Review: ‘A Farewell to Arms’

New version of the Ernest Hemingway World War I story conveys some of the Hemingway spirit that speaks of the futility of war and a desperate love that grips two strangers in its midst. But sweep and frankness alone don't make a great picture; and Farewell suffers from an overdose of both.

New version of the Ernest Hemingway World War I story conveys some of the Hemingway spirit that speaks of the futility of war and a desperate love that grips two strangers in its midst. But sweep and frankness alone don’t make a great picture; and Farewell suffers from an overdose of both.

Producer David O. Selznick and director Charles Vidor, shooting all of the film in Italy and a good part of it on location in the Dolomites, have concentrated heavily on nature and war. It’s the more unfortunate that Ben Hecht’s often mature dialog is also riddled with cliches, and that the relationship between Rock Hudson and Jennifer Jones never takes on real dimensions.

Story, briefly, has American Red Cross ambulance driver Hudson meeting up with nurse Jones and falling violently in love with her. When he’s wounded on the front, he’s brought back to the hospital, where she joins him. Their protracted affair ends when he’s sent back to the front where he’s caught up in the disastrous retreat from Caporetto.

Such a tragic story requires great performances to put it across. It gets only a few of them in this picture.

In the supporting roles, Selznick has cast a group of very good actors. Vittorio De Sica plays the cynical Major Rinaldi with dash, and in him the Hemingway spirit comes alive with full force.

1957: Nomination: Best Supp. Actor (Vittorio De Sica)

A Farewell to Arms

Production

20th Century-Fox. Director Charles Vidor; Producer David O. Selznick; Screenplay Ben Hecht; Camera Piero Portalupi, Oswald Morris; Editor James E. Newcom, Gerard J. Wilson, John M. Foley; Music Mario Nascimbene; Art Director Alfred Junge

Crew

(Color) Widescreen. Available on VHS. Extract of a review from 1957. Running time: 159 MIN.

With

Rock Hudson Jennifer Jones Vittorio De Sica Alberto Sordi Kurt Kasznar Mercedes McCambridge

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