A Farewell to Arms (1932 film)

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A Farewell to Arms
Poster - A Farewell to Arms (1932) 01.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Frank Borzage
Produced by
Screenplay by
  • Benjamin Glazer
  • Oliver H.P. Garrett
Based on A Farewell to Arms 
by Ernest Hemingway
Starring
Music by Milan Roder
Cinematography Charles Lang
Edited by
Production
company
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release dates
  • December 8, 1932 (1932-12-08) (United States)
Running time 85 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $900,000[1]

A Farewell to Arms is a 1932 American romance drama film directed by Frank Borzage and starring Helen Hayes, Gary Cooper, and Adolphe Menjou.[2] Based on the 1929 semi-autobiographical novel A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway, with a screenplay by Oliver H.P. Garrett and Benjamin Glazer, the film is about a romantic love affair between an American ambulance driver and an English nurse in Italy during World War I. The film received Academy Awards for Best Cinematography and Best Sound, and was nominated for Best Picture and Best Art Direction.[2] In 1960, the film entered the public domain (in the USA) due to the failure of the last claimant, United Artists, to renew its copyright registration in the 28th year after publication.[3] The original Broadway play starred Glenn Anders and Elissa Landi.[4][5]

Plot[edit]

On the Italian front during World War I, Frederic Henry (Gary Cooper), an American serving as an ambulance driver in the Italian Army, delivers some wounded soldiers to a hospital. There he meets his friend, Italian Major Rinaldi (Adolphe Menjou), a doctor. They go out carousing, but are interrupted by a bombing raid. Frederic and English Red Cross nurse Catherine Barkley (Helen Hayes) take shelter in the same place. The somewhat drunk Frederic makes a poor first impression.

Rinaldi persuades Frederic to go on a double romantic date with him and two nurses, Catherine and her friend Helen Ferguson (Mary Philips). However, Rinaldi becomes annoyed when Frederic prefers Catherine, the woman the major had chosen for himself. Away by themselves, Frederic learns that she was engaged to a soldier who was killed in battle. In the darkness, he romantically seduces her, over her half-hearted resistance, and is surprised to discover she is a virgin.

Their romantic relationship (forbidden by army regulation) is discovered. At Rinaldi's suggestion, Catherine is transferred to Milan. When Frederick is wounded by artillery, he finds himself in the hospital where Catherine now works. They continue their affair until he is sent back to the war. Now pregnant, Catherine runs away to Switzerland, but her many letters to her beloved sweetheart/lover are intercepted by Rinaldi, who feels he needs to rescue his friend from the romantic entanglement. Meanwhile, Frederic's letters to her are sent to the hospital which she has abandoned.

When Frederic cannot stand it any longer, and he deserts them to find Catherine. Returning first to the hospital in Milan, he attempts to convince the reluctant Ferguson to reveal Catherine's whereabouts to him. Displaying animosity toward Frederic, all she reveals finally is that Catherine has left and is pregnant with Frederic's child. Rinaldi visits him at the hotel where he is hiding, and, upon hearing of Catherine's pregnancy, out of remorse for having interfered with their correspondence, tells Frederic where she is living. He rows across a lake to her. Meanwhile, Catherine is delighted when she is told she has finally received some mail, but faints when she is given all of her romantic love letters, marked "Return to Sender". She is taken to the hospital, where her child is delivered stillborn. She herself is in grave danger. Frederic arrives, and just as an armistice between Italy and Austria-Hungary is announced, Catherine tragically dies, with him at her side.

Cast[edit]

Critical reception[edit]

In his review in The New York Times, Mordaunt Hall wrote, "There is too much sentiment and not enough strength in the pictorial conception of Ernest Hemingway's novel ... the film account skips too quickly from one episode to another and the hardships and other experiences of Lieutenant Henry are passed over too abruptly, being suggested rather than told ... Gary Cooper gives an earnest and splendid portrayal [and] Helen Hayes is admirable as Catherine ... another clever characterization is contributed by Adolphe Menjou ... it is unfortunate that these three players, serving the picture so well, do not have the opportunity to figure in more really dramatic interludes."[6]

Dan Callahan of Slant Magazine notes, "Hemingway ... was grandly contemptuous of Frank Borzage's version of A Farewell to Arms ... but time has been kind to the film. It launders out the writer's ... pessimism and replaces it with a testament to the eternal love between a couple."[7]

Time Out London calls it "not only the best film version of a Hemingway novel, but also one of the most thrilling visions of the power of sexual love that even Borzage ever made ... no other director created images like these, using light and movement like brushstrokes, integrating naturalism and a daring expressionism in the same shot. This is romantic melodrama raised to its highest degree."[8]

Channel 4 describes it as "an excellent adaptation ... the two leads are ideal and irresistible here, particularly a reliably sensitive Cooper, who milks his everyman appeal to great effect."

Awards and nominations[edit]

The film won two Academy Awards and was nominated for another two:[9]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ FILM COSTS HIT BOTH EXTREMES: POVERTY ROW SPENDS LESS, BIG STUDIOS MORE MILLION-DOLLAR FEATURES "SHOOT THE WORKS" INEXPENSIVE "ARTY" HIT DUE TO MAKE APPEARANCE Schallert, Edwin. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 16 Oct 1932: B13.
  2. ^ a b c d "A Farewell to Arms (1932)". The New York Times. Retrieved September 18, 2012. 
  3. ^ Pierce, David (June 2007). "Forgotten Faces: Why Some of Our Cinema Heritage Is Part of the Public Domain". Film History: An International Journal 19 (2): 125–43. doi:10.2979/FIL.2007.19.2.125. ISSN 0892-2160. JSTOR 25165419. OCLC 15122313. 
  4. ^ A Farewell to Arms, as produced on Broadway at the National Theatre, September 22 1930 to October 1930, 24 performances; IBDb.com
  5. ^ Unlike most pre-1950 Paramount sound features, Farewell was not sold to what is now known as Universal Television. Warner Bros. acquired the rights at an unknown date with the intention to remake the film, but never did. The film would end up in the package of films sold to Associated Artists Productions in 1956, that company would be sold to United Artists two years later.
  6. ^ Hall, Mordaunt (December 9, 1932). "Helen Hayes, Gary Cooper and Adolphe Menjou in a Film of Hemingway's "Farewell to Arms."". The New York Times. Retrieved September 18, 2012. 
  7. ^ Callahan, Dan. Slant Magazine "A Farewell to Arms". Retrieved November 15, 2011. 
  8. ^ Borzage, Frank. TimeOut "A Farewell to Arms (1932)". Retrieved November 5, 2011. 
  9. ^ Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences "The 6th Academy Awards (1934) Nominees and Winners". Retrieved November 15, 2011. 

External links[edit]

Streaming audio[edit]