Farewell to Arms, A (1957): Remake Starring Rock Hudson and Jennifer Jones

Fox (Selznick production)

Better known as David O. Selznick’s last picture as producer and his last effort to gain wife-actress Jennifer Jones a second Oscar (her first win was in the 1943 “The Song of Bernadette”), this troubled remake of the superior 1932 feature stars Rock Hudson in the Gary Cooper role as the ambulanc driver and Jones in the Helen Hayes’ part of the nurse who falls for him.

Direcyor John Huston began working on this adpatation of Hemingway’s popular novel only to be replaced by Charles Vidor after disagreements with Selznick over the screenplay (by Ben Hecht) and casting of lead man; Huston favored Gregory Peck, who had apeared in a successful version of Hemingways’ “The Snows of Kilimanjaro,” in 1952.

Selznick, as is well known was notorious for interfering with the work of his directors. He also famously clashed with original cinematographer Oswald Morris, who was replaced by Pitero Portalpi, and production designer Arthur Fellows, whose job was then given to Alfred Junge.

End result is a sentimental, overblown and overbloated production, in which Hudson is too stiff and pale compared to Cooper, and Jones may have been too old for the part.

The critics of the time were mostly kind, and Hudson was a bankable star, which accounts for the box-office gross and the movie’s ranking as the 7th top-grossing picture of 1957, but considering its large budget and long production process, it was not profitable.

Oscar Nominations: 1

Supporting Actor: Vittorio de Sica

Oscar Awards: None

Oscar Alert:

Better known as a director and seminal figure of the Italian Neo-realist movement (“Shoeshine,” “The Bicycle Thief”), Vittorio De Sica was probably nominated for sentimental reasons, though his performance is decent. However, the winner in that category was Red Buttons for “Sayonara” in a race that included Sessue Hayakawa in “The Brdige on the River Kwai,” which won Best Picture, Arthur Kennedy for “Peyton Place” and Russ Tamblyn also for “Peyton Place.” Kennedy, who never won an Oscar, and Tamblyn probably cancelled each other out.

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