Vittorio De Sica received his only Oscar nomination for portraying Major Alessandro Rinaldi in A Farewell to Arms.
Vittorio De Sica's nomination here is a rather odd one, because he was the director of many films that received Oscar nominations, more than one that won for best Foreign Language Film yet he was never nominated once as the director for any of these films instead he was only nominated for his performance in this film. In A Farewell to Arms he is a carefree surgeon in the Italian Army who is a friend of Rock Hudson's American in the Italian Army. In the first half of his performance De Sica is nice and charming easily conveying the relaxed attitude of the man. Although De Sica is asked to do very very little he certainly is a warm presence and far more interesting than the two leads (Rock Hudson, Jennifer Jones) who lack any sort of chemistry, in fact De Sica and Hudson have better chemistry together than Hudson and Jones.
De Sica proceeds to disappear for a great deal of the film, and we are left with the very boring Jones/Hudson relationship. He eventually shows up again a completely different man distraught over the war. There is no transformation since De Sica was given no time for any transition he simply is this way when he reappears. De Sica manages actually to shine here showing a man who really has lost hope, as well as experienced a great deal of trauma. In his final moments Rinaldi is delirious with fever and goes on and on with anguish over the war. This would have been an easy scene to mess up, but De Sica actually does deliver the appropriate emotion making his breakdown realistic. It is a good finish to his otherwise adequate performance that is most certainly the best part of this film, but that really is saying nothing.