Author Hemingway's paean to the Lost Generation in the wake of WWI has been adapted to the screen more faithfully than have any of his other works. Power is the aimless postwar expatriate drifting around Europe, seeking thrills to compensate for his impotence, the result of a war wound. In
the company of sultry prostitute Greco, he threads his way through the bistros of Paris. He's still in love with beautiful aristocrat Gardner, who helped him recover from his wounds during the war. She is being pursued by amorous Greek tycoon Ratoff, and also by young would-be writer Ferrer. Power
sets off for Pamplona with his trusted friend, fellow expatriate Albert, arriving only to find that Gardner, Ferrer, and Ratoff have preceded him there to witness the annual running of the bulls. The group is joined by carefree Scottish playboy Flynn, Gardner's former fiance. Behind the hilarity
and fun, tensions mount, as all the men lust after Gardner while she wants only Power.
Producer Zanuck greatly admired Hemingway, whom he had met in Paris, introduced by screenwriter Viertel, years before. Zanuck and Hemingway both wintered in Sun Valley for a number of years and were great friends, but their friendship had been flawed by Hemingway's reaction to Zanuck's production
of THE SNOWS OF KILIMANJARO. At 43, Power was old for the role. This was to be the actor's second-to-last film, and his last for Fox; he died of a heart attack the following year. This was one of Flynn's last pictures, and his self-parody is a joy, the best thing in the film. The fourth-billed
Flynn had, for the first time in years and over his weak protests, accepted less than the top spot in the credits, an honor he had been accorded ever since his success in CAPTAIN BLOOD. Power's habitually petulant facial expression is wrong for this film; a contrapuntal masculinity would have
served the story better. Ferrer is fine in his part as the resentful introvert. His wife Audrey Hepburn, who joined him on location in both Pamplona and in Morelia, Mexico (which doubled for the Spain location), was the one who suggested Greco to Zanuck for the role of the sympathetic prostitute.
Greco was then singing at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City, but she had a substantial cult following in Europe, where she had appeared in movies. This was her US film debut. She and producer Zanuck had an on-location romance which was to continue long past the picture's release. Touted as a
Zanuck "find," Evans had been a clothing manufacturer. He had actually been "found" by Norma Shearer, whose late husband, Irving Thalberg, he had portrayed in THE MAN WITH A THOUSAND FACES (not yet released at the time). Evans later became production chief at Paramount. Zanuck, goaded by the
mischievous Flynn, actually ran with the bulls himself at Pamplona, but only after carefully timing himself to make certain he could stay ahead of them. The picture was reported to have cost $5 million, but it made money for the studio.
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- Rating: NR
- Review: Author Hemingway's paean to the Lost Generation in the wake of WWI has been adapted to the screen more faithfully than have any of his other works. Power is the aimless postwar expatriate drifting around Europe, seeking thrills to compensate for his impote… (more)