'The Snows of Kilimanjaro' in Classic Cool Context

This Saturday at 9 p.m. , KCET brings you the film adaptation of Ernest Hemingway's short story, "The Snows of Kilimanjaro," which stars Gregory Peck as a writer who falls ill while on safari in Africa and recounts the story of his life to his wife, played by Ava Gardner.

Like Alfred Hitchcock's seminal "Rear Window," which was released two years later, "The Snows of Kilimanjaro" explores the fragile emotional state of an immobile artist. Both Gregory Peck's "Harry Street" and Jimmy Stewart's "L.B. Jefferies" are forced to relive past romantic failures in the midst of immense danger - all while unable to move. In each film, that tension works to intense dramatic effect.

Here's the "Rear Window" trailer:

Take a closer look back

Audiences going to see "The Snows of Kilimanjaro" in 1952 were familiar with the exploits of adventurers across the globe. It was in that year that a sherpa from Nepal stepped into the international spotlight. Tenzing Norgay guided Swiss climber Raymond Lambert up Mount Everest's treacherous Western Cwm after making it through the Khumbu Icefall. The pair reached a height of about 28,199 feet (8,595 meters) on the southeast ridge. They did this without functioning oxygen tanks for the final 200 meters, setting a new climbing altitude record.

Lambert's expedition paved the way for Norgay's 1953 ascent of Everest with famed New Zealand-born mountaineer Edmund Hillary. On that occasion, Norgay and his companion made it to the 29,028-foot (8,848-meter) summit.

"The Snows of Kilimanjaro" was directed by Henry King and also stars Susan Hayward. It received Academy Award nominations for Best Cinematography and Best Art Direction.


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