“The Old Man and the Sea”
A Miniseries Now on DVD
In this second film version of “The Old Man and the Sea” legendary Anthony Quinn plays the title role of the old man that once belonged to Spencer Tracy, Quinn’s performance makes this production far better than it deserves to be. Quinn is of Mexican decent and in his mid-70s, giving an authenticity to the physical appearance of the old man.
There is a lot of creative licensing in this adaptation of Ernest Hemingway’s novel. We see that the old man has a daughter and that there is a couple following the saga. The man is a writer though it is never said if he is Hemingway and these scenes feel as if they are tacked on and do nothing to advance the story.
The sole purpose of these two elements is to fill out the time requirements. This is true of a few flashback scenes from the old man’s life which don’t appear in the original novella. There is use of stock footage during the catch and aftermath. Hemingway’s book was just about this old guy going out every day to catch a fish and not catching it until the end of the book, the TV movie had to be last two hours hence the unneeded additions.
Screenwriter Roger O. Hirson added an unnamed urbane, successful, but writer’s-blocked American novelist and his beautiful but neurotic wife making this very Fitzgerald. The Fitzgerald character is played by Gary Cole, who, wears a silly-looking fake mustache. He spends all his time sitting on a pier, dangling his feet in the water, scribbling in a notebook, and staring at the old man dragging his boat in and out of the sea day after day after day. He has one line and that is to say something like “Eighty-four days without a fish — how do you deal with that?” This is not a bad film and Quinn is superb but I have yet to understand what Patricia Clarkson is doing here.