“Everyone behaves badly, given the proper chance.”
A disillusioned and disabled WWI veteran (Tyrone Power), joined by his American buddy (Eddie Albert), works as a journalist in Europe, drinking at night while pining for his one true yet unattainable love (Ava Gardner) and watching her navigate romantic entanglements with an alcoholic British nobleman (Errol Flynn), a jealous boxer (Mel Ferrer), and a studly young bullfighter (Robert Evans).
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- Ava Gardner Films
- Eddie Albert Films
- Errol Flynn Films
- Henry King Films
- Love Triangle
- Mel Ferrer Films
- Star-Crossed Lovers
- Tyrone Power Films
Ernest Hemingway’s classic 1926 novel was finally turned into a film several decades later by director Henry King and screenwriter Peter Viertel. Unfortunately, the storyline about a “lost generation” of Americans and Brits drinking away their lives in Europe isn’t well suited for the screen, other than the inclusion of countless colorful scenes of bullfighting and the annual Running of the Bulls in Pamplona, Spain. The most memorable character (coming across in an unintentionally humorous fashion) is Flynn’s besotted, penniless nobleman, who somehow manages to survive on the fumes of generosity. The central dilemma of Power having become impotent from war wounds — and thus unable to legitimate a relationship with his One True Love (Gardner) — is simply not enough to sustain the narrative; as DVD Savant writes in his review, “I have a feeling that if the pair really cared for each other, a short discussion of biological workarounds would suffice to give them some kind of intimate satisfaction.” Meanwhile, Savant is also spot on in his derision of a terribly miscast figure in the story, writing:
“The kiss of death is Robert Evans, who as the supposedly magnetic matador Pedro Romero projects no charm whatsoever. In most of his close-ups, Evans looks cross-eyed or mentally challenged, and his line deliveries make Ferrer look like Brando. When Gardner’s Brett tosses everything to the wind to follow Evans’ Pedro, the movie goes out the side door and doesn’t come back.”
In other words, feel free to skip this one, unless you’re a Gardner completist or in the mood for lots of drinking and bull(s).
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Fine location shooting with vibrant CinemaScope cinematography by Leo Tover
- An interesting sociological glimpse at bullfighting (though numerous other films also provide this) and the Running of the Bulls
Nope; this one isn’t must-see.