Hemingway (1988) (miniseries)



Director:     Bernhard Sinkel.

Starring:     Stacy Keach (Ernest Hemingway), Josephine Chaplin (Hadley Richardson), Marisa Berenson (Pauline Pfeiffer), Lisa Banes (Martha Gelhorn), Pamela Reed (Mary Welsh), Scott Weinger (Patrick Hemingway).

the life and loves of the Nobel Prize winner for Literature


Spoiler Warning:  below is a summary of the entire film.

Good miniseries.  It mostly covers the loves of Ernest Hemingway. 

Hemingway marries Hadley Richardson. Sherwood Anderson tell him to go to Paris where he can write for the Toronto Star a series of European letters.

1922, Paris.  Hemingway meets the famous Gertrude Stein and the poet Ezra Pound. 

Two years later the married couple has a child.  He meets Pauline Pfeiffer to whom he is very rude, but Pauline is not discouraged and becomes friends with his wife.  Hemingway publishes In Our Time

With his friends, Hemingway goes to Pamplona, Spain for the running of the bulls.  While in Spain he falls in love with the bull fight, the exciting confrontation with death.  He's a real macho fellow and also probably a serious adrenalin addict.  He publishes The Sun Also Rises.

In 1925 he goes to New York to met with literary agent Max Perkins (who also has F. Scott Fitzgerald as a client).  He has an affair with Pauline and later Hadley agrees to divorce him. 

In 1993 he is in Kenya, Africa with Pauline.  He gets malaria which shortens his big white hunter expedition. 

He learns his father has killed himself.  He blames his mother for the suicide, calling his mother an extravagant, selfish bitch. 

1936, Key West.  Pauline is lonely with her husband always going out deep sea fishing in his huge boat.  He meets Martha Gelhorn who is a journalists.  She wants to go to Spain to cover the Spanish Civil War.  John Dos Pasos and Hemingway decide to make a film on the Spanish Civil War and head for Spain with Martha going with them.

1937, Spain.  Hemingway carries on an affair with Martha.  He gets into a serious argument with one of his colleagues, another leftist.  The colleague argues that since Stalin has gotten into the war, the forces of the Republic have become corrupted.  He decries the fact that the Republican forces are pulling innocents off the streets and killing them.   Hemingway doesn't want to believe it.  At a meeting of the League of American Writers, 2nd Congress, Hemingway presents his film and denounces Fascism. 

1939, Key West.   He heads over to Havana, Cuba.  He publishes For Whom the Bell Tolls.  Hemingway divorces Pauline to marry Martha. 

Martha complains to Hemingway that he is constantly drinking and that she cannot live with him this way.  He hits her.  She heads off to Europe to cover more of World War II.

1944, France.  Hemingway is there to cover the war and be with Martha.  He is a war correspondent but he soon becomes involved in the fighting, gathering around him his own little band of fighters.  He meets Mary Welsh who is also a war correspondent and is taken with her.  Martha tells him that she wants to divorce him.  Hemingway quickly recovers and starts an affair with Mary. 

Havana.  Hemingway marries Mary. 

Cuba, 1947.    Hemingway receives a bronze star, not for his writing, but his soldierly exploits in France.    He finds himself in another writer's slump and decides to go to Italy with his wife in order to write another book.  There he falls in love with a 19 year old Italian woman, Adriane, but the affair does not work out. 

Back in Cuba, Mary tells Hemingway that she is sick of his whores, moods, drinking and bouts of depression.  Hemingway mentions suicide indirectly.

He starts work on what becomes his Old Man and the Sea, which he publishes in 1953 and gets a Pulitzer Prize for his effort.

1954.  He receives the Nobel Prize for Literature. 

He and Mary spend Christmas in Africa.  They are involved in a plane crash, but both survive.

1961, Idaho.  Hemingway is very depressed.  He says " I can't write anymore."  A psychiatrists describes his self-destructive nature, adding that the man needs to be protected from himself.  He administers electric shocks to the famous writer.

Back home again, Hemingway places the muzzle of one of his shotguns into his mouth and pulls the trigger. 


The movie was 5 hours long but kept my wife's and my interests.  It seems to me that Hemingway had a tendency to use a ove relationship with a new woman to inspire him to write another novel.  Adrenalin can be addictive and so can love.  Maybe it was a way of fighting depression, but I don't know enough about the man to really say for sure.  It just seems that the timing of his relationships and his novels were very closely tied together. 

Stacey Keach, of whom I was never a big fan, did a very good job as Hemingway.  He was macho and obnoxious, but still sensitive enough to carry off the role of the famous writer.  Hemingway was certainly no angel. 

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.

Historical Background:


See Hemingway, the Hunter of Death (2001)



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