A Farewell to Arms (1957 film)

A Farewell to Arms (1957 film)

Infobox Film
name = A Farewell to Arms

image_size =
caption = Original soundtrack album
director = Charles Vidor
producer =
writer = Ben Hecht (screenplay)
Laurence Stallings (play)
Ernest Hemingway (novel)
narrator =
starring = Rock Hudson
Jennifer Jones
music = Mario Nascimbene
cinematography = Oswald Morris
editing =
distributor =
released = 1957
runtime =
country = USA
language = English
budget =
preceded_by =
followed_by =
website =
amg_id =
imdb_id = 0050379

"A Farewell to Arms" is a 1957 American drama film directed by Charles Vidor. The screenplay by Ben Hecht, based in part on a 1930 play by Laurence Stallings, was the second feature film adaptation of Ernest Hemingway's 1929 semi-autobiographical novel of the same name. It was the last film produced by David O. Selznick.

Plot synopsis

Frederick Henry is an American serving as an ambulance driver for the Italian Army during World War I. While recovering from a wound in a British base hospital in northern Italy, he meets Catherine Barkley, a Red Cross nurse, 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.

Production notes

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 Garland overseas. 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 Huston at the Blue Haven Hotel in Tobago and enthusiastically welcomed him to the project. He advised him his contract with 20th Century Fox called 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, Venzone in the Province of Udine in 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.

Principal cast

*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 ..... Mario Nascimbene
*Cinematography ..... Oswald Morris, Piero Portalupi
*Production Design ..... Alfred Junge
*Art Direction ..... Mario Garbuglia
*Costume Design ..... Veniero Colasanti, John Moore

Critical reception

In his review in the "New York Times", Bosley Crowther noted, "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 DVD release, 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 Technicolor remake, 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 Actor but lost to Red Buttons for "Sayonara".


External links

* [http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0050379/ "A Farewell to Arms" at the Internet Movie Database]

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