One of our favorite Hemingway inspired movies is the HBO film Hemingway and Gellhorn, directed by Phillip Kaufman. This film was inspired on the true events surrounding Hemingway’s stormy and short relationship with Martha Gellhorn; beginning when they first met in Key West in 1936 and ending around their divorce in 1945 (they were officially married in 1940). Clive Owen and Nicole Kidman star as the writer pair.
The film has a marvelous historical narrative ranging from the Spanish Civil War to the Chinese Civil War, interspersed with turmoil at home in America. Although it primarily focuses on the relationship Hemingway had with Gellhorn, but an appearance is made by Arkansas’s own Pauline Pfeiffer, who was elegantly portrayed by actress Molly Parker. Which begs the question — when will Hollywood ever make a film about Pauline and Ernest?
It isn’t for lack of a story — their relationship is chock-full of adventure and intrigue. It was in Spain in 1937, while still married to Pauline that Hemingway first started having a dalliance with Gellhorn, whom he married only a scant three weeks after divorcing Pauline. Her family also financially supported Hemingway while writing A Farewell to Arms. Portions of the book were even composed in the barn-studio here in Piggott, Arkansas, and (SPOILER ALERT!) Pauline’s difficult labor with one of their sons was the basis for Catherine’s death in the same novel.
If anything could be said it is that there is a rich source material just screaming for Hollywood to adapt. Maybe even Arkansas native Mary Steenburgen could be cast as Pauline, alongside Cory Stroll who previously appeared in Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris as the great writer.
Yet, until some enterprising director or screen-writer comes around and pens the story, we will have to rely on a mixture of fantasy and imagination to help us narrate the incredible story that is Hemingway and Pfeiffer.