PORT ARANSAS, Texas - A star is born...well not just yet. We're used to our brand of celebrity visits in Port Aransas. Willie Nelson, Kinky Friedman, George Strait, Arnold Palmer among others have been "on island" recently. Now, we can add Tommy Lee Jones to that list. The native Texan, famed Actor/Director is preparing for his next project. He will co-produce, direct and star in a new film based on Hemingway's posthumously released novel "Islands in the Stream."
Filming is set to begin in early 2009 in the Caribbean. So, what does that have to do with Port Aransas? Well, another star of the film is destined to be a 38' Wheeler Cabin Cruiser built in the 1930's. Quoted in a recent Times UK interview, "It had to be the right kind of boat," says Jones. "I said from the start, if we got the boat right then the rest would fit into place. It has to go from being a fishing boat in the first half of the film to a war vessel in the second half. It was vital, to me, that it was genuinely built before the second world war. So the hunt was on from the moment we got the go-ahead for the movie."
The Times UK article reveals that the boat was located in Queens, NY and was moved to Fort Lauderdale, FL for extensive restoration. The article continues, "We are going to have our sea trials soon," says Jones, who will be onboard. "We will then take her to an undisclosed location and protect her, like an unborn child."
The "unborn child" is well protected and currently resides in Port Aransas, TX. The beautifully restored boat and her stately lines have been seen cruising the harbor as sea trials continue.
As a lifelong Hemingway fan, this story has been of great interest to me. I trust that Mr. Jones will make a film true to the story. The opening paragraph is vintage Hemingway.
The house was built on the highest part of the narrow tongue of land between the harbor and the open sea. It had lasted through three hurricanes and it was built solid as a ship. It was shaded by tall coconut palms that were bent by the trade wind and on the ocean side you could walk out of the door and down the bluff across the white sand and into the Gulf Stream. The water of the Stream was usually a dark blue when you looked out at it when there was no wind. But when you walked out into it there was just the green light of the water over that floury white sand and you could see the shadow of any big fish a long time before he could ever come in close to the beach.