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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

A Farewell to Arms [Blu-ray]


(Frank Borzage, 1932)


also available in The Selznick Collection [Blu-ray] (Nothing Sacred, A Farewell To Arms, A Star is Born, Bird of Paradise, Little Lord Fauntleroy) BELOW:



Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Paramount Pictures

Video: Kino / BFI



Region: FREE! / 'B'-locked (as verified by the Oppo region FREE Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:29:13.264 / 1:28:49.583

Disc Size: 24,290,442,117 bytes / 22,305,271,311 bytes

Feature Size: 22,607,812,224 bytes / 20,968,637,568 bytes

Video Bitrate: 29.88 Mbps / 27.91 Mbps

Chapters: 10 / 12

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: December 20th, 2011 / September 22nd, 2014



Aspect ratio: 1.33:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



LPCM Audio English 2304 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2304 kbps / 24-bit

LPCM Audio English 1536 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1536 kbps / 16-bit
Audio Descriptive Services: Dolby Digital Audio English 320 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 320 kbps




English, none



• Trailers for Nothing Sacred, A Star is Born, Pandora and the Flying Dutchman


Alternate Ending (5:42)

War Scenes in Italy (:57)

Austrian Prisoners of War in Concentration Camp (2:32)

Latest Crime of the Sinister Hun (1:44)

Frank Borzage talks to Cecil B. DeMille (3:19)

A fully illustrated booklet featuring full film credits and essays by Geoff Andrew, Adrian Wootton, and Kent Jones.

DVD of the Feature



1) Kino - Region FREE - Blu-ray - TOP

2) BFI - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM



Description: A tale of the love between ambulance driver Lt. Henry (Gary Cooper) and Nurse Catherine Barkley (Helen Hayes) during World War I. The action takes place in Italy and the two fall in love during the war and will stop at nothing to be together. The film also analyses Lt. Henry's feelings on war and the purpose of fighting.



The Film:

Not only the best film version of a Hemingway novel, but also one of the most thrilling visions of the power of sexual love that even Borzage ever made. An American ambulanceman, serving in Italy in World War I, falls in love with an English nurse; he finally goes AWOL to rejoin her, only to find her carrying his child and dying of hunger and loneliness. No other director got performances like these: Cooper at his youngest and sexiest, moving from drunkenness to intoxication; moon-faced Hayes, at once a mother-figure and a lover; and Menjou as Cooper's repressed homosexual friend, jealously coming between the lovers. And no other director created images like these, using light and movement like brushstrokes, integrating naturalism and a daring expressionism in the same shot. This is romantic melodrama raised to its highest degree, fittingly set to the music of Wagner's 'Liebestod'.

Excerpt from TimeOut Film Guide located HERE

It's no secret that Ernest Hemingway could be an ornery cuss when he wanted to, and he had little use for people who made their living in the film industry. So it's hardly a shock that he openly despised Frank Borzage's entertaining but bowdlerized version of his war novel, A Farewell to Arms. It is surprising, though, that he developed a longtime allegiance to the film's broad-shouldered star, Gary Cooper. Hemingway was known for discarding, or, worse yet, alienating even his closest friends. But he and Cooper became buddies a few years after A Farewell to Arms (1932) was released, and they stayed that way for nearly 20 years.

Cooper stars as Lt. Frederick Henry, a World War I officer whose world is turned upside down when he falls for a British nurse named Catherine Barkley (Helen Hayes.) Henry and Catherine are made for each other, but Henry's friend, Major Rinaldi (Adolphe Menjou) grows jealous of them, and has Helen transferred to Milan. Then, as luck would have it, Henry is wounded and ends up in the very hospital where Catherine works. Henry quickly heals, and is sent back into battle, but not before Catherine is carrying their love child. Though Catherine tries to contact Henry to tell him the news, she can't reach him due to even more treacherous maneuvers by Rinaldi.

Excerpt from TCM located HERE


Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

The 1932 Borzage-directed A Farewell to Arms is transferred to a single-layered, virtually bare-bones, Blu-ray from Kino... and it looks impressive. The bitrate is quite high for the 1.5 hour film and grain is wonderfully rich and thick. There are still plenty of surface, frame-specific, scratches but this image exemplifies what I love about older films put to 1080P. The restoration via Blu-ray exports the film's textures and contrast to lofty heights - probably not seen since its initial theatrical run. The film's age makes this imperfect by today's pristine presentations - but give me this authentic film look every time. Big thumbs-up on the video!

Image quality is duplicated on the BFI - similar bitrate, disc space etc. - Looks excellent.




BFI - Region 'B' - Blu-ray



1) Kino - Region FREE - Blu-ray - TOP

2) BFI - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM



1) Kino - Region FREE - Blu-ray - TOP

2) BFI - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM












Audio :

The linear PCM mono track at 2304 kbps sounds about as good as we can expect from the 80-year old film. The weaknesses are manifest in the production but there are no egregious pops or dropouts. Dialogue is a clear but, predictably, less consistent than a more modern feature. There are no subtitles offered and my Momitsu has identified it as being a region FREE disc playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide.


Audio, is also - for my ears - duplicated on the BFI - utilizing a, flawless, linear PCM track. BFI do however offer optional English subtitles (sample above) and an 'Audio Descriptive' track. The disc is region 'B'-locked.


Extras :

There are no important supplements. The disc has trailers for Nothing Sacred, A Star is Born, plus Pandora and the Flying Dutchman and a 16-image production/marketing gallery. The film reaches masterpiece status and deserves more in the way of extras but as a positive the menus are impressive.


This is where the BFI advances offering a 6-minute Alternate Ending, some short newsreel clips (War Scenes in Italy, Austrian Prisoners of War in Concentration Camp and Latest Crime of the Sinister Hun) as well as an audio conversation between Frank Borzage talks to Cecil B. DeMille. Being Dual-Format there is also a DVD of the Feature included in the package and a fully illustrated booklet featuring full film credits and essays by Geoff Andrew, Adrian Wootton, and Kent Jones.






A Farewell to Arms is not Borzage's best but is still a magnificent piece of cinema. This is Hemingway filmic-storytelling at its most impressive. Performances are incredible and despite the bare-bones status the Blu-ray is a must-own - whether a fan of vintage movies or not. Absolutely recommended!


Amazing film that just seems to get better every time I see it. BFI have gone the extra-mile with the supplements, booklet, subtitles etc. No matter what side of the pond you reside - this should be a part of your digital library!

Gary Tooze

December 8th, 2011

September 13th, 2014


also available in The Selznick Collection [Blu-ray] (Nothing Sacred, A Farewell To Arms, A Star is Born, Bird of Paradise, Little Lord Fauntleroy) BELOW:



About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 3500 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

Gary's Home Theatre:

60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

APC AV 1.5 kVA H Type Power Conditioner 120V

Gary W. Tooze






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