In Love and War (1996) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

In Love and War (1996) is a Richard Attenborough film about Ernest Hemingway's first love affair with a red cross nurse several years his senior in WW I Italy. The nurse, Agnes Kurowsky, played by Sandra Bullock, was one of hundreds of young nurses sent to Italy during the last year of the war to make up for the lack of US troops available for the Italian front. An 18 year old Hemingway (Chris O'Donnell) went to drive ambulances and hand out smokes in the canteens. Young Hemingway wanted to be in the action. When he took a backpack full of smokes to the front lines, the foxhole he was in got hit with a mortar. As he was stumbling to safety, he carried a seriously wounded Italian soldier with him, and was shot in the leg. It was in the hospital that he met Agnes (Aggie).
Despite regulations forbidding personal relationships with patients, she found young Hemingway irresistible. The chief surgeon at her hospital found her just as irresistible. She ends up making a series of poor choices. It is said that this failed affair haunted Hemingway his entire life. There is one sex scene, where Bullock has a nip slip, and shows her butt in a very dark scene. 


female: see main commentary

male: Chris O'Donnell showed his butt in that same dark scene

DVD info from Amazon.

  • Widescreen anamorphic, 1.85:1, and a full screen version

  • no meaningful features

The story is not without some interest, and Attenborough does his usual workmanlike job with the visuals, but the film has some serious problems to overcome, and doesn't quite make it. 
  • the set-up, just to get Hemingway and Kurowsky in the same room, takes 30 minutes
  • the love affair is only the middle third of the film
  • it was saddled with the dread "Based on a True Story," which, in this case, meant an unhappy ending. 

The Critics Vote

  • General consensus: one and a half stars. Ebert 2/4, Berardinelli 2/4, Maltin 0/4, Apollo 56/100.

  • Rotten Tomatoes summary. Not one positive review. 0% positive overall, 0% from the top critics.

The People Vote ...

  • With their votes ... IMDB summary: IMDb voters score it 5.5, but Apollo users buck the trend and score it an exceptionally high 87/100
  • With their dollars ... $14 million domestic gross on 1600 screens
IMDb guideline: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence, about like three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, about like two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, about like two stars from the critics. Films under five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film, equivalent to about one and a half stars from the critics or less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Based on this description, this film is a C-.

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