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A Farewell to Arms Movie Review

Director: Frank Borzage

Starring: Helen Hayes, Gary Cooper, Adolphe Menjou, Mary Philips, Jack La Rue, Blanche Friderici, Mary Forbes

Oscar Wins: Best Cinematography, Best Sound Recording

Other Nominations: Best Art Direction, Best Picture

My review of this movie in three words: READ THE BOOK.

Starring Gary “F*ck Boi” Cooper, Helen Hayes and Adolphe Menjou, A Farewell to Arms is a love story set against the backdrop of World War I. Based on the semi-autobiographical novel by Ernest Hemingway, this movie somehow left out all the romance Hemingway worked so hard to convey.

Set on the Italian front, Frederic Henry (Gary Cooper) is an American ambulance driver in the Italian Army. While delivering wounded soldiers to the hospital, he meets an old friend, Major Rinaldi (Adolphe Menjou), who is working as a doctor. Rinaldi invites Frederic to dine with him and his lady friend, Catherine (Helen Hayes), insisting Catherine will bring a friend to help entertain Frederic.

I’ll give you two guesses as to what happens next. Does Frederic fall for the friend? Of course not! He instead takes Catherine out into the woods where he forcefully takes her virginity without her even knowing his name. CLASS. ACT.

Needless to say, Catherine and Frederic engage in a torrid romance, one that is forbidden by army regulation. They’re separated, joined together and separated again, and must overcome all odds to keep in contact via old school love letters, all of which get intercepted by a jealous Rinaldi.

The ending to this novel is heartbreaking. As a matter of fact, Hemingway wrote the ending about 40 different times because he wanted to get the words exactly right. Unfortunately, near none of that transfers into the movie. The ending was rushed and honestly felt kinda fake. The dialogue that made us fall in love with Frederic and Catherine in the novel was not included in this movie…and it was very hard for me to believe this love story.

As the novel twists and turns through this forbidden romance, the movie makes giant leaps, leaving out those quiet moments that are so integral to establishing a connection between two characters. In this film, you’ll get the gist of the story, but not the heart of it.


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