and Flynn. Both were macho, though Hemingway was much more overt about it. Hemingway, I think, fancied himself a lover and was probably jealous of the actor in that respect. Both were heavy duty drinkers. Hemingway was competitive, and David Niven wrote of how Flynn liked to have flunkies around him (Though others who spoke of Flynn, have clearly regarded him as a "good guy").


Both had bouts of depression. We know how Hemingway died. Flynn during a period of nights (in the late '40s, I believe) also contemplated using a gun to end it all.




This is an image of Hemingway in Pamplona, 1925. The lady in the hat is Lady Duff Twysden, the inspiration for Lady Brett Ashley in The Sun Also Rises. The lady smiling at the rear is Hadley, the author's wife.

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Maybe the reason Hemingway didn't like his novels adapted to film was because of the drama element. Hemingway like intense experience, but not drama forcing his characters to self-examination.. _The Snows of Kilimanjaro_ are flashback, but the movie adaptation was padded with other scenes for more drama, which turned Hemingway off.


I have to laugh a little insight humor here; I have been on match.com for a while, and many of the men whose profiles I am reading are the magical form of a Hemingway hero. Not that they are recovering drunks no longer able to rise to the occasion (like Jake Barnes) but, more like the author perceives himself: a Lover of women, adventure, good times, and NO DRAMA! You would be amazed how many are looking like Papa too!, They would be finalists in the Hemingway Days lookalike contest at Key West. Boats and fishing. If one ever mentioned bullfighting, then I know where he gets his direct inspiration...


Edited by: casablancalover2 on Aug 26, 2012 12:46 PM

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I suspect that The Sun Also Rises would always be a tough sell on screen, no matter what cast it had. At least the film gave Errol Flynn a brief career revival. Unfortunately, he was rapidy running out of time with his self destructive lifestyle and the comeback would prove to be a short one. It's a memerable performance, though.

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I know you're being a bit facetious with that fencing suggestion, JefCostello. Flynn's sword days were over. It's a shame that Power's weren't, for the next time that he would do it would be on the set of Solomon and Sheba.

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This is one of my favorite movies ever. The dialogue is hilarious. Errol Flynn is a hoot - sad that he appears to be playing himself - but he is a hoot.


A real gem of a performance comes from Eddie Albert. He really is that friend you can call up when you want to get into some trouble with while having fun. His scenes with Flynn were great. You can really see how much his character really grew to care for Flynn, especially after Gardner left.


This film is full of subliminal and implied dialogue. I think the raciest thing really said is the word "impotent" early in the film. You really have to listen to understand as sometimes it seems like Gardner's character is speaking in dramatic circles.


I read the book years ago for school and I have totally separated the book from the film (character ages etc) and really enjoy this film. Tyrone received top billing but the rest of the cast really made this film come together....and poor Mel Ferrer's character!!

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LoveFilmNoir, I believe that there was some controversy about whether the word "impotent" would be used in the Peter Viertel screenplay.


It's interesting that Eddie Albert's character, Bill Gorton, is a friend of Jake's (Ty Power) but it's his drunken antic scenes with Mike (Errol Flynn) that stay in your memory. In fact, Albert has a rapport with Flynn on screen that is quite potent.


I read a quote somewhere from Power in which he had predicted that Flynn would get an Academy Award for his performance in the film. There was, indeed, with the brief "Flynn comeback," some loose speculation that he would receive a best supporting actor Oscar nomination. In fact, one time I heard a backstage interview that Flynn did a few months after the film's release in which he was congratulated by the interviewer with "late news" received that he was up for an Oscar. Flynn's reply was words to the effect, "Yes, that's really something, isn't it?"


Poor Flynn. It turned out to be a false media report. After his prime years as a film star I strongly suspect that he had lost confidence in himself as an actor. If he had received the nomination I think it really would have meant something to him. However, just getting the good reviews that he did must have been a boon for him. The Sun Also Rises was an important film in Flynn's career, in that respect. It's just that the benefits he would receive from it turned out to be so short lived. Flynn was fortunate that Zanuck cast him at a time when he was still capable of delivering a sustained characterization.


After his next two films bombed at the box office, Flynn was no longer "in" and, after his Cuba venture, he was largely living in Los Angeles hotel rooms in his final months seeking employment in a town that was once again turning its back on him. His continuing drinking and drug use, along with his declining physical condition, of course, had much to do with his unemployability.


Keep in mind, too, that the actor had been told by doctors about seven or eight years before that he only had a short while to live. His drinking and drug use only increased after receiving that news, particularly so after his own attempt at film production, with "William Tell" in Italy in 1953, collapsed due to Flynn's Italian financial support backing out. The actor later wrote that with the death of that film his time on top as a major film star ended.



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