Force of Arms (1951)

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Reviews: 13 user | 3 critic

During World War II in Italy, an American sergeant and WAC lieutenant take time out for romance.



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Complete credited cast:
Sgt. Joe 'Pete' Peterson
Lt. Eleanor MacKay
Maj. Blackford
Gene Evans ...
Sgt. Smiley 'Mac' McFee
Dick Wesson ...
Katherine Warren ...
Maj. Waldron
Ross Ford ...
Ron Hagerthy ...


Winter, 1943. The German army has halted the American advance in the mountains of Italy; back-and-forth combat decimates Joe Peterson's platoon. On leave in Naples, Joe meets WAC lieutenant Eleanor MacKay; initially cool, she begins to melt during a bombing raid. Their romance develops despite Joe's periodic returns to the front. But whether he'll come back in the end becomes more than doubtful... Written by Rod Crawford <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The most beautiful love story ever told!


Romance | War | Drama


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Release Date:

13 August 1951 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A Girl for Joe  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


Just after Frank Lovejoy (Maj.) tells William Holden (Sgt.) about his promotion to Lt.; Holden puts on a jacket with his sergeant stiles on it. They drive to a restaurant/bar (Mama Mia's) and his jacket no longer has any sign of stripes. When stripes are removed the impression of the stripes and the stitching can still be seen. His jacket is absolutely pristine. Even if the stripes came off without leaving any marks at all; there would a clean spot where the stripes were. See more »


Sgt. Joe Peterson: You mean you were a civilian once?
Lt. Eleanor MacKay: Oh, if you consider schoolteachers civilians.
Sgt. Joe Peterson: You, honest?
Lt. Eleanor MacKay: Mm-hmm.
Sgt. Joe Peterson: Well, and me without an apple!
See more »


Version of A Farewell to Arms (1966) See more »

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User Reviews

Romance In The Italian Campaign
4 July 2007 | by (Buffalo, New York) – See all my reviews

The original story behind Force of Arms was written by Richard Tregaskis, war correspondent from World War II, best known for Guadalcanal Diary. Of course some would argue that Tregaskis borrowed a lot of the plot from the previous war that Ernest Hemingway chronicled in A Farewell to Arms.

Still it's a nice romantic story brought to life by the teaming of William Holden and Nancy Olson who did four films together back at this time. Nancy Olson in fact got an Oscar nomination in the Best Supporting Actress category for Sunset Boulevard which was their first film together.

After his company is relieved on the San Pietro front in the Italian theater, William Holden meets WAC Nancy Olson and a romance blooms. But it's back to the front, in fact Holden gets himself wounded twice during the course of Force of Arms.

Actual combat footage from the Italian campaign is used along with newsreels from the liberation of Rome where the climax takes place. There are good performances here also by Frank Lovejoy and Katherine Warren as the respective commanding officers of Holden and Olson.

This was Bill Holden's first great romantic role along the lines of Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca. It's a harbinger of what we would later get from him in films like The Bridges of Toko-Ri and Love Is A Many Splendored Thing.

It's a sadly neglected film, one of Bill Holden's better films and should not be missed.

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