Ernest Hemingway’s long-lost Los Angeles visit

David Kipen in the Los Angeles Times:

La-1499960128-ofzci1ou4s-snap-imageLots happened in L.A. last night. Lives ended. Lives began. Couples fought, couples made up. A recently transplanted Manhattan-ite said, “All my friends are here!” I probably fell asleep with a book on my chest.

Eighty years from now, what record of these events will survive? Partly that depends on who keeps a diary, who writes to friends or family, who posts, who publishes a memoir and who doesn’t. For instance, 80 years ago this week, Ernest Hemingway, the author of “The Sun Also Rises” and “A Farewell to Arms,” grudgingly visited Los Angeles. He had once recommended the only way for a writer to deal with Hollywood: “You throw them your book, they throw you the money, then you jump into your car and drive like hell back the way you came.”

Why, then, did Hemingway make an exception in July 1937? It all had to do with a film that he and Dutch documentarian Joris Ivens had made about the Spanish Civil War called “Tierra de España,” or “The Spanish Earth.” He and a group calling itself “Contemporary Historians, Inc.,” including playwright Lillian Hellman; author of the U.S.A. trilogy (with its Hollywood-themed finale, “The Big Money”) John Dos Passos; poet Archibald MacLeish; and Dorothy Parker (who satisfied all three job descriptions and more), funded the picture out of their own pockets. The idea was to make a movie to raise money for the Loyalist cause. Every $1,000, they promised, would buy a new ambulance.

Fresh off a White House screening for the Roosevelts, Hemingway stayed only a few days in L.A. He made them count, fundraising for the cause everywhere he went.

More here.