The Sandra Bullock Files is a series that looks at the films of Oscar-winning actress Sandra Bullock, all the way from her debut in 1987, to her two major 2018 releases, Ocean’s Eight and Bird Box.
Now, hear we are, at the last stop of Sandra’s career before her breakthrough Speed, released in June 1994, catapulted her to stardom. And what a gem this is. Unavailable on DVD until 2010, Wrestling Ernest Hemingway is an underrated film from 1993, directed by Randa Haines (Children of a Lesser God). The film tells of a tender friendship between two elderly men (Duvall and Harris), and Sandra is at her adorable best as the waitress Elaine who enjoys conversation with the eccentric Duvall. He orders six pieces of bacon with four pieces of toast every day for breakfast, and she begs him to order something healthier, but he never does, and she always gives in.
In the beginning Sandra’s role as the caring, happy-go-lucky waitress seems like a throwaway character, but the role evolves over the course of the picture, with Duvall’s feelings for her becoming more and more important to the character’s arc by the end. At one point Elaine announces she’s moving out of town, and it appears as if her character will never be seen again. But Duvall goes to visit her one last time, and a brief scene inside her home provides one of the most endearing moments of the entire movie.
Of all the films she made in 1993, Sandra must have had a special time making this one, working alongside two Hollywood legends. While the movie didn’t do well at the box office (only taking in $231,000), it’s worth seeking out, not just for Sandra fans, who won’t be disappointed by her bigger-than-expected role here, but also for those simply looking for a great story. Wrestling Ernest Hemingway is a fine piece of entertainment, and the perfect segue into the next stage of Sandra’s blossoming film career.
Best Scene: Her final scene in the film, where she talks to Duvall at her home.
Best Line: “You rode all the way here on that?”
Micole Mercurio, who plays the waitress Bernice, also co-starred with Sandra in While You Were Sleeping and The Thing Called Love.
At her last visit at The Tonight Show with Jay Leno in February 2014, Sandra discussed some of her older films, including Wrestling Ernest Hemingway. She said, “That was one of my first jobs. I had been in awe of Richard Harris and Robert Duvall… it was just unbelievable.” Leno then had this to say about when he first took notice of her: “When I saw you in Wrestling Ernest Hemingway, I looked at you the way I looked at my wife for the first time. You just popped, and I thought, my God, this person’s gotta be a big star. And it all came true.”