- A Farewell to Arms (1957 film)
name = A Farewell to Arms
caption = Original soundtrack album
Ben Hecht(screenplay) Laurence Stallings(play) Ernest Hemingway(novel)
released = 1957
country = USA
language = English
imdb_id = 0050379
"A Farewell to Arms" is a 1957 American
drama filmdirected by Charles Vidor. The screenplayby Ben Hecht, based in part on a 1930 play by Laurence Stallings, was the second feature filmadaptation of Ernest Hemingway's 1929 semi-autobiographical novel of the same name. It was the last film produced by David O. Selznick.
Frederick Henry is an American serving as an
ambulancedriver for the Italian Armyduring World War I. While recovering from a wound in a British base hospitalin northern Italy, he meets Catherine Barkley, a Red Crossnurse, and the two engage in an affair resulting in her pregnancy. The couple are separated before the birth of their child, and Catherine comes to believe Frederick has abandoned her. Following the Battle of Caporetto, in which his close friend Alessandro Rinaldi dies, he makes his way to Switzerland, where Catherine is hospitalized. Their child is stillborn, and Catherine dies shortly afterward.
For many years David O. Selznick had wanted to film the Hemingway novel, but
Warner Bros.owned the property and refused to sell it to him. He found himself in an advantageous bargaining position when Warners bought the remake rights to "A Star is Born", to which he owned the foreign rights. Without them, the studio could not release their intended remake with Judy Garlandoverseas. Selznick offered to relinquish his rights to "Star" in exchange for the rights to "Farewell", and Warners agreed ["Memo from David O. Selznick", selected and edited by Rudy Behlmer, The Viking Press, 1972, pg. 441] .
On October 25, 1956, Selznick contacted director
John Hustonat the Blue Haven Hotel in Tobagoand enthusiastically welcomed him to the project. He advised him his contract with 20th Century Foxcalled for severe financial penalties if the film went over schedule and/or budget, and urged him to concentrate wholly on the film until principal filming was completed ["Memo from David O. Selznick", pp. 442-443] . Selznick's concerns increased as Huston began to tinker with the script and spend an inordinate amount of time on pre-production preparations, and on March 19, 1957, he sent the director a lengthy memo outlining the problems he foresaw arising from Huston's lack of cooperation ["Memo from David O. Selznick", pp. 446-452] . Two days later, Huston announced he could not agree with Selznick on any of the issues he had raised and quit the project. Based on correspondence to Charles Vidor, it appears the producer's relationship with Huston's replacement was acrimonious as well ["Memo from David O. Selznick", pp. 453-462] . The producer later said the film was "not one of the jobs of which I am most proud." ["Memo from David O. Selznick", pg. 441]
The film was shot on location in the Italian Alps,
Venzonein the Province of Udinein the region of Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Lazio, and Rome.
The film was budgeted at $4,353,000. It grossed $11,000,000 in the US and an additional $14,000,000 in foreign markets.
Rock Hudson..... Frederick Henry
*Jennifer Jones ..... Catherine Barkley
Vittorio De Sica..... Major Alessandro Rinaldi
Oskar Homolka..... Dr. Emerich
Mercedes McCambridge..... Miss Van Campen
Elaine Stritch..... Helen Ferguson
Kurt Kasznar..... Bonello
Principal production credits
*Original Music .....
Cinematography..... Oswald Morris, Piero Portalupi
*Production Design .....
*Art Direction ..... Mario Garbuglia
Costume Design..... Veniero Colasanti, John Moore
In his review in the "
New York Times", Bosley Crowthernoted, "Mr. Selznick's picture . . . lacks that all-imporant awareness of the inescapable presence and pressure of war. That key support to the structure of the theme has been largely removed by Ben Hecht's script and by a clear elimination of subtle thematic overtones . . . [it] is a tedious account of a love affair between two persons who are strangely insistent upon keeping it informal . . . as a pure romance . . . it has shortcomings. The essential excitement of a violent love is strangely missing in the studied performances that Rock Hudson and Jennifer Jones give in the leading roles. Mr. Hudson is most noticeably unbending, as if he were cautious and shy, but Miss Jones plays the famous Catherine Barkley with bewildering nervous moves and grimaces. The show of devotion between two people is intensely acted, not realized. It is questionable, indeed, whether Mr. Hudson and Miss Jones have the right personalities for these roles." [ [http://movies.nytimes.com/movie/review?res=9B06E4DA1239EF3BBC4D51DFB7668383649EDE "New York Times" review] ]
TV Guide" calls it "an overblown Hollywood extravaganza that . . . hasn't improved with age . . . the chief virtue of this hollow epic is the stupendous color photography of the Italian Alps . . . also enjoyable is Vittorio De Sica's inspired performance as the wily Maj. Rinaldi, but it's not enough to offset the flagrant overacting by Jones and the woodenness of Hudson." [ [http://www.tvguide.com/movies/farewell-arms/review/114370 "TV Guide" review] ]
Time Out New York" describes it as an "inflated remake" with "surplus production values and spectacle" and adds, "A padded Ben Hecht script and Selznick's invariable tendency to overkill are equally to blame." [ [http://www.timeout.com/film/newyork/reviews/66440/A_Farewell_to_Arms.html "Time Out New York" review] ]
In his review of the
DVDrelease, Jeremiah Kipp of " Slant Magazine" awarded the film two out of a possible five stars and stated, "To those willing to endure "A Farewell To Arms": Don't be a hero! . . . We have David O. Selznick to blame for this bloated two-hour-plus Technicolorremake, announcing from the larger-than-life opening credits set against epic shots of sunsets, mountains, and valleys that he's aiming for another "Gone with the Wind" . . . without compelling lovers at the heart of his grand-scale love story, it's all just a meaningless protracted spectacle." [ [http://www.slantmagazine.com/dvd/dvd_review.asp?ID=641 "Slant Magazine" review] ]
Awards and nominations
Vittorio De Sica was nominated for the
Academy Award for Best Supporting Actorbut lost to Red Buttonsfor " Sayonara".
* [http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0050379/ "A Farewell to Arms" at the Internet Movie Database]
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