“One of Cinema’s More Poignant Portraits of War and Survival”
Director: Charles Vidor/1957
Street Date: April 18, 2017/Kino Lorber
1957’s A Farewell to Arms is a beautiful rendition of the classic Ernest Hemingway novel, and a remake by David O. Selznick Studios of the original 1932 film. With this latest blu-ray release, we are given the unique opportunity to see it in its original uncensored version, but also with a striking 4K restoration that draws out the exquisite cinematography of Oswald Morris and the photography of Piero Portalupi to capture Italy in all of its glory, especially the Lake Cuomo region of the country in the Northwest.
A Farewell to Arms is an epic film, featuring two amazing stars, and a beautiful location, that helps bring the authenticity of that era in Italian history to life.
A Farewell to Arms stars Rock Hudson as Lt. Frederick Henry (Giant, Seconds, Pillow Talk), an American ambulance driver who has volunteered to work in the Italian army during World War I. He is quite the ladies man who is known all around the local town he is stationed in, and who has found a kindred spirit in Major Allesandro Rinaldi (Vittorio De Sica-The Earrings of Madame de…). When Lt. Henry goes on leave to tour around Italy, Major Rinaldi is left to pursue the lovely ladies himself, despite their disapproving friend, Father Galli (Alberto Sordi), who hasn’t given up on any of these lost souls.
Upon his return from vacation, Lt. Henry is informed by Maj. Rinaldi of a new hospital that has opened up that is staffed by beautiful English nurses. Maj. Rinaldi has already got his eye on one in particular, but lets his American friend know that he is welcome to try to get her, as he has had no luck. Her name is Catherine Barkley, and is played by the under appreciated Jennifer Jones (Portrait of Jennie, Duel in the Sun). Catherine has a tough exterior to crack, having lost her financé recently. She is all about the business at hand, yet she finds in Lt. Henry, a man who is ready to leave his womanizing ways and find peace in the arms of a woman whom he can love for life, at the expense of allienating his partner-in-crime, Maj. Rinaldi. For Ms. Barkley, she has found someone that can help her learn to love again and heal from the loss she has experienced.
Of course, this is all set against the backdrop of war, and as individuals in the medical community, Lt. Henry and Ms. Barkley have no love for war, having seen the devastation it produces in their patients, and from their own experiences. When Lt. Henry is wounded on the battlefield, he is nursed back to health by this woman he has grown to love. The resulting aftermath of their relationship will be put to the test as they seek to survive war, the surrounding politics, of the country they find themselves in, and the haunting premonitions Ms. Barkley has had every time it rains.
While A Farewell to Arms is definitely a product of its time, with its Gone Like the Wind title credits, to its score by Mario Nascimbene, it is a film that is worth watching. Director Charles Vidor ably handles the scope of this film, and balances it well with the major beats from the classic Hemingway novel. This would be the final film Mr. Vidor would see released in his lifetime, with his final film, A Song Without End, being released following his death. A Farewell to Arms is an epic film, featuring two amazing stars, and a beautiful location, that helps bring the authenticity of that era in Italian history to life.
While the film rushes the meet-cute and subsequent “falling in love” moments early on, the rest of the film’s central relationship is given a good pace that allows these characters to grow and change in a more natural way until the ultimate tragic-filled conclusion. Garnering a Best Supporting actor nomination for Vittorio De Sica, the film is a worthy addition to your Blu-Ray collection and looks amazing in this 4K restoration.
The film is 152 minutes and is presented in color, with formatting in 2.35:1, in 1920 x 1080p. It is not rated and provides subtitles in English. The only extras in this package are the trailer to the film, though the restoration that has been done has used the original uncensored version, where the original theatrical version was cut by nearly 12 minutes of footage.
The images in this review are not representative of the actual Blu-ray’s image quality, and are included only to represent the film itself.