I Saw A Film!

Errol Flynn and Tyrone Power, and Hemingway himself would all soon be gone. While Eddie Albert would last til he was almost 100. This is the old bullfighter and Pamplona tale by Hemingway that features a group of buddies sort of doing the Beatnik thing (Kerouac style) but back in the generation before. They drink, they watch a bullfight, they argue, get in fights, and repeat. The bulls take up a good portion of the film, and I only recently learned that the Spanish for bullfight doesn’t mean what we think it means. It’s really more about the killing of the bull. It’s an odd way to sort of celebrate and enjoy the death. Something I’m sure I’d have a lot of difficulty taking part in. Of course, slaughter houses are no fun either, and as a result I don’t eat a lot of red meat. That I do eat is handled by professionals. The big industrial food factories are undoubtedly horror shows, and live animals undoubtedly are mistreated and perhaps we’ve known all about it farther back than the Jungle. But, just the same, this isn’t a forum for discussing the Spanish obsession with bullfights, or Mas Oyama’s bare-handed variation on the event (yes, Karate legend Oyama killed bulls barehanded — the only stipulation was they had a halter on that he could use).

So the main thing about this story is that Hemingway didn’t tell the audience that the main character, played by Tyrone, was injured in that delicate area down there, and the movie lets you know immediately. Juliette Greco is a love interest early in the film who doesn’t understand, much like myself reading the book, why he doesn’t seem to like her much. He explains. Easy enough.

And so, there’s all the silliness about the girl, um . . . what’s her name, I forget, anyway, she’s in love with one or another and then with the matador, and then the matador ditches her, or maybe Errol Flynn who she’d been meaning to marry ditches her, and it’s just this kind of carousel of jilts and whatnot. The hero keeps coming to the rescue. There’s a feel similar to Holly GoLightly from Breakfast at Tiffany’s, that sort of goofy, nearly comic performance. It’s Ava Gardiner who was born nearby here in Raleigh, NC.

Flynn is especially good. He’s nearly at the end of his life here, but he’s big, funny, and physical. He’d have made an excellent Hemingway. Tyrone feels stodgy, and a bit slow. Perhaps it’s unfair. At one point he and Eddie Albert are tooling about with a cute French damsel neither of them seems particularly interested in. She settles and pulls off her shoes to rub her feet, and both fellows leave her sitting on the steps. How odd. In the next sequence she throws her shoes off the parapet. Symbols? Storyline? Who needs it?

This is running for a few bucks on Prime (USA). And much better than the old war film from the early 40s.

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