For Whom the Bell Tolls is one of the important pictures of all time although almost three hours of running time can overdo a good thing. Running sans intermission, the saga of Roberto and Maria (Gary Cooper and Ingrid Bergman) asks for too much concentrated attention on what is basically one dramatic episode, that of blasting a crucial bridge, in order to foil the Nationalists.
On a beautiful Technicolor canvas is projected an equally beautiful romance which, perhaps, lays a little too much emphasis on the amorous phase. It’s one thing to punch up boy-meets-girl sequencing, but the nature of Ernest Hemingway’s bestseller, of course, was predicated on a political aura resulting in the Spanish civil war.
Histrionically, Bell Tolls is a triumph for the four sub-featured players. Katina Paxinou, onetime foremost in her native Greek theatre, dominates everything by a shade. A masculine woman who, however, has known of love and beauty, despite her realistic self-abnegation that she is ugly, is standout in everything she does.
For the record Bell cost around $150,000 for the screen rights (Hemingway’s book sales determined the overage on top of the basic $100,000 price) and the production cost was officially a few thousands under $3 million.
1943: Best Supp. Actress (Katina Paxinou).
Nominations: Best Picture, Actor (Gary Cooper), Actress (Ingrid Bergman), Supp. Actor (Akim Tamiroff), Color Cinematography, Color Art Direction, Editing, Scoring of a Dramatic Picture