A Farewell to Arms


1h 18m 1932
A Farewell to Arms

Brief Synopsis

An American serving in World War I falls for a spirited nurse.

Film Details

Genre
Romance
Drama
War
Adaptation
Classic Hollywood
Release Date
Dec 8, 1932
Premiere Information
New York premiere: 8 Dec 1932
Production Company
Paramount Productions, Inc.
Distribution Company
Paramount Productions, Inc.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway (New York, 1929) and the play of the same name by Laurence Stallings (New York, 22 Sep 1930).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 18m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
10 reels

Synopsis

Former architecture student Frederic Henry, now a lieutenant in the Italian army's World War I ambulance service, spends his free time drinking and chasing women with his comrade, Captain Rinaldi. On one of their outings, Frederic meets Catherine Barkley, an English nurse whose fiancé was killed in the war. Rinaldi had arranged for Frederic to be paired with Catherine's friend, nurse Helen Ferguson, because he is in love with Catherine, but he bows out when Catherine and Frederic fall in love. Frederic is ordered to the front for a period of several days, but while on the road, he orders the ambulance driver to turn back so he can express his love to Catherine, then promise that he will return to her. Fearful that his friend is losing his head over a woman, Rinaldi has Catherine transferred to Milan. Frederic, however, is wounded at the front, and Rinaldi makes a special trip to the front to operate on his "war brother," after which he relents and sends him to Milan to recuperate. Frederic and Catherine's idyllic tryst in Milan, sanctioned by a priest who unofficially performs a wedding ceremony for them in Frederic's hospital room, comes to an end when a nurse discovers liquor bottles under Frederic's mattress and, observing that his days of recuperation are over, has him sent back to the front. Catherine confides in her friend, Helen, that she is pregnant, and goes to Brissago, Switzerland to wait for Frederic. Catherine and Frederic's letters to each other are returned thanks to Rinaldi's overzealous censorship, and Frederic, worried over her long silence, only confides his concern to his priest friend. He then deserts and makes a perilous journey across Italy to find her. When Ferguson tells him that Catherine is pregnant, but refuses to give him her location, Frederic takes out an advertisement asking Catherine to meet him at a hotel. Rinaldi sees the advertisement and meets him, and tells him that the priest had told everyone he was dead. Although Rinaldi offers to write a report that Frederic was only shell-shocked and did some heroic feat, Frederic refuses to return. Finally recognizing the depth of Frederic's love for Catherine, Rinaldi informs him of her whereabouts, and Frederic immediately leaves with the help of the hotel owner, Harry, who lends him the use of his boat. In Brissago, an ill and heartsick Catherine collapses after having all of her unopened letters to Frederic returned. Frederic arrives in Brissago just as she is undergoing an emergency caesarean section. The child is stillborn, and Catherine spends her final moments with Frederic, dying amid the jubilant noises of the armistice celebration.

Videos

Movie Clip

Hosted Intro

Film Details

Genre
Romance
Drama
War
Adaptation
Classic Hollywood
Release Date
Dec 8, 1932
Premiere Information
New York premiere: 8 Dec 1932
Production Company
Paramount Productions, Inc.
Distribution Company
Paramount Productions, Inc.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway (New York, 1929) and the play of the same name by Laurence Stallings (New York, 22 Sep 1930).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 18m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
10 reels

Award Wins

Best Cinematography

1932

Best Sound Editing

1934

Award Nominations

Best Art Direction

1934

Best Picture

1934

Articles

A Farewell to Arms (1932)


It's no secret that Ernest Hemingway could be an ornery cuss when he wanted to, and he had little use for people who made their living in the film industry. So it's hardly a shock that he openly despised Frank Borzage's entertaining but bowdlerized version of his war novel, A Farewell to Arms. It is surprising, though, that he developed a longtime allegiance to the film's broad-shouldered star, Gary Cooper. Hemingway was known for discarding, or, worse yet, alienating even his closest friends. But he and Cooper became buddies a few years after A Farewell to Arms (1932) was released, and they stayed that way for nearly 20 years.

Cooper stars as Lt. Frederick Henry, a World War I officer whose world is turned upside down when he falls for a British nurse named Catherine Barkley (Helen Hayes.) Henry and Catherine are made for each other, but Henry's friend, Major Rinaldi (Adolphe Menjou) grows jealous of them, and has Helen transferred to Milan. Then, as luck would have it, Henry is wounded and ends up in the very hospital where Catherine works. Henry quickly heals, and is sent back into battle, but not before Catherine is carrying their love child. Though Catherine tries to contact Henry to tell him the news, she can't reach him due to even more treacherous maneuvers by Rinaldi.

Eventually, there's a happy or ambiguous finale, depending on which print of the film you see. Paramount actually made both endings available to theater owners, telling them to use the one that they thought would work best for their particular audience. Hemingway was less than enchanted with the idea of projectionists randomly deciding how his hard-hitting story should end, and he was livid over several other instances in which the screenplay softened his hard-hitting vision. But the $24,000 he received for A Farewell to Arms' film rights encouraged him to sell several more properties to Hollywood in the ensuing years.

The movie's love scenes, by the way, were no problem at all for Hayes. Although she was happily married at the time, she harbored an intense crush on Cooper. She freely admitted as much in her autobiography, when, among other Cooper-related confessions, she wrote: "My leading man was Gary Cooper, and like half the women in the world, I was, in the words of the Noel Coward song, "Mad about the boy."

Hayes was right- pretty much everyone seemed to have a crush on Cooper, even Hemingway, in a testosterone-driven way. "Cooper is a fine man," Hemingway once wrote, "as honest and straight and friendly and unspoiled as he looks...Cooper is a very fine rifle shot and a good wing shot. I can shoot a little better than he can with a shotgun but not nearly as good with a rifle, due I guess to drinking too much for too many years." Both men liked to compare the African safari adventures they experienced before meeting each other in 1940. For the record, Cooper had 60 kills in five months, including two lions. On a two-month safari, Hemingway bagged a buffalo, three lions, and 27 other unfortunate animals.

The two spent many competitive vacations together, hunting, fishing, and drinking in the resort town of Sun Valley, Idaho. Cooper, however, was no fool. No matter how much Hemingway insisted, he flatly refused to put on boxing gloves and climb into the ring. Cooper knew that his fine bone structure was a key element of his screen charisma, and he didn't intend to ruin it through pointless macho rough-housing. Hemingway, after all, didn't type with his cheekbones.

Director: Frank Borzage
Screenplay: Oliver H.P. Garrett, and Benjamin Glazer (Based on the novel by Ernest Hemingway)
Cinematography: Charles Lang
Editing: Otho Lovering
Art Direction: Roland Anderson and Hans Dreier
Sound: Franklin Hansen and Harold Lewis Principal Cast: Helen Hayes (Catherine Barkley), Gary Cooper (Lt. Frederick Henry), Adolphe Menjou (Major Rinaldi), Mary Phillips (Helen Ferguson), Jack La Rue (The Priest), Blanche Friderici (Head Nurse), Mary Forbes (Miss Van Campen), Gilbert Emery (British Major).
B&W-89m.

by Paul Tatara

A Farewell To Arms (1932)

A Farewell to Arms (1932)

It's no secret that Ernest Hemingway could be an ornery cuss when he wanted to, and he had little use for people who made their living in the film industry. So it's hardly a shock that he openly despised Frank Borzage's entertaining but bowdlerized version of his war novel, A Farewell to Arms. It is surprising, though, that he developed a longtime allegiance to the film's broad-shouldered star, Gary Cooper. Hemingway was known for discarding, or, worse yet, alienating even his closest friends. But he and Cooper became buddies a few years after A Farewell to Arms (1932) was released, and they stayed that way for nearly 20 years. Cooper stars as Lt. Frederick Henry, a World War I officer whose world is turned upside down when he falls for a British nurse named Catherine Barkley (Helen Hayes.) Henry and Catherine are made for each other, but Henry's friend, Major Rinaldi (Adolphe Menjou) grows jealous of them, and has Helen transferred to Milan. Then, as luck would have it, Henry is wounded and ends up in the very hospital where Catherine works. Henry quickly heals, and is sent back into battle, but not before Catherine is carrying their love child. Though Catherine tries to contact Henry to tell him the news, she can't reach him due to even more treacherous maneuvers by Rinaldi. Eventually, there's a happy or ambiguous finale, depending on which print of the film you see. Paramount actually made both endings available to theater owners, telling them to use the one that they thought would work best for their particular audience. Hemingway was less than enchanted with the idea of projectionists randomly deciding how his hard-hitting story should end, and he was livid over several other instances in which the screenplay softened his hard-hitting vision. But the $24,000 he received for A Farewell to Arms' film rights encouraged him to sell several more properties to Hollywood in the ensuing years. The movie's love scenes, by the way, were no problem at all for Hayes. Although she was happily married at the time, she harbored an intense crush on Cooper. She freely admitted as much in her autobiography, when, among other Cooper-related confessions, she wrote: "My leading man was Gary Cooper, and like half the women in the world, I was, in the words of the Noel Coward song, "Mad about the boy." Hayes was right- pretty much everyone seemed to have a crush on Cooper, even Hemingway, in a testosterone-driven way. "Cooper is a fine man," Hemingway once wrote, "as honest and straight and friendly and unspoiled as he looks...Cooper is a very fine rifle shot and a good wing shot. I can shoot a little better than he can with a shotgun but not nearly as good with a rifle, due I guess to drinking too much for too many years." Both men liked to compare the African safari adventures they experienced before meeting each other in 1940. For the record, Cooper had 60 kills in five months, including two lions. On a two-month safari, Hemingway bagged a buffalo, three lions, and 27 other unfortunate animals. The two spent many competitive vacations together, hunting, fishing, and drinking in the resort town of Sun Valley, Idaho. Cooper, however, was no fool. No matter how much Hemingway insisted, he flatly refused to put on boxing gloves and climb into the ring. Cooper knew that his fine bone structure was a key element of his screen charisma, and he didn't intend to ruin it through pointless macho rough-housing. Hemingway, after all, didn't type with his cheekbones. Director: Frank Borzage Screenplay: Oliver H.P. Garrett, and Benjamin Glazer (Based on the novel by Ernest Hemingway) Cinematography: Charles Lang Editing: Otho Lovering Art Direction: Roland Anderson and Hans Dreier Sound: Franklin Hansen and Harold Lewis Principal Cast: Helen Hayes (Catherine Barkley), Gary Cooper (Lt. Frederick Henry), Adolphe Menjou (Major Rinaldi), Mary Phillips (Helen Ferguson), Jack La Rue (The Priest), Blanche Friderici (Head Nurse), Mary Forbes (Miss Van Campen), Gilbert Emery (British Major). B&W-89m. by Paul Tatara

A Farewell to Arms ( The Selznick Collection) - Gary Cooper & Helen Hayes in the 1932 Version of A FAREWELL TO ARMS


Director Frank Borzage was a master at movie romances. He made a number of sweet-tough Depression-era fables (like Man's Castle), but excelled with bittersweet fairy tales: 7th Heaven, Street Angel, History is Made at Night. The 1932 adaptation of Ernest Hemingway's popular WW1 novel A Farewell to Arms applies Borzage's considerable talents to an anti-war tragedy perfectly poised for Depression audiences.

A scandal from its 1929 debut, Hemingway's book was also recognized as good literature. It was written from his own experiences as an ambulance driver for Italy in WW1. American adventurer-volunteer Frederic Henry (Gary Cooper) risks his life retrieving wounded soldiers from the front; by night he and his drinking pal Dr. Major Rinaldi (Adolphe Menjou) visit the local cat houses. Henry meets American nurse Catherine Barkley (Helen Hayes), whose hospital unit enforces stringent rules. A nurse becomes pregnant and is sent home in disgrace. The head nurses discourage contact with officers, and Catherine's friend Helen "Fergie" Ferguson (Mary Phillips) disapproves of the relationship. Henry and Catherine fall fast in love anyway, in a relationship accelerated by the dangers of wartime. When Henry is wounded, they spend even more time together. Catherine becomes pregnant and leaves for neutral Switzerland, informing Henry by letter. Henry goes AWOL to find her, but his efforts are stymied when the meddling Major Rinaldi intercepts their love letters. If Henry's own Italian comrades capture him, he'll be shot.

The trauma of the War to End All Wars lends Borzage's A Farewell to Arms a fatalistic tone. The lovers' passionate affair diverts them from their duties. In addition to those pressures, there's constant condemnation from Fergie, who thinks Catherine is yet another nurse fallen victim to a worthless soldier. The cavalier Rinaldi takes it upon himself to interfere with Henry's love life. Interestingly, both friends would seem to be butting in for personal reasons. Rinaldi needs a drinking buddy, while Fergie's affection for Catherine verges on worship.

Borzage shows us a world warped by war, where the standard proprieties no longer apply. The makeshift hospitals are crowded with the suffering wounded, and the ambulance drivers perform their duties as if each day could be their last. Dinners are interrupted by bombings. Catherine meets the drunken Henry when she trips over him running for cover. He presses his affections almost immediately. Back in the states, he claims, he'd be courting her strictly by the rules. Catherine has already lost a sweetheart to the war, and says in no uncertain terms that she wishes she'd broken the rules. "They blew him to bits. If I had it to do over again I'd marry him -- or anything." Their brief romance involves cruel separations and an unexpected pregnancy, desertion from duty and an ill-fated finish in Switzerland. Henry and Catherine end up as modern echoes of classic star-crossed lovers. The realism of earlier scenes (with some rather convincing miniature battlefields) gives way to stylized montages of war frenzy, and ends on a deliriously romantic note, accompanied by the music of Wagner.

A Farewell to Arms is often cited in studies of Pre-code productions, not because its content shocked the nation but because it points up the problems of a Production Code office that sought to determine the movie content at the script stage. Hemingway's book was so widely popular that neither audiences nor the studios would tolerate changes to its storyline. Besides breaking basic code tenets (illicit sex and a pregnancy out of wedlock) the film showed a soldier abandoning his duty and a nurse openly having an affair with her patient. Before the 1934 enforcement of the code, the studios often ganged together to vote each other a 'pass' on films in censor trouble. The code authorities held up Farewell until the producer made various changes, like putting more emphasis on the disapproval of Catherine's friend Fergie. But Fergie never informs on Catherine, and she eventually expresses sympathy for her friend's plight. The Code censors quickly caught on to this dodge, and let it be known that the studios couldn't get away with forbidden content simply by writing in a character that disapproves of what's going on.

Church authorities (a dominant force in the Code office) objected to the film's "fake marriage" scene. A sympathetic priest (Jack La Rue) says a prayer for the couple that resembles a wedding ceremony ... sort of, but not really. The bluenoses were incensed that audiences might assume that the marriage was legitimate. Since the Code wasn't being fully enforced, this detail was allowed to slide by, as were the soldiers' visits to obvious brothels. The most controversial aspect was the virtuous Catherine's rejection of society's rules. It wasn't enough for the censors that she and Lt. Henry are denied happiness. Catherine is unrepentant in her defiance of the sexual norm. That's exactly the sort of sentiment that makes a censor's blood run cold -- let young women think like that, and the gates of Hell might open up.

Some pre-production script changes came from political-economic necessity. Ernest Hemingway's novel expressed nothing but contempt for the Italian Army. The battles are all fiascos. After a humiliating defeat, the Italians execute random officers as "traitors", just to save face. The film's producers learned early on that Mussolini's Italy would bar distribution of the film if that content remained. All references to official incompetence were removed, and after a retreat or two the show ends in a glorious victory. This alteration apparently irked Ernest Hemingway to no end, even when Borzage mocks the victory by using pealing church bells as an ironic counterpoint to a tragedy. The final images of A Farewell to Arms mix over-the-top romanticism with a powerful anti-war message.

The books also tell us that United Artists panicked after a couple of distributor previews, and prepared an alternate version of A Farewell to Arms with a happy ending. They don't say how many theaters opted to use it in place of the ending closer to Hemingway's book.

Gary Cooper was a big star in 1932 but the even more famous Helen Hayes receives top billing for her powerful performance. In keeping with the era's rules of good taste, when Catherine is heavy with child, she purposely stays behind objects to avoid showing her abdomen. Premiered as a prestige attraction, Farewell was nominated for Best Picture and Best Art Direction, and took home Oscars for Cinematography and Sound. Great filmmaking sometimes happens when studios think they're working with important material.

Kino Classics' Blu-ray of A Farewell to Arms is an improvement on previous Public Domain releases of this early sound drama. The source is a 35mm nitrate print belonging to the Selznick estate, preserved by the George Eastman House. The print is not without scratches here and there, but overall it's a beauty - sharp, stable, with an excellent range of contrast. This release's biggest edge over earlier copies is its award-winning soundtrack, which is rich and full. The superior audio mix makes its biggest impact in the emotional climax.

Kino offers a set of trailers and a gallery of stills as extras.

Research: Hollywood Censored by Gregory D. Black, Cambridge University Press 1994

For more information about A Farewell to Arms, visit Kino Lorber. To order A Farewell to Arms, go to TCM Shopping.

by Glenn Erickson

A Farewell to Arms ( The Selznick Collection) - Gary Cooper & Helen Hayes in the 1932 Version of A FAREWELL TO ARMS

Director Frank Borzage was a master at movie romances. He made a number of sweet-tough Depression-era fables (like Man's Castle), but excelled with bittersweet fairy tales: 7th Heaven, Street Angel, History is Made at Night. The 1932 adaptation of Ernest Hemingway's popular WW1 novel A Farewell to Arms applies Borzage's considerable talents to an anti-war tragedy perfectly poised for Depression audiences. A scandal from its 1929 debut, Hemingway's book was also recognized as good literature. It was written from his own experiences as an ambulance driver for Italy in WW1. American adventurer-volunteer Frederic Henry (Gary Cooper) risks his life retrieving wounded soldiers from the front; by night he and his drinking pal Dr. Major Rinaldi (Adolphe Menjou) visit the local cat houses. Henry meets American nurse Catherine Barkley (Helen Hayes), whose hospital unit enforces stringent rules. A nurse becomes pregnant and is sent home in disgrace. The head nurses discourage contact with officers, and Catherine's friend Helen "Fergie" Ferguson (Mary Phillips) disapproves of the relationship. Henry and Catherine fall fast in love anyway, in a relationship accelerated by the dangers of wartime. When Henry is wounded, they spend even more time together. Catherine becomes pregnant and leaves for neutral Switzerland, informing Henry by letter. Henry goes AWOL to find her, but his efforts are stymied when the meddling Major Rinaldi intercepts their love letters. If Henry's own Italian comrades capture him, he'll be shot. The trauma of the War to End All Wars lends Borzage's A Farewell to Arms a fatalistic tone. The lovers' passionate affair diverts them from their duties. In addition to those pressures, there's constant condemnation from Fergie, who thinks Catherine is yet another nurse fallen victim to a worthless soldier. The cavalier Rinaldi takes it upon himself to interfere with Henry's love life. Interestingly, both friends would seem to be butting in for personal reasons. Rinaldi needs a drinking buddy, while Fergie's affection for Catherine verges on worship. Borzage shows us a world warped by war, where the standard proprieties no longer apply. The makeshift hospitals are crowded with the suffering wounded, and the ambulance drivers perform their duties as if each day could be their last. Dinners are interrupted by bombings. Catherine meets the drunken Henry when she trips over him running for cover. He presses his affections almost immediately. Back in the states, he claims, he'd be courting her strictly by the rules. Catherine has already lost a sweetheart to the war, and says in no uncertain terms that she wishes she'd broken the rules. "They blew him to bits. If I had it to do over again I'd marry him -- or anything." Their brief romance involves cruel separations and an unexpected pregnancy, desertion from duty and an ill-fated finish in Switzerland. Henry and Catherine end up as modern echoes of classic star-crossed lovers. The realism of earlier scenes (with some rather convincing miniature battlefields) gives way to stylized montages of war frenzy, and ends on a deliriously romantic note, accompanied by the music of Wagner. A Farewell to Arms is often cited in studies of Pre-code productions, not because its content shocked the nation but because it points up the problems of a Production Code office that sought to determine the movie content at the script stage. Hemingway's book was so widely popular that neither audiences nor the studios would tolerate changes to its storyline. Besides breaking basic code tenets (illicit sex and a pregnancy out of wedlock) the film showed a soldier abandoning his duty and a nurse openly having an affair with her patient. Before the 1934 enforcement of the code, the studios often ganged together to vote each other a 'pass' on films in censor trouble. The code authorities held up Farewell until the producer made various changes, like putting more emphasis on the disapproval of Catherine's friend Fergie. But Fergie never informs on Catherine, and she eventually expresses sympathy for her friend's plight. The Code censors quickly caught on to this dodge, and let it be known that the studios couldn't get away with forbidden content simply by writing in a character that disapproves of what's going on. Church authorities (a dominant force in the Code office) objected to the film's "fake marriage" scene. A sympathetic priest (Jack La Rue) says a prayer for the couple that resembles a wedding ceremony ... sort of, but not really. The bluenoses were incensed that audiences might assume that the marriage was legitimate. Since the Code wasn't being fully enforced, this detail was allowed to slide by, as were the soldiers' visits to obvious brothels. The most controversial aspect was the virtuous Catherine's rejection of society's rules. It wasn't enough for the censors that she and Lt. Henry are denied happiness. Catherine is unrepentant in her defiance of the sexual norm. That's exactly the sort of sentiment that makes a censor's blood run cold -- let young women think like that, and the gates of Hell might open up. Some pre-production script changes came from political-economic necessity. Ernest Hemingway's novel expressed nothing but contempt for the Italian Army. The battles are all fiascos. After a humiliating defeat, the Italians execute random officers as "traitors", just to save face. The film's producers learned early on that Mussolini's Italy would bar distribution of the film if that content remained. All references to official incompetence were removed, and after a retreat or two the show ends in a glorious victory. This alteration apparently irked Ernest Hemingway to no end, even when Borzage mocks the victory by using pealing church bells as an ironic counterpoint to a tragedy. The final images of A Farewell to Arms mix over-the-top romanticism with a powerful anti-war message. The books also tell us that United Artists panicked after a couple of distributor previews, and prepared an alternate version of A Farewell to Arms with a happy ending. They don't say how many theaters opted to use it in place of the ending closer to Hemingway's book. Gary Cooper was a big star in 1932 but the even more famous Helen Hayes receives top billing for her powerful performance. In keeping with the era's rules of good taste, when Catherine is heavy with child, she purposely stays behind objects to avoid showing her abdomen. Premiered as a prestige attraction, Farewell was nominated for Best Picture and Best Art Direction, and took home Oscars for Cinematography and Sound. Great filmmaking sometimes happens when studios think they're working with important material. Kino Classics' Blu-ray of A Farewell to Arms is an improvement on previous Public Domain releases of this early sound drama. The source is a 35mm nitrate print belonging to the Selznick estate, preserved by the George Eastman House. The print is not without scratches here and there, but overall it's a beauty - sharp, stable, with an excellent range of contrast. This release's biggest edge over earlier copies is its award-winning soundtrack, which is rich and full. The superior audio mix makes its biggest impact in the emotional climax. Kino offers a set of trailers and a gallery of stills as extras. Research: Hollywood Censored by Gregory D. Black, Cambridge University Press 1994 For more information about A Farewell to Arms, visit Kino Lorber. To order A Farewell to Arms, go to TCM Shopping. by Glenn Erickson

A Farewell to Arms (1932)


It's no secret that Ernest Hemingway could be an ornery cuss when he wanted to, and he had little use for people who made their living in the film industry. So it's hardly a shock that he openly despised Frank Borzage's entertaining but bowdlerized version of his war novel, A Farewell to Arms. It is surprising, though, that he developed a longtime allegiance to the film's broad-shouldered star, Gary Cooper. Hemingway was known for discarding, or, worse yet, alienating even his closest friends. But he and Cooper became buddies a few years after A Farewell to Arms (1932) was released, and they stayed that way for nearly 20 years.

Cooper stars as Lt. Frederick Henry, a World War I officer whose world is turned upside down when he falls for a British nurse named Catherine Barkley (Helen Hayes.) Henry and Catherine are made for each other, but Henry's friend, Major Rinaldi (Adolphe Menjou) grows jealous of them, and has Helen transferred to Milan. Then, as luck would have it, Henry is wounded and ends up in the very hospital where Catherine works. Henry quickly heals, and is sent back into battle, but not before Catherine is carrying their love child. Though Catherine tries to contact Henry to tell him the news, she can't reach him due to even more treacherous maneuvers by Rinaldi.

Eventually, there's a happy or ambiguous finale, depending on which print of the film you see. Paramount actually made both endings available to theater owners, telling them to use the one that they thought would work best for their particular audience. Hemingway was less than enchanted with the idea of projectionists randomly deciding how his hard-hitting story should end, and he was livid over several other instances in which the screenplay softened his hard-hitting vision. But the $24,000 he received for A Farewell to Arms' film rights encouraged him to sell several more properties to Hollywood in the ensuing years.

The movie's love scenes, by the way, were no problem at all for Hayes. Although she was happily married at the time, she harbored an intense crush on Cooper. She freely admitted as much in her autobiography, when, among other Cooper-related confessions, she wrote: "My leading man was Gary Cooper, and like half the women in the world, I was, in the words of the Noel Coward song, "Mad about the boy."

The Image Entertainment DVD of A Farewell to Arms is probably the best version currently available of this public domain title - which is to say, it has some problems but it's also the complete cut of the film. The image quality is variable with some sections of the film much sharper than others but you'll need to monitor the volume closely - it is very low during dialogue scenes though the music score is often mixed very loud. There are also no extras on the DVD.

For more information about A Farewell to Arms, visit Image Entertainment.

by Paul Tatara

A Farewell to Arms (1932)

It's no secret that Ernest Hemingway could be an ornery cuss when he wanted to, and he had little use for people who made their living in the film industry. So it's hardly a shock that he openly despised Frank Borzage's entertaining but bowdlerized version of his war novel, A Farewell to Arms. It is surprising, though, that he developed a longtime allegiance to the film's broad-shouldered star, Gary Cooper. Hemingway was known for discarding, or, worse yet, alienating even his closest friends. But he and Cooper became buddies a few years after A Farewell to Arms (1932) was released, and they stayed that way for nearly 20 years. Cooper stars as Lt. Frederick Henry, a World War I officer whose world is turned upside down when he falls for a British nurse named Catherine Barkley (Helen Hayes.) Henry and Catherine are made for each other, but Henry's friend, Major Rinaldi (Adolphe Menjou) grows jealous of them, and has Helen transferred to Milan. Then, as luck would have it, Henry is wounded and ends up in the very hospital where Catherine works. Henry quickly heals, and is sent back into battle, but not before Catherine is carrying their love child. Though Catherine tries to contact Henry to tell him the news, she can't reach him due to even more treacherous maneuvers by Rinaldi. Eventually, there's a happy or ambiguous finale, depending on which print of the film you see. Paramount actually made both endings available to theater owners, telling them to use the one that they thought would work best for their particular audience. Hemingway was less than enchanted with the idea of projectionists randomly deciding how his hard-hitting story should end, and he was livid over several other instances in which the screenplay softened his hard-hitting vision. But the $24,000 he received for A Farewell to Arms' film rights encouraged him to sell several more properties to Hollywood in the ensuing years. The movie's love scenes, by the way, were no problem at all for Hayes. Although she was happily married at the time, she harbored an intense crush on Cooper. She freely admitted as much in her autobiography, when, among other Cooper-related confessions, she wrote: "My leading man was Gary Cooper, and like half the women in the world, I was, in the words of the Noel Coward song, "Mad about the boy." The Image Entertainment DVD of A Farewell to Arms is probably the best version currently available of this public domain title - which is to say, it has some problems but it's also the complete cut of the film. The image quality is variable with some sections of the film much sharper than others but you'll need to monitor the volume closely - it is very low during dialogue scenes though the music score is often mixed very loud. There are also no extras on the DVD. For more information about A Farewell to Arms, visit Image Entertainment. by Paul Tatara

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

The novel A Farewell to Arms was serialized in Scribner's Magazine (May-Oct, 1929). Laurence Stallings' Broadway play was directed by Rouben Mamoulian, who, according to an October 1930 Film Daily news item, was first slated to direct the film version. In its initial theatrical release some prints of the film contained an alternate ending, objected to by Ernest Hemingway, in which Catherine survived the operation. According to the Variety review, the Italian ambassador to the U.S. objected to the film. Paramount story files in the AMPAS Library reveal that the novel was purchased from Hemingway on September 17, 1930 for $80,000, and that the negative cost of the film was $799,519.89. Letters and memos in the MPAA/PCA files at the AMPAS Library reveal that M-G-M and Warner Bros. considered making a film based on the novel as early as 1929, however, M-G-M executives decided that it would be too costly. Filming on the Paramount production began in July 1932. MPPDA officials had several consultations with Harold Hurley, a Paramount executive, to discuss the major difficulties of bringing the story to the screen, in particular the handling of the Italian aspect of the war, and Catherine's childbirth scene. Memos indicate that Paramount consulted with the Italian Embassy in Washington, D.C., and with prominent banker Dr. A. H. Giannini, in order to make changes to any objectionable elements.
       By December 1932, the MPPDA office still found certain scenes in violation of the Production Code, in particular the seduction scene in the early part of the film, and Catherine's childbirth. As offered by the MPPDA office, Hurley elected to have the film viewed by a committee of producers for a judgment, as Paramount was reluctant to make further changes. On 7 Dec, a producers committee that included Joseph Schenk, Carl Laemmle, Jr., Sol Wurtzel and Emanuel Cohen in addition to Hurley, plus officials of the MPPDA office, including Colonel Jason S. Joy and Joseph I. Breen, viewed the film and concluded in a telegram that "because of the greatness of [the] picture and the excellence of direction and treatment that the childbirth sequence was not in violation of [the] Code." In a 10 December letter to Paramount's Adolph Zukor, Will H. Hays, president of the MPPDA, maintained his objection to the childbirth scene, as it was in direct violation of the Production Code, greatness notwithstanding. Hays requested that Paramount "eliminate the footage showing phases of the actual childbirth," otherwise another appeal would have to be made to the board. In a 14 December letter to Hays, Zukor informed him that several changes in the scene in question were made, including references to labor pains and gas, Catherine groaning and hemorrhaging. Although the MPPDA then approved the film, it was rejected by censors in British Columbia and Australia, where the novel was also banned.
       A Film Daily news item noted that Richard Wallace was initially scheduled to direct Gary Cooper and Eleanor Boardman in the starring roles; this would have been Boardman's debut as a Paramount contract player. June 1932 Hollywood Reporter news items note that John Cromwell was also slated to direct, but left Paramount at that time. According to news items in Film Daily, 1500 acres were set aside at the Paramount Ranch, CA, for production. Scenes shot for this film were included in the 1931 Paramount promotional film The House That Shadows Built (see below). A Farewell to Arms was nominated for Academy Awards for Best Picture and Interior Decoration (Hans Dreier and Roland Anderson). Charles Bryant Lang, Jr. won an Academy Award for Cinematography, and Harold C. Lewis won for Sound Recording. Modern sources credit Ralph Rainger, John Leipold, Bernhard Kaun, Paul Marquardt, Herman Hand and W. Franke Harling with the Musical Score; Edward A. Blatt as Associate Producer and include the following cast members: Agostino Borgato as "Giulio"; Paul Porcasi as "Inn Keeper" and Alice Adair as "Cafe Girl." Other films based on the same source are Twentieth Century-Fox's 1957 A Farewell to Arms, directed by Charles Vidor and starring Rock Hudson and Jennifer Jones and a 1955 CBS television adaptation by Gore Vidal, directed by Allen Reisner and starring Guy Madison and Dianna Lynn.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States 1932

Released in United States 1997

Released in United States March 1975

Released in United States 1932

Released in United States 1997 (Shown in New York City (Walter Reade) as part of program "American Romantics: Frank Borzage and Margaret Sullavan" August 22 - September 16, 1997.)

Released in United States March 1975 (Shown at FILMEX: Los Angeles International Film Exposition (A Film Tribute to Nobel Prize-winning Authors) March 13-26, 1975.)