Body and Soul. 1931. USA. Directed by Alfred Santell. With Charles Farrell, Elissa Landi, Humphrey Bogart, Myrna Loy. 83 min.
Fox Film signed the Austrian-born, English-educated actor Elissa Landi after she appeared in a Broadway adaptation of A Farewell to Arms in 1930, hoping she would become another Dietrich or Garbo. Although she never did, she contributed some serious acting chops to several Fox films before she returned to the stage. Body and Soul, adapted by Jules Furthman from an unproduced play, was Landi’s first Fox feature, a complex melodrama set in World War I around a Royal Air Force base in France. Charles Farrell is the flyer who has an affair with Landi, believing her to be the disreputable mistress of a colleague killed in combat, when she is in fact his widow. Further evidence that director Alfred Santell (The Sea Wolf) was an underrated filmmaker in need of rediscovery. Humphrey Bogart and Myrna Loy appear in supporting roles. 35mm print from MoMA’s archive