The tough, uncompromising Hemingway story "The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber" (a title too long for any marquee) was brought to the screen with vitality and invention by the eccentric and talented Zoltan Korda, brother of mogul Alexander, and the result was surprisingly effective.
Peck, Preston and Bennett had more to do with that than the script. Preston is Macomber, a wealthy playboy who, with wife Margaret (Bennett) at his side, hires great white hunter Robert Wilson (Peck) to guide them to the African hunting grounds. Margaret has little or no respect for her husband,
knowing that he is a weak-willed character with no courage at all, and she makes a play for Robert, whose honor will not permit him to dally with a married woman. At first, Macomber shows his yellow streak on the dangerous safari, but he gradually discovers his courage. In a final hunt, he refuses
to run from a charging animal but, before he can bring it down, he is shot by Margaret, who claims she was trying to save his life. She is later tried for murder and acquitted, the jury deciding that the shooting was accidental. The budding romance of Robert and Margaret, however, must still be
Peck later stated that everyone in the production had a hand in adjusting the story to make it acceptable to the censor. Hemingway, who had been paid $80,000 for the story, refused to help, ignoring cables for ideas from the studio. The script, though considerably changed from the original story,
still retains the direct style Hemingway made so famous. Except for background footage shot in Africa, this was filmed mostly on Hollywood soundstages, with the hunting scenes staged in the northern part of Baja, California. Despite the compromises and problems which plagued the production
(including an ongoing debate about what to name the film) the result is a tense and provocatively adult piece, its often steamy material suitably underplayed by the talented star trio.
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- Rating: NR
- Review: The tough, uncompromising Hemingway story "The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber" (a title too long for any marquee) was brought to the screen with vitality and invention by the eccentric and talented Zoltan Korda, brother of mogul Alexander, and the re… (more)