A Farewell To Arms (1957) - Rotten Tomatoes

A Farewell To Arms (1957)

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AUDIENCE SCORE

Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

A Farewell To Arms Trailers & Photos

Movie Info

Farewell to Arms is the second film version of Ernest Hemingway's World War One novel--and also the last film produced by David O. Selznick (Gone with the Wind). Rock Hudson plays an American serving in the Italian Army during the "War to End All Wars". Jennifer Jones is his lover, a Red cross nurse. They have a torrid affair, which results in Jones' pregnancy. As the months pass, Hudson and Jones lose contact with one another, and Jones believes that Hudson has forgotten her. But a battle-weary Hudson finally makes it to Switzerland, where Jones is hospitalized. The baby is stillborn, and Jones dies shortly afterward, murmuring that her death is "a dirty trick." Filmed on a simpler scale in 1932 (with Gary Cooper and Helen Hayes starring), A Farewell to Arms was blown all out of proportion to "epic" stature for the 1957 remake--so much so that its original director, John Huston, quit the film in disgust. Still, the basic love story is touchingly enacted by Rock Hudson and Jennifer Jones. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovimore
Rating: Unrated
Genre: Drama, Romance, Classics
Directed By: , ,
Written By: Ben Hecht
In Theaters:
On DVD: Mar 29, 2005
Runtime:
Fox

Cast

Rock Hudson
as Lt. Frederick Henry
Jennifer Jones
as Nurse Catherine Bark...
Vittorio De Sica
as Maj. Alessandro Rina...
Alberto Sordi
as Father Galli
Kurt Kasznar
as Bonello
Mercedes McCambridge
as Miss Van Campen
Oscar Homolka
as Dr. Emerich
Elaine Stritch
as Helen Ferguson
Josť Nieto
as Major Stampi
Georges Brehat
as Capt. Bassi
Victor Francen
as Col. Valentini
Guido Martufi
as Boy Scout
Umberto Sacripante
as Ambulance Driver
Albert D'Amario
as Arrested Officer
Bud Spencer
as Carabiniere
Alex Revides
as Carabiniere Officer
Franco Mancinelli
as Captain at Outpost
Patrick Crean
as Medical Lieutenant
Guidarino Guidi
as Civilian Doctor
Diana King
as Hospital Receptionis...
Clelia Matania
as Hair Dresser
Eduard Linkers
as Lt. Zimmerman
Johanna Hofer
as Mrs. Zimmerman
Luigi Barzini
as Court-Martial Colone...
Carlo Licari
as Racetrack Announcer
Angelo Galassi
as Firing Squad Command...
Peter Illing
as Milan Hotel Clerk
Sam Levene
as Swiss Sergeant
Eva Kotthaus
as Delivery Room Nurse
Gisella Mathews
as Nurse in Catherine's...
Vittorio Jannitti
as Hotel Proprietor
Gisella Matthews
as Nurse in Catherine's...
Carlo Pedersoli
as Carabiniere
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for A Farewell To Arms

Critic Reviews for A Farewell To Arms

All Critics (10) | Top Critics (6)

What Hemingway wrote as an interlude of amorous flutes and distant drums, Producer David 0. Selznick has scored for brass.

Full Review… | January 23, 2013
TIME Magazine
Top Critic

Perhaps what is most irritating about the film is that too many times an exciting scene of Hemingway's is shucked out in favor of a distressingly inferior one invented (if I may indulge the Muse a moment) by Ben Hecht, who is responsible for the script.

Full Review… | January 23, 2013
The New Republic
Top Critic

Sweep and frankness alone don't make a great picture; and Farewell suffers from an overdose of both.

Full Review… | March 26, 2009
Variety
Top Critic

This film, for all its size and color, doesn't do much more by Hemingway's book than was done by the sentimental version of it played by Helen Hayes and Gary Cooper some twenty-five years ago.

Full Review… | March 25, 2006
New York Times
Top Critic

A padded Ben Hecht script and Selznick's invariable tendency to overkill are equally to blame.

Full Review… | January 26, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

The exaggerated production values overrun everything, including director Charles Vidor, who hardly seems to know which way to turn.

Full Review… | January 15, 2005
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for A Farewell To Arms

½

Just okay version of Hemingway story suffers from overlength although it has fine production values. Rock is pretty good in the lead. Jennifer Jones less so as Catherine, affected and rather bland.

jjnxn
jay nixon

Super Reviewer

½

First, David O. Selznick was "Gone with the Wind", and now he's finally getting around to bidding "A Farewell to Arms". Seriously though, Selznick is back to produce yet another high-scale and romantic war melodrama, although, compared to "Gone with the Wind", this film is about as long as, well, the adaptation of this Ernest Hemingway classic that they made back in 1932. Now, with that said, you can leave it to Selznick to take something that was once made into 85-minute-long pseudo-filler, and turn it into a two-and-a-half-hour-long epic... I guess. I don't know if epic filmmaking was that big of trait for the producer, but you know that they're trying to get you to think of "Gone with the Wind" with this film. That was probably not great for Selznick's marriage to Jennifer Jones, because she shouldn't be in this film with Clark Gable on the brain, seeing as how even Rock Hudson, alone, is more than a few stones above Selznick. Man, with "Giant", and then this film, Hudson was really getting into sprawling romantic epics towards the end of the '50s, probably because he wanted to spend as much time as he could showing himself with a woman. Man, this film is cheesy that it might have added to the rumors regarding Hudson's sexuality, but hey, at least it's entertaining, even though it isn't exactly unique.

I was expecting this to be something of a formulaic Hollywood war drama, and sure enough, throughout this sprawling affair, nearly nothing new occurs, leaving predictability to set in, even if you're not already familiar with Ernest Hemingway's classic material. Really, I can't see this film doing a great amount of justice to Hemingway's story, because if nothing else defuses the momentum of this melodrama, it's all of the cheesiness, reflected partly in some lame comic relief, and largely in dialogue that ranges from flat to admittedly unbelievably bad, and whose missteps are recurrent throughout the film, aggravating you and trying your patience, while superficializing the depths of this conceptually heavier subject matter. The glaring missteps in dialogue within Ben Hecht's script are but heights in its gross Hollywood misguidance, because among the tropes hit by this film time and again is Hollywood superficialities and dated dramatic sensibilities, which take the guts out of this promising drama, and make the histrionics harder to embrace in the context of this narrative. I certainly prefer the war segments to the overwrought romance segments, but it doesn't seem as though this film can ever escape overt romanticism that tests believability through manufactures conflicts and overblown melodramatics which cause momentum to fall, though not without help from overblown structuring. This film manages to keep itself pretty busy throughout its course of two-and-a-half hours, so it's never bland, but it might end up finding too much to do, until it loses a sense of progression and conflict at times, or simply wears the audience down when it goes backed by such superficial handlings of material. There's so much value to the concept of this film, and the execution does a lot of things very well, but whenever it gets the chance, this melodrama tries your patience, with conventions, cheese, superficialities and, of course, excess, until the final product falls short of, not simply what it could have been, but rewarding. Still, with plenty of patience, many are sure to be reasonably engaged, and thoroughly entertained, thanks to the film's always working to keep things lively.

Now, when I claim that this 1950s Hollywood epic is wholly unoriginal, you know that nothing is new within Mario Nascimbene's score, yet the film's soundtrack is recurrent and consistently delivers on some sort of perk, highlighted by a sweep that goes matched by Oswald Morris' colorfully light, yet grandly scoped cinematography. The cinematography at least gives you a fine view of the art direction by Mario Garbuglia (Do you think the art departments could use some Italians?) which is, of course nothing unique, but rich and dynamic enough to sell the setting and scale of this war melodrama, just as the performers help in selling what material they can. Well, honestly, I prefer the war segments to the romance segments partly because the beautiful Jennifer Jones doesn't simply not help in selling the hokey material, but makes it all the worse with her cloyingly flamboyant and unconvincing performance, - punctuated by surprisingly solid power in her final scenes - and because just about all of the supporting players during the war segments are surprisingly effective, with some stealing the show from Rock Hudson, who remains endearing in his charisma and sound dramatic touches, even if he can't quite hold up chemistry with the generally flat Jones. The leads' unequal abilities make it even more difficult to buy into the romantic dramatics which should play a large factor in the engagement value, thus, what effectiveness there is hinges on the directorial performance of Charles Vidor, whose sentimentality exacerbates the sting of the melodramatics, but reflects color within Vidor's efforts that frequently entertains, until realization is found, resulting in moments of resonance, especially during a powerful final act which, honestly, is more than the film deserves on the whole. Vidor's efforts are far from outstanding, but they're certainly superior to Ben Hecht's efforts as screenwriter, so much so that without all of the messy writing, this film could have perhaps rewarded, as its engagement value already has a solid head-start, thanks to a worthy story concept. Though excessive in a number of ways, this film at least attempts to capture the layers and scope of Ernest Hemingway's classic novel, and it's hard to hold a melodrama like that too far back, for Hemingway wrote a gripping modernist narrative that, loosely based on personal experiences, married real struggles with rich romanticism, and established sound potential for an epic film. This adaptation is ambitious, but ultimately relatively flat, but only relatively, for although there are many a misguidance, the intrigue of the subject matter itself, brought to life by many a highlight in storytelling, at least bring the final product to the brink of rewarding.

When it is finally time to bid farewell, consistent conventions, cloying cheese, and glaring Hollywood superficialities dilute the effectiveness of the melodrama, while momentum is shaken so greatly by the excessive structuring that the final product wears itself down to an underwhelming point, but just barely, for grand scoring, cinematography and art direction, generally effective performances, and colorful and sometimes resonant direction bring enough life to Ernest Hemingway's excellent subject matter to bring Charles Vidor's "A Farewell to Arms" to the border of rewarding, despite the flaws which still hold it a ways back.

2.75/5 - Decent

Cameron W. Johnson
Cameron Johnson

Super Reviewer

½

It's not as bad as Plan Nine from Outer Space, so it gets a little something for the effort. Neither Rock Hudson nor Jennifer Jones were the right actors to cast for this. Although the 1932 version has numerous problems, not the least of which is cramming Hemingway's novel into 85 minutes (the Reader's Digest very highly condensed version; you needed to read the novel to comprehend the film), Gary Cooper was much, much better as the leading actor and Helen Hayes was much more credible as leading actress even though she was 31 years old during filming (the character is a 24 year old nurse). In addition, at least the parts the 1932 version covered and didn't gloss over remained true to the novel. This 1957 version is of the epic length approaching what is needed for the dense novel, but it fails to convey the novel in many ways. Rock Hudson is too much lover and not enough soldier even though he wasn't too far off from the age of the character he portrayed. Jennifer Jones, at nearly 40, was much too old to play a 24 year old pregnant nurse. They're just not credible. That Jones was David O. Selznick's wife explains her nepotistic casting. Perhaps Hudson's sexual preferences ensured there would be no hanky-panky between them during filming. The screenplay takes enormous liberties with the novel, changing scenes and the plot, and not just a little. The result is a significant portion of the film in Italian and Swiss Alps being little more than a spectacular travelogue, when it's supposed to be in the midst of a horrific war, at least in the Italian portion of the Alps. It's as if they're on a honeymoon holiday with the war a continent away instead of finding love in the middle of one and trying to maintain it in what bits they can between all the intrusions from the war's horrors. In a significant insult to the novel's plot, Major Rinaldi (Vittorio de Sica), Henry's (Hudson) commanding officer is (wrongfully) executed for desertion, and this isn't the only substantial liberty Ben Hecht took with the novel. In the end, it's much too long on the romance and much too short on the war that is supposed to be going on around them, interfering with and frustrating their love, and that's what gets completely lost in this epic spectacle. Hemingway himself was appalled at what Selznick did to his novel. I'm not at all surprised it was rejected by the critics and the audiences when it was released, and that time has continued to reject it.

jalind1
John Lind

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