Public Domain Theater: A Farewell to Arms (& “Bosko the Doughboy”)

Welcome to Public Domain Theater, your home for the wonderful world of films that have (in the United States, at least) fallen into the public domain, and are free for everyone to see!

This time around, we have for you the 1932 film adaptation of Ernest Hemingway’s novel, A Farewell to Arms, starring Helen Hayes and Gary Cooper! The film is less of a war story than the book, and more a love story that happens to be set during World War I, though there is a brilliantly shot sequence of Cooper’s character making his way through an air raid (not for nothing did this flick win the Oscar for Best Cinematography).

Content Warning: This film is a product of its time. Specifically, that time when, even if a woman wanted to have sex, she was still expected to say, “No, please no!” first, for the sake of propriety. An unfortunate part of history that causes some of the “romantic” scenes here to come across veeeeery differently.

Are problematic romances not how you want your WWI tale? No problem! Because we also have the Looney Tunes short “Bosko the Doughboy”, set right in the trenches of the war, and … wowza! This may be one of the earliest cartoons in the Warner Bros. catalog, but it’s also one of the most relentlessly zany and violent shorts they ever did! To think such an irreverent take on trench warfare was put on screen when you could expect many veterans of “The Great War” to be in the audience … if social media had been around back then, it would’ve exploded.

So whether your tastes run to dramatic love stories or slapstick violence, Public Domain Theater has you covered with some of the most enjoyable diversions to come from “The War to End All Wars”.

Opening Cartoon:

Feature Presentation: