Saturday, November 16, 2013

Hemingway's Adventures of a Young Man (1962)

Director: Martin Ritt

Writers: Ernest Hemingway, A.E. Hotchner

Composer: Franz Waxman

Starring: Richard Beymer, Diane Baker, Corinne Calvet, Fred Clark, Dan Dailey, James Dunn, Juano Hernandez, Arther Kennedy, Ricardo Montalban, Paul Newman, Susan Strasberg, Jessica Tandy, Eli Wallach, Michael J. Pollard

More info: IMDb

Tagline: The hungers of a young man's Springtime...

Plot: 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 advanceman 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.

My rating: 6/10

Will I watch it again? No.

Maybe it's because it was made in '62 that it's a rather dry and innocent look at a boy's rite of passage but then again, maybe it's just not all that interesting.  I didn't think so.  It's got some good performances, I reckon, but the interesting characters are found in the great actors that Nick (Beymer) comes across but he's never interesting. Intentional?  Beats me.  Ricardo Montalban kicks some acting ass, Pollard is always fun to watch but for me it's Paul Newman and Juano Hernandez that have the best segment and scenes.

 L to R: Newman, Hernandez and Beymer

The Battler (Newman) is a sympathetic former boxer who's had one too many punches to the head and Bugs (Hernandez) is the man who has somehow found himself the Battler's only friend and caretaker.  The Battler, though, has moments of violence so he doesn't work well with strangers.  Newman's performance is strong as he brings out the simple humanity of the character while thrusting himself into instant bouts of anger.  Hernandez is underplaying his role to show controlled patience and force when necessary.  It's a great scene and it's almost worth watching the film just for it.  The picture has its moments but there aren't enough to illicit another watch.

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