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Goes To Work With Rock Hudson

Well, it’s nice work, isn’t it! Cuddling with Jennifer Jones, keeping cozy in the blue shadows of the beautiful Dolomite Mountains—these were Rock Hudson’s pleasant assignments for 20th Century-Fox’s movie version of the Ernest Hemingway classic “A Farewell to Arms.” But let’s set the record straight: Movie-making is hard work. The delicate and lovely love scene that you see above may slip across the screen in a matter of thirty seconds. Yet the business of getting it on film—with every gesture, every intonation just right—may have taken a couple of full working days. Once just a hulking youngster, a horse-opera hero at his home studio, U-l. Rock Hudson has slowly developed into a highly competent actor of true stature, well qualified to portray the lead in one of the great love stories of modern times.

Produced by David O. Selznick (Jennifer’s husband and the impresario of such movie milestones as “Gone with the Wind”), the new “A Farewell to Arms” was filmed mostly in the Italian Alps, where the action of this bittersweet World War I idyl takes place against scenic splendor. Throughout shooting, Rock himself was parted from his wife of less than two years, because of her illness just before the troupe left. At work, he had to be Hemingway’s Lieutenant Henry, American in love with a British nurse. At his typewriter, on the phone, he was Phyllis’ husband, in every moment of spare time.

“Spare time?” says a member of the picture’s crew. “What spare time? Rock was in almost every scene. He worked like a dog, and the hours were murder. While we were in Rome, the car picked him up at nine in the morning. By the time he got back to town, it was usually nine at night. And when he walked into the lobby of the Grand Hotel, he was dragging his feet.”

On more distant locations, out in the mountains, the location stint got rugged. A sudden snowstorm (“just like Minnesota,” Rock wrote to his Minnesota-born wife) held the star and three friends stalled on the road for four hours. Quartered in a small village, Rock lived in the same sort of minute hotel room as the rest of the gang, until a Selznick assistant tried to rent the apartment of an Italian countess for him. “Out of the question,” said the aristocrat. “Who is this friend of yours?”

“Rock Hudson.”

Rock got the apartment—at a reasonable. rent, because the countess-fan wanted to be able to tell her friends, after she had moved back, “Rock Hudson slept here.”



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