Time: 80 mins.
Rating: Not Rated
Won Academy Awards for Best Cinematography and Best Sound. Nominated for Best Art Direction and Best Picture.
BOTTOM LINE: One of several adaptations of Hemingway's classic novel, I think this version of the World War I romance between an American ambulance driver and English nurse fares better than most. Ambitious for the time, this film pits the gorgeous up-and-coming Gary Cooper against the luminous Helen Hayes. They seem to be an odd pairing his able body seems to dwarf her petite frame yet they make an onscreen connection that makes this sometimes grainy and melodramatic picture eminently watchable.
World War I in Italy was a precarious place filled with one-night liaisons, but fate brings Frederick and Katherine together and they form a bond only death can break. The lovers make the most of their time together, swearing undying love even though the war and a jealous comrade played by Adolphe Menjou conspire to keep them apart. When Frederick is injured, they get a chance to spend some time together to heal his wounds and renew their romance, until he's sent back to the front. Being a war picture, it doesn't take much imagination to guess the ending.
The cinematography makes the lovers look even more beautiful, while managing to capture the brutality and ugliness of the war around them. The plot is pretty simple, sometimes too simple and rushed, but Cooper and Hayes make the most of this genuine love story, making you believe every lovely word that comes out of their mouths. If you like your romance old-fashioned filled with staunch devotion and unending heartache, than this is the picture for you.