Force of Arms (1951)

98-100 mins | Romance | 15 September 1951

Director:

Michael Curtiz

Writer:

Orin Jannings

Producer:

Anthony Veiller

Cinematographer:

Ted McCord

Editor:

Owen Marks

Production Designer:

Edward Carrere

Production Company:

Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
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HISTORY

The working title of the film was The Dawn Is Ours . Opening credits are followed by voice-over narration that sets the scene. A written acknowledgment of the assistance of the United States Department of Defense and the United States Army follows the film. Portions of the film were shot at Serra Retreat in Malibu, CA, and in the Santa Susanna Mountains, according to a Mar 1951 HR news item and Warner Bros. production notes. James Millican tested for a role, according to a Feb 1951 HR news item, but did not appear in the picture. A Feb 1951 LAT news item reported that Warner Bros. was negotiating with Associated British Pictures Corp. to cast Richard Todd as the lead opposite Ruth Roman, who was set as the female lead. However, neither appeared in the picture.
       HR news items add the following actors to the cast: Fred Stevens, Philip Zanghi, Bruce Morgan and Robert Bricewood, but their appearance in the final film has not been confirmed. Force of Arms marked the screen debuts of Amelia Cova, Ron Hargrave, Frances Canto, Joel Marston and Jay Richards, according to Apr 1951 HR news items. Reviews note that actual combat footage was used in the film. Although Force of Arms is not an adaptation of Ernest Hemingway's novel A Farewell to Arms , or a remake of the 1932 Paramount film of the same name, both the Time and NYT reviews noted its resemblance to the other ... More Less

The working title of the film was The Dawn Is Ours . Opening credits are followed by voice-over narration that sets the scene. A written acknowledgment of the assistance of the United States Department of Defense and the United States Army follows the film. Portions of the film were shot at Serra Retreat in Malibu, CA, and in the Santa Susanna Mountains, according to a Mar 1951 HR news item and Warner Bros. production notes. James Millican tested for a role, according to a Feb 1951 HR news item, but did not appear in the picture. A Feb 1951 LAT news item reported that Warner Bros. was negotiating with Associated British Pictures Corp. to cast Richard Todd as the lead opposite Ruth Roman, who was set as the female lead. However, neither appeared in the picture.
       HR news items add the following actors to the cast: Fred Stevens, Philip Zanghi, Bruce Morgan and Robert Bricewood, but their appearance in the final film has not been confirmed. Force of Arms marked the screen debuts of Amelia Cova, Ron Hargrave, Frances Canto, Joel Marston and Jay Richards, according to Apr 1951 HR news items. Reviews note that actual combat footage was used in the film. Although Force of Arms is not an adaptation of Ernest Hemingway's novel A Farewell to Arms , or a remake of the 1932 Paramount film of the same name, both the Time and NYT reviews noted its resemblance to the other works. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
25 Aug 1951.
---
Daily Variety
1 Jun 1951.
---
Daily Variety
14 Aug 51
p. 3.
Film Daily
23 Aug 51
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
13 Feb 1951.
---
Hollywood Reporter
16 Mar 51
p. 13.
Hollywood Reporter
30 Mar 51
p. 13.
Hollywood Reporter
6 Apr 51
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
10 Apr 51
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
11 Apr 51
p. 11.
Hollywood Reporter
16 Apr 51
p. 13.
Hollywood Reporter
19 Apr 51
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
25 Apr 51
p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter
4 May 51
p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter
12 Jun 51
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
14 Aug 51
p. 3.
Los Angeles Times
17 Feb 1951.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
18 Aug 51
pp. 981-82.
New York Times
13 Aug 51
p. 13.
New York Times
14 Aug 51
p. 20.
New Yorker
25 Aug 1951.
---
Time
10 Sep 1951.
---
Variety
12 Jun 1951.
---
Variety
14 Aug 1951.
---
Variety
15 Aug 51
p. 6.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Warner Bros.--First National Picture
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
2d unit dir
Asst dir
Dial dir
PRODUCER
WRITERS
From a story by
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATOR
Set dec
MUSIC
SOUND
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
PRODUCTION MISC
SOURCES
MUSIC
"Ain't She Sweet?," music by Milton Ager.
SONGS
"It Had To Be You," music by Isham Jones, lyrics by Gus Kahn.
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
The Dawn Is Ours
Release Date:
15 September 1951
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 13 August 1951
Production Date:
mid March--early May 1951
Copyright Claimant:
Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
Copyright Date:
18 September 1951
Copyright Number:
LP1154
Physical Properties:
Sound
RCA Sound System
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
98-100
Length(in reels):
11
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
15279
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In 1943, after battling the Germans in the San Pietro Mountains of Italy, the exhausted survivors of the 36th Division are given five days of rest, but are, at first, too exhausted to enjoy it. While other men sleep, Sgt. Peterson, who is troubled over the death of his runner, Pfc. Minto, wanders through the rest camp and ends up at a cemetery. There he meets a WAC, Lt. Eleanor MacKay, and tired and bitter, he is rude when she refuses to have a drink with him. The next day, Pete's superior officer, Maj. Blackford, tells him he is being promoted to lieutenant, and after the ceremony, takes him to a popular cafe, Mamma Mia's, to celebrate. The cafe is filled with servicemen, including one of Pete's men, Sgt. McFee, who is upset because he has received no letters from his wife. Assuring him that the mail has been misdirected, Pete takes McFee to the mail center to straighten it out and again encounters Eleanor, who, finding him different than the night before, offers to buy him a drink. They proceed to Mamma Mia's, but seeing them together, Blackford takes Pete aside and warns him that he is wasting his time with Eleanor. Eleanor overhears the conversation and leaves, and when Pete catches up, she assures him that the major is correct. After agreeing that they will just have a drink, they go to a hillside restaurant, where Eleanor laments how war has degraded relationships between men and women. On the rainy ride back, Eleanor tells Pete how she joined the Army to preserve a way of life, and although she admits that she likes him, she repels his ... +


In 1943, after battling the Germans in the San Pietro Mountains of Italy, the exhausted survivors of the 36th Division are given five days of rest, but are, at first, too exhausted to enjoy it. While other men sleep, Sgt. Peterson, who is troubled over the death of his runner, Pfc. Minto, wanders through the rest camp and ends up at a cemetery. There he meets a WAC, Lt. Eleanor MacKay, and tired and bitter, he is rude when she refuses to have a drink with him. The next day, Pete's superior officer, Maj. Blackford, tells him he is being promoted to lieutenant, and after the ceremony, takes him to a popular cafe, Mamma Mia's, to celebrate. The cafe is filled with servicemen, including one of Pete's men, Sgt. McFee, who is upset because he has received no letters from his wife. Assuring him that the mail has been misdirected, Pete takes McFee to the mail center to straighten it out and again encounters Eleanor, who, finding him different than the night before, offers to buy him a drink. They proceed to Mamma Mia's, but seeing them together, Blackford takes Pete aside and warns him that he is wasting his time with Eleanor. Eleanor overhears the conversation and leaves, and when Pete catches up, she assures him that the major is correct. After agreeing that they will just have a drink, they go to a hillside restaurant, where Eleanor laments how war has degraded relationships between men and women. On the rainy ride back, Eleanor tells Pete how she joined the Army to preserve a way of life, and although she admits that she likes him, she repels his advances. An air raid sends them for cover, but still she resists him, saying she does not want to fall in love and then lose him. Frustrated, he takes her home, refusing to listen when she tells him about the man she knew who is buried in the cemetery where they met. They separate unhappily and at breakfast the next day at Mamma's, Pete is still moping. Seeing that McFee has finally received letters from his wife, Pete discusses love with Blackford, who is skeptical of it all. Orders come in canceling the rest of the men's leave, but before returning, Pete looks for Eleanor and finally finds her waiting for him at the camp. After talking about their feelings, they decide to marry during Pete's next leave, and Pete goes off to battle. Blackford is killed the next day, and although Pete knows he could not have helped him, he also knows that he has been playing it safe because of Eleanor. Shortly after, Pete is wounded and wakes up in a hospital fifteen days later. The healing of his leg, according to the doctor, is being impeded by the psychological wounds he is harboring. Eleanor comes to him after she gets word through the mail room of his whereabouts, and he begins to convalesce and is later reclassified by the Army to a non-combat status. Wanting some time alone together, Eleanor arranges with her friend, Lea Maduvalli, to spend a few days at her family's home with Pete, and while they are there, they marry in a local church. However, on their last night at the Maduvallis', Pete is restless with memories of his colleagues' deaths and makes the decision to return to combat, as he has acquired some of Eleanor's idealism and desire to preserve a way of life. They part after agreeing to meet later in Rome, and Pete jumps on a truck heading toward his former battalion. Later, while scouting the village of Veletri, which turns out to be German-occupied, Pete is separated from his men and fired upon. Meanwhile, Eleanor has learned that she is pregnant and her supervisor, Maj. Waldron, is required to send her back to the States. As Eleanor begs to be released in Italy, so she can meet Pete in Rome as they have planned, McFee shows up and tells her that Pete has been reported missing in action and presumed dead. Refusing to believe he is dead, Eleanor proceeds to headquarters to find out what happened, asking and searching everywhere. When she hears that the Germans have pulled out of Rome, she goes there and searches the crowded streets for any sign of him. Finally, she talks to a man who knew a Peterson at the work camp where he was imprisoned. Following the man's lead, she finds Pete hobbling up the steps of a hospital. His leg injury has returned and will probably be permanent, but they are finally reunited as victory bells peal. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.