Monday, July 25, 2011

The Snows of Kilimanjaro (1952)

“I wonder if there'll be another time as good as this.”

            I love to watch films that are based off books. Usually what happens I will watch the film first and then read the book. Also usually I can tell if the book will be good by watching the film (my case in points Rebecca, Gone with the Wind, Laura). Let me just say I will never give Ernest Hemmingway a chance because I find the films based on his books to be boring (well maybe besides The Killers which was based off one of his short stories) and such was the case with The Snows of Kilimanjaro.
            The plot of the story is Henry Street (Gregory Peck) has been severely wounded while hunting on an African safari. As he waits for help with his wife Helen (Susan Hayward) he begins to feverishly flashback to the first love of his life. Cynthia (Ava Gardner) has haunted his memory for many years. They met in Paris before the war and it was love at first site for Henry.
            Henry and Cynthia marry but he is restless after he writes and publishes his novel. He constantly wants to travel so he can gain material for his books. Henry’s constant need to travel takes a grave toll on Cynthia and their relationship and they split.
            A few years later he meets a young countess but she cannot fill the void left by Cynthia. Henry found his former wife’s address in Spain and he writes to her. When she writes back the countess who is his fiancée sees the letter and gets mad. She knows that Henry does not really love her. Henry leaves the south of France where he has been living and heads to Spain to fight in their civil war with hopes of possibly finding Cynthia.
            He does find Cynthia she is an ambulance driver. But when they see each other it is for the last time. The ambulance she was driving is hit by a bomb. Henry finds her and does not want to let her go but as he goes with the stretcher he is shot in leg for disobeying orders. His last view of the love of his life is of her desperately reaching out to him.
            Henry spends the next few years wandering around Paris. He follows women around he thinks look like his lost love. One of the women he follows is Helen. They run into each other at a different time and that is when they get together. Henry has become a drunk running around with women.
            Now in the jungle Henry realizes that he is not the failure he thinks he is with his novels and through Helen’s devotion he also realizes that he really loves her. He also now has the will to fight to stay alive until help comes.
            I thought the film was going along great at the beginning and then it hit the middle and the end and it went to pieces. I have to give a lot of praise to Ava Gardner because I thought she was excellent and that her scenes were some of her best acting I have seen of her so far. Gardner is so beautiful that you can believe someone who loved her (either in the movies or in real life) could never get over her and it made her character and Henry’s haunting memory of her so believable. Gregory Peck was good he was not fantastic. I love Peck I think he is a great actor but maybe it was the character I did not enjoy him at all. Susan Hayward was as always fabulous. No film ever suffers horribly (unless it is The Conqueror) when she is in it. I was such a doof the whole time I was thinking “I wish Gregory Peck and Susan Hayward made another film together they could be so good in another film with different material” then my brain clicked and I remembered they were in David and Bathsheba together and I own it…. go me and watching movies at one in the morning.
            The Snows of Kilimanjaro is definitely not one of the greatest films I have sat through. I hate it when I find a film starting off pretty well and then by the middle it just bombs and becomes a hassle to sit through. I found watching the film unrestored more fun that paying attention to the story. If you are really interested give The Snows of Kilimanjaro a chance mostly for the cast.

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