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Islands in the Stream: Based on the book by Ernest Hemingway #book2movie

George C. Scott stars in Islands in the Stream 

Gone but not forgotten. George C. Scott, born on this day—October 18, 1927—was an acting heavyweight. A four time Oscar nominee, Scott who died in 1999, won the gold for his portrayal of Patton in 1970. He refused to accept the award because he didn't feel he was in competition with other actors. His appearance in a televised version of Twelve Angry Men was also lauded, earning him an unwanted Golden Globe. 

Of all the roles Scott is known for, Islands in the Stream is likely not in the conversation. The film which came out in the summer of 1977 was based on an unfinished Ernest Hemingway manuscript—his wife put it together from various found drafts after his death—which I'd read in January of 1977 and can still recall for its extraordinary many-page long description of fishing. Outside of catching Sunfish off a big stone rock at a summer cottage on the St. Lawrence River when I was a kid, fishing isn't a subject I hold any reverence for but Hemingway’s depiction is stunning and absolutely compelling. Not just about the big catch it’s loaded with all that Hemingway stuff on manhood and a boy's pleasing and living up to his father's expectations.

 For most feminists, Hemingway, despite his status as a literary icon, is representative of toxic masculinity at its worst. But we still flock to his Key West home to see where the great papa wrote and drank and lived and thrill at his exploits. While Islands in the Stream isn't part of the legendary Hemingway’s lauded ouvre, the novel, and the movie are said to be loosely based on the author's life. Except instead of being a writer, he's a sculptor. The book might not have been that great as Roger Ebert alludes to below, but I bought it hook line and sinker.

“Islands in the Stream” is a big, strong, old-fashioned movie about that threatened species, the Hemingway Hero. It celebrates physical courage and boozing all night and the initiation of boys into manhood, and it has a fishing scene, a battle scene, a love scene and a whore with a heart of gold. Papa would have loved it, and no wonder: He wrote it, and in many ways it's about him.
This was the posthumous Hemingway novel, assembled by his widow, Mary, from various drafts and stages of the work in progress. Its reviews weren't particularly good, and there's a possibility that Hemingway, had he lived, might have decided not to publish it. But it makes good movie material: The best movies somehow seem to come from second-rate books, while great literature resists translation into other forms.

Islands in the Stream is available to stream on Amazon, Vudu and iTunes. In addition to George C. Scott as Hemingway, the films stars Claire Bloom, David Hemmings and Hart Bochner and was nominated for its cinematography. The great Jerry Goldsmith—nominated 18 times for his music—composed the score. 

Call it a Throwback Thursday piece of sentimentality but I think it's worth a rewatch.