The Snows of Kilimanjaro
Adapted from stories by Ernest Hemingway, a novelist laid up in Africa remembers the women he has known as he reflects on his life.
Harry Street (Gregory Peck) has an infected leg and waits with Helen (Susan Hayward) for a plane. He recalls photographing hippopotamuses and dives in to rescue an African. Harry feels he is a failure and recalls an early love. Connie is upset and leaves. Uncle Billy (Leo G. Carroll) gives young Harry a rifle for his birthday.
Helen tells Harry not to drink alcohol. Harry remembers how he met Cynthia Green (Ava Gardner) while listening to jazz, and he lives with her in Paris. Harry gets his first book published, and they go to Africa. Harry lets Cynthia shoot at a rhinoceros, but she misses. One charges, and Harry kills it. Cynthia tells Johnson (Torin Thatcher) she is pregnant. Harry wants to go to Spain and tells Cynthia they can have children later. She wants to go back to Paris, and he gives in. Cynthia falls down stairs, and the doctor tells Harry that she lost the baby.
They go to a bull fight in Spain. Cynthia drinks because Harry is going to Damascus to cover a war without her. He sends a message he is declining the assignment. Then he learns that she left with the flamenco dancer.
Harry wakes up in Africa. He says Helen is as good as any woman. He remembers being with Countess Liz (Hildegard Knef) on the Riviera. Beatrice poses as Liz sculpts. Uncle Billy asks Liz how many children she will have with Harry. Uncle Billy says Harry has a good life. Harry misses Cynthia. He follows a woman that looks like her, and it is Helen. Liz rips up a letter from Cynthia. Harry packs while Liz says she loves him.
Harry goes to Madrid and fights in the Civil War. During a battle Cynthia is pinned under an ambulance and prays. Harry finds her, and they embrace. Harry goes with her stretcher and is shot in the leg for deserting.
Harry visits ill Uncle Billy and says he lost his talent by not using it. Yet he is receiving royalties. Uncle Billy leaves him with a riddle about a leopard that died high on Mt. Kilimanjaro.
Helen asks Harry if he came to Africa because of Cynthia. Helen tells Harry that she loves him. A witch doctor comes to Harry. Helen has Harry carried into the tent. She tries to treat his swollen leg by cutting it, and Harry passes out. A hyena approaches, and Helen screams. A plane arrives, and they see Johnson coming. Helen and Harry notice that the vultures are gone and feel hopeful.
This autobiographical story reflects the macho life of Hemingway, who loved to hunt wild animals and women as he sought adventures to gain material for his writing. Yet despite his literary success he wonders if his life has been a failure.