From Here to Eternity
 
         
   
Genre: Drama and War
Running Time: 1 hr. 58 min.
Release Date: August 5th, 1953
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Director: Fred Zinnemann
Actors: Burt Lancaster, Montgomery Clift, Deborah Kerr, Donna Reed, Frank Sinatra, Ernest Borgnine
 
         
"Unique in that it gives a largely negative viewpoint of army methods."
   
 
             
 
Theatrical
10/10
 
DVD
N/A
 
Blu-ray
N/A
 
             
 
 

Set in 1941, Private Robert E. Lee Prewitt (Montgomery Clift) has just transferred from Virginia to the Schofield Barracks in Hawaii, and meets up with buddy Private Angelo Maggio (Frank Sinatra). He was the top bugler in his previous base, but requested a new post for personal reasons. His Schofield captain, Dana Holmes (Philip Ober), wants him to box for their company – a division championship would get him a promotion - but Prewitt is only interested in staying with the outfit and assuming standard military duties. Overconfident (or brutally honest) 1st Sergeant Milton Warden (Burt Lancaster) is intent on doing his job too, which is to please Holmes so that Warden can be left alone to properly command the troops. He also has his eyes on the captain’s wife, Karen (Deborah Kerr), a shapely blonde with an untouchable aura. In reality, she too admires the sergeant.

When Prewitt’s superiors start giving him unfair treatment in an attempt to pressure him into boxing, Angelo is the only one who will stand up for him, and in turn gets lumped into the punishments. During a leave, the duo hits the town where the bugler spies Alma “Lorene” Burke (Donna Reed), a New Congress Club girl that he immediately falls for. Meanwhile, Warden runs off with Karen to the beach in the film’s most iconic moment. Karen deals with a soiled reputation for trying to contend with her marital troubles, while Prewitt also tries to bury his painful boxing past, in which he feels responsible for putting a rising star in a coma. The company refuses to let up on the “treatment,” and when Maggio ends up in the stockade to face off with his nemesis, Sergeant of the Guard “Fatso” Judson (Ernest Borgnine), Prewitt faces grueling predicaments and tough decisions.
 
 
 

From Here to Eternity movie Burt Lancaster, Montgomery Clift, Deborah Kerr, Donna Reed, Frank Sinatra, Ernest Borgnine

From Here to Eternity movie Burt Lancaster, Montgomery Clift, Deborah Kerr, Donna Reed, Frank Sinatra, Ernest Borgnine

 

From Here to Eternity movie Burt Lancaster, Montgomery Clift, Deborah Kerr, Donna Reed, Frank Sinatra, Ernest Borgnine

From Here to Eternity movie Burt Lancaster, Montgomery Clift, Deborah Kerr, Donna Reed, Frank Sinatra, Ernest Borgnine

 
 

From Here to Eternity is particularly interesting because it’s a World War II film that focuses almost entirely on behind-the-scenes soldier life – training, routines, camaraderie, rivalries, off duty misadventures and romances and putting the screws on a newcomer who values individuality over standard army assimilation. The attack on Pearl Harbor looms in the distance, but ultimately has little impact on the characters. The human drama in the midst of wartime procedures and rank politics is astounding, culminating in a complex, stirring finale that cinches a highly entertaining film, despite heavy sanitization from the best-selling, controversial novel by James Jones.

It’s also unique in that it gives a largely negative viewpoint of army methods. The love stories are strong, but the brutal revelations of military corruption are stronger. The soldiers’ ties to the army, their loyalty and admiration, even when questionable tactics are exposed, eclipses romantic interests. Blind devotion trumps all other emotions. It’s a compelling, influential notion that would later be explored in The Bridge on the River Kwai, Full Metal Jacket, and most recently, The Hurt Locker. Originally deemed unfilmable, From Here to Eternity went on to win eight Academy Awards including Best Picture, and was the last film to receive nominations in all four acting categories.

- Mike Massie
 
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