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Turner Classic Movies: The Sun Also Rises

Updated on March 27, 2013

Movie The Sun Also Rises

I enjoy watching movies based on novels. Comparisons are made between the film version and the book. Recently I reviewed the The Sun Also Rises. The 20th Century Fox film was released in 1957, thirty-one years after the novel was written by Ernest Hemmingway. In the modern era, (2000’s), a film is created only a few years after a book is published.

The Sun Also Rises
was directed by Henry King. The screenplay was written by Peter Viertel. It was a big budget movie, filmed in Cinemascope on location in France and Mexico, substituting for Spain. The movie follows the novel closely. The period is 1920’s, just after World War I.

Lady Brett Ashley played by Ava Gardner is a beautiful but selfish young woman. Brett uses men for her own pleasure. When she becomes bored with a lover she discards him. Tyrone Power, in the role of Jake Barnes, is the hero of the film. Jake is a writer based in Paris who has known Brett since World War I. They met in a hospital in France where Jake was a patient and Brett was a nurse.

There are some interesting tidbits of dialogue in the movie. When Jake is a patient in the hospital, the doctor tells him that war injuries have made Jake impotent. Jake asks, “Can I smoke?”
The doctor answers, “Of course you can smoke.” Jake immediately lights a cigarette.

The cast of revelers and party goers are as follows: Robert Cohn portrayed by Mel Ferrer; Mike Campbell played by Errol Flynn; Bill Gorton portrayed by Eddie Albert and a young Robert Evans plays the matador Pedro Romero.
When Robert Cohn expresses interest in Lady Brett Ashley, Jake tries to dissuade Robert by accurately describing Brett as a drunk. Brett uses all the men in the movie to her advantage. Errol Flynn steals the show as Mike Campbell, Brett’s older fiancé. Flynn drinks and parties his way through the film.
There are exciting scenes of running of the bulls in Pamplona, Spain and bullfights that were actually filmed in Mexico City and surrounding areas.

When Hemmingway wrote the story in 1926 the characters in the book were young, mid twenties to late thirties in age. Tyrone Power was forty-four years old when he portrayed Jake Barnes, a character in his mid twenties. Power looked much older than his forty four years and died a year after the film was released. Errol Flynn appeared old as the character Mike Campbell who was possibly late thirties in age. Flynn passed away when he was fifty years old in 1959. Ava Gardner was thirty-five years old when she played Lady Brett Ashley. Although Gardner was still beautiful, there are no real close-ups of her in the movie. Mel Ferrer who lived until ninety years of age and Eddie Albert who passed away at ninety-nine were two actors that kept themselves in good physical condition throughout their careers.

I recently saw the movie The Expendables II. Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger are in their mid-sixties. Chuck Norris is seventy-two years old. The physical conditioning of our present day older actors is far superior to the actors of half a century ago.

A movie student should review The Sun Also Rises. If this movie were made today the actors and actresses would be caste at the proper age. In 1978, John Travolta and Olivia Newton John performed in the movie Grease. They portrayed eighteen year olds. Travolta was twenty-four years old and Olivia Newton John was at least twenty-seven. However a subtle change was made in the 1984 film Sixteen Candles. The heroine Molly Ringwald was really sixteen years old and her protagonist Anthony Michael Hall was also sixteen. Today's movies are caste with actors that are the actual ages of the characters in the films. Thus young cinema viewers can relate to a film with movie stars their own age.


The Sun Also Rises

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