Cast & Crew
In Paris, in the winter of 1938, one year before the beginning of the second World War, an Austrian political refugee and doctor using the alias Ravic prevents a woman from jumping off the Pont-Neuf into the Seine River, and takes her to his room at the international hotel, a stopover for refugees. Later, Ravic, who has been forced to work as an underground surgeon, is called to a hospital to save a young lover from a botched abortion, but she dies. In the morning, the woman he rescued, an Italian-Romanian refugee named Joan Madou, confesses to Ravic that her lover died suddenly during the previous night. With Ravic's help, Joan clears everything with the police and moves to the Hotel de Milan. Later, Ravic and Joan meet again, and he gets her a job as a chanteuse in the Scheherazade café, where Ravic's friend, Morosow, a deposed Russian colonel who calls himself Maurice, works as chasseur. During the following weeks, Ravic and Joan fall in love while drinking calvados, apple brandy from Normandy, in the cafés of Place de l'Opera. One night, Ravic spots German officer Herr von Haake, who once interrogated Ravic and his girl friend Sybil and whose torture killed Sybil. Later, Ravic and Joan take a respite from the oppressive Paris winter and go to Antibes on the French Riviera. There Ravic tells Joan that he can never marry her as long as he remains in France illegally, without a passport. Back in Paris, Ravic stops to help at the scene of a construction accident, and a suspicious French patriot demands his papers. Ravic is arrested and deported, and during his absence, Joan is courted by Alex, a wealthy young playboy she and Ravic met while on the Riviera. Three months later, Ravic returns and finds Joan living in an apartment that is paid for by Alex, whom she does not love, but who is determined to marry her. Ravic graciously allows Joan time to break up with Alex. Meanwhile, Ravic spots Haake again and, introducing himself as a German tourist, promises to introduce him to the women of Paris during Haake's next trip to Paris. One night, Joan calls Ravic in a panic, but when he arrives at her apartment, he finds that her distress call was merely a ploy to see him. She swears she is not marrying Alex, but Ravic tells her that if she were with him, she would always leave. Meanwhile, France declares war on Germany, and as air raids and blackouts begins in Paris, Haake returns. One night Ravic kills Haake during a drive in the country. Ravic goes back to his hotel room and lapses into a deep sleep, which is interrupted by a frantic telephone call from Joan, who says she has left Alex, but has been hurt badly by him. Ravic falls back to sleep, but is shaken awake by Alex, who confesses that he shot Joan. Ravic goes to Joan at the Hotel de Milan and gives her a pain shot, but she later dies in a hospital. At the international hotel, all refugees are forced to show their papers, and Ravic joins the queue with Maurice, knowing that he will be placed in a determent camp. As the Arch of Triumph looms over Paris, Maurice kisses Ravic goodbye.
J. Edward Bromberg
Hans Carl Ludwig
Walton De Cardo
Dr. Serge Bertensson
C. A. Bixio
Edward G. Boyle
Earl Crain Jr.
Dr. Forrest Damewood
William E. Flannery
Joseph C. Gilpin
C. K. Hancock
Marion Herwood Keyes
David L. Loew
William Cameron Menzies
Robert H. Moreland
Gustaf M. Norin
W. C. Smith
Albert Van Schmus
Arch of Triumph on Blu-ray
Enterprise's biggest production is director Lewis Milestone's Arch of Triumph, from a novel by the noted Erich Maria Remarque, who had earlier written the source novel for Milestone's anti-war classic All Quiet on the Western Front. Producer David Lewis scored a coup by securing the services of stars Ingrid Bergman and Charles Boyer. After only a few years in Hollywood, Bergman had been nominated for Best Actress three times and won once, opposite Boyer in Gaslight. Remarque's story took place in Paris just prior to the Nazi invasion, a place and time that Bergman had made her own in the wildly popular romantic thriller Casablanca. The highly anticipated movie seemed a guaranteed hit.
But author Remarque wrote few romances with happy endings. Having fled the Nazis, Austrian doctor Ravic (Charles Boyer) is an undocumented, stateless political refugee living in Paris. He earns money by practicing in secret. Helping maintain Ravic's anonymity is his best friend Maurice (Louis Calhern), a former Russian colonel who now works as a doorman at the Scheherazade Café. Ravic prevents a suicide by Joan Madou (Ingrid Bergman), an Italian-Romanian refugee who has taken a succession of lovers to survive. He cannot resist falling in love with her. Living by night and avoiding police, they travel to Antibes on the French Riviera. Joan attracts the attention of various playboys, including the wealthy & possessive Alex (Stephen Bekassy). Ravic becomes unsure of Joan's love. Back in Paris, Ravic catches a glimpse of a portly German on the streets of Paris, a man who may be Ivon Haake (Charles Laughton), the Nazi torturer who murdered Ravic's lover in Austria. Ravic is dead set on killing Haake, if he ever sees him again.
Arch of Triumph has been out of circulation for so long that fans of Ingrid Bergman will consider it a major discovery. Charles Laughton's following also jumps at the chance to see him in something 'new'. Unfortunately, the beautifully produced and directed film was a major box office flop. Neither an escapist romance nor an audience-friendly thriller, it's a grim drama about disillusioned and desperate people. By 1948 audiences no longer welcomed stories about political misery in Europe. They had embraced the wartime morale booster Casablanca mainly because of Bogie and Bergman. Warner's well made Confidential Agent starred Charles Boyer as a Spanish Republican dodging Franco agents in wartime England. Audiences didn't care about the issues involved, and noticed only that Boyer and co-star Lauren Bacall didn't generate much romantic chemistry. Carol Reed's The Third Man was a notable exception to this trend.
Audiences liked political complexity even less in the 1940s than they do now. Arch of Triumph was labeled as 'sluggish' and unfocused, which we can now read as, "doesn't follow the accepted pattern for wartime romance stories." The movie is surprisingly adult in its outlook. Ingrid Bergman's Joan Madou has fled to Paris. Unable to work, her only way to live is to find a man to take care of her. Dr. Ravik comes upon her because her lover has died in her bed. Terrified that the French police will nab her, she feels like a common prostitute. He's demoralized as well. It's a decidedly downbeat romance.
Arch of Triumph is fairly faithful to the novel by Erich Maria Remarque, one of the few authors who wrote passionately about civilians displaced by the upheavals of war. It's in the same vein as Remarque's novel Flotsam, an 'annihilating epic' in which half a dozen characters fleeing Nazi Germany roam across Europe looking for a non-existent haven. It was made into the impressive Sam Wood movie So Ends Our Night. Pushed from one country to another, refugees must live like criminals to avoid being sent back to prison or death in Germany. It's a story of betrayals, murders and noble suicides. So Ends Our Night was released in 1941 just as conditions turned grim for these stateless refugees. Most had fled to the haven of France, and when the Germans invaded, the majority were rounded up and sent to an unknown fate.
Unlike the desperate nomads of So Ends Our Night, Dr. Ravik hasn't had to walk halfway across Europe. He has some money and earns more practicing medicine on the sly. Close friend Maurice makes him welcome at the nightclub and tips him to potential trouble. Ravik is able to slip away to the South of France for a vacation with Joan. But their happiness could end at any moment. One slip-up would mean arrest and deportation to Germany, where the torturer Ivon Haake would surely finish him off.
The movie benefits from director Milestone's formalism and attention to character detail. The lighting, sets and costumes are more realistic than we expect. Nervous pre-war Paris is seen mostly by night. The movie offers noir atmosphere, incipient doom and the haunted face of Ingrid Bergman.
A screenwriting analyst would surely find fault with the movie's structure. Ravik and Joan's trip to Antibes dissipates much of the story's tension. How tough can things be when she's having a fine time in fancy dresses? We can see audiences wondering what's going on, as the rich are happily gambling even on the brink of war. The script also fumbles Ravik's vendetta against Ivon Haake. A flashback to a torture chamber (cue silhouette images) seems to come from a horror movie. At one point Ravik is arrested and spends months in Germany before escaping and returning to Paris. As most of this happens off-camera, we can't fully appreciate the hardships being suffered by thousands of refugees.
The movie also fails to utilize the talented Charles Laughton. Ivon Haake is only in the movie for a scene or two, and has no scenes with Ingrid Bergman. No longer in uniform, the German is apparently commuting between Berlin and Paris to prepare a secret police network for the coming occupation. Arch of Triumph is true to the novel (and history) but the audience must have felt cheated to be deprived of a 'big' Laughton scene.
What does work well is the romantic fireworks between Bergman and Boyer. The lovers only slowly reveal their feelings for each other, and are prevented from full commitment by their refugee status. When Ravik comes back from exile he finds Joan living in a swank apartment provided by the wealthy Alex. He forgives Joan and even gives her time to detach from Alex, who isn't happy that Ravik has re-entered the picture. But war is declared before any of this can be resolved. Ravik spots Ivon Haake again and prepares his trap.
As we expect, Ingrid Bergman comes through with an absorbing performance. She positively glows as a troubled woman whose life is out of control. The contradictions in Joan Madou remind us of films from the 1970s, when screen characters were allowed to be complex or ambiguous. Charles Boyer is also good but Milestone underplays the suicidal streak in Ravic's drive to kill Haake, and instead treats the doctor as more of a righteous avenger. Thus we expect a much bigger comeuppance for Haake.
Postwar audiences enjoyed dark stories, but the unsentimental Arch of Triumph asks them to be concerned about problems from a past they'd like to forget, and associated with uncomfortable politics. By 1948 America had aligned itself with occupied West Germany against new foreign enemies. We gave huge sums of money to charities helping displaced European orphans (see The Search) but mostly preferred to forget the ugly wartime situations chronicled by Erich Maria Remarque.
The film's political complexity now seems much more attractive. We're accustomed to movies about people trapped in grim political binds -- the new A Most Wanted Man is a spy movie that sympathizes with a stateless asylum seeker navigating a dangerous path. Audiences in 1948 may have rejected Bergman and Boyer's characters because they weren't noble idealists and selfless lovers, as in Casablanca. That's probably what attracted Bergman to the role, and it's why the movie is so interesting now.
Olive Films' Blu-ray of Arch of Triumph is a very good HD transfer of this hard-to-see picture. The show suffered a number of cuts either in reissue or when distributed to television, but UCLA has restored it to its full 133-minute running time. The images show some wear but Russell Metty's B&W cinematography looks terrific. The audio is also strong.
Enterprise Productions put everything it had into Arch of Triumph, with production values the equal of any big studio film. But audiences didn't "discover" the film and it earned back less than a third of its budget. It was the beginning of dramatic career changes for Ingrid Bergman. Just a couple of years later her Hollywood career was destroyed by the scandal of her affair with Italian director Roberto Rossellini. The American press turned on Bergman with the kind of venom reserved for The Hollywood Ten, Charles Chaplin and the Rosenbergs. When she returned to American screens six years later, Arch of Triumph had been long forgotten. But fans of the actress will be happy to see her in such an interesting and demanding role.
Let's hope that Erich Maria Remarque's So Ends Our Night can also be rescued from obscurity -- at the moment the only video copies available are in very poor condition.
By Glenn Erickson
Arch of Triumph on Blu-ray
Irwin Shaw spent five months writing a screenplay, but then quit when director Lewis Milestone wanted him to add a love story. Milestone rewrote the script, which was preferred by the studio and Ingrid Bergman.
MPAA chief Joseph I. Breen made the studio tone down the excessive violence in the script. The scene in which Ravic kills Haake also included him stuffing him in the trunk, stripping him naked, burying him and burning his clothes, all eventually cut from the film. Breen also objected to the murder going unpunished, but later rationalized it as an act of war, since it was committed on the eve of the outbreak of WWII.
During filming in Paris, the government drained the Seine to remove live bombs and inspect a bridge's foundation.
Michael Chekhov was originally cast in the role of Ivon Haake, but had to leave when he became ill. The script was rewritten to beef up that part for his replacement, Charles Laughton.
The additional scenes written for Charles Laughton were filmed in New York City in November 1946, because Ingrid Bergman was then starring in a Broadway production of "Joan of Lorraine".
The rough cut of the film ran 4 hours. In reducing it to 2 hours, several actors were cut, including Ruth Warrick. She does appear briefly in the restored 133-minute version.
The opening title card for this film reads: "Erich Maria Remarque's Arch of Triumph." Remarque's novel was first published in English in 1945. The film was the initial production of Enterprise Productions, which took over Harry Sherman's 14-acre California Studios in Hollywood and remodeled it. The New York Times called the picture an example of the "current profit-sharing trend in independent production." Arch of Triumph, Inc. was established by Enterprise directors Charles Einfeld and David L. Loew in December 1945 as a subsidiary company of Enterprise. Remarque and producer David Lewis, who purchased the story, held shares in the newly formed corporation. According to unofficial reports quoted in the New York Times article, Ingrid Bergman held the largest share in the corporation with 37 1/2 percent; Enterprise was second with 22 1/2 percent; and the remainder was split among Remarque (20 percent), David Lewis (18 percent), and director Lewis Milestone (2 percent). (According to a Los Angeles Times article, music score composer Louis Gruenberg was also given a share in the film's profits.) Remarque was reported to have received $225,000 for the rights to the story, and Bergman and Charles Boyer were each paid a salary of $175,000, as stated by an August 1946 New York Times news item.
The New York Times article also stated that, apart from a shortage of soundstage space at California Studios, production on the film was delayed because writer Irwin Shaw quit. Shaw, who worked for five months on the scenario, disagreed with Milestone about the treatment and, in June 1946, requested that his name be taken off the picture. Hollywood Reporter adds that the disagreement revolved around Shaw's refusal to include a love story in his adaptation. Los Angeles Daily News drama editor Virginia Wright interviewed Milestone on November 19, 1946, after most of the shooting was finished, and questioned him about his decision to take an onscreen writing credit for the first time in his directing career. According to Wright, Milestone said that when he was first approached by David Lewis to direct the film and learned that Shaw had already completed the script, he declined the offer because he had "never found a completed screenplay that was satisfactory from [his] standpoint." Lewis convinced Milestone to reconsider, and he read the novel and conceptualized its development for the screen.
When Milestone met with Shaw, however, he found that there was a great polarity between his and Shaw's screen interpretation of the novel, and again offered to drop out of the picture. Lewis and Einfeld suggested a compromise whereby Shaw would rewrite the script to Milestone's specifications; but, according to Milestone, Shaw never approached him for rewrites, so he wrote his own screenplay. Bergman and the studio preferred Milestones script to Shaw's revised version, and he was paid off. Harry Brown was then called in to write the dialogue. A few weeks later, on December 2, 1946, Wright printed a rebuttal from Shaw, which stated that Lewis not only approved of his first draft, but offered him directorship. Shaw said that he, in turn, suggested Milestone as the director. He further stated that Milestone strongarmed Lewis into accepting his script, over a version compiled from Shaw's and Milestone's drafts. In a counter-rebuttal in Daily Variety two days later, Milestone said Shaw was never offered the job of director on the film.
According to the file on the film in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library, MPAA chief Joseph I. Breen objected to the abortion scenes, which were eventually shown offscreen and depicted as "Ravic's" heroic, but futile, efforts to correct the work of "quack abortionists." Breen also objected to the notion of Ravic going unpunished for murdering "Haake" for personal revenge. PCA officials suggested making "Sybil," Haake's torture victim, "merely a symbol of Nazi victims," to eliminate personal revenge as Ravic's motive for murder. The PCA also recommended making Haake's murder self-defense, but the studio denied that request. An early version of the script included a scene in which Ravic strikes Haake three times, stuffs his body into the trunk of his automobile, strips it naked, buries it, and burns his clothes. Due to what Breen termed "excessive brutality and gruesomeness," the scenes were cut from the film. According to an article in Los Angeles Times, the killing of Haake finally was justified by the Breen office because Ravic was an Austrian killing a German on the eve of the Allies' declaration of war, which made it technically an act of war.
Breen protested scenes showing Ravic having an illicit sexual affair with "Joan," and her becoming a "kept" mistress of "Alex," as well as a brothel scene in which Ravic examines a group of prostitutes. (The brothel scene was cut from the final film.) Breen advised the filmmakers to characterize Ravic and Joan's relationship as one of "frustrated love," devoid of sex; in the final version, their lovemaking is merely implied. Joan's general promiscuity was allowed to remain because her death at the film's close provided the necessary "compensating moral values" insisted on by the PCA. Further, the PCA objected to the suggestion of mercy killing in Ravic's final scene with Joan in which she asks him for something to numb the pain. In one version of the script, Joan says to Ravic, "You must give me something strong enough" and "It's all right for you to do it, Ravic." In the final film, it is implied that Ravic administers only a pain-killer, and that Joan is taken to the hospital, where she dies.
A pre-production article in Hollywood Citizen-News states that actor Louis Calhern shaved off his mustache for the first time in twenty years to play the role of "Morosow," the ex-patriate Russian chasseur. The article also lists Katherine Emery in the role of the "grim nurse," but her appearance in the released film has not been confirmed. Los Angeles Examiner reported that French film director Michel Bernheim, a technical advisor on the film, was a French naval officer during the war and was taken prisoner at Cherbourg and later escaped from the Fortress of Koenigstein. He arrived in the United States in 1942 to accept a post with the Office of War Information. As reported in Hollywood Reporter, French director Georges Lampin assisted in the direction of the European sequences. George Kessel, a former Paris correspondent, was hired by Enterprise to approve the French scenes. An article in This Week on April 6, 1947 stated that second unit director Nate Watt, who filmed background scenes in Paris, had to obtain special permission to have the lights on the Arch of Triumph turned on because of a city brown-out caused by a coal shortage. Because of war damage, the crew was forced to dot a stretch of Cannes beach, full of holes and burned-out German pillboxes, with beach umbrellas to get a shot of a boat looking toward the shore.
Hollywood Reporter news items give the following production information: Enterprise tried to borrow Robert Ryan from RKO for the role of "Ravic," but RKO reportedly made unmeetable demands for his loan-out. Before production on the film began, George Coulouris was considered for the role of "Haake." During filming in Paris, in October 1946, the French government drained the Seine River in order to remove live bombs and inspect bridge foundations, causing the European unit to improvise river backgrounds with plates and special scaffolding. As part of the recreation of an entire section of Paris in the neighborhood of Place de l'Opera, Enterprise built a set of the famous Fouquet's street cabaret at the junction of the Champs-Elysées and the Avenue Georges V. In order to shoot the small bistro and staircase sets, Enterprises chief still photographer, Scotty Welbourne, equipped a camera boom with a flexible periscopic lens. Construction of Fouquet's cabaret took approximately 16,000 man-hours and cost $65,000.
Accurate reconstruction was made possible through stills and motion picture footage shot in Paris by the European unit and flown daily to Hollywood by special arrangement with TWA. One hundred European-made automobiles gave the appearance of traffic outside the café; a section of stage wall was removed and three banked ramps were installed to give the cars an entrance to the set and the ability to go full speed. To create a studio backdrop, photographs of the Paris skyline were enlarged to 5,600 square feet. The soundstage set also included wood-strip representations of the Arch of Triumph. In late January 1947, a cutting room fire destroyed 19,000 feet of this and another United Artists picture, The Other Love . Studio production notes state that a record 112 major sets were built for the film with a four million dollar budget.
According to Hollywood Reporter, in mid-January 1947, process shots of the ocean liner Queen Elizabeth were taken in New York City at the ship's North River pier by a camera crew led by Watt. (The ship scenes were cut from the final print, however.) According to an April 1948 Variety news item, Einfield, one of the film's producers, added eight minutes of footage that had been cut from the film, extending the running time from 120 minutes to 128 minutes. Einfield stated that he made the additions to lighten the film and play up the romantic theme between its two stars. Production designer William Cameron Menzies was borrowed from RKO to work on the film. Prior to the film's release, Bergman recorded an album that included two songs from the film: "Prochlada," sung in Russian, and "Dicitencello Vuie," sung in Italian. Michael Chekhov was originally cast in the role of Haake, but due to illness, was replaced by Charles Laughton in mid-October 1946. As reported in Daily Variety, Haake's scenes were rewritten for Laughton and were filmed with Bergman in early November 1946 in New York City, where she was starring in the Broadway production of Maxwell Anderson's Joan of Lorraine. According to Hollywood Reporter, the film was the first motion picture transcribed to microfilm; the French Embassy asked for a print of the film-which, in microfilm, was only thirty feet long-for a dedication ceremony at which the film was to be placed in a cornerstone.
Warrick appeared as American dilettante "Kate Haegstrom" (Ravic's former lover in the novel) in the picture, but her scenes, among others, were removed when the film's rough cut of about four hours was trimmed to a two-hour running time. In an early version of the script, Kate, who is dying of cancer, has come to Paris from Vienna to be operated on by Ravic. Near the end of the film story, after Ravic turns down her proposal of marriage, he waves to her as her ship leaves for America. No mention of the character Kate is found in the final film. Sylvia Sidney was first considered for the role of Kate. According to Louella Parson's column in the Los Angeles Examiner on October 28, 1946, Milestone planned to open a stage version of The Arch of Triumph in February 1947, before the film opened, with Warrick as Kate and Boyer as Ravic. No information on a Los Angeles stage production has been found, however. According to the film's program, the soundtrack included actual transcriptions of the speeches of French Premier Édouard Daladier and British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain declaring war on Germany on September 3, 1939; the transcriptions were secured from NBC. Studio production notes state the following: Michael Romanoff, who plays "Captain Alidze," the maitre d' of the Scheherazade café in the film, was the proprietor of Romanoff's, a famous Los Angeles restaurant in the 1940s and 1950s, and that for the scar on Ravic's face, makeup artist Gustaf Norin invented a cast in a mold that was glued to, not painted on, Boyer's face. The Variety review erroneously lists Maria Castegnaro, who worked in the studio process department, as the film's editor.
In May 1953, a Los Angeles court denied novelist Remarque all rights to this film and the 1947 United Artists film The Other Love, which was also based on his novel. At that time, Enterprise Studios was defunct; ownership of the films, which had been foreclosed by Bank of America in 1951, was turned over to the Sunset Securities Co.