Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Not So Famous Until Sydney Pollack

In the movie he seems distinctly American both in temperament and accent. His wardrobe is khaki-cool and hunter-hip. He was actually English. He is Denys Finch-Hatton. Son of an Earl, educated at Eton and Oxford. Reportedly, he was an ace cricket player, a very good golfer and soccer player. Finch-Hatton is played with rakish appeal by Redford in Pollack's Oscar winning"Out of Africa."
Visually splendid and based on Karen Blixen's biography, this film introduces the English ex-pat Finch-Hatton who comes to British East Africa to explore,invest,hunt and drink warm gin. In the movie and in real life he falls in love with the divorcee Blixen and they live together at a time when this was fairly scandalous even in Colonies. The movie version of Finch-hatton wears really cool knee high boots and has great slouchy hats and jodhpurs, utilitarian canvas sport coats and field jackets. Real photos show a less handsome than Redford sport in a pith helmet.
He leads safaris and rides and hunts and learns to fly. After Blixen he was in a relationship with an English horse-woman who trained thoroughbreds for the race-track. In life, and as depicted in the film,Finch-Hatton experienced an early tragic death when he "lawn-darted" his plane in a burning mess shortly after taking off.
Without Pollack's wonderful film, most of us would never have heard of this interesting Sportsman and J. Peterman's sales would never really have taken off.


Reggie Darling said...

Out of Africa was gorgeously art directed and costumed, and the actors were certainly handsome. That being said, I thought RR was gruesomely miscast as DF-H, given his wooden performance and inability to speak with a credible English accent. I mean, he didn't even try!

Main Line Sportsman said...

Reggie,Pollack was a big Redford fan at that point in his directorial career...used him in Jeremiah Johnson,The Way We Were,3 Days of the Condor...and I agree he was not well cast for this particular part.