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 <email@example.com>
Though in the novel the character of Catherine Barkley is described as very tall, actress Helen Hayes is a mere five feet tall. See more »
To the modern discerning eye, the use of miniatures is apparent in some scenes. If one looks very closely at the first scene, ambulance trucks driving up a winding mountain road will be seen to be well crafted miniatures. See more »
SPOILER: Paramount decided, after much disagreement, to keep Hemingway's original ending and fade out after the death of Catherine Barkley. This ending was kept for the European release, but a new ending in which Barkley lives was later added to the U.S. release. See more »
When this version of A Farewell to Arms came out, Ernest Hemingway hated this film. They turned his novel and put too much emphasis on the romance angle. When Papa Hemingway said that he obviously did not know Hollywood well at all. If he did just knowing Frank Borzage directed this film should have told him something. Borzage did a whole slew of tender romantic stories in the Thirties like Three Comrades, The Mortal Storm, stuff like that. A Farewell to Arms is definitely in keeping with that tradition.
The one thing that Hemingway did like was the casting of Gary Cooper as the hero Fredric Henry. He and Coop became fast friends right up to when they both died in 1961. He saw in Cooper the ideal Hemingway hero and when Paramount acquired the rights to For Whom the Bells Toll, Hemingway insisted it be done with Cooper or nobody.
Cooper and Helen Hayes made a tender romantic couple in the Borzage tradition, probably more Borzage than Hemingway. But Adolph Zukor and Paramount also knew what sold movie tickets and Paramount was having a lot of financial troubles at this time. The studio nearly went under during the Depression. But Paramount's saviors turned out to be Bing Crosby, Mae West, and Cecil B. DeMille who returned to the studio he helped found.
Helen Hayes made several good films in the early thirties, this one and the one she won an Oscar for, The Sins of Madelon Claudet. But she never became a movie box office draw so she returned to the Broadway stage where she reigned as a Queen.
Adolphe Menjou replete with Italian accent plays Cooper's friend and romantic rival, Major Rinaldi. Menjou was great at playing both American and continental types. Soon he would sign a long term contract with MGM and gain his greatest roles during the sound era.
Hemingway purists might shun A Farewell to Arms, but those who love their screen romances, soggier the better will rave about this film.
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