Macomber Affair, The (1947)

Macomber Affair, The (1947)

“He was an odd one, Mr. Macomber.”

A hunting guide (Gregory Peck) in East Africa reflects back on an accident in which a woman (Joan Bennett) kills her husband (Robert Preston) during a safari.

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Africa
  • Flashback Films
  • Gregory Peck Films
  • Hunting
  • Joan Bennett Films
  • Love Triangle
  • Marital Problems
  • Masculinity
  • Robert Preston Films
  • Zoltan Korda Films

Zoltan Korda directed this adaptation of a short story by Ernest Hemingway, about the impact of a hunting safari on an already-tense marriage. The narrative structure of Preston and Bennett off in the wilderness with only their guide (Peck) and two assistants available offers a convenient framework for peeking into the couple’s troubles: Bennett is there to assess her husband’s every move, and unfortunately, he doesn’t measure up. By the time a critical interaction with a lion occurs (and Preston reacts with fear rather than bravery), it’s clear Bennett’s disdain for Preston cannot be salvaged — especially with handsome, intrepid Peck as a counterpoint.

Peck (who co-produced) gives an excellent performance as a man thoroughly versed in the “code” of big game hunting, who tries to help Preston see that his protestations and apologies are not only unnecessary but unseemly. (Apparently, while it’s okay to “chicken out” and allow one’s guide to take over at any moment, it’s not acceptable to make a fuss over this and allow one’s insecurities to show too prominently.) This film isn’t must-see viewing, but is a fine adaptation.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Gregory Peck as Robert Wilson
  • Atmospheric cinematography

Must See?
No, though it’s worth a one-time look. Listed as a Sleeper and a Personal Recommendation in the back of Peary’s book.


One thought on “Macomber Affair, The (1947)

  1. First viewing. Not must-see.

    I’ve never seen the point of killing animals for sport – even though (to some degree) I can understand the counter-view of there being no difference between killing them for sport and for food. (Vegans would probably refuse to watch this film.) It just seems weird to me – especially when someone like Hemingway gussies it up with a combative yet birds-of-a-feather ‘romance’.

    The dynamic of Hemingway’s triangle is peculiar. Bennett’s odd passive-aggression (which at times borders on gaslighting) is just plain bizarre but even Peck isn’t above emasculating Preston (“Perhaps I should let you alone so you can have a good cry.”). Of the three performances, I prefer Preston’s – not because I like his character but because of the way he plays it.

    Essentially, all three are clueless about how they set each other up. That may be realistic but personally I found it all a bit boring.

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