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Category:    Home > Reviews > Drama > Literature > Islands In The Stream (1977)

Islands In The Stream  (1977)


Picture: C+     Sound: C+     Extras: D     Film: B-



After triumphs like the original Planet Of The Apes (reviewed elsewhere on this site), Patton (soundtrack covered on this site) and Papillon, director Franklin J. Schaffner was one of Hollywood’s hot journeyman filmmakers and was still on a role.  Islands In The Stream is based on the Ernest Hemmingway classic (and has nothing to do with the Dolly Parton/Kenny Rogers duet of the same name) and reunited Schaffner with Patton star George C. Scott.  Though the results were not as strong, the project was still ambitious just the same and Scott is impressive in the role of a surrogate Hemmingway.


In the beginning, he is acting wild and crazy, then his three sons from a divorce arrive.  What is especially charming about this segment is that they are played like real life children of their age, before the “Spielbergization” of children, suddenly precocious know-it-alls.  Here, they are real and three-dimensional.  It is a fascinating segment that could and should have gone on a bit longer at least, but the film moves on to other aspects of Tom Hudson’s (Scott) adult life and daring dealings.  Denne Bart Petitclerc’s screenplay adaptation is still mature and intelligent.  This is supported by a cast that includes David Hemmings (Blow-Up), Julius W. Harris (Live & Let Die, Black Caesar), Claire Bloom (The Spy Who Came In From The Cold), Gilbert Roland and Hart Bochner.  Though it gets as choppy as some of the waters shown in the film, the film holds up nicely enough that you will want to run out and get the book when you finish watching.


The anamorphically enhanced 2.35 X 1 image was shot in real Panavision, but the color on the print is a bit off throughout, as if it were just at the beginning of turning into the colors not intended.  This was processed in Metrocolor, but that processing can look better than what is seen here.  The film looks good otherwise, thanks to Fred J. Koenekamp, A.S.C., with fine location shooting and full use of the scope frame.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono is adequate, but with a Jerry Goldsmith score, one wishes the film had been remixed in at least simple stereo.  There are no extras, not even a trailer or section on Hemmingway, but the DVD is finally here and overdue.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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