‘The Macomber Affair’ on TCM

“Gregory Peck makes that Hemingway kind of love to Joan Bennett in The Macomber Affair! After the biggest game of all – a woman! On the hunt he took two things as they came – the charge of a snarling lion – the fury of a fear-crazed coward – the lips of a love-crazed woman – cruelty and yearning – of such things was their love made.” So reads the original advertising concocted by the promotions department of United Artist. But overheated hype aside, The Macomber Affair, based on the short story “The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber” by Ernest Hemingway, is a serious adult drama and is still considered by most Hemingway aficionados as one of the best screen adaptation of the oft-filmed author’s work.

The 1947 drama The Macomber Affair stars Gregory Peck as Robert Wilson, a down-on-his-luck American big-game hunter in Nairobi hired to lead a rich American couple on a trophy hunt. As the film opens he’s accompanying Margo Macomber (Joan Bennett) back from the savanna. Also on the plane is her husband’s corpse. The story of their fateful safari spins out in flashback as the authorities push the stoic Robert for the details: the failing marriage and spiteful behavior beneath the facade of a happy vacation for Margo and husband Francis (Robert Preston), the growing attraction between Robert and Margo, the determination of Francis to find a renewed sense of strength and confidence on the hunt. Classic Hemingway themes and macho values played out on the author’s favorite field of battle: man against nature.

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