EVERY WOMAN WHO HAS EVER LOVED WILL UNDERSTAND.
This type of 1930s screen romance, shot in soft-focus light, is classic Frank Borzage – lightweight, conventional, pretty to look at and melodramatic. Gary Cooper and Helen Hayes are well chosen for the parts of the ambulance driver and the nurse who meet in an Italian field hospital during WWI after he is wounded in the line of duty. Adolphe Menjou contributes badly needed fire as the Italian surgeon who feels the need to “protect” Cooper from Hayes. Impressively staged, with satisfying amounts of moonlight and tragedy, and there’s some tension to stir things up. The ending is very beautiful, but all in all this is not among the director’s finest achievements.
1932-U.S. 89 min. B/W. Directed by Frank Borzage. Screenplay: Benjamin Glazer, Oliver H.P. Garrett. Novel: Ernest Hemingway. Cinematography: Charles Lang. Cast: Helen Hayes (Catherine Barkley), Gary Cooper (Frederick Henry), Adolphe Menjou (Rinaldi), Mary Philips, Jack LaRue, Blanche Frederici.
Trivia: Fredric March was allegedly considered for the lead. Remade in 1957; also in 1951 as Force of Arms.
Oscars: Best Cinematography, Sound.
Last word: “My leading man was Gary Cooper, and like half the women in the world, I was, in the words of the Noël Coward song, ‘Mad about the boy’.” (Hayes, “On Reflection, An Autobiography”)