Old Man & Sea [Import]
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It takes courage for any actor to fill shoes previously worn by Spencer Tracy, but no one could accuse fellow two-time Oscar® winner Anthony Quinn of cowardice. It was, in fact, a longtime goal of the Mexican-born actor to take on the role of Ernest Hemingway's luckless fisherman Santiago. It would be churlish to suggest that he bests Tracy (who received an Oscar nod for his performance), but there's little doubt that Quinn, in his 70s at the time (Tracy was in his 50s in 1958), looks and sounds more right for the part. This 1990 telefilm is also a family affair as Quinn's daughter, Valentina, portrays Santiago's concerned daughter and his son, Francesco, portrays the Cuban as a scrappy young man. Gary Cole and Patricia Clarkson provide strong support as an American couple who take inspiration from Santiago's quest to catch just one fish after an 84-day dry spell. --Kathleen C. Fennessy
Top Customer Reviews
While the book can drag and be a tad redundant; this film adaptation puts life into the story. It is almost as if the story was written for Quinn. I have no intention of calling this a remake.
Anthony Quinn requested his part as a birthday present (his 75th) from his producer.
Anthony Quinn ... Santiago
Gary Cole ... Tom Pruitt
Patricia Clarkson ... Mary Pruitt
Joe Santos ... Lopez
Valentina Quinn ... Angela
Francesco Quinn ... Santiago as a Young Man
Paul Calderon ... Anderez
Notice a few more Quinn's
The visualisation makes the boring story a bit more exciting and the new elements that are implemented like the author Hemmingway itself and other persons not mentioned so directly in the novella surprise everybody who read the book at first in a positive way.
Once one said to me that a film as a visualisation of a novella could never as good as the written form. "The Old Man and the Sea" proves the contrary opinion because this movie simply is better than the original book.
Nevertheless also a good visual form cannot hide a weak story. For whose who have read the novella with pleasure or do like the great actor Anthony Quinn I can recommend the movie version.
Everyone else who don't like calm stories with philosophical background should take another video tape or DVD like "A Land Before Time" or "Predator"!
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
A nice touch to the story (and one that was lost on most of my students) was including Hemingway as a character in the movie: an unnamed newspaper writer on vacation with his wife and who wants to tell the story of Santiago's struggle. Also some of the effects seem dated (The marlin leaping up in the air looked like it was projected behind Anthony Quinn), and some students laughed at the production values of this 15 year old movie.
That said, most students actually enjoyed seeing the movie, and I think it was presented well and well acted. A good supplement to reading the novella in class.
Alas, the film has a few other faults such as poor (old TV) film quality, plus a distracting subplot with a Hemingwayesque writer figure. Yeah, the shot of the old man superimposed with the marlin is funny, but at least has the excuse of being near impossible to avoid. There is no excuse for turning a full moon at sea into a giant searchlight worthy of a prison camp. And then they avoid a great highlight of the book--the night scenes with the sharks!
The subplot is the main problem though. It doesn't finally kill the story, but anyone who has read the novella knows how taut and carefully paced it is between the fisherman's day and night battles, first with the marlin and then with the sharks that devour it. Cutting from that to Mr. Writer and his shallow marital issues is at best minimally interesting the first couple times (mainly because the duo is cast well, and nicely decked out in period costume) but eventually trite. Its a pity because this film, however low budget, had so much going for it, yet its makers strangely didn't trust Hemingway's story enough. And this subplot, students should know, doesn't track Hemingway biography either, nor any of his wives -- the well dressed ditz that is the unnamed writer's wife actually resembles Hemingway's Key West (not Cuba) mistress Jane Mason, who he never paired up with in literary excursions. Nor does it track the Roger/Audrey subplot of Islands in the Stream (the egg out of which Old Man was hatched). Its just too bad to have earnest people who look so good but are such bad news, crowding out a delicate story.
Overall, however, the effort is saved by Quinn's good sense and an excellent supporting Cuban crew, rounding out the village and the old man's family -- only slight liberties on the novella. Quinn's shrewdness and the director's option toward lightness keep the main plot from veering into this novella's very own shark infested waters--the danger of sentimentality at one end, and too heavy metaphor at the other. Quinn's handling of the old man's monologues and dialogues keeps the project with at least one foot firmly set in the realm of realism. And he wonderfully looks the part too, in every frame in which he appears.