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I am so mad at myself because I watched this in the 80's and 90's on
American Movie Classics and like an idiot I didn't record it. Now I
haven't seen it on any channel in years and it isn't available on VHS
This is just such a breath of fresh air for a 1940 movie. It's a movie where the woman is as smart as the man and is allowed to show it and in the end stands tall with him instead of behind him. The dialogue is funny, which given the exceptional writers like Billy Wilder, is not surprising. Colbert and Milland have wonderful chemistry. It's a movie I adore from start to finish. Now if only Paramount would get off their arses and release this movie on DVD, I'd be thrilled.
Definitely in my all time top 10. The Milland/Colbert pairing is
fantastic, there is wonderful chemistry between the two stars but it is
Colbert who as the independent career woman Augusta Nash launched me on
my love of 1930's/1940's films and I would recommend this as a fabulous
example of what films of that era have to offer a modern audience.
The opening sequences set the adventurous and romantic tone of the movie. The scenes in Maxim's and the in the horse drawn carriage on Monmartre are wonderfully romantic as Tom (Milland) plots to overcome Augusta's business only attitude. A fabulous film which gets home the patriotic message needed as WWII commenced without ever overwhelming the wonderful adventurous story.
This is a good movie, full of snappy lines, very capable acting and
interesting scenes. Mitchell Leisen has an above average script to work
with, and when this happens you can be assured of a very watchable
movie. Well worth a DVD release (can you hear me Universal!), but this
inexplicably has never even made it on to VHS.
It features a strong capable woman (a trademark Leisen feature), but her male counterpart is no weakling is either, Ray Milland matches Claudette Colbert all of the way, helping create dramatic interest. The last section of the movie after the sinking of the Athenia is a bit underwritten and slightly unconvincing, but this is only a minor quibble.
Very well worth watching.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This film is pretty good but oddly uneven. The script (which Charles
Brackett and Billy Wilder both worked on) is about the adventures and
experiences of soldier-of-fortune Ray Milland and reporter Claudette
Colbert across western Europe from Spain to Germany and then to
England. Colbert is working for an American syndicate out of Paris that
is headed by Walter Abel. She goes to Spain, where the Spanish Civil
War is ending with a Fascist victory. Milland is going to be executed
(he's been fighting for the Republic), and Colbert tells the prison
governor (George Zucco) that she is married to Milland. She is allowed
to see Milland, and helps spirit him out of the prison for the sake of
the interview and scoop. They get to France, and Milland proceeds to
romance and slowly win Colbert.
The rest of the film is done against the background of the worsening international crisis, seen first hand by our hero and heroine. Colbert does not like the Nazis, but she is slower on the realization that they are not limited in their goals but determined to spread control over as many peoples as possible. Milland (when not trying to break down Colbert's "friends only" point of view) is showing her the ropes of the real German led threat to Europe and the globe.
The unevenness (despite having Wilder and Brackett working on the screenplay) is due to the nature of the light banter between the romantic leads, and the growing threat they observe. It is not a glaring weakness, but it seems to split the film in half at times.
Sometimes it has a belated effectiveness in carrying out the warning of the movie. Abel is all business and hectic confusion (Esther Dale, as his secretary, helps keep him directed to his purposes) in sending Colbert to her jobs and getting her stories back to the U.S. At one point we find Milland and Colbert in Paris, with the latter doing his best to get Colbert to loosen up - taking her to Maxim's and other romantic nightspots in that city. It does eventually wear down her resistance to him. But late in the film it is June 1940, and Abel is on hand to see the entrance of the victorious Nazis into Paris. He has a very good moment when his business viewpoint dissipates in shock as he realizes the "city of lights" is in the hands of these modern barbarians. His comments at that moment make us think back to the brighter Paris we saw earlier in the sequences at Maxim's.*
(*A curious sidelight: Although from different studios, the events of that June day play a role in Paramount's ARISE, MY LOVE, and Warner's CASABLANCA: Bogart and Dooley Wilson flee Paris (to avoid arrest from the Germans) by train, and Bergman deserts Bogart (to return to the wounded Paul Henreid) at the same time that Abel is watching the arrival of the same German troops.)
Despite the unevenness the film is worth seeing. It has many good moments in it (including an unexpectedly bumbling Zucco - his usual evil control of events thwarted by his act of kindness to the pretty Colbert). It is also, as far as I know, the only movie to mention a forgotten war crime of the opening of the war: the torpedoing and sinking of the steamer Athenia off Ireland with loss of life. The incident (in September 1939) is not as recalled as the similar Lusitania incident of 1915 in the same waters because the losses were not as huge (fortunately). Oddly enough the Nazis were quick to be aware of the similarity, and the Goebbels propaganda machine cranked up a story that the British were responsible, not the Germans. Nobody believed it then or since.
Despite it's somewhat split personality the film gets an "8" out of "10".
Claudette Colbert stated that Ernst Lubitsch was "by far" her favorite
director, but this film, directed by Mitchell Leisen, she stated to be
her favorite movie. Released in 1940, it marked her fourth
collaboration with Leisen (he'd co-directed without credit sequences of
the 1932 Cecil B. DeMille production "Sign of the Cross," the movie
which made Claudette a star), the man who directed her in more films
than any other director.
One can see why Claudette liked this film the best: it gave her a meatier role than the parts she'd played over the preceding several years. Ever since 1934's "It Happened One Night" Claudette had mostly done comedy films. This isn't a complaint the lady had better comedic timing than just about any other actress in Hollywood. But here in Arise My Love she was able to cover the gamut of her talent, from comedy to drama, something she hadn't gotten to do since the Pre-Code years (check out her 1933 "Torch Singer" for an example). Indeed it's this mixture of genres which seems to offset the critics of today. For Arise My Love answers the unasked question: "What if Casablanca had been done as a screwball comedy?"
Produced so in-the-moment that the script was rewritten daily to encompass the latest events, Arise My Love was released in 1940 and covers the hectic events of one year, starting in the summer of 1939. Claudette is Gusto Nash, a no-nonsense newspaper reporter who dreams of scoring big headlines. She frees Tom Martin (Ray Milland), a Nazi-hating pilot who's imprisoned on death row in Spain, part of the Liberty battalion of US soldiers who helped that country fight the encroaching Nazis (and lost). The first thirty minutes of this movie are 100% action, with escape via land and air. After this the film moves into screwball territory, with Tom hot for Gusto and Gusto trying to reign in her feelings; she wants to focus on her career. After this we move into drama; together at last, Gusto and Tom are soon separated, Gusto to cover the Nazi menace in various points of Europe, Tom battling the Germans in the Polish air force.
Everything hangs together despite the mixing of genres. If I had any complaints it would be that the film ends a bit too weakly, Claudette delivering a passionate soliloquy to a silent Milland. Doubtless this gung-ho speech was intended to stir patriotic fervor in the audience of the day, but now, decades after WWII, it seems a bit anticlimactic. Indeed, the opening thirty minutes of the film are more climatic than the ending. But there are a lot of enjoyable moments. Claudette and Milland have good chemistry and both get a chance to display comedic and dramatic skills.
The Sturges/Brackett script is up to the level of their previous Claudette productions ("Bluebeard's Eighth Wife" and "Midnight"), though, again, they don't get as much chance here to unleash their trademark comedy. Leisen's direction is good, too, as is the cinematography and production values. Claudette and Milland traipse about Europe in a variety of locales, from Paris to countryside inns deep in France; all of it done on a set, all of it featuring that Classic Film glamor.
Released well after the enforcement of the puritanical Code, Arise My Love still gets in a few surprises first, there's a delightful scene where Gusto comes up to Tom's room to snap his photo for her article. Tom however thinks she's coming up for sex. This develops into a scene filled with hilarious misunderstanding, with Gusto arranging the setup and Tom becoming increasingly bewildered: "So where shall we do it? How about the chair?" "What?" "Right too conventional." All of it like "Three's Company," but still very funny. Also, shortly after this scene Gusto and Tom talk in a restaurant; Tom's pretending he's waiting for a (nonexistent) Swedish girl, but really he just wants to be with Gusto (who thinks she's just getting material for her article). There's a moment where Tom asks Gusto to pick out some flowers flowers he pretends to be buying for the Swedish girl but are really for her. As Tom purchases the flowers she picked out, Gusto looks at him with a dawning understanding that turns into a look of longing and then, very abruptly, she puts her pen in her mouth. Dr. Freud calling!
Despite Claudette's preference for this film, it's never been officially released not even on VHS. You'll need to scour the sordid world of online DVDR trading/sales to find yourself a copy, one which most likely will have been sourced from a cable TV broadcast.
Mitchell Leisen gets superb performances from CLAUDETTE COLBERT and RAY
MILLAND in ARISE, MY LOVE.
It's a comedy/drama with Claudette as a journalist tired of covering fluffy stories who decides to get into serious journalism by rescuing a man about to be executed during the Spanish Civil War (Milland) so that she can be the first writer to get a scoop on a great story. As soon as she and her prisoner meet, the deft comic timing of these two pros are given great support from Billy Wilder's clever script. Early on, there's a scene of mistaken intentions that has Ray thinking Claudette wants to seduce him. He's oblivious to the fact that she merely wants to take some photos of him for the article she intends to write. The double entendre dialog has seldom been matched, in this scene alone.
Personally, I prefer "Midnight," another Leisen/Colbert film shown before this one on TCM. It's even wittier and much funnier. The trouble with ARISE, MY LOVE is that it attempts to do too many things at once and emerges as an uneven romantic comedy with a war background. For the ending, Claudette gets to deliver a flag waving speech that is obviously meant for 1940 audiences who were facing the prospect of getting involved in WWII.
Lots of laughs along the way with both stars delivering excellent performances.
Mitchell Leisen was one of the few directors who could introduce
tragedy into comedy and vice versa .The first part is absolutely
dazzling.Incredible though it may seem ,it's full of unexpected
twists,of fine lines ("it's my first execution" says the Padre /It's
mine too" says the prisoner).The chemistry between Claudette Colbert
and Ray Milland is perfect and their husband-and-wife act compares
favorably with that of the actress as a "baroness ,her husband and her
children" in "midnight" .The movie loses steam in its second part but
it does show Mitchell's fondness for France .Unlike too many American
movies,there are plenty of French words and the French speak French
between them.I particularly like this sentence "Three sisters used to
live in this country :Liberté ,Egalité Et Fraternité " as the German
army is marching past the streets of Paris.This francophilia is also
present in Leisen's "hold back the dawn" or "Frenchman's creek" .
The last third may be considered a propaganda one ,but many other directors (Hitchcock,Lang,Hathaway,Borzage etc) had theirs too,and Leisen's is certainly smarter than most of the others.Solomon's prayer (which provides the title) is to be taken literally.Augusta is a go-getter ,she plays the heroine just for the sake of fame .After the beautiful scene in the forest ,where the animals run for their lives ,she does arise .The scene in the Compiègne Car is as incredible as Marlene Dietrich as a gypsy entering an inn full of Nazis in "golden earrings" .But the Spanish extravagant tale had warned us:this is not to be taken seriously ,but in a way,it is.
In the final analysis, a film is about cinematography. From the very beginning at the Spanish prison, extraordinary cinematography is used to an exceptional degree, and it continues through the film. There are minor exceptions, as with the file film of airplanes flying. More importantly, the film claims the obvious: The Spanish government in 1939 had more than casual leanings toward Berlin. The bombing of Guernica by the Nazi air force is testimony, here reinforced. Tom Martin (Ray Millard) says he had a pet rat in his jail cell named "Adolph." Spain's neutrality during World War Two is in question with Paramount Pictures, as it was in diplomatic circles. Of course, a 1940 movie about event of 1939 has the advantage of historical retrospect, yet the public actions of the Spanish government stand. Claudette Colbert as Agusta Nash is the career woman whose career comes before love, who puts her career before all. Her assignment as Special Berlin Correspondent is to tell of Hitler and his gang. A series of unpredictable events leads her to redefine her sense of patriotism. There are, in effect, many loves which must arise and spite the envious moon. Cinematography, historical theme, and some darn good acting all unite for an effective historical perspective on life at the beginnings of World War Two.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Up until 1939 when Warner Brothers took Nazi Germany in "Confessions of
a Nazi Spy", Hollywood was very silent about Hitler and the Third
Reich. Part of this was because the American public was staunchly
neutral towards Germany and the war. In fact, Hitler had been a rather
popular guy in America! Another reason films didn't criticize this
repressive regime was because Congress had enacted some
unconstitutional legislation that prevented Hollywood for taking a
stance towards or against any side in the conflict in Europe! However,
starting in 1940, the studios finally declared their independence and a
wide variety of anti-Nazi films were released--the tide had finally
turned though it wouldn't be until almost 1942 that the US finally got
pulled into the war. With films like "Storm Warning", "Escape" and
"Arise, My Love" were just a few of the 1940 anti-Nazi films.
The movie finds Ray Milland in a Spanish prison awaiting execution after his capture by Franco's Nationalist troops. If you don't remember your history classes, these Nationalists were allies with the Germans and they provided assistance during this civil war--as they wanted to try out all their cool new weapons on the Republican soldiers. As Milland is awaiting death, he laments that he wishes he could live long enough to fight the Nazis directly--a distinctly anti-neutrality statement! However, just before he is shot, his wife shows up and is granted a pardon if he just agrees to leave the country. However, Milland is NOT married and Colbert is actually a crazy reporter who is trying to do a good thing AND get a great story! When this is discovered, the two beat a hasty retreat across the border to France.
Soon, the couple are hanging out in Paris. Milland is now a bit of a celebrity and Colbert decides to stick by him to get a story--though the story seems over and you wonder what Colbert really wants. Not surprisingly, the two soon fall in love. But, oddly, Colbert fights hard NOT to fall for Milland and only when she shares a train car on the way to a new assignment in Berlin does she finally give in to Milland's advances. Instead of continuing the journey, they take a brief vacation together--during which WWII begins when the Germans invade Poland. Now the couple are unsure what to do next. Should they go back to America and settle down to a life or domesticity or should they stay and do their part to battle the Fascists? When they chose the safer life in America, things don't go as they'd expect as the ship is sunk by a Nazi sub. This ship, the SS Athenia, was actually the first British ship sank in the war. They survive but what's next?! Try seeing the movie yourself to find out what the two lovers decide to do now.
This film is among the most romantic films Milland or Colbert made in their very distinguished careers. But, it is unusual in that it also has such a highly serious side to it as well--and you know the romance is fated as well--providing a wistful tone of the film. It comes off very well and the dialog sparkles...and it has a timely political message as well. Extremely well done and enjoyable.
I loved this film from beginning to end. It made me laugh and it made me cry, and it left me with the feeling that I had watched one of the best screen romances ever. The script was so wonderfully written, the dialogues really sparkled like diamonds and ... Ray Milland was handsomer here than in any other film I have seen him!! He treated Clodette Colbere with a mixture of humor ,tenderness and respect, that was very endearing and touching. At moments, he seemed like an insecure little boy, and I am sure that he was never like that with any other of his co-stars. Needless to say, I loved this aspect of his very much!!! Something else that I found interesting is that the film was made almost simultaneously with the historical events it describes. This adds to its authenticity and gives us a sense of watching history in the making. The mixing of comedy and drama does not annoy me. It is more than realistic and in fact welcome, here. We deal with two very smart and out of the ordinary people, living very unusual lives, taking active parts in what goes on around them, so it is to be expected that they will have an acute sense of humor as well as forceful feelings about the war and about each other. In our lives there is place for both comedy and drama, why it should not be so for a movie, who depicts life? Just to add that the DVD now available, (spanish edition but with English audio)has very good quality of sound and picture, and does justice to this uniquely beautiful film.
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