Production Company: Paramount
Top Billed Actors: Gary Cooper, Helen Hayes, Adolphe Menjou
IMDb Rating: 6.6
*Best Picture Nominee*
Won 2 Oscars:
Best Cinematography - Charles Lang
Best Sound - Franklin Hansen
Nominated for 2 more:
Best Art Direction - Hans Dreier and Roland Anderson
Plot: An ambulance driver in the Italian army falls in love with a nurse so says "this war sucks" and makes his way back to her dying arms.
Winning two Oscars gives this picture lasting appeal. The reasons why it won these two is apparent throughout the movie. The cinematography is excellent in every situation. Whether it be the lighting and ambiance set up in romance scenes or the unique first-person perspective shown when Cooper is being brought in the hospital, the movie is a visual treat. The Sound award is also well deserved as this is one of the earlier films to use a musical score for a majority of the time. In earlier movies, music is only heard sporadically, most often in the beginning and end of each act, or sometimes just the beginning and end of the entire picture. The combination of music and the sounds of war in the backdrop make this the clear winner. The acting by both leads is also very well done. Cooper and Helen Hayes have a spark and the viewer believes why Cooper's character wants to desert the war to be with her.
Although there are many positives to note on this feature, the pace is very sluggish. The romance and war genre is not my cup of tea and the eighty minutes feels longer than it really is. Although World War I is the setting of the movie, not too much really happens. There are many times that I just feel bored. I have never read the book, but if Hemingway himself says the adaptation is too romantic, then it must be. It feels like the love between Cooper and Hayes overshadows other themes that are trying to present itself, like Cooper's viewpoints on war. Cooper does declare how much he hates the war, but it seems like he does just to get back with his new girlfriend.
Overall, the sound and camera work is ahead of its time, but the story is shallow and focuses too much on Cooper's and Hayes' love interests.
My Score: 6/10