Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 8, No. 8 June 27, 1945
* * Melodrama
* * Melodrama
For Whom the Bell Tolls has some good moments, but unfortunately the film is so ridiculously long that they are lost in a welter of phoney situations, cowboy-and-Indian chases, hammy acting, and alarming mis-statements of the issues of the Spanish Civil War. The film is tedious and not very interesting, and what ' could have been an outstanding document on the prelude to the present war has been castrated by political pressures and pandering to matinee audiences. The acting is uneven, with Gary Cooper expressing all emotion by a slight tensing of the muscles of the jaw; Ingrid Bergman acts very well, but the love affair of Roberto and Maria has had to be sO simplified that she doesn't really have much scope. The finest piece of acting is that of Katina Paxinou, as Pillar. This is quite magnificent. Insofar as they are given the chance, the rest of the cast, which appears to include every Russian in Hollywood, are very convincing, in the parts they are portraying. But it is the interpretation given to these parts and to the story which is most objectionable. The impression one gains is that the Loyalists were military incompetents, bearded and dirty, sadistic, given to shooting each other, frequently psychopathic, and resentful of foreigners who had come to win the war for them. The fascists, on the other hand, appeared to be a very well organised, well disciplined lot. From this, the great film of the great novel of the Spanish Civil War, one gets no idea of why the war was fought, and in fact at most times it is difficult to realise that the Civil War is being discussed. Best scene: the mountain top defiance of five Loyalists. Worst scene: General Gorz, commander of the Republican attack, stating into the telephone that it is a pity he has just received information that the attack should be called off, as the planes have just left. This reminded me of the English MFH apologising to the late-coming huntsman because the hounds have just left; the war, in fact, is treated as a game. You've probably not many better things to do than seeing this film.