Saturday, June 04, 2016

Dvd/150: A FAREWELL TO ARMS (Frank Borzage, 1932)

Sometimes you just have to surrender to a film especially when it's directed by the great Frank Borzage.  Although his films are sweepingly operatic in tone, Borzage always focussed on the people trapped by their emotions and circumstances.

Based on Ernest Hemingway's novel, Gary Cooper is excellent as Frederic, the carefree American ambulance driver who meets and falls in love with Helen Hayes' English nurse Catherine in WWI Italy.  Hayes is fine as Catherine but her playing style has dated compared to Cooper's more contemporary persona.

The lovers are separated by war and the jealous meddling of Frederic's friend Rinaldi (Adolphe Menjou) and while Frederic battles his way through war-torn Italy, Hayes discovers she is pregnant and flees to neutral Switzerland.

Both are broken by their lives apart but fate allows them a reunion as the bells announce the Armistice and Borzage unleashes his fabulously cinematic, emotionally devastating ending.

Shelf or charity shop? Hemingway might have disliked it but what did he know?  I will happily blub through this again...

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