“War is the most horrible thing in life.”
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
… and it’s satisfying seeing her romanced on-screen by her real-life husband Ferrer.
Gassman — soon to star as a boxer in Big Deal on Madonna Street (1958) — is appropriately smarmy and charming as the man who manages to cruelly seduce Natasha away from her true love:
… and Ekberg is likewise well-cast (in her breakthrough role) as a woman so sexy that Fonda throws all better sense out the window to marry her.
Unfortunately, it’s universally agreed that middle-aged Fonda was not a good choice to play the central young protagonist Nikolai. Whenever he refers to Natasha as “Na-TASH-a” you hear Fonda’s folksy American roots — and his delivery of the line “Damn you, Napoleon; damn you to hell!” is appropriately lambasted.
The biggest “stars” of this film, however, are Jack Cardiff’s consistently stunning cinematography and the fine historical sets and costumes, which are a pleasure to behold.
Meanwhile, in a story entitled War and Peace, you can expect to see plenty of battles and troops, which are indeed on ample display here, all effectively framed in VistaVision.
Notable Performances, Qualities, and Moments: