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  • I first saw The Hemingway Play on PBS back in the seventies, before the network went all "politically correct" and still aired good plays, old and new, on a regular basis. Written by the relatively unknown Frederic Hunter, it tells of the life and loves of the great and often troubled American novelist Ernest Hemingway. We see Hemingway as a young man, eager and idealistic; a middle-aged man, cynical but still optimistic; and as an old man, depressed and defeated. His complicated relationships with women are highlighted rather than his artistic accomplishments, but I don't consider this a flaw, as this is not what the author had set out to do. The play is about Hemingway the man, and a fascinating man he was; so gifted and yet so flawed; so profoundly troubled; and in the end so like all of us, just a human being, passing through his life, full of ups and downs, fears and desires.

    The very fine cast includes Tim Matheson, Samantha Eggar and Alexander Scourby, among several other gifted players. There are no bad performances. Don Taylor's direction gives full rein to the actors. I wish there were more plays like this on television, on PBS, cable, anywhere. It's a memorable and moving piece, and I remember it vividly almost thirty years after it was first broadcast.
  • This is an incredible production and a wonderful play. It's a shame it's not out on video. In it we see the four stages of Ernest Hemingway: the wounded boy back from WWI, the 1920's Paris writer, the middle aged safari hunter and "Papa" Hemingway. They and their entourages meet and mingle in a fascinating look at the writer and the people in his life. It is touching and very adult in the handling of its characters. Basically a stage play on video, the production values and overall casting are very high.
  • It was 20 years ago this year that I saw The Hemingway Play. It seems that 1986 was the last time it surfaced on air, which is rather surprising, considering that Hemingway's centennial happened a few years ago. I wonder if PBS has any available copies or if it ever plans to run it again. I can't seem to find it on DVD or video.

    It was a great idea for a play, having Hemingway confront himself at different stages of his life. The one thing I remember was that the character or "stage" that I wanted to see most was the Hemingway of about 28 to 30 years old. This was Hemingway at his most active and vibrant period. The two older stages of Papa and I forget the name of the Hemingway character at about 45 were pretty run down and decrepit versions of the man. They were true to form, and I guess being so, were rather pathetic. The "fun" Hemingway was shown best by the late 30's version of Hem. A man still at the top of his abilities.

    The dialog was great and even if you didn't know much about Hemingway, it was interesting interaction. The character of the secretary, who reminded all the Hemingways of Hadley was a bit idealized. Also, the actress looked a lot better than Hadley ever did, but the older Hemingways kept saying how much she reminded them of their first wife.

    Anyway, it would be great to see this again. I wonder what kind of netherworld a lost piece of video like this goes into.
  • johnkato20 March 2001
    Of all the movies that I want to see again, this movie is the one I want to see the most. The dialogue is first rate and the story is both subtle and moving. It moved me and that was the first time that I wished I had a VCR. It is my fondest hope that this film be re-released.
  • I remember seeing "The Hemingway Play" on Hollywood Television Theater on KCET TV in LA. Saw in a few times as it was repeated during that year. My best friend Jeff and I called each other when we knew it was going to be on. I was familiar with a few of the actors in the production.

    Ever since then I have tried to find a copy of it. Not knowing who wrote in was the main problem. I even mentioned it to Tim Matheson last year. He lives in Santa Barbara. After a SB Film Festival event ( where he interviewed Felicity Huffman on stage after showing "Transamerica") I had an opportunity to meet him outside and mentioned the play. He was taken back saying that goes way back and he didn't remember who wrote it. Thankfully there is the internet!.

    If I can find a copy I believe it would be an excellent idea to do it on stage. With Matheson directing or even in one of the older parts. Any info on where to find a copy?
  • I am so glad to find others who remember and love this play. I've searched for 20 years for a place to buy it on video or DVD This is one of the best plays ever. My husband and I talk about it often because we go to Key West a lot and always visit the Hemingway house. We've asked the clerks in the gift shop about the play and they say they have never heard of it. I've also searched PBS websites like the History Channel, AETN, Biography channel, etc. I wonder who we could contact to find out if it is available any where? There's not many stories that stay in your heart or mind for twenty years. I've also looked at Best Buy. Does anyone know of any Hemingway historians who might know where to get copies? If you do please post it here. I'm sure all of us would love to get our hands on it.
  • Amazon has a service where they can use video on demand via printing on a DVD-R. I saw this with a few DVDs that are not available here in the US.

    I hope they can do this with this play.

    Like many of you, I found that this was a profoundly interesting play with many of life's lessons that can be mined.

    Combined with first rate acting and a great idea that was well executed, it is a shame this effort does not have wider release.

    If I can see again a performance for one last time before I die (many more years down the line I hope) I want to see this again.
  • I saw "The Hemingway Play" when it first broadcast on TV nearly 30 years ago. The fantasy meeting of five different Ernest Hemingways at five different stages of his life, arguing, discussing, debating their personal views of life and love. The performance was both true to the author's evolving ethos and full of tender insights into his life and life in general. A breathtaking tour de force in assembling the text and fulfilling the character(s).

    I remember it as one of the most powerful plays I'd ever experienced and have sought to find it again for several years. It's too good to be forgotten; it is, literally, unforgettable! If there's a VHS or DVD of the TV broadcast out there, I want to find it!