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The Snows of Kilimanjaro

1952

The story centers on the memories of a writer (Gregory Peck) who is taking a safari in Africa. He develops a dangerous wound from a thorn prick, and lies awaiting his slow death. The loss of physical capability causes him to look inside himself - at his memories of the past years, and how little he has actually accomplished in his writing.


The Snows of Kilimanjaro is a 1952 American Technicolor film based on the The Snows of Kilimanjaro (short story) by Ernest Hemingway. The film version of the short story was directed by Henry King (director), 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.< name="tcmnotes"/>
Considered by Hemingway to be one of his finest stories, "The Snows of Kilimanjaro" was first published in Esquire (magazine) 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 Academy Award for Best Cinematography and Academy Award for Best Art Direction (Lyle R. Wheeler, John DeCuir, Thomas Little, Paul S. Fox).
The film has entered the public domain.< name="FoxHemingway"/>

Plot

File:Thesnowsofkilimanjaro-Peck.jpg
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."< name="tcmnotes"/>
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-lection. 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

File:Ava Gardner Snows.jpg
  • Gregory Peck as Harry Street
  • Susan Hayward as Helen
  • Ava Gardner as Cynthia Green
  • Hildegard Knef as Countess Elizabeth
  • Emmett Smith as Molo
  • Leo G. Carroll as Uncle Bill
  • Torin Thatcher as Mr. Johnson
  • Marcel Dalio as Emile
  • Leonard Carey as Dr. Simmons
  • Paul Thompson as Witch Doctor
  • Ava Norring as Beatrice
  • Helene Stanley as Connie
  • Vicente G√≥mez as Guitarist (as Vicente Gomez)
  • Richard Allan as Spanish Dancer

Pre-production

File:Snows kilimanjaro.jpg
20th Century Fox bought the rights to the story in June 1948, paying $125,000.< name="tcmnotes"/> Humphrey Bogart, Richard Conte and Marlon Brando were all reported to be under consideration for the male lead, as was Dale Robertson.< name="tcmnotes"/>

Production

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, Los Angeles home, and Hildegard Knef came down with influenza in the studios.< name="Holston"></>< name="Molyneaux1995"></> She was able though to sing two Cole Porter tunes in the film.< name="ReimerReimer2010"></> Jazz musician Benny Carter performs early on in the film.< name= "CookeHorn2003"></>

Post-production

The bullfight sequences was stock footage, taken from Fox's 1941 film Blood and Sand (1941 film).< name="tcmnotes"/>

Reception

File:Thesnowsofkilimanjaro19bd9.jpg
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.< name="Holston"/> The film was nominated for two Academy Awards; for Academy Award for Best Cinematography and Academy Award for Best Art Direction (Lyle R. Wheeler, John DeCuir, Thomas Little, Paul S. Fox).< name="NY Times"></> The film was much acclaimed by critics, although some vary in their opinion of it, ranging from "simply plodding" to "much-maligned".< name="Irwin2006"></><></> The cinematography was highly acclaimed in particular, and even the sophisticated interiors were praised.< name="NYT"/>< name="Whitlock2013"></> 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."< name="NYT"/> 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".< name="NYT"/> Bowker's Directory described it as having "plenty of action & romance" and stated that it was "the popular 'celebrity film' of its time".< name="PublishingCompany1993"></> Hemingway, who disliked the typical Hollywood happy ending, accepted the money for the film, but he could not bring himself to view the film.< name="NYT"></>

Home media

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 (film), The Sun Also Rises (1957 film), A Farewell to Arms (1957 film), and Hemingway's Adventures of a Young Man.< name="FoxHemingway"></>
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Category:1952 films
Category:1950s adventure films
Category:1950s romance films
Category:American films
Category:American adventure drama films
Category:English-language films
Category:Films about writers
Category:Films based on works by Ernest Hemingway
Category:Films based on short fiction
Category:Films directed by Henry King
Category:Film scores by Bernard Herrmann
Category:Films set in Africa
Category:Films set in Kenya
Category:Films shot in Egypt
Category:20th Century Fox films
2.50
Darryl F. Zanuck

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