OVERLONG MISCAST MISHMASH
a viewer | antioch, tn United States | 02/06/2005
(2 out of 5 stars)
"When David O. Selznick undertook to remake "A Farewell to Arms" he was hoping to top Gone With the Wind. Needless to say, every movie he made after GWTW would be compared to it and deemed inferior. Most of his films have merit. However, "A Farewell to Arms" is a bona-fide disaster on most counts. David O. Selznick, who broke up Jennifer Jones and Robert Walker, was only concerned with Jones and her portrayal. Unfortunately, Jennifer Jones with her distracting facial contortions (which the director should have kept in check) is terrible in this film right down to the last reel where we have to endure an interminable child birth scene and her subsequent death. "A Farewell to Arms" could have been a superb film. Instead, it is an overlong, talky, mishmash of romanticism between two characters who are portrayed by good actors who have no chemistry between them. Hudson was perfect. He did the best he could under less than ideal circumstances. But Jones is the flaw in this film. A fine actress if directed properly and that twisted mouth and deep voice inflection distracting kept in check, Jones is horribly miscast. At the age of 38 she is certainly too old to be playing Catherine, a 23 year old nurse. She is supposed to be british but her playing is stilted and forced, not to mention over-intense. Even the musical score is unmemorable. No wonder this film failed at the box office. And no wonder David O. Selznick never made another film. He was an anachronism by this time. Skip this one folks unless you are a die hard JOnes and Hudson fan. I recommend "Song of Bernadette", "Portait of Jennie" or "Love Letters" if you want to see Jones at her best!"
Simple love story gets over-cooked
W. Oliver | Alabama | 07/04/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"There is no question that David O. Selznick was one of Hollywood's greatest producers - anyone can look at his list credits and see that he was responsible for some of the most memorable films to come out of Hollywood. Following his magnum opus, "Gone With The Wind" in 1939, however, Selznick kept trying to out-do himself, striving to create yet another great film on an epic scale. He did make some wonderful movies following "GWTW" ("Rebecca," "Since You Went Away," "Portrait of Jennie") but many of them (like "Since You Went Away" and "Duel In The Sun") were hurt by his attempts at over producing.
"A Farewell To Arms," which was sadly Selznick's last film, is the prime example of Selznick at his worse - attempting to make a simple war love story into an epic production. The sweeping title credits racing across the screen (just like in "Gone With The Wind") should serve as a warning. While the production is an attractive one (exquisite wide-screen cinematography, beautiful locations, lovely score, etc.), it is not enough to warrant a grand scale for such a simple story. Rock Hudson is simply gorgeous in this film - he had to have been at his peak here. Jennifer Jones, as the love interest, doesn't fare as well. She is a beautiful and talented actress and one of the most interesting women to grace the screen, but she is miscast here. At 36, she is too mature to be playing Hudson's love interest (she is in her young 20s in the book) and their scenes together lack chemistry. The film also suffers from being overlong and padded with scenes that could have been easily left out. Thus we get 30 minutes of lovey-dovey between Jones and Hudson in the Swiss Alps followed by a birth scene that seems to go on forever.
That said, the film does look great on dvd and this is certainly the way to watch it. The extras include 3 Fox Movietone Reels - 1) ""A Farewell to Arms" Premiere" showing Selznick, Jones and Hudson, the producers and their wives, and Mercedes McCambridge, waving to the cameras, 2) "Photoplay Awards" showing Rock Hudson accepting his award for Favorite Actor, and 3) "Meg at the Premiere of `A Farewell to Arms'," which shows Princess Margaret attending the premiere. The theatrical trailer is also included."
OVER AGE JENNIFER
HOWARD MORLEY | London, England United Kingdom | 02/21/2002
(2 out of 5 stars)
"...Hemingway would have nothing to do with this adaption from his novel but the main criticism levied at Selznick is his wife at 38 was too old to play a young British nurse in Italy during WW1 opposite Rock Hudson as the American male nurse.The landscape and battle scenes were good but he was not being realistic casting his wife in this role.Selznick was still lookong for a sequel to "Gone with the Wind" which he had previously just failed with in "Duel in the Sun", but this film drags and the birth scene despite edits, remains too long.So much of the plot seems to have been truncated and reduced to a mere orthodox love story so there is not enough in the plot to sustain the time it runs.Incidentally the year "1932" that hangs as a title above is incorrect.This filmed version was made in 1957.I believe the Gary Cooper version was made in 1932 and in B&W not in colour as here."
Lavish and entertaining but unmoving remake
Trevor Willsmer | London, England | 02/26/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)
"The 1957 version of A Farewell to Arms is a mixture of the best and worst of David O. Selznick. On the plus side is the no expense spared lavishness of the whole production, with great Italian locations, great production design, a good supporting cast (including an excellent Vittorio de Sica, Alberto Sordi and Elaine Stritch) and a cast of thousands. On the debit side, there's some hokey love scenes and the miscasting of Selznick's private leading lady Jennifer Jones, lisping her way through an awkward British accent while seemingly impersonating a rather large bunny rabbit that somehow got a job as a nurse.
Charles Vidor lacks Frank Borzage's sensual romanticism, but despite some surprisingly clumsy comedy, Ben Hecht's script is much darker and more mature than you'd expect, with the grim retreat sequences and their aftermath far darker than anything in the Gary Cooper version. That said, the gay subtext to Rinaldi's friendship is almost completely absent, something that seems all the more noticeable with Rock Hudson playing the object of his affections (but that's hindsight for you). It's never particularly moving, but it's entertaining storytelling and it looks great in its original CinemaScope ratio.
Extras are limited to the original trailer and brief newsreel extracts."