ⓘ The Sun Also Rises (1957 film)
The Sun Also Rises is a 1957 film adaptation of the Ernest Hemingway novel of the same name directed by Henry King. The screenplay was written by Peter Viertel and it starred Tyrone Power, Ava Gardner, Mel Ferrer and Errol Flynn. Much of it was filmed on location in France and Spain in Cinemascope and color by Deluxe. A highlight of the film is the famous "running of the bulls" in Pamplona, Spain and two bullfights.
1.1. Production notes Development
Film rights to the novel were sold in the late 1920s for a reported $10.000. These rights were transferred to Hemingways first wife, Hadley Richardson, by the author at the time of their divorce, so he never personally benefited from the sale.
Originally the film was going to be made at RKO, possibly starring Ann Harding. In 1940 agent-producer Charles Feldman bought the rights from Hardings one-time husband, actor Harry Bannister, for a reported $35.000.
In 1948, it was announced Howard Hawks had bought the film rights. He subsequently sold part of his interest to Feldman, but the project did not go beyond the development stage. In 1955, Hawks and Feldman sold the rights of the novel to Darryl F. Zanuck at 20th Century Fox, who still hoped to use Hawks as director. This was part of a deal whereby Feldman sold his interest in a number of projects to Fox – the others included Heaven Knows, Mr Allison, The Wayward Bus and Oh Men! Oh Women!. Of this deal, the rights to The Sun Also Rises were estimated at $125.000.
Zanuck hired Peter Viertel to write the script. Viertel later reflected:
The long lapse of time since the book was published will not cause it to lose its value. The story is ageless. It should renew its impact for our modern generation. It is fascinating in its impressions of Europe after World War I, because so many of these impressions are duplicated again today.
1.2. Production notes Casting
Zanuck wanted the lead played by Gregory Peck, who had previously appeared in several Hemingway adaptations, including the popular The Snows of Kilimanjaro. Jennifer Jones signed to play Lady Brett.
The movie became the first to be produced for Zanucks own independent production company following his departure from Fox although Fox would still distribute.
Cinematographer Charles Clarke started filming bullfighting sequences in Pamplona in June 1956.
Henry King signed to direct and Walter Reisch to produce. Jennifer Jones had to pull out from the film because of her commitment to make A Farewell to Arms for her husband David O. Selznick. Dana Wynter and Robert Stack were mentioned as possible leads. Ava Gardner was announced for the female lead, but then pulled out to make Thieves Market with William Wyler, so Susan Hayward was cast in her place.
However Hemingway insisted that Gardner play Lady Brett so Zanuck went after her and succeeded in getting her to sign. "I am convinced Lady Brett Ashley is the most interesting character I have ever played," said Gardner.
Zanuck later claimed that the casting of Gardner forced the film to be postponed from September 1956 to February 1957. This meant the film could not actually be shot in Pamplona "unless we wanted to shoot a fiesta in the snow". It was decided to film it in Mexico instead.
In February 1957 Tyrone Power signed to play the male lead. Mel Ferrer then joined, followed by Eddie Albert and Errol Flynn. Singer Juliette Greco was also given a role after being spotted singing in a cafe by Mel Ferrer and Audrey Hepburn.
Walter Reisch withdrew as producer because of his other commitments to Fox and Zanuck decided to produce the movie personally.
Producer Darryl F. Zanuck spotted suit salesman Robert Evans at the El Morocco and decided to cast him as the young bullfighter Pedro Romero in the film. He did this against the wishes of co-stars Ava Gardner and Tyrone Power, as well as Hemingway himself. Zanuck overruled all involved, and Evans – who later became a popular producer himself – used Zanucks response as the title for his 1994 biography, The Kid Stays in the Picture.
1.3. Production notes Production
Filming started March 1957 in Morelia, Michoacan, Mexico. (It had been intended to shoot in Pamplona but the trees were not in foliage and the production could not afford to wait. There was also shooting in Spain and France.
Although Hemingways novel had an undefined "mid 1920s" setting when it was published in 1926, the film adaptation places the story around 1922. The film uses the song "You Do Something To Me" as a motif, which was not written until 1929.
Zanuck had originally intended to shoot some scenes on the Fox backlot in Hollywood but changed his mind and took the unit to Paris and Biarritz instead. This added an estimated $250.000 to the budget.
2.1. Reception Hemingway reaction
Ernest Hemingway saw the film but walked out after 25 minutes stating:
I saw as much of Darryl Zanucks splashy Cooks tour of Europes lost generation bistros, bullfights, and more bistros. Its pretty disappointing and thats being gracious. Most of my story was set in Pamplona so they shot the film in Mexico. Youre meant to be in Spain and all you see walking around are nothing but Mexicans. It looked pretty silly. The bulls were mighty small for a start, and it looked like they had big horns on them for the day. I guess the best thing about the film was Errol Flynn.
"That was a kind of lousy thing to say about my picture before the reviews came out," said Zanuck:
I think a writer is entitled to criticize if there is a complete distortion. But if he sees that there has been a serious attempt to put his story on the screen, even if it failed in some instances, he doesnt have the right to destroy publicly something hes been paid money for. Over 60% of the dialogue in the picture is out of Hemingways book. We treated it as something Holy. We showed the script to him and he made some changes. We even showed it to him again after the changes were made. If the picture doesnt satisfy Hemingway he should read the book again. because the book wont satisfy him. I dont think he saw the picture. I think someone told him about it.
Flynns performance was highly acclaimed and led to a series of roles where he played alcoholics.
2.2. Reception Critical
Filmink magainze later wrote that "For the most part, the handling of the movie is wrong, wrong, wrong; indeed, some of it is downright hideous. The treatment is too reverential when it needs to be a film about real, breathing people."