Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Sixties rarity: Hemingway's Adventures Of A Young Man, 1962

Another of those 1962 dramas, another 20th Century Fox literary adaptation, produced as usual by Jerry Wald and this one is directed by dependable Martin Ritt. Is a little turgid and long-winded though, as we follow Nick Adams on his adventures around rural America and into World War I in Italy, a tepid re-run of A FAREWELL TO ARMS. I have not read Hemingway's stories, but the episodic nature of the film takes us from Nick's typical Hemingway life in rural Michigan, hunting, shooting and fishing with his father and evading his icy, controlling mother, until he runs away, encountering various characters like that broken-down boxer The Battler (a Paul Newman cameo), Fred Clarke, Dan Dailey and others, and Eli Wallach as another ambulance driver in Italy as the First World War rages. Pallid Susan Stransberg is the nurse he loves and loses (Beymer and her are not quite Rock Hudson and Jennifer Jones in the 1957 film). Arthur Kennedy scores as the doctor father, who eventually kills himself  (very Hemingway) no doubt to escape from or punish his controlling wife. Jessica Tandy is terrific as ever here, a dry run for her equally controlling mother for Hitchcock in THE BIRDS the next year. Diane Baker gets one scene as the obligatory girlfriend who does not understand our hero ...

Young and restless Nick Adams, the only son of a domineering mother and a weak but noble doctor father, leaves his rural Michigan home to embark on an eventful cross-country journey. He is touched and affected by his encounters with a punch-drunk ex-boxer, a sympathetic telegrapher, and an alcoholic advancement for a burlesque show. After failing to get a job as reporter in New York, he enlists in the Italian army during World War I as an ambulance driver. His camaraderie with fellow soldiers and a romance with a nurse he meets after being wounded propel him to manhood
Rural America of the early 20th century is nicely caught, as in EAST OF EDEN. It ends as Nick returns as a war hero, to confront his mother and make his way as a writer, a coming of age story, similar to the climax of our 1962 favourite ALL FALL DOWN, or that other literary Fox film of D H Lawrence's SONS AND LOVERS.

Richard Beymer has to carry the film, but is not really strong enough -another James Dean would be required or the young Warren Beatty then, but it has the required 20th Century Fox plush look, one to file along their other 'literary' works like Faulkner's THE SOUND AND THE FURY or SANCTUARY, Steinbeck's THE WAYWARD BUS, Inge's THE STRIPPER  or those PEYTON PLACE potboilers. 


  1. Most of the reviews of this film have been so poor I have always avoided it, (I could have got a Spanish copy last year). I know it's Hemingway, Ritt and that cast but.... Maybe I will get it next trip if it's still available but then I have never been a fan of the writer either.

  2. Well if you only see films based on reviews ! ---- don't you want to see a film because of who is in it, the story or the period? Not every film needs to be a "masterpiece". Just sayin' ...