From Here to Eternity (1953)
Reviewed on 2008 February 28
Excellent movie adaption of the James Jones novel; this 1953 Oscar® Winner for Best Picture is famous for the Deborah Kerr / Burt Lancaster kiss on the beach, and yet it’s much more profound than that clip would have you believe. This is something of a soap opera, but a well-written one, without bad acting and inane lines. I was completely pulled in.
Private Robert E. Lee Prewitt (Montgomery Clift) is a bugle player and former boxer, who finds himself ostracized by his fellow soldiers when he refuses to step into the ring again. It’s Hawaii, 1941, and Prew wants to serve his country, despite the pounding he’s getting from Neanderthals like Sgt. Galovitch (John Dennis). His only two real allies are his buddy Pvt. Angelo Maggio (Frank Sinatra) and the sympathetic 1st Sgt. Milton Warden (Burt Lancaster). Warden can’t do much for Prew except slip him a weekend pass when nobody else is looking.
Meanwhile, Warden has his own problems. He’s fallen in love with Karen Holmes (Deborah Kerr), the wife of Capt. Dana Holmes (Philip Ober). It’s never smart to have an affair with the boss’s wife. When your boss is Uncle Sam, it’s a disaster for everyone involved. How do you hide things on an island?
Theses are the two main threads of the movie. Doesn’t sound like much, does it? I didn’t think so either but as I said, it pulled me in. Besides just being a good story there’s the novelty of seeing Donna Reed as a social club “escort” — the anti-Mary Hatch. And she made it work. The acting is outstanding from everyone, especially Sinatra and Clift. Montgomery Clift immersed himself in this, practicing boxing and learning to play the bugle even though he knew it would be edited. It shows.
Four chocolate morsels.