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Farewell To Arms, A
USA 1932
Directed by Frank Borzage
Running time 78 minutes
Rated PG

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3 stars


Of course, stylistically Frank Borzage’s adaptation for Paramount of the Ernest Hemingway novel about an WWI ambulance driver (Gary Cooper) on the Italian Front who falls in love with an English nurse (Helen Hayes) over one unforgettable night of love-making is dated, but Borzage shows a good deal of flair in his helming. The action scenes, photographed by Charles Lang, were top drawer for their time and the film picked up Oscars for cinematography and sound recording.

Cooper makes some fairly sappy passes at displaying emotion (thus earning a reputation as giving one of his finer performances) and Adolphe Menjou’s gladhandedness and endless “baby” are tiresome but Helen Hayes gives a good showing as the woman who gives her all to the man she loves. Although the film buries the original text in the coy sentimentalities of Hollywood romantic melodramas of the period, including a climatic death scene to the surging strains of Wagner's famous motif from Tristan and Isolde, it remains a watchable film.

FYI: The film was remade with considerably less success in 1957 by Charles Vidor with Rock Hudson and Jennifer Jones in the leads.

 

 

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