Arch of Triumph

1948 [english]

Drama / Romance / War

Arch of Triumph

1948 [english]

Drama / Romance / War

51%
6.3

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51% - Audience
6.3

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Synopsis

In winter of 1938, Paris is crowded with refugees from the Nazis, who live in the black shadows of night, trying to evade deportation. One such is Dr. Ravic, who practices medicine illegally and stalks his old Nazi enemy Haake with murder in mind. One rainy night, Ravic meets Joan Madou, a kept woman cast adrift by her lover's sudden death. Against Ravic's better judgement, they become involved in a doomed affair; matters come to a crisis on the day war is declared. —Rod Crawford.

Uploaded By: FREEMAN

Aug 15, 2021 at 03:59 PM

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grade Movie Reviews

  • Reviewed by secondtake grade 7 / 10

    Meandering but moving and moody

    Arch of Triumph (1948)Wow, what a difficult movie to assess, but not a difficult one to enjoy. On the one hand, it is dripping with mood and anxiety. It is about budding love and broken hearts. There is political intrigue and and incipient Nazi invasion. And it's France, Paris, center of the end of the great century of European art and culture, from the mid 1800s to the mid 1900s. On the other hand, it seems amorphous and vague.Director Lewis Milestone makes this 1938 Paris gloomier than Sherlock Holmes's London--the rain, the darkness, the general lack of hope is part of the great drama lurking behind every scene. Charles Boyer is the main character, a refugee of uncertain origin, and the mysterious woman with both rich and poor friends and an equally uncertain origin is played in usual melodrama by Ingrid Bergman. They have no chemistry, for sure, but that just makes their love affair mysterious as well. In fact, the whole movie is about what we don't know, and can't know by watching. This could be frustrating for some viewers, this lack of intention, and frankly lack of clear plot. But if you can just inhabit this world, enjoying a highly polished mise-en-scene (so polished it shows its Hollywood sound stage roots, at times, though darkly, darkly), if you can just soak it up and not worry, all will be well. It's a beautiful beautiful movie on those terms, photographer Russell Meety is doing that 1940s high contrast photography to perfection. Watch how often he shoots through windows, including the great phone booth shot (repeated ten minutes later) where the accident happens in the background.The story here is based on a 1945 novel by German author Erich Maria Remarque, and Milestone directed the legendary "All Quiet on the Western Front" two decades earlier, also based on a Remarque novel. In both cases, there is an intensity of humanity against the larger military chaos and cruelty that seems so indifferent to them. The book here was actually published in English first as "The Arch of Triumph," and was a huge bestseller before going to a German version.I don't think it's an accident that the pre-war angst here is an echo of "Casablanca," which by now (five years later) was already legendary. Bergman, of course, is carried over (though she had just finished filming "Notorious" for Hitchcock, if you want to follow her career). And Boyer is a better version of Henried (better as an actor). For more colorful secondary characters, you'll find the incomparable Louis Calhern (with a surprisingly effective accent) and Charles Laughton (whose accent is wobbly). This was originally a more gut wrenching four hour film, and I think it might have made more logical sense at that length, but I can see it would have been too long by far. Watch what we have and just take it in for what it is. I enjoyed it on that level very very much.


  • Reviewed by kojiattwood grade 10 / 10

    It's a shame

    More people should know about this wonderful film--reading the book in advance really enhances the experience of it, but one can just enjoy the incredible performances of Bergman and Boyer (not to mention the excellent character roles, particularly Charles Laughton). The use of light/shadow is also extremely well done and atmospheric. It's high time someone re-releases this movie on DVD (Criterion, perhaps), because it's another wonderful example of classic film noir, very well executed. For those not familiar with Remarque's novel, it's a must-read--although I warn you, after you're done you will have an insane urge to try Calvados.


  • Reviewed by samhill5215 grade 6 / 10

    Potentially great

    Not sure about this one. There's much to like; the atmosphere, the camera work, the lighting and shadows, the closeups, the acting. But something's missing, perhaps continuity, or the impression that it all somehow fits together. Taken as a series of vignettes this film is very good. Combine the vignettes to tell a subset of the original story and it could be even better. But put it all together and it succumbs under the sheer weight of all the subplots.And yet, despite my criticism, I am pleased to have seen it. As I said there's much to like, especially the acting. Louis Calhern is always a joy and here he lends a nuanced gravitas to his part. Charles Boyer is better than usual playing a tormented refugee torn between love and revenge. Charles Laughton is the pivot about which the story revolves and without him his one dimensional character would have been but a caricature. There's even a memorable cameo by an uncredited William Conrad. His scene is no more than a minute or so but it's not one you're likely to overlook or forget. But the best reason to watch it is of course Ingrid Bergman. Her effortless ability to switch personalities simply draws you in to her performance. Here she plays an insecure wreck, an incredibly seductive, infuriatingly deceitful and mostly terrified woman. Her character's choices are not perhaps entirely honorable but with Bergman who cares...


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