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  • Warning: Spoilers
    Had she not been married to the producer, Jennifer Jones would not have been the most obvious choice for the leading female role in this tragic tale of an affair between an American soldier and an English nurse, set against the backdrop of the First World War. Her British accent is not perfect, and in the fifties it was unusual for a big romantic lead to go to an actress in her late thirties, even one as attractive as Miss Jones, especially when she was several years older than her leading man.. There were a number of beautiful young British actresses in Hollywood around this time, such as Audrey Hepburn, Elizabeth Taylor, Jean Simmons and Joan Collins, any of whom might have been more convincing in the role, but Miss Jones had one important attribute they all lacked, namely a marriage certificate with David O. Selznick's name on it. In the event, the film turned out to be such a turkey that they were doubtless grateful not to have it on their CVs.

    The film tells, at great length, the story of the romance between Frederick, an American volunteer serving with the Italian Army as an ambulance driver and Catherine, a nurse with the British Red Cross. After the Italian defeat at the battle of Caporetto, Frederick is wrongly accused of being a German spy and sentenced to death. (The film paints a very harsh picture of Italian military justice; it would appear that Italian Courts-Martial had the power to pass the death sentence after a trial lasting all of thirty seconds without hearing any evidence and without allowing the defendant to be legally represented or to speak in his defence). Frederick manages to escape and to cross the border into neutral Switzerland, accompanied by the pregnant Catherine.

    Hemingway's novels have not always been a great success when filmed. Howard Hawks succeeded in making a good version of "To Have and have Not", a film that is considerably better than the book on which it is nominally based, but that is because he largely ignored Hemingway's plot and turned the film into a remake of "Casablanca", set in Martinique rather than French Morocco. Like the 1943 version of "For Whom the Bell Tolls", "A Farewell to Arms" is overlong and fatally slow moving. It is also miscast. Jennifer Jones never makes Catherine come to life. As for Rock Hudson, his assumed Christian name could be unfortunately appropriate. He could be as solid as a rock but also as impassive as one, and in this film his Frederick seems an impersonation of the Great Stone Face. Despite the passion and emotion inherent in Hemingway's plot, the emotional temperature is always far too cool. The picture has little going for it apart from some attractive picture-postcard views of Italian and Swiss scenery. It is hardly surprising that it was not a success and that its failure ended Selznick's career as a producer. 4/10

    A goof. Shortly before the battle of Caporetto, an Italian officer states that Russia had already concluded a separate peace with Germany. That battle started in October 1917, at a time when Kerensky's Russia was still fighting alongside the Allies. The Russian Revolution did not take place until November; it was only the "October Revolution" by the old Julian calendar. The new Bolshevik regime signed an armistice with Germany in December 1917, but a separate peace was not signed until the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk in March 1918
  • Of the top 6 reviews I currently see here, 3 are slamming Jennifer Jones for being too old, 1 is slamming producer David Selznick for being in the decline of his career, 1 is whining that it's not like the book, and 1 is slamming writer Hemingway for not doing any fighting in the war (Um... he was an ambulance driver).

    While this film may not deserve an Academy award for best picture, it certainly deserves a decent review on IMDb dedicated to the film itself. So here goes my attempt.

    "A Farewell to Arms" is a lavish production of a love story set against the backdrop of World War I. In that respect it's in the same genre as other classic war romances "Gone with the Wind", "Casablanca" and "Platoon ". Haha just checking to see if you're paying attention. Everyone knows "Casablanca" was not set in a war but an occupation.

    Where "Farewell" differs from these other classics is in the distribution of war & romance. "Farewell" features far more battle scenes (4) compared to "Gone with the Wind" (zero) and "Casablanca" (zero). The result may be a bit disappointing in the romance department, and several reviewers (as well as the New York Times review on the film's release) have complained about the "lack of chemistry" between the two leads. I think this perception is simply due to the fact that less time is spent setting up the romance, putting more of a burden on the viewer to accept a relationship that simply happens. Viewers may also feel romantically cheated because this is not a traditional romance between two traditional individuals who dream of immediately getting married and having kids and a dog. But in fact this purposely informal, slightly dysfunctional romance is what ultimately made it interesting to me because it marked a change of formula in the age-old Hollywood romance.

    If you see this movie, pay close attention to Jennifer Jones' excellent portrayal of a reluctant lover who is perhaps suffering from too many demons to actually fall in love completely, the way she wants to. She is riddled with insecurities, conflicts and possibly guilt, making her like the the stereotypical guy who can't commit. Meanwhile Rock Hudson plays a character more like the stereotypical lovesick schoolgirl. If you enjoy stereotype reversals like this, you'll definitely find yourself interested in their "lack of chemistry".

    Was Jennifer Jones too old (late 30s) to play the role of Katherine as Hemingway had intended her (early 20s)? Probably. Did Jennifer get the part because she was married to producer Selznick? Absolutely. Does any of this make her a bad actress? No way. Short of Vivien Leigh, I think she was the best person to play the role as she did: the troubled lover whose cynical, morbid thoughts were always brewing not far away, despite her outwardly cheerful appearance. Actually I take back the thing about Vivien Leigh being better; the more I think about it, Jennifer was ideal for this sort of character.

    A subplot involving Vittorio de Sica's war-weary character descending into madness is sure to catch your attention. It was actually my favorite part of the movie, and I wish they had spent more time on this complex character shift as well as his interesting polite antagonism of the church (with a spectacular short speech he says to the priest near the end). But alas, with the romance and the battle scenes already vying for screen time, Vittorio's story only got 2 or 3 dedicated scenes. They were powerful nonetheless.

    Yes, as others mentioned, the ending seemed abrupt. But after thinking about it, I think it was perfectly in line with some of the interesting & unusual themes that the story set up. In short, this is not a straightforward soldier-meets-girl love story. The conflicts that are presented (particularly in Jennifer Jones' mysteriously troubled psyche) make this romance much more than meets the eye. If you enjoy wartime romances that are not always formulaic love stories (i.e. they may contain hidden dysfunctional surprises), check this one out.
  • Strange that one of America's favorite writers has no success in having his novels transferred to the screen with any fidelity or improvement over the original. 'A Farewell to Arms' is a lumbering, turgid, over-stuffed movie that never seems real. Chemistry between Hudson and Jones is simply not there--Jennifer Jones, in particular, seems remote and detached as the nurse even when she's supposed to be wildly in love. And then there's the matter of length--it seems to go on forever with a very weak resolution.

    David O. Selznick wanted to create something that would rank alongside his 'Gone with the Wind' as an epic romance with a war background--but the talky script defeated everyone. Hemingway himself publicly disowned the movie, claiming that Jones was far too old for the part and unhappy about the film in general. At any rate, it was not the hoped for success and did nothing to halt the decline of Selznick's career--or Jennifer Jones' career for that matter. A big disappointment.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This movie could have gone in a number of different directions because of Hemingway's writing style. I read the book about a week before watching the movie (niether by choice) so I had a pretty good idea of where and how each was different. If you've read the novel, you can understand how the director and actors would have had a hard time getting the characters across since Hemingway provides practically no emotion or description to his dialogue. He wanted to keep the meaning behind his characters words ambiguous to make it interesting. However, that leaves a few too many options when you're an actor and have to choose one emotion to convey. I didn't like how it came off, but I'll talk about that more later. The story doesn't transition from the book to the movie well. It's not a bad subject matter, but the story is famous for its symbolism rather more than anything else, and symbolism expressed with words is extremely hard to translate into images.

    Our two characters are a little hard to grasp since they were written in a way that reflected to aimlessness of the 1920's. Catherine in particular has a very romanticized perception of the war and her relationship with Frederic Henry. Frederic has an inverse view of things in which he carries a constant air of what is almost construable as apathy. Rock Hudson's sappier portrayal of him makes him seem like less of an unfeeling Bond-type and more of a star-crossed lover. There are very few other characters of significance. Rinaldi is probably the most prominent minor character, followed by the Milan nurses (Fergusson, and Van Campen), and the army priest. These parts feature the better acting performances of the movie. The scene where the priest remains in the burning hospital (which by the way was not in the book) was, in my opinion, the best scene of the movie. I don't know that Vittorio de Sica's portrayal of Rinaldi was Oscar worthy, but it was the most worthy of a nomination out of all the aspects of the film.

    The story ends up being driven by a number of things. Among them are Frederic and Catherine's relationship, Frederic recovering from his injury, the general tide of the war, the impending birth of Frederic and Catherine's child, and Frederic's desire to seek solace from the war after deserting. The story as a whole just sort of exists. It doesn't feel terribly alive, but it's functional and doesn't have any logic issues or inconsistencies.

    The acting from the lead roles felt pretty weak. They must be forgiven to an extent by Hemingway's ambiguous dialogue, but they certainly didn't give the best possible portrayals. When I was reading Catherine's rambling sentences in the book, I thought there might be some kind of coherence to it that would make it sound natural and hoped that an actress saying those same lines would provide that. Unfortunately, I was wrong. Jennifer Jones portrayal didn't have any more coherence than the static text and felt almost pathetically unrealistic. This even extended to her expressions like in the scene where Catherine is looking for Frederic among the advancing Italian force and she wears over exaggerated smiles and frowns. Rock Hudson's performance didn't really work for me because he seemed like he was trying to be too emotional while playing a character that has a hardened personality. Besides that, his emotions seemed kind of inconsistent and I didn't really buy that the character would have felt the way Hudson portrayed him to be. The supporting roles were all acted pretty well, though I don't think the talent was "wasted" on those parts since the supporting actors wouldn't have fit the lead roles.

    The overall feel of the movie felt a bit too romantic and not quite dark enough. Now, since that statement is coming from an action fan, it will sound biased. However, Earnest Hemingway felt much the same way upon the film's release, and was disappointed that it didn't portray the horrors that he saw as an ambulance driver in WWI. I wouldn't be surprised if major he wrote the story was a means to warn people to avoid war at all costs since it was so awful for him.

    If you've read and enjoyed the book, I guess it isn't a bad idea to watch this, but be warned that the tone changes drastically from book to movie. This is a much better pick as a romance movie than a war movie, though I doubt this will be at the top of your watchlist since it's kind of old. It stays pretty close to the book, which I know a lot of people can very particular about. To all prospective viewers, I'll say that it will likely come off as cheesy even if you love old movies or Earnest Hemingway's books. Overall Rating: 3.8/10.
  • This film should be called adventures in Cinemascope. It is like the screenwriter and director tooks the Cliff's Notes page 3 outline and decided that this would be a great vehicle for a film about the Italian Alps. Rock Hudson is pretty good here, but the dialogue bears no resemblance to Hemingway at all. This is a made up version of Hemingway. Hecht, the screenwriter, is a hack. Watch the 1932 version with Gary Cooper and Helen Hayes. That is great cinema and was made by someone who understood Hemingway and the war in Northern Italy. Gary Cooper is very, very good compared to his performance in For Whom the Bell Tolls where he is stiff as a board and thinks he is in a western.

    Anyway, if you are a Hemingway fan, do yourself a favor and do not watch this film. Your best bet is to get the unabridged audio CD and just listen to one of the greatest novels ever written.
  • Obviously, a great deal of time and money was lavished on this project. Producer Selznick intended it to be a vindication of a career that peaked with "Gone With The Wind" in 1939, and then began a long, slow, almost painful decline. By the mid fifties he had become something of a "has-been" in Hollywood. The result? Pretty much a miss. The book is probably unfilmable, of course, but the screenplay still leaves much to be desired. Rock Hudson is far too shallow to make a go at the over-the-top emotionalism this story needs. The usually wonderful Jennifer Jones, for whom this project was conceived, somehow doesn't seem to exhibit the idealism and resolve the part needs, and that she demonstrated with such seemingly effortlessness in many other films. The direction is stilted and sometimes downright awkward, more the fault of producer Selznick, I would bet, who had a reputation for micro-managing his films, than famed director Charles Vidor.

    Simply put, I'm never convinced, not even for a moment, that what is happening is real and not just another movie. Too bad.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    "A Farewell to Arms" is based upon the semi-autobiographical novel of Ernest Hemingway's experiences in World War I when he served as an ambulance driver for the Italians who fought the Austrians and Hungarians (1915-1918). Lt. ("Tenente") Frederic Henry (Rock Hudson) sustains a leg wound from a shell on the Alpine front and while recuperating in the military hospital meets English nurse Catherine Barkley (Jennifer Jones). Thus begins their love affair. Over time the nurse eventually gets pregnant. Meanwhile, with the urging of head nurse Van Campen (Mercedes McCambridge), Lt. Henry is deemed well enough to return to the battle front in time for the 1917 tragedy at Caporetto.

    In 1917 the exhausted Russians, obviously on the brink of defeat, were negotiating with the Germans and Austrians to pull out from the war. Thus many divisions were diverted from the Russian to the Italian front. And at Caporetto the Central Powers broke through the defensive line. The subsequent retreat was tragic, and this part is well-filmed. Because of the disaster the Italian command did take extraordinary measures to save their country (as explained in Hemingway's book). Dismayed, Lt. Henry decides to make a separate peace and deserts the army; he slips across Lake Como into Switzerland with his girlfriend. When childbirth time comes, Nurse Barkley enters the nearby hospital. While Henry is in the Swiss restaurant near the hospital, a customer remarks that the Italians had finally held the line at the Piave River. (In the book, Henry says that The Western front, though, was beginning to crack.) SPOILER ALERT: The worst possible situation happens to Miss Barkley. With the loss of both his stillborn child and of his lover, Henry is crushed. As in the book, the dejected Frederic Henry walks alone out of the hospital into the rain.

    "A Farewell to Arms" was David O. Selznick's last movie as a producer, and it is a bit too long. But production values are very high, and the cinematography is wonderful. The on-location filming at the actual places of Alpine battle is excellent. There are interesting long shots of the Italians using great effort to move their supply trains over vast mountains. Their war was indeed a vertical one, unlike that of the Western, Russian, and Turkish fronts. A major negative of the movie seems to be insufficient chemistry between the two main leads. Furthermore, the acting of Jennifer Jones is uneven. Frankly, she was far too old for her part. In her defense, like Nurse Barkley in the novel, she is effective when she exemplifies her dilemmas and flightiness. By the way, she was producer Selznick's wife. Vittorio DeSica, a great director in his own right, received an Oscar nomination as Best Supporting Actor. He is Major Alessandro Rinaldi, Lt. Henry's friend, whose mental state notably shifts from optimism and worldliness into pessimism and war-weariness. Over all, while AFTA is not a great film, it is still decent enough to watch. Those who enjoy prolonged battle scenes will be disappointed, though. We really do not see the Italian troops storming the Austrian positions.

    Bonus Information (The Aftermath): Ernest Hemingway really was wounded on the Italian front and had an affair with Agnes von Kurowsky, an American – not English – nurse. At age 26 she was older than Hemingway; she eventually became engaged to an Italian military officer but married someone else. She survived the war and lived a long life. On World War I's Italian front there were two battles after Caporetto, and both were Italian victories. The first was the Battle of the Piave River, which occurred in June 1918. The Germans were hoping for an Austrian triumph to knock out the Italians, but their offensive failed. The battle was decisive, as it foretold Austrian defeat and breakup of the Austro-Hungarian Empire a few months later. General Foch, Allied Commander-in-Chief on the Western front, wanted the Italians to conduct an immediate counter-offensive to knock Austria out of the war (and perhaps invade Germany through Bavaria), but Italian General Armando Diaz refused because of logistical problems. Then, in October of the same year, with the initiative of the Central Powers failing on all fronts, the Italian victory at Vittorio Veneto netted 400,000 Austrian and Hungarian prisoners, or an amazing reversal of Caporetto just a year after the 1917 disaster. And, as the military commander alluded to in the feature film, it was done by the Italians on their own as virtually all of the American troops went to France to help the beleaguered French and British against the desperate German offensives of 1918.
  • I really wanted to like A Farewell to Arms. But despite for love for Ernest Hemingway and for Rock Hudson, A Farewell to Arms just didn't work for me. Granted it does look amazing, with ravishing use of CinemaScope and the scenery and costumes are gorgeous as you can see in the first hour. The direction is fine, and the music is beautiful and cleverly composed. However, in the pace the film was very pedestrian, but the pace wasn't the only dull thing about it. I am especially talking about the story, which was overall uninteresting and wasn't affecting, and the script, which is really stilted in a lot of scenes. The ending also felt abrupt. The acting is not good, considering how talented the actors are. I love Rock Hudson, and he visibly tries hard and looks really handsome here but he seems very out of his depth. Jennifer Jones is miscast, and her performance is a very uneven mix of overacting and underacting, also she seems very detached from her character and Hudson as well. As for Vittoria di Sica, he overdoes it so wildly you feel as though he accidentally walked onto the wrong set. All in all, despite the talented cast and director and the beautiful visuals and score, the film was dull. 3/10 Bethany Cox
  • This is by far the worst Hemingway adaptation ever. Rock Hudson was badly miscast and entirely unbelievable as a hard-bitten soldier/adventurer drawn to war. Jennifer Jones was far too old for her part and Vittorio de Sica seemed to think he was acting in some other movie altogether. They tried to make a large-scale epic out of a low-key romantic novel and the result is terrible. As if that were not enough the whole thing is so slow, overlong and dated that it is practically unwatchable. Rock must have kicked himself for turning down "Sayonara" and "Ben Hur" in order to make this ghastly crap.

    0/10. To be avoided.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I managed to avoid reading Hemingway in college. From what I could tell, along with his reductivist verbiage, he offered reductivist story lines. This film-transfiguration of AF2A into a simplistic, hoary, belabored narrative, does not disabuse me of my suspicions: A guy who barely sees action on the European battlefield (Hudson) falls in with a nurse (Jones), and they conspire to spend time together. Hemingway's big contribution to narrative was the romantic travelogue? Who knows what these two lovers have in common? They're so utterly generic. The movie never even brings up the utter irresponsibility it takes to abandon the front in favor of a lovers' adventure. The two have a season on the Alps, straight out of a J. Crew catalog. A number of better scenes are undermined by corny, conventional melodrama elsewhere. The movie keeps piling on tiny, improbable, unspecific details that fight the epic treatment. The cavernous hospital that Miss Barkley works in is virtually empty, so that no secondary plot line can possibly distract from the flimsy main story. Complicated, it is not.

    The camera work is better than average, with some amazing location photography. Director Charles Vidor (or maybe Huston?) does striking things in the first hour with an on-location, wide-screen camera... there are no second unit cop-outs. Vidor shows massive, panoramic tableaux, pans over a line of hundreds of soldiers trooping through the mountains; and then with a 90 degree swivel of his camera catches up with Hudson's ambulance barreling down on him.

    Hudson looks great. He's a better actor than he gets credit for, but with unshaped material like this, he can become very mechanical. Mercedes McCambridge plays a one-dimensional shrew. Jennifer Jones is puffy and miscast in the lackluster female lead. The movie is best when she's off screen. The love scenes are about as affecting as a coffee commercial.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Terrible adaptation of Heminway's low key love story. An American soldier (Rock Hudson) falls in love with a British nurse (Jennifer Jones) in Italy during World War 1. What's wrong with this? Virtually everything. Hudson is WAY out of his depth here. He could be a good actor but not in this movie. Jones is far too old for her role (she's 21 in the book--here she's 38...and looks it!). Also her acting wavered between overdone and underdone! They took a simple low-key love story and blew it all out of proportion. The film is fatally long (a little over 150 minutes), self-indulgent and padded to a ridiculous degree. It seems producer David O. Selznick thought he was doing "Gone With the Wind" again. Some of the scenery is truly stunning (even on a small TV screen) but there's not enough of a story to match the images.

    SPOILER!!! The ending where Jones dies is supposed to be tragic but the bad acting and overblown theatrics had me fighting not to laugh!

    To make matters worse actor Vittorio De Sica overacts to a truly embarrassing degree. Overblown, self-indulgent, badly cast and slow. Pretty terrible. This was (understandably) a financial and critical bomb and ended Selznick's career as a producer. You might want to tune in for some of the scenery at the end but it's really not worth it. I give this a 3.
  • A lot of people are being terribly unfair to this production of A Farewell To Arms. Not that it's a great film, it misses that by a good distance, but that even films that are the best adaptations of Ernest Hemingway's work fall far short for Hemingway purists. And David O. Selznick was far from a Hemingway purist.

    No Selznick when it came to the career of his wife Jennifer Jones lost all kinds of sense of balance. Another reviewer was quite right, Jean Simmons, Joan Collins, Elizabeth Taylor all would have made acceptable Catherine Barkleys.

    One thing also to remember that we're not even starting out with pure Hemingway to begin with. Both this version and the 1932 version that starred Gary Cooper and Helen Hayes are not just based on the novel, they are based on a play that was adapted from the novel by Laurence Stallings who wrote What Price Glory. The play ran for 30 performances in 1930 and starred Glenn Anders and Elissa Landi on Broadway. I suspect the Depression had a lot to do with the closing as it did many shows that year.

    Originally John Huston was slated to direct and he had directed Jones in both We Were Strangers and Beat The Devil with little or no interference from Selznick. But Selznick fired Huston and replaced him with Charles Vidor because allegedly too much attention was paid to Rock Hudson and not enough to Jennifer.

    That's ironic as all get out because the novel itself is as all Hemingway works is male chauvinistic in the extreme. If he wanted to showcase Jennifer, any Hemingway just ain't the vehicle. He should have used one of the Bronte sisters.

    Since the novel is male oriented Rock Hudson makes a fine Fredric Henry, the idealistic man who volunteers on the Italian front as an ambulance driver to experience war so he can write about it when it's over. On that Italian front it didn't look like it was ever going to be over.

    That's another problem with this work, how do you sell it to the movie going public, as a romance or an anti-war tract? If you're Adolph Zukor for Paramount or David O. Selznick probably romance is the aspect that does sell.

    The third major character in the film is that of the Italian army doctor Major Rinaldi played here by Vittorio DeSica. This version is more faithful to the book and presents Rinaldi as a three dimensional character.

    In the 1932 version Adolphe Menjou was Rinaldi and Menjou did fine with the part as your typical suave continental type. Here Rinaldi's outspokenness about the futility of the Italian campaign leads to tragedy. It also led to an Oscar nomination for Vittorio DeSica as Best Supporting Actor. It was the only recognition A Farewell To Arms got from the Academy and DeSica lost to Red Buttons for Sayonara.

    Whether Huston or Vidor did them, the battle scenes and the scenes of retreat are shattering and moving. Given the unique problems of Hemingway and Selznick, we're lucky the film came out as good as it did.
  • This is one of the greatest movies ever made. It really is. With Rock Hudson as the lead (as far as im concerned), and Jennifer Jones as his love interest, this pair lights up the screen with their love for each other.

    The cinematography is wonderful, the shots are well thought out, and they capture each moment perfectly. (as if Rock Hudson needs any help!) When your happy in this film, your really happy, when your sad, your really sad. Both are in the extreme cases. This film has one of the saddest endings you'll probably ever see, so keep the tissues near by...I know I needed them! Unlike the more recent "over-hyped" version, entitled "In Love and War" which stars Chris O'Donnell, and Sandra Bullock, this version stays very close to Ernest Hemmingway's Book. (A Farewell to Arms) Although IL&W was a great movie, and shared a very sad ending, I still have to believe that the older version was the better of the two. There's just something about it! Don't take my word for it, go rent it!!! It's time well spent, I'll assure you of that! It's a well deserved 11/10 in my book.
  • rube242411 March 2005
    The Gary Cooper/Helen Hayes version of A Farewell To Arms, well acted for the time it was made, seems dated now. The 1957 version of Hemingway's great romantic novel is, like The Sun Also Rises, another adaptation of one of Papa's masterpieces, pretty to look at, expensively made, and wooden in all other respects.

    In this version Hudson is earnest but bland, Jones too old, De Sica in the wrong movie and Stritch, well, her acid nurse is one of the film's only bright spots.

    But the real reason to see the film is the ravishing musical score by Mario Nasciembe. Talk about romantic! Talk about lush! Talk about unforgettable! Had the film been as good as it's musical score it would have been a classic; what A Farewell To Arms ultimately is though, is an overstuffed period piece and a tepid finale to the great David Selznick's career. (By the way should you want to skip the film, the soundtrack is currently available on CD.)
  • MartinHafer22 October 2011
    Warning: Spoilers
    The very successful producer, David O. Selznick, had a very publicized affair with a young actress, Jennifer Jones. Selznick divorced his wife, married Jones and spent the rest of his career trying to make her a star of the first magnitude. Unfortunately, he OFTEN miscast her and the quality of his films was sometimes compromised. His once golden touch was gone and this film was his last--and his last attempt to promote Jones. Now I don't hate Jones--she was fine in some films such as "The Man in the Grey Flannel Suit" and "Portrait of Jenny". But, she was also quite terrible in a few of his movies because she was just wrong for the parts. In particular, she was ridiculous in the sleazy and extremely silly drama "Duel in the Sun". "Indiscretion of an American Wife" was another mistake--a bad film that was ill-matched to her screen persona (though I am not sure if anyone could have saved this film). Here in "A Farewell to Arms", Selznick is trying to get his 38 year-old wife to be believable as a 21 year-old nurse. Poor Jennifer....I think her career actually would have been better had she not been promoted by Selznick, as her Oscar-winning role in "Song of Bernadette" came before he became involved with her career.

    The original film starred Gary Cooper and Helen Hayes. It was a hit back in the early 30s but hasn't aged well. In particular, the sound is a SERIOUS problem if you try to watch it. So, the notion of a remake isn't a bad thing.

    In this version, Rock Hudson and Jones play the fated couple. Hudson is an American who has volunteered as an ambulance driver for the Italians. The US has not yet entered the war and some Americans did volunteer with Brits, French and Italians...and even the Germans (after all, the US was neutral during most of the war). This character was based, in part, on Ernest Hemmingway's own experiences driving an ambulance in the war.

    Hudson falls for a very young British nurse (Jones). At first, his advances are boorish and she rebuffs him--for a while. Later, when he's injured in combat, he's sent to the hospital where he meets her again. This time, they BOTH are madly in love. So far, so good--these things DO happen. But eventually their attraction for each other becomes dangerous and all-consuming. She becomes pregnant, he is almost shot for dereliction of duty because the Italian army is run by idiots, he goes AWOL, finds her, they run away together, the baby is stillborn and she dies. A lot of stuff happens in between (after all, it runs over two hours in length)--though this is pretty much the film.

    The chemistry between the two characters is only fair--but not what you'd want in such a film. Jones was especially poor, as she was SUPPOSED to be British but sounded like an American. And, the dialog between them often sounded silly. The audiences apparently felt the same way, as the film failed to make money when it was first released and the critics were pretty harsh to it. Now the film DOES look nice--the budget was very good and it's obvious that Selznick wanted this to be a big picture. Overall, it's painfully slow and should have been a lot better.
  • David Selznick loved Jennifer Jones and per John Huston in his book "put everything on the line for his adored Jennifer" I met Douglas Fairbanks Jr years ago at a party when he was in New York and Fairbanks remarked that of major producers he knew, David Selznick stood out because of Mr. Selznick's love of great literature. David Selznick's brilliant productions of Gone With The Wind, Rebecca, David Copperfield, et al reflect Selznick's great love of great novels. (David Selznick wanted to but could not get financing for War and Peace starring of course Ms.Jones) One wonders why David Selznick insisted on remaking A Farewell to Arms but push ahead he did. David Selznick made a releasing deal thru 20th (Likely because of Jennifer Jones' attachment and successes at 20th Century Fox -Song of Bernadette, Love Is A Many Splendored Thing, et al) and hired John Huston to direct again possibly because of Jennifer's past history with John Huston (Beat The Devil, We Were Strangers). David Selznick micro managed his productions and fired John Huston whom he felt was titling the picture towards a war film versus a highly romantic film, i.e. favoring Rock Hudson over Jennifer Jones. Charles Vidor replaced Huston and also had clashes with David Selznick. In the mid 50's a gigantic production shot on location in Italy had to be a logistical challenge: Selznick also fired Arthur Fellows as line producer. Some of A Farewell To Arms scenes are brilliantly photographed and large in scope as is the trademark of a Selznick International picture.

    Jennifer Jones was a beautiful movie star. I would recommend a review of Ms. Jones career, as Ms. Jones is sadly forgotten but was a huge box office star and acclaimed screen actress of her day: Madame Bovary, Good Morning Miss Dove, Duel In The Sun, Ruby Gentry et al Some carp over Jennifer Jones' age in this film but Jennifer Jones looks fine in this picture (but ironically would look even much better years later in a fine and underrated film 20th's Tender Is The Night). My quibble with this film is the dialogue between Jennifer Jones and Rock Hudson which seems so stilted and phony. Has anyone counted the number of times the word "darling" is used?

    Rock Hudson, then a gigantic box office star after George Stevens great film Giant and his run at Universal with hits such as Magnificent Obsession, All That Heaven Allows, etc got first billing over the veteran Oscar Winning Jennifer Jones. Elaine Stritch is wonderfully sassy in a small but pivotal supporting role.

    We are likely never to see the likes of David Selznick again, a pioneer in film. Of all David Selznick's movies I liked Gone With The Wind best but also the splendid WWII Film Since You Went Away starring Ms. Jones and a superb Claudette Colbert I wish Selznick had done an original film like Since You Went Away rather than a remake of A Farewell To Arms. Mr. Hudson adored by his female co-stars such as Doris Day, Elizabeth Taylor, Kim Novak, Jane Wyman, et al never really had much to say about working with Jennifer Jones. Ms Jones until her death never commented much about anything ever about her career, her Leading Men, or about her stormy private life.

    A book on the back story filming of this movie would prove to be interesting. Reading Memo From David O Selznick and David Thomson's Showman would help understand David Selznick's obsession with Hemingway's A Farewell To Arms and Ms. Jones in particular.

    This was the final film personally produced by David O Selznick.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Perhaps this story (by Hemingway) just doesn't work on the big screen. I tried the Gary Cooper - Helen Hayes version, but didn't find that done well enough to make it all the way through the film. I slogged all the way through this version for only one reason -- I admire the work of David O. Selznick. Beginning with 1935's "A Tale Of Two Cities", there wasn't much that Selznick did that wasn't impressive. But, with 1949's "The Third Man", things began going downhill, and certainly was at a nadir with this film.

    Selznick made some accomplishments here. Better than most films, I felt this movie showed the horrors of war. Many of the on-location settings are stunning. And, there is at least one top notch performance here -- that of Vittorio De Sica. And, Rock Hudson does well.

    But there are problems. Perhaps the biggest problem is Jennifer Jones. Until this film, I never saw the attraction. And after this film...I still don't see the attraction. With some other actress, perhaps I could have done more than simply tolerate this film.

    The other problem with the television broadcast of this film is that the movie is badly in need of restoration. The picture is downright fuzzy.

    Books and films are two very different mediums. A film producer or director has to tell a story in a very different way than does an author. One has several hundred pages to tell a story. The other has usually about 2 hours to tell the same story. But just maybe this story doesn't work on film. At least in my 2 experiences it hasn't.
  • Jennifer Jones is splendid in this David Selznick production. When Jennifer Jones was in a picture with out without the Selznick Studio involved David Selznick did all he could to make sure his great love Jennifer Jones was shown to every good advantage and also that the picture had the finest in production values.

    The Camera work here in particular the scenes in the Alps is superb My quibble with the film is that Rock Hudson is too distant as Jennifer's lover. Perhaps another actor such Burt Lancaster as Paul Newman would have been much better. (Years later when Paul Newman was a superstar Jennifer had a cameo in his "Towering Inferno"). David Selznick chose John Huston to direct as Huston had worked with Jennifer Jones twice before but David Selznick seeing that Huston was following the war theme too closely and not his adored Jennifer fired Huston. Charles Vidor replaced Huston but also had his quarrels with David Selznick.

    David Selznick cast Rock Hudson and gave Hudson top billing over Jennifer Jones due to Rock Hudson's great success in George Stevens great "Giant" with Elizabeth Taylor and the fact Rock Hudson at the time was the number one male box office star in the World due to his series of hits with Jane Wyman at Universal in Ross Hunter's great films Magnificent Obsession and All That Heaven Allows.

    I recommend this film for the fine work of Jennifer Jones and also to see a maestro Producer at work in Mr. David O Selznick
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I saw "A Farewell to Arms" a couple weeks ago on TCM. This movie has everything a good movie needs! The quality of the film is excellent and the scenery is beautiful. Jennifer Jones has always been a wonderful actress as far as I'm concerned and in this film you can see her acting at her best. Rock Hudson was at his peak during this time. He was also at his most handsome. One of the high points of the film was when at the ending the awesome acting he does because his darling lover is on her death bed. Ms. Jones and Mr. Hudson both do a very convincing job. I gave "A Farewell to Arms" a 9 out of 10 because the ending was way to sad! I would have wished at least their baby or Jennifer Jones to have survived and lived. But Rock Hudson ends up all by him self.
  • kieran-wright15 December 2006
    When I was around 17, I came in from a cold winter's day and became engrossed in a film that was running on the TV. The film? A farewell to arms. I could only have seen the last quarter of the film but the final scene reduced me to tears and it's something I never forgot. Consequently, some 10 years later I managed to track it down on video and was a little disappointed.

    What is now obvious to me is that 1) the part I saw had little input from Jennifer Jones; 2) the emotion conveyed by Rock Hudson was deeply touching; 3) the setting was also memorable; 4) it was far too long. When viewing the film in its entirety, it is obviously badly in need of the touch of a good editor, although I was somewhat surprised to recently read that it is actually 2 hours and 32 minutes in length. What is particularly disappointing is that Jennifer Jones was clearly miscast, and yes - we all know why.

    However, I have seen this actress in other productions - for example 'Gone to Earth', in which she was simply splendid; but her role in this film was most definitely not the kind of part she excelled in.

    This could potentially have been Rock Hudson's finest hour, but as with other epic productions of the time e.g. Cleopatra, the best bits most probably ended up on the cutting room floor; however, that said, I can only think of a handful of films that have imprinted themselves on me like this one.

    I would be interested in seeing a re-edited version of this with special features.

    7 for at least one standout scene; a superb performance by Rock Hudson and its ability to touch someone.
  • coreybryant5926 July 2007
    This movie reminds me of a later film: LOVE STORY. It is the same sort of plot. A man falls in love with a woman and they have a happy courting. Then she succumbs to illness. In between we see war and its consequences. This is sort of a departure from the usual David O. Selnick formula. He usually has a happy ending of sorts such as in Gone with the Wind, he has Scarlett realizing that Tara is what really matters, and in PORTRAIT OF JENNIE he has Eben Adams realize his ability. This is the first REALLY sad ending in a Selznick movie. Strange that he waits until his last movie to do it. An excellent movie.
  • David Selznick one of Hollywood's greats with a record of producing Gone With The Wind, Rebecca, Nothing Sacred, etc via his Selznick International. Selznick developed a beautiful girl named Phylis Isley of Oklahoma into a world famous superstar and Oscar Winning actress whom he named Jennifer Jones. Jennifer was exotically beautiful and gave intense performances. Jennifer was superb in the Song Of Bernadette winning the Oscar playing the chaste young girl who saw apparitions of the Virgin Mary. Jennifer had a big hit in the raucous Duel In The Sun. Jennifer left her husband Robert Walker and married Selznick. Jennifer was sublime in her great hit Love Is A Many Splendored Thing with William Holden which she was nominated for the Oscar.

    David Selznick re-made A Farewell to Arms and starred the biggest male star of his era Rock Hudson on loan from Universal along with Jennifer Jones. John Huston was signed to direct but was fired by Selznick because he felt Huston was emphasizing the war scenes of the Hemingway novel versus the love story favoring Jennifer Jones . John Huston in his book called "An Open Book" said it was gallant that David Selznick "put everything on the line" for his "adored Jennifer" Charles Vidor took over the Direction but had his own battles with David Selznick.

    This picture is visually stunning with scenes of the Italian Alps fantastic. Selznick loved things "Big" Big Scenes like the burning of Atlanta in GWTW. . Rock Hudson on loan from his studio Universal is manly and fine as the male lead and Jennifer expert and moving in her performance.

    This picture was the last produced by Selznick International and was released by 20th Century Fox.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    For producer David O. Selznick, no one director would ever do. Hence, on "A Farewell to Arms" (1957) we get two – Charles Vidor and John Huston. Though both men were quite accomplished in their own right, neither could make head or tail of this disastrous remake of Hemmingway's magnum opus. Hemmingway in general has never translated well from book to screen. But under Selznick's zeal to transform it into his next 'Gone With The Wind' the excursion is both punishing and exhaustive. At this point in Selznick's career, he was no longer the titan who could take "box office poison" and transform it into Gone With The Wind. Tired, frail, minus his studio, and, with an impending sense that his second marriage to Jennifer Jones might have been a mistake, Selznick handed the creative reigns of this flick over to Fox Studios – but he kept enough of himself in it to become a damn nuisance on the set.

    By now one is, or should be familiar with the bittersweet tragic love story of a nurse, Catharine Barkley (Jennifer Jones) and her soldier hero, Lt. Frederick Henry (Rock Hudson). Their passion is supposed to serve as the stabilizing force for what is essentially a war correspondent's tale with romanticism thrown in for good measure. But the chemistry between Hudson and Jones is both turgid and dull. In the final reel, Jones' facial contortions during child birth are so bad I am surprised that neither director opted to cut them from the general release. Part of the problem with Jones is that at thirty-eight she's far too wise to play the optimistic Catharine with any great conviction. Yet, older actresses have frequently managed to make an audience forget discrepancies in age. Not so with Jones. One is painfully aware that she doesn't fit the bill in either acting chops or years invested on this planet. Hudson's laconic charm is hopelessly out of touch with to stoicism of an army soldier whose heart is broken but head remains strong. The supporting cast is peppered with such luminaries as Vittorio De Sica and Mercedes McCambridge, but these are wasted bits of nonsense that in no way reflect upon the formidable talents of either actor and best made evident elsewhere in their canons of film making.

    The anamorphic picture element for "A Farewell to Arms" looks good enough, though there's just a bit too much film grain present in certain scenes for this reviewer's liking. Overall, colors are subtle and muted, though balanced in accordance with the DeLuxe color processing employed at this time. Some fading is evident. Flesh tones don't appear very natural. Contrast levels are a tad weak. Blacks are generally solid. Whites are almost clean. There's not much to recommend this film sonically. It's essentially a wordy picture with gun shots as a backdrop. There are no extras.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Iv'e read that this is supposed to be an absolutely overwrought misguided big budget movie! and a big flop at the time, .....hmmm nah 2/3 of this movie is actually very good! And I admit I have never read Ernest Hemingways tragic love story!

    This movie actually have some of the most impressive co-ordinated battle scenes I've ever seen, that is not faked, cgi, or using back-projection. (LOng before The Longest Day 1962) (For some reason I've seen this movie in some War-movie boxes, and I agree it doesn't belong there, it's a wartime movie and not a war movie!) The hero is an ambulance driver so we are only in the outskirts of War, never in the battle-zones.

    Rock Hudson is very good, and he was a new hot star at that time, and this was at the time when he was making tearjerkers with Jane Wyman, a few years before he was seducing Doris Day.

    Jennifer Jones is very good too, she was married to producer David O Selznick, so she got many bad reviews just because of that at the time,and yes Love is a Many Splendoured Thing and Good Morning Miss Dove might have suited her better.

    Vittorio de Sica!! The great neo-realist director! Bicyckle thief, Umberto D and Miracle in Milan just to mention a few, actually had a huge career as an actor too, for the role in this movie he was actually Oscar nominated!

    Alberto Sordi! One of the great Italian comedians! In this film his talents is wasted as a dedicated and warmhearted priest.

    Mercedes MacCambridge! has a thankless small role as a snouty nurse.

    Oscar Homolka! an even more thankless role as a doctor who apparently reads everything opposite as what it is. When He says Everything is all right, someone is going to die!!

    There is too very short scenes that has etched into my mind, and both have to do when they all have to go on the run. This takes place during Italian alpine war against Austria during WW1. 1. A very tired mother carriyng a child, gets a chance to sit down on a lorry small space, she falls asleep and as tired as she is, her baby slips away and falls of the lorry, and the mother is too tired to notice it. 2. Down in a ditch lays a dead mother and a baby still climbs to her dead mother trying to suck milk from her breasts. Those are very tough scence to watch.

    Then comes the last 2/3 of the movie and our hero and heroine has fled to Switzerland, and for 30 minutes it becomes a tourist card movie for Switzerland (Though it apparently was Italian alps).

    After seeing all the hell that war makes and people fleeing, one might think that such sights might have etched into the soul of a man, something that might not be too easy to brusk off. But not in this movie! Once they have fled to Switzerland, everything is suddenly happy and jouyous, and you wait for an Oompa Bumpa band with Yoddelers to appear behind any tree.

    anyway the first 2/3 is very good!
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