Like all Archive titles, FORCE OF ARMS is "manufactured on demand" and so never goes out of print.
FORCE OF ARMS stars the team of William Holden and Nancy Olson, who had previously costarred in Paramount's SUNSET BLVD. (1950) and UNION STATION (1950); the same year Warner Bros. released FORCE OF ARMS, they would also costar in one more Paramount film, SUBMARINE COMMAND (1951).
FORCE OF ARMS starts in fine style with a stirring Max Steiner theme. Holden and Olson play Pete and Ellie, who meet while serving in Italy, as the U.S. Army marches closer to Rome. He's just back from the front, having been promoted to lieutenant after leading his squadron under fire following the death of his commanding officer. She's a lieutenant in the WACs.
He's battle weary and stressed out, and she's mourning the death of the soldier she was going to marry. Initially combative, they're all wrong for each other, and yet so very right.
This is, quite simply, a lovely romance, well written by Orin Jannings, and portrayed with aching beauty by Holden and Olson. He's rough around the edges and at first thinks he wants a quick, meaningless fling while on leave, but he can't get the sweet, clear-eyed, and nervy young woman off his mind. And she quickly sees past his defenses to the real person underneath, recognizing a man worthy of love, who will love her.
As part of the story, the film deals in a limited but moving fashion with what we now call PTSD. It seems to have been fairly rare for that subject to be addressed in that era, although, off the top of my head, it does come up in I'LL BE SEEING YOU (1944).
The only parts of the film I didn't enjoy watching were the gritty battle scenes, and there are three such extended sequences. However, these scenes do serve to show exactly what Pete goes through in battle and helps the viewer to better understand his character.
As a side note, it's interesting, I love submarine and aircraft carrier films but have a harder time watching ground combat. FORCE OF ARMS was based on a story by Richard Tregaskis, who wrote the book which inspired another movie about soldiers in combat, GUADALCANAL DIARY (1943).
Frank Lovejoy plays Pete's friend, Major Blackford. The cast also includes Gene Evans, Paul Picerni, Katherine Warren, Ross Ford, and Argentina Brunetti. If you don't blink you'll spot Phil Carey, who has a bit role as an MP who shines his flashlight in Holden and Olson's jeep.
This 99-minute film was directed by the very talented Michael Curtiz. It was filmed in black and white by Ted McCord.
The Warner Archive DVD includes the trailer.
Thanks to the Warner Archive for providing a review copy of this DVD. Warner Archive releases are MOD (manufactured on demand) and may be ordered at the Warner Archive website.