A Farewell to Arms

This adaptation of Ernest Hemingway's gritty story of illicit romance in World War I-ravaged Italy stars Gary Cooper as an ambulance driver involved in a turbulent affair with an English battlefield nurse (Helen Hayes). Director Frank Borzage's lyrical romanticism is surprisingly well adapted to Hemingway's almost journalistic prose, and Charles Lang's Oscar-winning cinematography breaks ground with unusual angles and compositions. Like many early sound films, A Farewell to Arms uses aural devices to punctuate the dialogue: the sound of a nurse ripping bandages resembles a Bronx cheer; a train whistle interrupts Hayes's mournful sobs. To Hemingway's chagrin, two endings for the film were shot-one downbeat (per the novel), the other happier-and both versions were presented to the public during the initial release. The film was subsequently trimmed from ninety to seventy-eight minutes to eliminate objectionable dialogue. The UCLA Archive has restored the bulk of the missing footage, as well as the two different endings.

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