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"Islands in the Stream" takes place on an island in the Caribbean just
before World War II. George C. Scott plays a sculptor, Thomas Hudson,
who married twice, has three sons, and chooses to work in isolated
island exile. Claire Bloom plays his estranged wife. The film has an
episodic structure, probably because the screenwriter, Denne Bart
Petitclerc based his script on a series of short stories by Ernest
Hemingway that appeared in a women's magazine under the title "Island
(singular) in the Stream." Had Hemingway lived, he would have combined
this and additional material to publish the collection as a novel.
Petitclerc does a good job of translating the work to the screen.
The episodes could stand alone, yet each is sufficiently connected both
in character and time consecutively to create a coherent, full-length
film. The first, "The Boys," has the greatest strength. We see the
arrival of Hudson's sons and how each brings out a different quality in
the relation of parent and child. Scott handles this, and the whole
film, with a natural, understated, and thoughtful strength. His
admirers should make an effort to see this wonderful performance in
this lesser-known production. In the middle episode, Claire Bloom as
the second wife complements Scott beautifully in a dialog minuet which
unfolds the decline of their marriage.
The film also features excellent performances by David Hemmings and
Michael-James Wixted as the sensitive middle son. A check of the IMDb
reveals that he never made another movie, and that's a loss.
While the action takes place on a British possession in the West
Indies, the producers chose to do the actual filming in Hawaii. The
score by Jerry Goldsmith and cinematography by Fred Koenekamp work
well. Koenekamp received an Oscar nomination for his work here; he'd
previously won it for his work on Patton, also with director Franklin
Schaffner and Scott. I recommend seeing this film in widescreen format
for Koenekamp's compositions.
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