A tale of the love between ambulance driver Lt. Henry and Nurse Catherine Barkley during World War I. The action takes place in Italy and the two fall in love during the war and will stop ... See full summary »
A tale of the love between ambulance driver Lt. Henry and Nurse Catherine Barkley during World War I. The action takes place in Italy and the two fall in love during the war and will stop at nothing to be together. The film also analyses Lt. Henry's feelings on war and the purpose of fighting. Written by
Josh Pasnak <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The 1932 film version of Ernest Hemmingway's A FAREWELL TO ARMS will never challenge the likes of ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT--but while it fails to capture the horrors of World War I it is remarkably effective at capturing the novel's sparse and unyielding prose. A good deal of the credit goes to writers Garrett and Glaizer and director Borzage--but the real interest here is not so much in the cinematic interpretation of the Hemmingway novel as it is in the cast, which is remarkable.
Actress Helen Hayes was already among the leading lights of the New York stage when she was lured to Hollywood for a handful of films in the early 1930s--and it is easy to see what all the fuss was about. Plaintive beauty aside, unlike most stage and screen actors of the era she is completely unaffected in her performance and proves more than powerful enough to overcome the more melodramatic moments of the script. She is costarred with Gary Cooper in one of his earliest leading roles, and while the pairing is unexpected, it is also unexpectedly good: they have tremendous screen chemistry, and in spite of the film's dated approach they easily draw you into this story of an ill-fated wartime romance between a nurse and an ambulance driver.
The film is also well supplied with a solid supporting cast that includes Adolphe Menjou, Jack La Rue, and Mary Philips, and while clearly filmed on a slim budget--something most obvious in the battlefront sequences--the camera work is remarkably good. Unfortunately, all this counts for nothing unless you can find a print of the film that you can stand to watch. It is sad but true: the 1932 A FAREWELL TO ARMS seems to have fallen into public domain, and the result is a host of DVD and VHS releases that range from the merely adequate to the incredibly dire.
Gary F. Taylor, aka GFT, Amazon Reviewer
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