The Snows of Kilimanjaro (1952 film)

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The Snows of Kilimanjaro
The Snows of Kilimanjaro.jpg
Lobby Card
Directed by Henry King
Produced by Darryl F. Zanuck
Screenplay by Casey Robinson
Based on The novel The Snows of Kilimanjaro 
by Ernest Hemingway
Starring Gregory Peck
Ava Gardner
Susan Hayward
Narrated by Gregory Peck
Music by Bernard Herrmann
Cinematography Leon Shamroy
Edited by Barbara McLean
Distributed by Twentieth Century Fox
Release dates
  • August 18, 1952 (1952-08-18)
Running time 117 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Box office $6.5–$12.5 million[1][2]

The Snows of Kilimanjaro is a 1952 American Technicolor film based on the short story of the same name by Ernest Hemingway. The film version of the short story was directed by Henry King, written by Casey Robinson, and starred Gregory Peck as Harry, Susan Hayward as Helen, and Ava Gardner as Cynthia Green (a character invented for the film). The film's ending does not mirror the book's ending.[3]

Considered by Hemingway to be one of his finest stories, "The Snows of Kilimanjaro" was first published in Esquire magazine in 1936 and then republished in The Fifth Column and the First Forty-Nine Stories (1938).

The film was nominated for two Oscars at the 25th Academy Awards, for Best Cinematography, Color and Best Art Direction, Color (Lyle R. Wheeler, John DeCuir, Thomas Little, Paul S. Fox).

The film has entered the public domain.[4]

Plot[edit]

Peck recalls his memories from what he thinks is his deathbed in Africa

The film begins with the opening words of Hemingway's story: "Kilimanjaro is a snow-covered mountain 19,710 feet high, and is said to be the highest mountain in Africa. Its western summit is called the Masai 'Ngje Ngi,' the House of God. Close to the western summit there is the dried and frozen carcass of a leopard. No one has explained what the leopard was seeking at that altitude."[3]

The story centers on the memories of disillusioned writer Harry Street (Gregory Peck) who is on safari in Africa. He has a severely infected wound from a thorn prick, and lies outside his tent awaiting a slow death. The loss of mobility brings self-reflection. He remembers past years and how little he has accomplished in his writing. He realizes that although he has seen and experienced wonderful and astonishing things during his life, he had never made a record of the events. His status as a writer is undermined by his reluctance to actually write. He also quarrels with the woman with him, blaming her for his living decadently and forgetting his failure to write of what really matters to him: his experiences among poor and "interesting" people, rather than the smart Europeans with whom he has been lately.

He lives to see morning come. He watches vultures gather in a tree as he lies in the evening. He recapitulates his life and talks to his current girl-friend Helen (Susan Hayward). He tells her about his past experiences; then arguing, then coming to realization about his attitude, and finally reaching a sort of peace, even love, with her.

Cast[edit]

Gregory Peck and Ava Gardner meet

Pre-production[edit]

Peck and Susan Hayward

Twentieth Century-Fox bought the rights to the story in June 1948, paying $125,000.[3] Humphrey Bogart, Richard Conte and Marlon Brando were all reported to be under consideration for the male lead, as was Dale Robertson.[3]

Production[edit]

The film was shot on location in Nairobi, Kenya, Cairo, Egypt, the French Riviera, and studio work was done at Stage 14 in 20th Century Fox Studios. During production, on April 8, 1952, when Peck was carrying Gardner for a scene in the film, Peck wrenched his knee and production had to be postponed for 10 days while he recovered in his Pacific Palisades home, and Hildegard Knef came down with influenza in the studios.[2][5] She was able though to sing two Cole Porter tunes in the film.[6] Jazz musician Benny Carter performs early on in the film.[7]

Post-production[edit]

The bullfight sequences was archive footage, taken from Fox's 1941 film Blood and Sand.[3]

Reception[edit]

On location in Kenya

Helped by a star-studded cast, the film was one of the most successful films of the early 1950s and earned $12.5 million at the box office, very high for that period.[2] The film was nominated for two Academy Awards; for Best Cinematography and Best Art Direction (Lyle R. Wheeler, John DeCuir, Thomas Little, Paul S. Fox).[8] The film was much acclaimed by critics, although some vary in their opinion of it, ranging from "simply plodding" to "much-maligned".[9][10] The cinematography was highly acclaimed in particular, and even the sophisticated interiors were praised.[11][12] Bosley Crowther of The New York Times described the cinematography as "magnificent and exciting" and said that the "overall production in wonderful color is full of brilliant detail and surprise and the mood of nostalgia and wistful sadness that is built up in the story has its spell."[11] He praised Peck's character for his "burning temper and melancholy moods", although he said that Ava Gardner was "pliant and impulsive" in a role "as soggy and ambiguous as any in the film".[11] Bowker's Directory described it as having "plenty of action & romance" and stated that it was "the popular 'celebrity film' of its time".[13] Hemingway, who disliked the typical Hollywood happy ending, accepted the money for the film, but he could not bring himself to view the film.[11]

Home media[edit]

20th Century Fox released the film on DVD in March 2007, separately and as part of five-disc collection entitled "The Ernest Hemingway Film Collection", where it was packaged with Under My Skin, The Sun Also Rises, A Farewell to Arms, and Hemingway's Adventures of a Young Man.[4]

References[edit]

  1. ^ 'Top Box-Office Hits of 1952', Variety, January 7, 1953
  2. ^ a b c Holston, Kim R. Susan Hayward: Her Films and Life. McFarland. p. 91. ISBN 978-0-7864-8088-3. Retrieved 23 May 2013. 
  3. ^ a b c d e "Notes - The Snows of Kilimanjaro". AFI Catalog. Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved 2013-06-16. 
  4. ^ a b Hicks, Chris (March 8, 2007). "DVD reviews: Oldies make their DVD debut". Deseret News. Retrieved 2013-06-16. The Snows of Kilimanjaro (1952, color) has injured writer Gregory Peck going over his past to see if his life has meaning, with Ava Gardner and Susan Hayward. This one has been on many public-domain labels, but this is a pristine print and looks gorgeous. 
  5. ^ Molyneaux, Gerard (1995). Gregory Peck: A Bio-bibliography. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 113. ISBN 978-0-313-28668-1. Retrieved 23 May 2013. 
  6. ^ Reimer, Robert C.; Reimer, Carol J. (1 April 2010). The A to Z of German Cinema. Scarecrow Press. p. 176. ISBN 978-1-4617-3186-3. Retrieved 23 May 2013. 
  7. ^ Cooke, Mervyn; Horn, David (9 January 2003). The Cambridge Companion to Jazz. Cambridge University Press. p. 343. ISBN 978-0-521-66388-5. Retrieved 23 May 2013. 
  8. ^ "The Snows of Kilimanjaro". New York Times. Retrieved 21 December 2008. 
  9. ^ Irwin, John T (2006). Unless the Threat of Death is Behind Them: Hard-boiled Fiction and Film Noir. JHU Press. p. 205. ISBN 978-0-8018-8435-1. Retrieved 23 May 2013. 
  10. ^ Films and Filming. Hansom Books. 1971. p. 44. Retrieved 23 May 2013. 
  11. ^ a b c d Crowther, Bosley (19 September 1952). "THE SCREEN IN REVIEW; ' Snow of Kiliminjaro,' Based on Hemingway's Story, Is New Feature at Rivoli". The New York Times. Retrieved 23 May 2013. 
  12. ^ Whitlock, Cathy (5 February 2013). Designs on Film: A Century of Hollywood Art Direction. HarperCollins. p. 149. ISBN 978-0-06-224160-3. Retrieved 23 May 2013. 
  13. ^ Bowker's Complete Video Directory. R R Bowker Publishing. 1993. p. 1339. Retrieved 23 May 2013. 

External links[edit]