Pre-code Hollywood melodrama adapts Ernest Hemingway's novel about a WWI soldier who falls in love with a nurse, and deserts the military upon finding out she is pregnant in order to find and take care of her. Old Hollywood has its charms, but Gary Cooper and Helen Hayes have surprisingly little chemistry, and their relationship never rings true.
Frank Borzage, with King Vidor and John Brahm, was one of the rare American directors who knew, in the 30's and the 40's, how to direct a lyrical movie. Borzage didn't direct rational melodramas à la Douglas Sirk but rather tormented melodramas with a touch of madness or despair in them. He's the perfect example of what one could call a Romantic director, romantic referring here to the European artistic movement of the XIXth century. A FAREWELL TO ARMS illustrates in a good manner Borzage's style. First of all, it's a dark film, with a lot of night or rain scenes. The subjective point of view is often privileged by the director like in the arrival of the injured Gary Cooper in Milan hospital. Also note the sequence of Gary Cooper's desertion: a scene deserving to stay in Movie History. Masterpiece.