Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, December 29, 2016


Charles Boyer and Ingrid Bergman
ARCH OF TRIUMPH (1948). Director: Lewis Milestone.

"A refugee without a passport has lost his membership in the human race."

In pre-WW2 Paris two strangers meet and become unhappily involved. One is Ravic (Charles Boyer), who was tortured in Austria by the Nazi Haake (Charles Laughton), and has taken illegal asylum in France. Joan (Ingrid Bergman) is a woman of "easy virtue" whose latest lover has just died. The couple seem to fall in love, but Ravic's illegal status and very real fear of jail and deportation, means he cannot get married. Then there's the added complication of Alex (Stephan Bekassy), with whom Joan gets engaged during a period when she is alone, and who is very possessive of her. Arch of Triumph, based on the novel by Erich Maria Remarque, should have been a powerful film, and it does have its moments, but it never emerges as the dramatic triumph that it could have been. A big problem -- besides the fact that everything is too prettified -- is that Boyer and Bergman have absolutely no chemistry, and even if one might acknowledge that Ravic might be a rather dour character, Boyer's emotionless and often perfunctory performance -- one of his worst -- doesn't help. Bergman is much, much better, and the picture is nearly stolen by Louis Calhern [Athena] as a friend of Ravic's who works as doorman at a Russian nightclub. Charles Laughton [They Knew What They Wanted] is excellent, as usual, as the repulsive Haake, but much more should have been made of his very final confrontation with Ravic. The fake "prince" Michael Romanoff, who opened his own Hollywood restaurant, plays the captain of the aforementioned club, and is rather unprepossessing. Ruth Warrick comes and goes too quickly to make any impression. William Conrad [East Side, West Side] , who later starred in TV's Jake and the Fat Man, has a terrific bit as a police man who corners Ravic and questions him after the former tends to an injured woman on the street. This is, I believe, the one and only picture made by Enterprise studios.

Verdict: Not terrible by any means, but not at all what it should have been. **1/2.


Gary R. said...

Actually, Enterprise Studios produced at least nine films from 1947 to '49, with two of them ("Body and Soul" and "Force of Evil") starring the studio's co-founder, John Garfield.

Happy New Year!

William said...

You're right, Gary! Thanks for the update. I guess I was thinking of Bergman's participation which was apparently limited to this one picture.