Sunday, April 25, 2010
Missing Movies: The Macomber Affair (1947)
As a longtime Ernest Hemingway fan--note the badge at the bottom of this blog--I've wanted to see the 1947 film The Macomber Affair but it's never on TV. The one fleeting image I had of this movie was back in the mid '90s, when I first learned of this movie's existence it was the above still from a Hemingway coffee table book! The Macomber Affair is based on the brilliant story The Short-Happy Life of Francis Macomber, which is included in the author's short story collection, The Snows of Kilimanjaro and Other Stories. The movie stars Gregory Peck (who appeared in 1952's The Snows of Kilimanjaro), Joan Bennett, and Robert Preston.
The story is about a married couple (Preston and Bennett) out on a safari with "Great White Hunter" Peck. The wife henpecks and has no respect for her husband because he bolted when confronting a lion. The bulk of the story is the tension between the couple and...well, I won't spoil the end. I wonder if the film changes the story's tremendous finale? As for the casting, it looks like they did well. I love Joan Bennett, but Jane Greer would've made a great Margot Macomber, too. However, it's Preston's performance that I'm most interested in seeing. As for Peck, I'm sure he exudes enough Captain Ahab/General MacArthur-esque confidence to pull of the role of Wilson.
From the few reviews I've read, the movie is considered one of the better adaptations of Hemingway's work. I was disappointed that The Macomber Affair wasn't included on the Hemingway Classics Collection DVD set. It was a United Artists release with a score by Miklós Rózsa (Lust for Life; Ben-Hur; King of Kings) . I've been on a Rózsa kick lately and would be interested in hearing this score and of course seeing the film. This looks to be something right up Turner Classic Movies' alley. If they don't air it, then perhaps it can berendered via the made-to-order DV-R. The Macomber Affair should be made available, especially with that cast, as Peck was well on his way to being a superstar and Preston and Bennett already crafty veterans, plus there's that Hemingway connection and a music score by a legendary composer. I'd like to think that The Macomber Affair is a forgotten gem just waiting for rediscovery. The film is ranked #521 on TCM's list for films not on DVD.