EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?
|A FAREWELL TO ARMS (director: Frank Borzage; screenwriters: Oliver H.P. Garret/Benjamin Glazer/based on the novel by Ernest Hemingway; cinematographer: Charles Lang; editor: Otho Lovering; music: Herman Hand; cast: Helen Hayes (Catherine Barkley), Gary Cooper (Lt. Frederick Henry), Adolphe Menjou (Captain Rinaldi), Mary Phillips (Helen Ferguson), Jack La Rue (The Priest), Blanche Friderici (Head Nurse), Mary Forbes (Miss Van Campen), Gilbert Emery (British Major), Henry Armetta (Bonnello); Runtime: 89; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Frank Borzage; Paramount; 1932)|
|"Noted by many as the best film
version of a Hemingway novel."
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Noted by many as the best film version of a Hemingway
novel, though bogged down with too much sentimentality for my
sensibilities. Its premise is that a short relationship (a one-night
stand) between the characters played by Gary Cooper and Helen Hayes
impresses them so much that it leaves them both feeling an intense
desire for each other that points out the power of sexual love as
something unforgettable. Director Frank Borzage ("Moonrise"/"The Mortal
Main") gets great performances
from his leads and does a great job filming the war battleground scenes
with an eerie expressionist visualization. It plays to the music of Wagner's
romantic war drama was well-received in its time, but has become
Frederic Henry (Gary Cooper) is a former architecture student
from America who was studying in Italy, but during World War I became a lieutenant ambulance
driver in the Italian
army as an adventurous lark. On leave, he hangs with his pal Major
Rinaldi (Adolphe Menjou) drinking and
chasing skirts. When Frederic meets an English nurse, Catherine Barkley (Helen Hayes), whose
fiancé was killed in the war, they both fall in love at first
sight. The smug Rinaldi, never getting over his desire
to be with Catherine, who he spotted first, jealously has her transferred to
Milan. When Frederic is wounded at the front, Rinaldi
operates and sends him to Milan to recuperate. A priest marries Frederic to Catherine, but his
hospital stay ends when Catherine's supposed friend and fellow nurse (Mary Phillips) discovers he's been drinking liquor and
reports him to the head nurse who sends him back to the front.
pregnant Catherine goes to
Brissago, Switzerland to wait for Frederic. Though they write to each
other, the repressed Rinaldi censors their letters and they are
returned to the sender. Frederic is worried that he hasn't heard from Catherine and goes
AWOL. Since he doesn't know her location, Frederic advertises for her
to meet him in a hotel. Instead Rinaldi shows up, and only when he's
convinced his pal is really in love gives him Catherine's address.
finally reaches a heartsick Catherine, she undergoes an emergency
caesarean section. The child is stillborn,
the weakened Catherine is dying as she spends her final moments with
Frederic. Outside one can hear the exultant sounds of the armistice
The film contrasts how the
insanity of war relates to the fragile nature of a romantic wartime
relationship, where the love-stricken soldier places his love for a
woman above his military duty.
Cooper gives one of his
better performances, while Hayes gives her usual great performance.
REVIEWED ON 10/4/2010 GRADE: B
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED DENNIS SCHWARTZ