Ernest Hemingway was a great writer, maybe the greatest writer of the last century-well who the hell did you think it was?-and he was an enormous bitch. And he was at his bitchiest best after he blew his brains out. First there was his posthumously published A Moveable Feast, in which he made famously made fun of Gertrude Stein, and F. Scott Fitzgerald's penis. Ever since, his biographers have churned out volumes about his life, his technique, and his mean streak. Now, A.E. Hotchner, who's been dining out on Hemingway for a lifetime, is coming out with The Good Life According to Hemingway, in which he recalls how much the Old Man hated Hollywood.
"When producer David O. Selznick crowed that his wife, Jennifer Jones, was starring in "A Farewell to Arms" and he'd pay Hemingway a $50,000 bonus from any profits, the novelist wrote back: 'If by some miracle, your movie, which stars 41-year-old Mrs. Selznick portraying 24-year-old Catherine Barkley, does earn $50,000, you should have all $50,000 changed into nickels at your local bank and shove them up your [bleep] until they came out of your ears.'
The rest of these chestnuts have been showing up in Hemingway biographies forever, but, hey, Hotchner's gotta eat.
"Darryl F. Zanuck, the boss of 20th Century Fox, was trashed when he asked Hemingway to shorten the title of 'The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber,' which starred Gregory Peck. Hotchner quotes Hemingway, 'I said, you want something short and exciting that will catch the eye of both sexes, right?' He then reeled off the first letters of Hollywood studio names that together spelled out the F-word. 'That should fit all the marquees and you can't beat it as a sex symbol.' Zanuck titled the film 'The Macomber Affair.'
"Of 'The Sun Also Rises,' Hemingway raged: 'Any picture in which Errol Flynn is the best actor is its own worst enemy.' As for 'The Old Man and the Sea,' 'I sat through all of that movie, numb. Spencer Tracy looked like a fat, very rich actor playing a fisherman.'"
"Hemingway, who committed suicide in 1961, snarked that in a love scene in 'For Whom the Bell Tolls,' Gary Cooper 'didn't take off his coat. That's one hell of a way for a guy to make love, with his coat on - in a sleeping bag.'" [P6]