For Whom The Bell Tolls (1943) Teams Cooper and Bergman
A wartime's big one that few remember anymore.
What made interest slack? Part of trouble may be support players, all with
accent, turned loose as "colorful" characters out of Hemingway; did
he mean for them to come across like vaudevillians? The author was said to have
been overall displeased. I'd have been too in the face of overlength alone:
this runs close to three hours. Paramount cut Bells after opener engagements,
then further for a 1958 reissue. Someof footage got lost and had to be culled
from survivor prints for a 90's restoration. An overture was also rescued.
Extensive location work took crew and cast into snowy region, all of which
stuns in Technicolor and gave roadshow patronage their money's worth. Romance
is favored over politics: we never understand what these resistors are
resisting, or why (that was part of Hemingway's beef). The Robert Jordan lead
was novel-writ for Gary Cooper, so he's ideally placed, if necessarily low-key
in the face of bombast in support (is there a more annoying movie presence than
Akim Tamiroff?). Once we get in the mountains, we're stuck there, whatever
majesty of same. Love sceneswere daring for the day, especially a sleep bag
seemingly shared by Coop and Ingrid Bergman. She wanted the Maria role
desperately, little realizing the show done just before (Casablanca) would be her legacy. Tolls was
the most anticipated US film since Gone With The Wind, first-run tickets for it
selling higher even, but that was then and oh, how we've forgot since. Still,
there are many good things here, especially in HD as on Netflix currently.