A Farewell to Arms (1932)

78, 80 or 90 mins | Drama | 8 December 1932

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HISTORY

The novel A Farewell to Arms was serialized in Scribner's Magazine (May-Oct, 1929). Laurence Stallings' Broadway play was directed by Rouben Mamoulian, who, according to an Oct 1930 FD news item, was first slated to direct the film version. In its initial theatrical release some prints of the film contained an alternate ending, objected to by Ernest Hemingway, in which Catherine survived the operation. According to the Var review, the Italian ambassador to the U.S. objected to the film. Paramount story files in the AMPAS Library reveal that the novel was purchased from Hemingway on 17 Sep 1930 for $80,000, and that the negative cost of the film was $799,519.89. Letters and memos in the MPAA/PCA files at the AMPAS Library reveal that M-G-M and Warner Bros. considered making a film based on the novel as early as 1929, however, M-G-M executives decided that it would be too costly. Filming on the Paramount production began in Jul 1932. MPPDA officials had several consultations with Harold Hurley, a Paramount executive, to discuss the major difficulties of bringing the story to the screen, in particular the handling of the Italian aspect of the war, and Catherine's childbirth scene. Memos indicate that Paramount consulted with the Italian Embassy in Washington, D.C., and with prominent banker Dr. A. H. Giannini, in order to make changes to any objectionable elements.
       By Dec 1932, the MPPDA office still found certain scenes in violation of the Production Code, in particular the seduction scene in the early part of the film, and Catherine's childbirth. As offered by the MPPDA office, Hurley elected to have the film ... More Less

The novel A Farewell to Arms was serialized in Scribner's Magazine (May-Oct, 1929). Laurence Stallings' Broadway play was directed by Rouben Mamoulian, who, according to an Oct 1930 FD news item, was first slated to direct the film version. In its initial theatrical release some prints of the film contained an alternate ending, objected to by Ernest Hemingway, in which Catherine survived the operation. According to the Var review, the Italian ambassador to the U.S. objected to the film. Paramount story files in the AMPAS Library reveal that the novel was purchased from Hemingway on 17 Sep 1930 for $80,000, and that the negative cost of the film was $799,519.89. Letters and memos in the MPAA/PCA files at the AMPAS Library reveal that M-G-M and Warner Bros. considered making a film based on the novel as early as 1929, however, M-G-M executives decided that it would be too costly. Filming on the Paramount production began in Jul 1932. MPPDA officials had several consultations with Harold Hurley, a Paramount executive, to discuss the major difficulties of bringing the story to the screen, in particular the handling of the Italian aspect of the war, and Catherine's childbirth scene. Memos indicate that Paramount consulted with the Italian Embassy in Washington, D.C., and with prominent banker Dr. A. H. Giannini, in order to make changes to any objectionable elements.
       By Dec 1932, the MPPDA office still found certain scenes in violation of the Production Code, in particular the seduction scene in the early part of the film, and Catherine's childbirth. As offered by the MPPDA office, Hurley elected to have the film viewed by a committee of producers for a judgment, as Paramount was reluctant to make further changes. On 7 Dec, a producers committee that included Joseph Schenk, Carl Laemmle, Jr., Sol Wurtzel and Emanuel Cohen in addition to Hurley, plus officials of the MPPDA office, including Colonel Jason S. Joy and Joseph I. Breen, viewed the film and concluded in a telegram that "because of the greatness of [the] picture and the excellence of direction and treatment that the childbirth sequence was not in violation of [the] Code." In a 10 Dec letter to Paramount's Adolph Zukor, Will H. Hays, president of the MPPDA, maintained his objection to the childbirth scene, as it was in direct violation of the Production Code, greatness notwithstanding. Hays requested that Paramount "eliminate the footage showing phases of the actual childbirth," otherwise another appeal would have to be made to the board. In a 14 Dec letter to Hays, Zukor informed him that several changes in the scene in question were made, including references to labor pains and gas, Catherine groaning and hemorrhaging. Although the MPPDA then approved the film, it was rejected by censors in British Columbia and Australia, where the novel was also banned.
       A FD news item noted that Richard Wallace was initially scheduled to direct Gary Cooper and Eleanor Boardman in the starring roles; this would have been Boardman's debut as a Paramount contract player. Jun 1932 HR news items note that John Cromwell was also slated to direct, but left Paramount at that time. According to news items in FD , 1500 acres were set aside at the Paramount Ranch, CA, for production. Scenes shot for this film were included in the 1931 Paramount promotional film The House That Shadows Built (see below). A Farewell to Arms was nominated for Academy Awards for Best Picture and Interior Decoration (Hans Dreier and Roland Anderson). Charles Bryant Lang, Jr. won an Academy Award for Cinematography, and Harold C. Lewis won for Sound Recording. Modern sources credit Ralph Rainger, John Leipold, Bernhard Kaun, Paul Marquardt, Herman Hand and W. Franke Harling with the Musical Score; Edward A. Blatt as Associate Producer and include the following cast members: Agostino Borgato as "Giulio"; Paul Porcasi as "Inn Keeper" and Alice Adair as "Cafe Girl." Other films based on the same source are Twentieth Century-Fox's 1957 A Farewell to Arms , directed by Charles Vidor and starring Rock Hudson and Jennifer Jones and a 1955 CBS television adaptation by Gore Vidal, directed by Allen Reisner and starring Guy Madison and Dianna Lynn. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Film Daily
1 Oct 30
p. 6.
Film Daily
10 Jun 31
p. 7.
Film Daily
13 Aug 31
p. 8.
Film Daily
23 Jul 32
p. 4.
Film Daily
3 Aug 32
p. 6.
Film Daily
10 Dec 32
p. 18.
HF
21 Jan 33
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
4 Jun 32
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
16 Jun 32
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
16 Nov 32
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
30 Nov 32
pp. 1-2.
Motion Picture Herald
10 Dec 32
p. 40, 44
New York Times
9 Dec 32
p. 26.
Variety
13 Dec 32
p. 14.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Frank Borzage Production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
Asst dir
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
Asst to Benjamin Glazer
PHOTOGRAPHY
Transparencies
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
COSTUMES
Ward
SOUND
PRODUCTION MISC
Props
Props
Casting dir
Script clerk
Tech dir-war sequences
Tech dir-hospital sequences
Transportation and props
Still photog
Genl press agent
Bus mgr
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway (New York, 1929) and the play of the same name by Laurence Stallings (New York, 22 Sep 1930).
DETAILS
Release Date:
8 December 1932
Premiere Information:
New York premiere: 8 December 1932
Production Date:
began week of 23 July 1932
Copyright Claimant:
Paramount Productions, Inc.
Copyright Date:
5 January 1933
Copyright Number:
LP3532
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Noiseless Recording
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
78, 80 or 90
Length(in reels):
10
Country:
United States
Passed by NBR:
Yes
SYNOPSIS

Former architecture student Frederic Henry, now a lieutenant in the Italian army's World War I ambulance service, spends his free time drinking and chasing women with his comrade, Captain Rinaldi. On one of their outings, Frederic meets Catherine Barkley, an English nurse whose fiancé was killed in the war. Rinaldi had arranged for Frederic to be paired with Catherine's friend, nurse Helen Ferguson, because he is in love with Catherine, but he bows out when Catherine and Frederic fall in love. Frederic is ordered to the front for a period of several days, but while on the road, he orders the ambulance driver to turn back so he can express his love to Catherine, then promise that he will return to her. Fearful that his friend is losing his head over a woman, Rinaldi has Catherine transferred to Milan. Frederic, however, is wounded at the front, and Rinaldi makes a special trip to the front to operate on his "war brother," after which he relents and sends him to Milan to recuperate. Frederic and Catherine's idyllic tryst in Milan, sanctioned by a priest who unofficially performs a wedding ceremony for them in Frederic's hospital room, comes to an end when a nurse discovers liquor bottles under Frederic's mattress and, observing that his days of recuperation are over, has him sent back to the front. Catherine confides in her friend, Helen, that she is pregnant, and goes to Brissago, Switzerland to wait for Frederic. Catherine and Frederic's letters to each other are returned thanks to Rinaldi's overzealous censorship, and Frederic, worried over her long silence, only confides his concern to his priest friend. He then deserts ... +


Former architecture student Frederic Henry, now a lieutenant in the Italian army's World War I ambulance service, spends his free time drinking and chasing women with his comrade, Captain Rinaldi. On one of their outings, Frederic meets Catherine Barkley, an English nurse whose fiancé was killed in the war. Rinaldi had arranged for Frederic to be paired with Catherine's friend, nurse Helen Ferguson, because he is in love with Catherine, but he bows out when Catherine and Frederic fall in love. Frederic is ordered to the front for a period of several days, but while on the road, he orders the ambulance driver to turn back so he can express his love to Catherine, then promise that he will return to her. Fearful that his friend is losing his head over a woman, Rinaldi has Catherine transferred to Milan. Frederic, however, is wounded at the front, and Rinaldi makes a special trip to the front to operate on his "war brother," after which he relents and sends him to Milan to recuperate. Frederic and Catherine's idyllic tryst in Milan, sanctioned by a priest who unofficially performs a wedding ceremony for them in Frederic's hospital room, comes to an end when a nurse discovers liquor bottles under Frederic's mattress and, observing that his days of recuperation are over, has him sent back to the front. Catherine confides in her friend, Helen, that she is pregnant, and goes to Brissago, Switzerland to wait for Frederic. Catherine and Frederic's letters to each other are returned thanks to Rinaldi's overzealous censorship, and Frederic, worried over her long silence, only confides his concern to his priest friend. He then deserts and makes a perilous journey across Italy to find her. When Ferguson tells him that Catherine is pregnant, but refuses to give him her location, Frederic takes out an advertisement asking Catherine to meet him at a hotel. Rinaldi sees the advertisement and meets him, and tells him that the priest had told everyone he was dead. Although Rinaldi offers to write a report that Frederic was only shell-shocked and did some heroic feat, Frederic refuses to return. Finally recognizing the depth of Frederic's love for Catherine, Rinaldi informs him of her whereabouts, and Frederic immediately leaves with the help of the hotel owner, Harry, who lends him the use of his boat. In Brissago, an ill and heartsick Catherine collapses after having all of her unopened letters to Frederic returned. Frederic arrives in Brissago just as she is undergoing an emergency caesarean section. The child is stillborn, and Catherine spends her final moments with Frederic, dying amid the jubilant noises of the armistice celebration. +

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

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