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A Farewell to Arms

A Farewell to Arms

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Product Info Reviews

  • Black & White


The 1932 version of A Farewell to Arms owes as much to the shimmering house style of Paramount Pictures as it does the novel by Ernest Hemingway. If Hemingway purists can get past the romanticizing of the book, however, this film offers its own glossy appeal. On the Italian front in World War I, an American ambulance driver (Gary Cooper) falls in love with a nurse (Helen Hayes, before she became the official First Lady of the American The-a-tah). Cooper was a Hemingway friend in real life, and later played the hero of Hemingway's For Whom the Bell Tolls; his boyish simplicity is just right for director Frank Borzage's heartfelt approach. Image Entertainment's DVD release is a stunningly gorgeous improvement on the muddy prints of this film that had been circulating for years, a fitting tribute to the Oscar-winning cinematography of ace cameraman Charles Lang (this is the kind of lush black and white that can capture the glow from a cigarette as it plays across Cooper's darkened face--a breathtaking touch). The jaded battle scenes show the influence of the hit film version of All Quiet on the Western Front, especially in a gripping montage depicting Cooper's progress alone through the war zone. Hemingway would have none of it, of course; he once disdainfully wrote that "in the first picture version Lt. Henry deserted because he didn't get any mail and then the whole Italian Army went along, it seems, to keep him company." This is first and foremost a love story, however, and as such it succeeds beautifully, right through to the remarkably intense ending. --Robert Horton
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