The Macomber Affair

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The Macomber Affair
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Zoltan Korda
Produced by Benedict Bogeaus
Casey Robinson
Screenplay by Seymour Bennett
Casey Robinson
Frank Arnold
Based on The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber
1936 Cosmopolitan 
by Ernest Hemingway
Starring Gregory Peck
Joan Bennett
Music by Miklós Rózsa
Cinematography Karl Struss
Edited by George Feld
Jack Wheeler
Distributed by United Artists
Release dates
  • April 20, 1947 (1947-04-20) (New York City)
Running time
89 minutes
Country United States
Language English

The Macomber Affair is a 1947 movie set in British East Africa concerning a fatal triangle involving a frustrated wife, a weak husband, and the professional hunter who comes between them. The film was distributed by United Artists and directed by Zoltan Korda, and features Gregory Peck, Joan Bennett, and Robert Preston.[1]

The screenplay was written by Casey Robinson and Seymour Bennett and adapted by Bennett and Frank Arnold, based on "The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber", the 1936 Ernest Hemingway short story.


Margaret "Margot" Macomber (Joan Bennett) is unhappily married to Francis Macomber (Robert Preston). As their plane lands in Nairobi, Kenya, accompanied by Robert Wilson (Gregory Peck), a big-game hunter, Francis is dead from a gunshot wound to the back of his head.

What happened was this: Francis, a wealthy man, has alienated his wife Margot with his physical cowardice while on safari. She is attracted to Robert so, to prove his masculinity, Francis sets out to kill a lion. He succeeds only in wounding it. Robert insists the animal must be tracked and killed so it will not to suffer. When the wounded lion charges, Francis runs and Robert must shoot it. A furious Margot humiliates her husband by kissing Robert on the lips.

As the couple's animosity grows, Francis is cruel to a servant. The next morning, Macomber wounds a cape buffalo with a courageous shot, comes to terms with his weaknesses, reconciles with Wilson (to whom he also expresses forgiveness for his wife), and thereby becomes a man. When the wounded cape buffalo charges and is not immediately dropped by shots from Macomber and Wilson, Margot takes aim and shoots; but her bullet strikes Francis and he falls dead. Robert tries to get her to admit that the shot was accidental as Margot prepares to go on trial. It is left unclear whether she intentionally shot her husband or merely feels guilt that the accident validated what was in her heart.



Bosley Crowther, in The New York Times, said the film, except for the beginning and the end, was a "quite credible screen telling" of a short story Hemingway felt was one of his best.[2] Crowther also said that "it makes for a tight and absorbing study of character on the screen" if you ignore what the producers added at the beginning and the end.[2] Crowther's review opined that "the contrived conclusion that the guide has fallen in love with the dame and that possibly the shooting was accidental is completely stupid and false".[2]


The film is loosely based on a true incident in which Audley Blyth shot himelf while he and his wife Ethel were on safari with John Henry Patterson. When Patterson returned to England with Mrs Blyth, a murder and affair were suggested.


  1. The Macomber Affair at the American Film Institute Catalog.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Crowther, Bosley (21 April 1947). "The Macomber Affair (1947)". The New York Times. Retrieved 13 March 2014.

External links