The Macomber Affair
The Macomber Affair is a 1947 film directed by Zoltan Korda and distributed by United Artists. Set in British East Africa, its plot concerns a fatal triangle involving a frustrated wife, a weak husband, and the professional hunter who comes between them. It stars Gregory Peck, Joan Bennett, and Robert Preston.
|The Macomber Affair|
|Directed by||Zoltan Korda|
|Screenplay by||Seymour Bennett|
|Based on||The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber|
by Ernest Hemingway
|Produced by||Benedict Bogeaus|
|Edited by||George Feld|
|Music by||Miklós Rózsa|
Benedict Bogeaus Productions
|Distributed by||United Artists|
|Box office||$1.6 million|
The film was re-released in 1952 by Lippert Pictures as The Great White Hunter.
The film opens in the Kenya Colony of British East Africa. Distraught American woman Margaret "Margot" Macomber is unhappily married to her American husband Francis Macomber. As their plane lands in Nairobi, Kenya, accompanied by Robert Wilson, an English big-game hunter, Francis is dead from a gunshot wound to the back of his head.
The film then pans back in time to before Francis Macomber's injury. Francis and Robert meet at the Norfolk Hotel to plan their safari over a whiskey. Then the story begins chronologically.
What happened was this: Francis, a wealthy man, has alienated his wife Margot with his displays of cowardice and physical delicateness while on safari. Margaret is attracted to Robert so, to prove his masculinity, Francis sets out to kill a lion. He succeeds only in wounding it. Robert insists the animal must be tracked and killed so it will not suffer. When the wounded lion charges, Francis runs and Robert must shoot it. Francis is repeatedly, and accidentally, emasculated by Robert throughout the day. A furious Margot humiliates her husband by kissing Robert on the lips.
As the couple's animosity grows, Francis is cruel and abusive to an African servant and Robert has to restrain him. The next morning, Francis wounds a cape buffalo with a courageous shot, comes to terms with his physical weaknesses, reconciles with Wilson (to whom he also expresses forgiveness for his wife), and thereby becomes a man. When the wounded cape buffalo charges and is not immediately dropped by shots from Macomber and Wilson, Margot takes aim and shoots; but her bullet strikes Francis and he falls dead. Robert tries to get her to admit that the shot was accidental as Margot prepares to go on trial. It is left unclear whether she intentionally shot her husband or merely feels guilt that the accident validated what was in her heart.
Variety wrote, "African footage is cut into the story with showmanship effect, and these sequences build up suspense satisfactorily", "scenes in which lions and water buffalos charge...will stir any audience." and while it has some "unreal dialogue", the film's "action is often exciting and elements of suspense frequently hop up the spectator;"
Bosley Crowther, in The New York Times, said the film, except for the beginning and the end, was a "quite credible screen telling" of a short story Hemingway felt was one of his best. Crowther also said that "it makes for a tight and absorbing study of character on the screen" if you ignore what the producers added at the beginning and the end. Crowther's review opined that "the contrived conclusion that the guide has fallen in love with the dame and that possibly the shooting was accidental is completely stupid and false".
Time Magazine said it was a "brilliantly good job -the best job yet of Hemingway to the screen."
- Variety 7 January 1948
- The Macomber Affair at the American Film Institute Catalog.
- "The Macomber Affair". January 1, 1947.
- Crowther, Bosley (21 April 1947). "The Macomber Affair (1947)". The New York Times. Retrieved 13 March 2014.
- "– citing Time Magazine". Archived from the original on May 1, 2019. Retrieved October 14, 2019.