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Monday, July 19, 2010

Arch Of Triumph (1948)

Ambitious romance based on a novel by Erich Maria Remarque and directed by Lewis Milestone who won an Oscar for directing Remarque’s ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT (1930). Set in Paris in 1938, the specter of the impending WWII hovers over this liaison between a German refugee (Charles Boyer) without papers in constant fear of deportation and a strange, obsessive girl (Ingrid Bergman) he meets in the rain one night. He’s closed off with only vengeance on his mind toward a high ranking Nazi (Charles Laughton) but she slowly melts his objections away. Bergman is really wonderful here playing a complex often infuriating and manipulating character. The film runs over two hours and it seems excessively long for its subject though it appears there may have been even more left on the cutting room floor. A major name like Laughton doesn’t come to the foreground until the film’s last 45 minutes and Ruth Warrick (CITIZEN KANE) receives fifth billing but has about two lines indicating her character was the victim of severe cutting. With Louis Calhern (very good as a Russian refugee) and Stephan Bekassy as a playboy who tries to steal Bergman away.

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