• Jay0910195128 December 2007
    10/10
    My Number one all time
    Warning: Spoilers
    There has always been a debate regarding what film could regarded as the best of all time and it will always go on. But to me, this film does it all. It brings to the screen all of the essence of what life is about: happiness, sadness, betrayal ,pain, and most of all what real love is all about. There are so many things that make this film my favorite all time and my choice for number one but it's 3 scenes that clinch it: First, the one with Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr in the car when he says: "I have never been as miserable as I am since I met you" and her reply "neither have I" and then he follows with "I wouldn't trade a minute of it" and again she says " Neither would I". That is what real, deep love between 2 people makes them feel. How many films brought love to screen like that? no other movie I have ever seen. The second is when Montgomery Clift tells Donna Reed: "No one ever lies about being lonely". That is so, so real. And third, the scene when Frank Sinatra says his last words and then dies. I know very little about how Oscar's are voted on, but I feel Sinatra won his right in that scene. How many other films can you say that? This film never gets dull. It's 2 + hours of pure human emotion that has never before or never since been put on the screen.
  • James Hitchcock14 August 2008
    9/10
    A Good Story Well Told
    Warning: Spoilers
    "From Here to Eternity" is sometimes classified as a war film but the attack on Pearl Harbor only occupies the last few minutes; for most of its length it is (like, say, "Reflections in a Golden Eye" or "An Officer and a Gentleman") a film about life in the Armed Forces during peacetime. It charts the complex relationships between six main characters, Captain Dana Holmes and his beautiful wife Karen, Sergeant Milton Warden, Private Robert Prewitt, his girlfriend Alma, and Prewitt's closest friend, Private Angelo Maggio.

    There are a number of interconnected sub-plots. Perhaps the most important concerns Prewitt's relations with his commanding officer, Captain Holmes. Holmes is a boxing fanatic, who believes that his promotion prospects will be improved if he can put together a successful team to compete in the Army boxing championships. He has therefore had Prewitt, whom he knows to be a talented middleweight boxer, drafted into his unit. Prewitt, however, refuses to join the boxing team, having given up the sport after an accident in which a sparring partner was blinded, so Holmes attempts to force him to do so by beginning a campaign of persecution against him.

    In another sub-plot Karen, whose marriage to a hard-drinking, unfaithful husband has become no more than a sham, becomes embroiled in an adulterous affair with Sergeant Warden. (The scene on the beach between Deborah Kerr and Burt Lancaster was considered scandalously daring by the standards of the early fifties). The other plot lines concern Maggio's battles against authority, especially a brutal sergeant named Fatso Judson, and the growing romance between Prewitt and Alma. (Contrary to what some reviewers have stated, Alma is not a prostitute; she may have been one in James Jones's novel, but in the film she became a nightclub hostess to appease the Hays Office).

    In many ways the film gives a negative picture of military life, although less so than the original book. A strict system of discipline may be necessary to make the Army an effective fighting force, but it also has the unwanted side-effect of allowing bullies like Holmes and Judson to abuse their authority. Holmes attempts to force Prewitt to join the boxing squad by imposing a series of unjust punishments and onerous duties on him; most of the NCOs are happy to go along with him, and even those like Warden who disagree with Holmes's actions see no alternative but to comply.

    This was the Big Picture of 1953; it won eight Oscars, including Best Picture, against a very strong field which also included "Roman Holiday", "Julius Caesar" and "Shane", and Best Director for Fred Zinnemann. Five of the cast were nominated and two of them, Donna Reed (Alma) and Frank Sinatra (Maggio) won. This was the film that made Sinatra a big star as an actor as well as a singer. He plays Maggio as likable and easygoing, in contrast to his more intense friend Prewitt, but also a man with reserves of both moral and physical courage; he is not afraid to stand up to Judson, who is much larger than he is. (Ernest Borgnine is very good as the thuggish Judson).

    I must say that I agree with the Academy's decision to award "Best Actress" to Audrey Hepburn ahead of Kerr; Kerr is good here, but Audrey is absolutely brilliant in "Roman Holiday", as she normally was. American audiences might have been surprised to see Kerr, normally one of the cinema's good girls, playing an adulterous wife, although British ones might have remembered her as the mercenary Sally in "Love on the Dole". She does, however, make Karen a fairly sympathetic character; she is not, contrary to what the film critic of "Variety" thought, a nymphomaniac, even though it is made clear that Warden is not her first extra-marital lover. She is driven not by sexual lust but by a need for love that cannot be satisfied by her husband, who cruelly neglects and mistreats her.

    I have never seen "Stalag 17", so cannot say if William Holden deserved "Best Actor" ahead of Montgomery Clift and Burt Lancaster (or, for that matter, Brando in "Julius Caesar"). Both, however, are excellent, especially that intelligent, sensitive actor Clift as Prewitt, a young man with firmly-held principles, who will not allow himself to be dissuaded from doing what he believes to be right. Despite his mistreatment by Holmes, he never considers leaving the Army, an institution which has previously treated him well and has become like a family to him. (The depiction of military life is not entirely negative; the Army may allow unpleasant sadists a chance to vent their spleen, but it also provides young men with a sense of belonging and self-respect).

    Lancaster's Warden is another man for whom the Army has become his whole life. Although he outwardly seems a strong character, he is inwardly weak. He is compromised by his affair with Karen (a crime under military law), and lacks the strength to stand up to Holmes. He loves the Army life but despises its officer class; when he gets the chance to become an officer himself he fails to take it, even though he knows that such a promotion offers him the best chance of a life together with Karen.

    Some Big Pictures from the past have not aged well, but "From Here to Eternity" is not among them. What makes it such an outstanding film is the strength of its acting and characterisation and the power of a good story well told. It is the sort of film they don't make any more, and the cinema is the poorer for it. One of the best films of the fifties. 9/10.
  • bkoganbing2 September 2005
    10/10
    A Realistic View of the Army
    One of the big blockbuster best sellers of the post World War II years is James Jones's From Here to Eternity, a tale of the peacetime army in Hawaii before Pearl Harbor. The book was definitely going to be made into a film and it was only a question of casting to make it a success.

    Director Fred Zinneman had a good intuitive sense about casting here, even against type. The two principal female parts were done against type. Deborah Kerr who made a career of playing respectable women played a captain's wife who's drinking and playing around. Not that husband Philip Ober is letting grass grow under his feet either, but Kerr's latest sexual exploit involves her with the First Sergeant of her husband's company, Burt Lancaster.

    Donna Reed, who up to that point was best known for being Mary Bailey in It's A Wonderful Life, plays a prostitute here. A girl from the wrong side of the tracks, jilted by a rich boyfriend stateside, she's in Hawaii to make money and then go home and buy some respectability. She's not looking for romance with any soldiers, but you can't plan these things.

    Especially Montgomery Clift if he comes in your life. It's been argued that this is Clift's greatest role and a case can sure be made for it. His character of Robert E. Lee Pruitt is like so many who still join the army today, from small town America who have no future there and find a home in the Armed Services. What makes Clift unique is that strong sense of individualism he can't control in an organization that does not encourage individuality.

    Clift and Lancaster are a great study in contrasts and that's what drives From Here to Eternity. Lancaster as Sergeant Milt Warden is the ultimate professional soldier, held in the highest regard by his men. Lancaster is someone who knows how to work the system, you see it in the way he manipulates his captain. Of course he's got to be a manipulator there since he's having an affair with Deborah Kerr. He tries to protect Clift from himself and ultimately fails.

    Clift has transferred into an infantry company and he was at one time a boxer. But he blinded someone in a fight and quit boxing. Philip Ober who prides himself on having several champions in various weight classes worked to get Clift in his company. Clift upsets his plans by refusing to box so he has the various sergeants give him "the treatment."

    Clift's best friend in the company is a tough street wise soldier from the big city named Angelo Maggio, played by Frank Sinatra. Sinatra read the book and knew this part was for him. He did everything he had to do to get that part, including working for scale. At the time Sinatra was considered a has been as singer and actor. Sinatra was right on the money in terms of picking a role. His faith in himself and Columbia Pictures and Fred Zinneman's faith in him netted him an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor, one of eight awards won by From Here to Eternity.

    By the way Sinatra credited both Lancaster and Clift in helping him through this film as a dramatic actor. Lancaster and Sinatra didn't inhabit the same Hollywood orbit, but they remained friends for life. The same could not be said for Clift. Allegedly, some five or six years after From Here to Eternity and after Monty Clift's automobile accident while shooting Raintree County, Clift at some party at Sinatra's made a drunken pass at one of Sinatra's retainers. That got him kicked out of Sinatra's circle permanently.

    In fact From Here to Eternity was also the Best Picture of 1953, with Zinneman getting his second Best Director Oscar in a row after the one he took home in 1952 for High Noon. Donna Reed won for Best Supporting Acress. Burt Lancaster and Montgomery Clift were both nominated for Best Actor, but split the vote allowing William Holden to win for Stalag 17. Another great acting job itself. And Kerr was up for Best Actress, but lost to Audrey Hepburn for Roman Holiday.

    From Here to Eternity is a film loaded with good actors in small roles who got their first notice in this film. Ernest Borgnine, Robert J. Wilkie, Claude Akins, Jack Warden, Mickey Shaughnessy, all play various soldiers and each one is memorable. Especially Borgnine as the vicious sadistic sergeant of the stockade.

    TV's Superman was in From Here to Eternity also. George Reeves who was looking to escape the typecasting from Superman has a part as another sergeant who warns Lancaster about Deborah Kerr. He gave a fine performance, but most of it wound up on the cutting room floor. That would have unforeseen tragic consequences.

    This is not any kind of glamorous army. These people are all too real and not very noble. The original novel was toned down quite a bit for the screen. But when the attack on Pearl Harbor comes, the men rise to the occasion, do their jobs in a more than competent manner and led by Burt Lancaster in that company. It's these men who won that war in the Pacific and the one in Europe as well and From Here to Eternity despite the less than noble portrayals of them as individuals is a great tribute to them as a team.
  • Spikeopath4 March 2008
    10/10
    Masterpiece, a lesson in characterisation and story telling.
    James Jone's novel was deemed impossible to put onto the screen {how many times have we heard that one before?}, but nobody told director Fred Zinnerman and the cast of dreams. Troubles with the making of the film were many, the film was thwarted by a censorship requirement that the army not be portrayed as careless and over brutal, and some of the sexual themes from the novel had to be toned down. Zinneman also had to fight a continuous battle with Columbia's head ego tripper Harry Cohn. He interfered with every script that was shown to him, and casting was also a tough thing to achieve with Cohn trying to call the shots. As it turned out we got one of the best composition of actors in one film to have ever graced the screen.

    From Here To Eternity is a film about the lives and loves of a number of characters at Schofield Barracks-Pearl Harbor, just prior to the infamous attack by the Japanese that changed WW2. Illicit affairs, friendship, nobility, bravery and cruelty come crashing together in one gigantic lavish production that defines the word classic. Burt Lancaster, Montgomery Clift, Frank Sinatra, Ernest Borgnine, Jack Warden, Deborah Kerr, and Donna Reed all give performances that any other actor would be proud to have given. On another day they all could have won awards such was the strength of performance they all gave. Reed & Sinatra won best supporting Oscars, while Fred Zinneman rightly won for best director to cement the film winning outright for best picture. Yet the film's crowning glory didn't win an award, for to me, Montogomery Clift gives one of the best performances in motion picture history, it's layered to perfection and it's one of those character portrayals that has me involved to the point of exhaustion. One scene in which he plays a bugle lament as tears roll down his face is just stunning, and I know how he feels because I cry along with him to, such is my involvement with his turn as Robert E. Lee Prewitt.

    Laced with memorable scenes {the kiss, the bugle lament, Lancaster blasting away at the Japanese planes with machine gun in hand}, and performances to match, From Here To Eternity is essential cinema to be viewed every year and homaged and praised whenever possible. 10/10 in every single respect.
  • jlp26 October 2001
    10/10
    The definitive Pearl Harbor film
    Michael Bay's "Pearl Harbor" is so inferior in every aspect of filmmaking to "From Here to Eternity" that the two films shouldn't even be mentioned in the same sentence together. "From Here to Eternity" boasts an absolutely legendary cast that delivers one of the finest composite performances of all time. Just try comparing Burt Lancaster and Montgomery Clift to Ben Affleck and Josh Hartnett - not even close to a fair fight. Throw in Frank Sinatra in an Oscar winning supporting role and you've got a classic that truly stands the test of time. The tight script portrays real, fleshed-out relationships that are equal parts passionate and tragic. And both Deborah Kerr and Donna Reed are luminous. For some reason this film gets ignored or forgotten when the greatest films of all time are mentioned; all you need to do is watch it again after "Pearl Harbor" and you'll realize what a mistake that is. "From Here to Eternity" easily stands with the greatest films in history.
  • PWNYCNY31 July 2005
    10/10
    Maybe Donna Reed's Best Movie
    "From Here To Eternity" takes place right before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Thus, it's really not a war movie. Actually its more of a soap opera with Burt Lancaster putting the make on Deborah Kerr and Frank Sinatra having a fight with Ernest Borgnine and Montgomery Clift having a tryst with Donna Reed, which brings me to the element of the movie that I really liked: Donna Reed's character. In the movie Donna Reed plays a prostitute who wants to earn enough money to go home, but by the end of the movie circumstances have transformed her from cynical prostitute to fiancé and bereaved victim who has lost her man, and for whom things would never be the same. To me, this is what a good movie is all about - powerful and compelling character development within the context of a story that is credible and makes sense.
  • nawknek19 July 2005
    10/10
    Montgomery Clift shines From Here to Eternity
    "From Here to Eternity" contains the best performance delivered by an actor of any gender on celluloid. Montgomery Clift is assertive, funny, tough, sensitive and charismatic in the pivotal role of Robert E. Lee Prewitt, the rebellious loner with the streak of nobility. It is easy to see why James Dean idolized him after seeing his portrayal in the film. It is also a shame modern actors don't mention his name more often when listing their influences. As often noted, he preceded Brando by two years (he first appeared in Red River, released in 1948; Brando bowed in The Men in 1950)and created the arch-type of the 1950's rebel. But due to his intelligence, Clift also informed his characters with a sense of purpose. He didn't simply rebel. For instance, in Eternity, he apologises after an angry outbreak at his girlfriend. Instead of appearing weak, he impressed me all the more for doing so. It makes him appear more mature than the typical rebel. In another instance, when he feels his friend Maggio is being unfairly attacked, he "stares down" the attacker proving he looks out for his friend, another attractive quality. When the non-coms dole out extra punishment to him to force him to box, he refuses to file a complaint but likewise refuses to comply to their demands. Such moments distinguish Clift from other, more typically macho Hollywood leading men of the era and contributed greatly to Eternity's long initial run at the box office and its status as a classic piece of Hollywood cinema. It is time someone set the record straight and restored Montgomery Clift's name to its rightful place in the pantheon of Hollywood's great leading men. For proof, look no further than From Here to Eternity.
  • Ed Uyeshima17 August 2009
    9/10
    Involving Military Soap Opera Elevated by Sturdy Performances from an Offbeat Cast
    In hindsight, this 1953 classic doesn't seem as much a military drama as it does a highly charged soap opera, which shouldn't come as a surprise given that master filmmaker Fred Zinnemann ("the Nun's Story") was at the helm. The veteran director upended the western genre just a year earlier with the Gary Cooper classic "High Noon", and he places the same incendiary focus of character over action here, that is, until the inevitable climax which uses the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor as a catharsis for the characters' dilemmas now dwarfed by the coming world war.

    Based on James Jones' epic novel, screenwriter Daniel Taradash manages to reduce the complexity of the book's themes without trivializing them, and then-offbeat casting enhances the movie immeasurably. Set on a U.S. Army base in Hawaii in the months leading up to the attack, the focus is on two men, both dedicated to the military with no aspirations to become the officers they have grown to detest. One is Private Robert E. Prewitt, a talented boxer (and bugler) who refuses to fight on his regiment's team since blinding a sparring partner. The other is First Sergeant Milton Warden, a take-charge, professional soldier who earns the trust of his men even as he kowtows to his weak-willed commanding officer.

    Life in the barracks is fraught with adversarial personalities, chief among them Private Angelo Maggio, Prewitt's loudmouthed best friend, and Staff Sergeant "Fatso" Judson, the sadistic stockade warden. Both Prewitt and Warden meet women who seek to change their lives. Prewitt finds cynical nightclub "hostess" Lorene at a brothel masquerading as a social club, while Warden embarks on a passionate affair with his commanding officer's wayward wife Karen. Burt Lancaster is well cast as Warden, and he brings surprising nuance to his character's clandestine encounters with Karen. However, it's Montgomery Clift - despite looking too slight to be genuinely believable as a boxer - who transcends his loner role by playing off his innately sensitive nature to portray a man who will never sacrifice his honor despite how dire the consequences. Well within his comfort zone, Frank Sinatra's turn as Maggio is small but impactful.

    Still two years away from "Marty", Ernest Borgnine makes Judson's malevolence palpable in just a few scenes. Deborah Kerr submerges her Scottish accent and previous lady-like demeanor to reveal the embittered, sexually assertive side of Karen without sacrificing any of the character's vulnerability. The legendary, much-parodied beach scene with Lancaster still sizzles after all these years. Similarly, Donna Reed foregoes her good-girl image (epitomized by her memorable turn as Mary Bailey in "It's a Wonderful Life") to play the sultry, delusional Lorene. The 2003 DVD comes with a small set of extras - a three-minute making-of retrospective short, a nine-minute collection of on-set footage and interviews from a documentary entitled "Fred Zinnemann: As I See It", and the original theatrical trailer. The best extra is the commentary track from Tim Zinnemann (the director's son) and screenwriter Alvin Sargent ("Spider-Man 2"), who had a small role in the movie.
  • Jem Odewahn5 May 2006
    10/10
    A Hollywood Great
    Warning: Spoilers
    This is one of the finest examples of Hollywood craftsmanship during the studio system in the 'Golden Age' of film. 'From Here To Eternity' is perhaps the most famous of all war films, yet very little action is seen. Rather, this is a human drama that shows the 'other side' of war.

    The key ingredient that makes 'From Here To Eternity' work is it's fantastic cast. Sure, this was always going to be a big hit because of it's subject matter, but the reason it remains so critically acclaimed toward is because of the vivid performances. Montgomery Clift turns in one of his finest portrayals as army private Prewitt. A champion boxer before he came to the Hawaii base, Prewitt resists joining the boxing company, and his new captain and army mates make his life living for it. Clift is at his tortured best here, brilliant in his loneliness and confusion. Lancaster's performance is the better known today (because of his famous frolic with Kerr on the beach), but Clift exceeds him here in talent and depth of feeling.

    That said, Lancaster is very good as the second-in-command Milton Warden who falls in love with his senior's wife, Karen Holmes. Lancaster and Kerr make movie magic in their love scenes, sharing wonderful chemistry. Kerr's performance is amazing also. She was cast against type here as the nymphomaniac wife- Kerr, the English rose, generally played English roses. Kerr shows she has range in the role and incredible acting talent. Nice Donna Reed is also cast against type here as a sort of 'good-time girl' Lorene, who Clift falls in love with. Reed and Sinatra won Best Supporting Oscars for their performances. Indeed, Sinatra's turn is more presence and charisma than great acting skill, but he proved he was more than just a crooner in this one.

    A range of classic scenes here- the justifiably memorable 'beach scene' between Kerr and Lancaster, Clift's emotional bugle playing etc. The final scene though, between Kerr and Reed, is what gets me.

    This film brings out emotion from it's audience like very few others. Through focusing on character interaction rather than stunning battle scenes like many other war dramas have done, by the time Pearl Harbour is inevitably attacked by the Japanese we really feel a connection with this group of people. Zinnemann's direction never fails either.

    Many have compared 'Eternity' to the modern-day film 'Pearl Harbour' (2001) because of it's similar subject matter. That's where the similarity ends. FHTE is emotional and deeply felt, 'Pearl Harbour' is gimmicky and more concerned with special effects than plot development. If you are faced with a choice between seeing the two, run towards 'From Here To Eternity' and don't look back.

    FHTE is a true monument to cinema and acting.

    10/10.
  • kiddlydiveydoo19 February 2001
    Monty steals this film
    I really enjoyed this film. Frank Sinatra walked away with the Oscar, but I thought Montgomery Clift's performance was the standout. I know they weren't competing against one another, but if any actor were to win an Oscar I would have preferred Clift. Lancaster and Kerr gave the other great performances. I liked the interaction between Clift's and Lancaster's characters, particularly in the scene when Lancaster is telling Clift he could avoid fatigue duties 'if he were smart'. Clift replies 'Yeah, but I ain't smart', and Lancaster says 'I know, I know but if you were...'

    I thought the best parts of this film came from the great acting of Kerr, Lancaster and Clift. It may suffer from being called a classic, making people's expectations high, but I thought it was very enjoyable.
  • Nazi_Fighter_David22 January 2000
    10/10
    War, in this film, is bigger than people...
    Warning: Spoilers
    Fred Zinnemann's "From Here to Eternity" and David Lean's "The Bridge on the River Kwai" have one thing in common: a good war story about people with whom we are extremely identified and concerned...

    It may seem strange to consider "From Here to Eternity" as a war film, since a great part of it deals with the military life in a peacetime army... But war is very important to this motion picture... The December 7, 1941 Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor is its definite point, its explosive end, the ruthless attack on U.S. military mind...

    The attack is one of the great sequences in War Films... The sound of the Japanese planes is heard, then there are explosions, and confused soldiers rising from their early breakfast... The Japanese Bombers dive and sweep firing with machine-guns the courtyard and its large buildings, while men run in every direction...

    When a non-fighting companion refuses to pass out arms to his pals, the soldiers break down the door of the ammunition room, take the machine guns to the roof and fire to the flying planes...

    When they succeed in hitting one plane they are delighted by the flavor of war...

    With this powerful scene all the connecting parts that hold together the characters of the story are permanently altered... The great event reduces the characters' pains and passions... World War II is a force that modified everything... War, in this film, is bigger than people...

    The highlights of the film are many, but let me mention the best: Clift playing a flamboyant blues in a local beer joint... The blues came rushing out, expelled from his body by the strength of his feelings; the romantic-erotic scene between Lancaster and Kerr on a deserted beach; Clift playing "Taps" and his tears running down his face...

    Burt Lancaster portrays the tough 'efficient' sergeant who knows how to bend the rules without breaking them... He guides and supports his 'philander' pretentious Captain... He proves himself as an inspiring leader of men when the barracks were under attack...

    Montgomery Clift gives, perhaps, the best performance of his career as the bugler-boxer soldier, whose convictions are stronger than 'The Treatment.'

    Deborah Kerr plays the cool and reserved young lady stimulating her feelings of love in different ways...

    Frank Sinatra is terrific in his rebellious role of Angelo Maggio... He gives a deep and intense characterization, winning an Academy Award...

    Donna Reed is excellent as the charming social woman of the evening...

    Winner of eight Academy Awards, "From Here to Eternity" is a clear indicative of how war comes into collision with the destinies of people, throwing them violently into a turbulent and dangerous situation...
  • clg-28 December 2003
    10/10
    See the Re-Release
    I was a kid when I first saw the movie. All I remembered is the beach scene, and I thought it was a lot longer in duration than it actually is. I went to see the re-release this week. Wow! Has this movie held up! The few chauvinistic remarks directed at women would not be acceptable today but reflect how things were at that time. This is a top-notch film in every way! The acting by the stellar cast is close to perfection (Sinatra, Lancaster, Kerr, Borgnine, Clift--I rate them in that order, but they're all excellent). The plot has huge forward momentum, particularly when we see the page on the calendar. This is a classic! See it again!
  • didi-58 July 2003
    9/10
    Monty Clift's greatest role?
    Fred Zinnemann's epic about the lead-up to Pearl Harbor, featuring excellent performances from young Montgomery Clift and Donna Reed, a knockout role for Sinatra, and that roll in the surf for Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr.

    From Here to Eternity is a potboiler which wears its heart on its sleeve. Would it have been the same with Joan Crawford instead of Kerr? Hard to say. I think the heart of the film is Clift, who gives perhaps his career best as ex-boxer Prewitt, the sensitive bugle player fighting his demons. Lancaster is a close second, a hard-boiled officer with no time for love.

    One of the best of the 50s, and well worth watching.
  • jc-osms28 July 2012
    9/10
    Pearl of a film
    Classic 50's Hollywood feature documenting the lives and times of the US Army personnel in Hawaii leading up to the Japanese air attack on the Pearl Harbour naval base which precipitated the US entry into the second world war. Shot in black and white by Fred Zinnemann to emphasise the war-time setting, the drama is peopled with convincingly realistic characters with a credible, episodic narrative edging ever closer to the pivotal date of December 7th.

    Multiple plot lines are skilfully interwoven until their climactic convergence at the end aided by top acting from a superb cast. The dramatic thread to the film is Montgomery Clift's Prewett character and his relationships with the characters played by Burt Lancaster, the firm but fair sergeant himself drawn into a sexually charged relationship with his superior officer captain's disaffected wife, played against type by Deborah Kerr, Donna Reed as the "hostess" he falls in love with and especially Frank Sinatra's rascally but likable and always supportive Maggio.

    Sinatra famously begged for the chance to show his acting skill in a straight role to reignite his career and duly given the chance, he grabs it with both hands. Lancaster and Kerr fire up the screen in their doomed relationship, especially in the famous scene by the crashing waves, Reed plays her part with admirable restraint but Clift's acting exceeds them all, whether in his reluctant fight scenes, blowing a bugle like Satchmo or playing a drunk after he's exacted revenge on Maggio's tormentor, played memorably by the recently deceased Ernst Borgnine.

    The action climax as the Japanese attack is thrillingly portrayed especially the high camera shots, although I would question the too obvious and thus jarring insertion of real footage of the actual attack.

    Controversial in its day for its unblinkingly honest depiction of the US army, it can be seen now as one of the best films of the 50's, a master class in dramatic narrative and character acting.
  • Steffi_P17 May 2009
    8/10
    "Re-enlistment blues"
    It's often said that the simplest stories are the best. This isn't true. The simple stories are easy to get right, but a complex ensemble piece with multiple protagonists and numerous subplots can be just as effective, although it's a lot harder to pull off successfully. From Here to Eternity stands in the tradition of The Best Years of Our Lives, Seven Samurai and The Godfather, of pictures with interwoven plots that have become classics thanks to strong screen writing, intelligent direction and powerful acting performances.

    Part of the reason From Here to Eternity works is because it is very quick in establishing its characters and plot lines. It opens with a series of interlinking scenes, introducing us to Montgomery Clift, Frank Sinatra, Philip Ober, Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr, giving us clues about Clift's past and hinting at the future relationship between Lancaster and Kerr, all in the space of five minutes. Director Fred Zinnemann, with a confidence that is lacking in his earliest features, shoots these scenes with subtle technique to give them maximum storytelling effect. For example, he gives Clift's character a superb introduction, walking at a right angle to the marching column until he is brought right into close-up. Once the dialogue begins he uses sudden changes of angle to highlight certain lines, for example the close-up of Lancaster telling Kerr "I'd be happy to help", at which point the audience know exactly what is going to happen between those two characters. Donna Reed is of course introduced a little later, but to compensate she is given a very distinctive first shot, framed on her own immediately after some busy crowd shots.

    But Zinnemann's direction isn't all pure functionalism. He makes sparing use of attention-grabbing stylisation when the moment demands it, such as the dolly-out through the rain-soaked window during Lancaster and Kerr's first kiss. And this stylisation even helps keep the narrative together, for example cutting from the roaring sea at the end of the famous beach scene to the smoke rising from Clift's cigarette. Throughout the various parallel plots there is a tone of melancholy and regret, and Zinnemann keeps this commonality with his consistency of style.

    Of course, you get the same problem or at least the same feature in From Here to Eternity as you do in They Died with Their Boots on or Titanic, in that the audience, knowing their history, know what is going to happen at the end. The strength of the non-combat story lines is such that we forget when and where we are, and as such it is important that we are eased into the finale of the Pearl Harbour attack so it does not seem such a surreal break in tone. This is done with characteristic subtlety, with two objects placed noticeably yet not obtrusively into the frame to jog our memories. The first is a calendar showing December 6th on the wall beside Burt Lancaster, and the other a signpost reading "Pearl Harbour" after his final meeting with Kerr.

    One of the biggest challenges for the makers of an ensemble piece is that you need a larger than normal pool of leading players, and yet you must ensure none of them will overshadow the others. This is another thing they got right in From Here to Eternity. Clift, Kerr and Lancaster are all competent performers without big egos, and they all give steady performances, even if they are far from career-bests. As to Sinatra, what's amazing is not the quality of his performance (it was always evident he could act) but that he was even allowed to play a dramatic, non-musical role. It just goes to show the increased flexibility of cinema in the 1950s, as well as the rising status of the musical genre. To give it some perspective, can you imagine Fred Astaire or Bing Crosby having done the same thing in the 30s? From Here to Eternity won 1953's Best Picture Oscar, and like all successful pictures was followed by a host of imitators. 1955's Battle Cry for example is another many-stranded story about soldiers at the start of World War Two, and even features a rather tepid knock-off of the famous beach scene. However, while Battle Cry has some nice moments, structurally it is an absolute mess, an example of how easy it is to do a botch job on a complex storyline. That's why From Here to Eternity is such a rarity, being an ensemble piece that really works.
  • jotix10028 May 2006
    8/10
    The Bugle of Schofield Barracks
    Warning: Spoilers
    James Jones' epic novel was bought for the movies for a mere $82,000, which is nothing, even for those years. This lengthy novel, of almost 900 pages presented a problem for Columbia Pictures because how could a book this size be condensed into a two hour movie? The task of the adaptation fell into Daniel Taradash, an excellent screen writer with a good track record.

    The end result, as seen through Fred Zinnemann's brilliant direction, showed aspects of the book, but because of the censorship reigning in Hollywood in those years, could have never been shown to the vast audience this film attracted. One of the novel aspects deals with the homosexuality in the Honolulu of the times. It's clear that some of the enlisted men had liaisons with the gay men that treated them to things their meager income didn't allowed them to have. Maggio, is one of the ones instrumental for involving Prewitt into visiting his closeted friends.

    The film deals with two other thorny aspects: adultery and prostitution. Milt Warden, the right hand man of Capt. Holmes, has an eye for his wife Karen, who rumor had it, loved to played around, just as her husband does during his "business in town". In the novel, Karen has an eight year child, who is conveniently disposed of. Their love affair consumed both Milt and Karen. At the same time, a manly Milt, is seen in an intimate moment when he is trying to console Prewitt, who has been ostracized by his refusal to become one of the boxers in the base. Milt caresses Prewitt's hair in what might have been an overture to have something more than a friendship with the gay Prewitt.

    The prostitution issue comes when Maggio takes Prewitt drinking and introduces him to the Congress Club, a brothel. Prewitt's relationship with Alma, the girl from Oregon, is toned down because of the fear of trouble with the Hays Code people. It was a hypocritical way to do things, but who knows what would have come out had the film been done today.

    "From Here to Eternity" still keeps its crisp black and white cinematography that Burnett Guffey gave the film. It's inconceivable to think of it in Technicolor! The score by George Duning serves the action well with its haunting melody. Fred Zinnemann vision paid big time because his vision for the project had the right approach even when it masks the original text.

    Montgomery Clift, one of the most handsome actors working in films at the time, is about the best thing in the film. It appears Mr. Clift was a catalyst for the film, in that he made everyone else excel in the performances they gave. As Robert E. Lee Prewitt, this actor is a pure joy to watch because his transformation into the character. Frank Sinatra has been celebrated for his role as Maggio, yet, he only has a couple of scenes where he shows an intensity and a range he hadn't projected before.

    Burt Lancaster as the all American, and supposedly macho Sgt. Warden, does a fine job. Deborah Kerr work as Karen Holmes showed an actress who understood what made her character tick. It's hard to imagine that Joan Crawford was supposed to have played her and she would have thrown the film out of balance. Donna Reed, as the kind Alma, gave a fine performance. Philip Ober, Mickey Shaugnessy, Ernest Borgnine, Jack Warden, Tim Ryan, and an uncredited George Reeves are seen among the supporting players.

    "From Here to Eternity" is a must see film for all serious fans.
  • Leofwine_draca26 March 2017
    7/10
    Gritty army-based classic has some great character sub-plots
    Warning: Spoilers
    I suppose that FROM HERE TO ETERNITY can best be described as the FULL METAL JACKET of the 1950s. It stars the eternally youthful Montgomery Clift (fresh from playing the role of the tormented priest in Hitchcock's I CONFESS) as a raw army recruit based in Hawaii during World War 2 who is subjected to endless bullying and bad behaviour for an unlikely reason: in peacetime Clift was an amateur boxing champion, and his superiors want him to join the army boxing team, but he refuses due to personal circumstances.

    It's a slight premise but as a film FROM HERE TO ETERNITY works very well indeed, in fact achieving the status of something of a classic. That's because it has real narrative depth and various sub-plots that interact in ways both expected and unexpected. The film boasts from a gritty realism and a lack of sentimentality that means not all of the characters are going to have happy endings. Frank Sinatra shines in the role of a brash young recruit who falls foul of Ernest Borgnine in a star-making performance as a bully. Burt Lancaster is the weary sergeant trying to hold everything together. The story climaxes with the attack on Pearl Harbor, portrayed in a way that is just as powerful as you could hope for.
  • ianlouisiana11 November 2008
    10/10
    Mr Burt Lancaster dominates a copper - bottomed classic.....
    Warning: Spoilers
    This movie gives us a chance to see Mr M.Clift at his angst - ridden best,Mr F.Sinatra either creating a character he was to morph into for the rest of his career or merely playing a character he had already become and Mr B.Lancaster at the height of his grace and beauty stalking across the screen like a hungry tiger.Watch the way he walks during the beach scene,light on his feet,slightly leaning forward,every sense aware........it is a marvellous performance.Miss D.Kerr is put in the shade in their every scene together despite her showy part as the officer's lady with a taste for noncoms. Miss D.Reed is excellent as the social - climbing tart. Often imitated but never excelled,"From here to eternity" is a story of the Army overseas on the brink of war.There are not many good guys,but plenty of ordinary guys doing their best to get along without upsetting too many people.On the "Day of Infamy" these disparate elements come together in common cause against the enemy. The ending,played out between the two very different leading ladies,is outstanding,Miss Reed walking away with the honours. The plot is too well - known to bear recounting and it is definitely a guy thing,the sort of tale where the women are either whores or saints,and there aren't too many saints in the movie. A gay subtext?Well,not in 1953 Hollywood there wasn't,and Mr Clift may be sad and vulnerable but he's reassuringly hetero when push comes to shove. But it's Mr Lancaster who grabs this movie by the balls and never lets go.Somewhere in heaven there's an Oscar waiting for him.
  • wes-connors14 August 2007
    9/10
    From Montgomery Clift to Eternity
    Fred Zinnemann's "From Here to Eternity" is really more of a soap opera than a war story. Still, it is very well done, and very entertaining. The main attraction isn't World War II, or the soap opera story lines - the main attractions in "From Here to Eternity" are the actors' performances.

    Montgomery Clift's is the "main attraction" performance. He makes his character the central figure, despite other story lines, and his performance is mesmerizing. Every look Clift gives, every facial tic, every syllable is fascinating to watch. And, it's all very natural… very character-driven. Not that all the others aren't terrific, too. Burt Lancaster is a close second, and everyone performs exceptionally well.

    Mr. Clift's performance helps elevate both the other performances, and the film in general. Check out how great he makes all the other actors, "look" simply by playing a bugle. This is a case where an actor's performance affects both the other players in the scene, and even leaves its impressions in scenes where the actor doesn't appear. If you take Clift out of the film, you have a much more ordinary movie.

    I'm not sure, however, what/if the film is trying to say about war - is it making a statement of some kind? The main story is: Will Mr. Clift's character box (fight)… or, won't he fight (box)? I guess he is bullied into fighting, but does not initiate fighting (he blinds a man, symbolically, by knocking him out in an unseen fight). I am not sure if I got the film's message, or even if there was one.

    I would have also made either MORE EXPLICIT or MORE SUBTLE the whole prostitution part - it was a place to have sex during the time, I guess. Donna Reed and the other women were prostitutes, I guess. Since they couldn't make it more explicit, they toned it down to make us really think these men went to town so they could exchange "nice" smiles with "nice" women. Elsewhere, Mr. Lancaster and Ms. Kerr's sound like they've had physical relations, when, it looked, to me, like they'd only been hit by a wave. I know this was the '50s, but filmmakers had developed many subtle ways of relaying this information… for the prior half century...

    So, what it boils down to: This is a great wartime soap opera, with great performances.

    ********* From Here to Eternity (8/5/53) Fred Zinnemann ~ Montgomery Clift, Burt Lancaster, Frank Sinatra, Deborah Kerr
  • mermatt10 June 2001
    Romance & History
    The folks who made PEARL HARBOR should have done their homework on how to bring a personal romance into a historical event. This film should have been at the top of their list.

    The Pearl Harbor attack is the climax of the film as well as of the various intricate human relationships in the film. This is a classic piece of romantic history, and the beach scene is probably one of the most erotic ever done -- all the more impressive because it has no nudity.

    This is a real saga of human passion and how it is affected by history. Whether you see PEARL HARBOR or not is up to you. But definitely see this film.
  • ilikeimdb24 October 2005
    10/10
    Truly Excellent; Not Exactly the War Movie You Might Expect
    How others have rated this movie any less than 10-"stars" eludes me. Combine uniformly terrific acting from all involved, an excellent script, keen editing and directing with beautiful visuals, and you do have the 10-star movie that won so many awards. Every acting job is measured and believable, whether Lancaster's just-let-me-do-my-job introverted bullheadedness to Kerr's not-quite-the-Captain's-slut-wife to Sinatra's multi-dimensional kid-from-home-with-an-irrational-chip-on-his-shoulder to Clift's I'm-smarter'n'subtler-than-James-Dean-defiance to Reed's putting-on-airs-(up)country-girl-at-heart...it's all there. The war scenes are besides the point in this movie. You know there's a war just a'brewing. The real battlefield action happens between the characters in a way so much more important and real than a bunch of bombs dropping to blow up the latest Bruckheimer set. I'll admit the ending strains the movie's own internal logic, but that doesn't take away from its power. There's a war on and not every battlefield is equally as obvious.
  • Neil Doyle25 August 2006
    7/10
    Gritty adaptation of sprawling best-seller...but it loses something as a film...
    I would have to say, after reading James Jones' sprawling novel about the peacetime Army in the days before Pearl Harbor, that this is about as good an abridgment of his work as could have been made at the time.

    All of the most brutal prison stockade scenes have been removed (along with the coarse language), personalities have been softened to suit the censorship of the time (Donna Reed is a "hostess" instead of a whore), Warden's latent homosexuality is never mentioned, and yet--with all the deletions--Daniel Taradish has fashioned a very strong film script.

    As characters rebelling against authority, MONTGOMERY CLIFT and FRANK SINATRA do admirable jobs. Clift is especially touching in his combination of toughness and the ability to show his tender side; Sinatra is well cast as Maggio and makes the most of a strong supporting role.

    As Karen, DEBORAH KERR has been reduced to a supporting character, but she effectively portrays a lonely woman who cannot stay immune to the charms of equally lonely soldiers. Her famous love scene with Lancaster on the beach is the stuff movie magic is made of. It's the sort of role one might expect Joan Crawford to turn up in, so it's surprising to find Kerr in the role, a woman whose ladylike image made it a risky casting choice at the time.

    The most effective part of the film is Clift's fatal encounter with "Fatso" (ERNEST BORGNINE). Their bitter exchanges lead to a nifty fight scene. Borgnine is such a believable bully that it's a wonder he was able to stretch beyond bully roles after this film. The antagonism between him and "Prew" (CLIFT), as well as the big action set piece of the attack on Pearl Harbor, are just a couple of reasons why the film captures so much of the flavor of the best-selling novel. The love stories (both of them) are interwoven into the structure of the story with telling effect.

    But all in all, I've always felt that this film was overpraised from the very beginning by the critics. Perhaps because I read the hard-hitting James Jones novel first and was awestruck at what an accomplishment it was.

    The film only manages to be a pale carbon copy of the original work--but, as I said, it's still absorbing entertainment even with some of the characters diluted to meet censorship requirements.
  • JohnHowardReid29 July 2017
    10/10
    An absolute must-see!
    Warning: Spoilers
    Copyright 15 September 1953 by Columbia Pictures Corp. New York opening at the Capitol: 5 August 1953. U.S. release: September 1953. U.K. release: 25 January 1954. Australian release: 15 October 1953. Sydney opening at the State. Full-length 118-120 minutes version shown in North America and Australia. Censored to 114 minutes in the U.K.

    Best Film of 1953 — annual Film Daily poll of over 500 American film critics. Best Film of 1953 — annual Photoplay Gold Medal Award, as voted by over three million North American picture-goers. Best Motion Picture of 1953 — New York Film Critics. Best Male Performance of 1953, Burt Lancaster — New York Film Critics. Best Direction of 1953, Fred Zinnemann — New York Film Critics.

    The National Board of Review cast a dissenting note by voting "From Here To Eternity" into 3rd position behind "Julius Caesar" and "Shane". With a domestic rentals gross of $12.2 million, 3rd at the U.S./Canadian box-office to "The Robe" and "This Is Cinerama". One of the top twenty movies at U.K. ticket windows for 1954. A colossal money-spinner in Australia, the film came in 3rd to "The Greatest Show On Earth" and "Shane". Most Outstanding Directorial Achievement of 1953, Fred Zinnemann — Screen Directors Guild Award. Best Film of 1953 — Golden Globe Award.

    COMMENT: Zinnemann himself persuaded Montgomery Clift to undertake the pivotal role of Prewitt, ex-bugler, ex-boxer and professional soldier. He has been transferred to Schofield Barracks, Honolulu, where he refuses to join his company's boxing team despite Captain Philip Ober's determination to win the regimental championship. Ober orders Sergeant Burt Lancaster to give Clift "the treatment".

    Prewitt's spirit is sustained partly by his buddy, Frank Sinatra, who is beaten to death by a sadistic sergeant, Ernest Borgnine. Even this does not break Prewitt, whose girl, a prostitute from the New Congress Club (played by Donna Reed), cannot understand his loyalty. "What'd the army ever do for you, except treat you like dirt?" she asks bitterly, as he prepares to return to his company after the Pearl Harbor attack. To which Prewitt replies very simply: "What do I want to go back to the army for? I'm a soldier."

    The screenplay retains all the violence and pace of the novel, whilst eliminating much of its vulgarity and a little of its sex. Taradash has enormously improved the narrative structure, giving it a compactness and a polish that is lacking in James Jones's sprawling original. To it, Zinnemann has added his own refined craftsmanship. He has drawn superlative portrayals from his cast (Deborah Kerr's performance is possibly the best of her career), taut images from his wide-screen camera, and has effectively re- employed the editing devices of "High Noon". — John Howard Reid in "A Man for All Movies: The Films of Fred Zinnemann".

    AVAILABLE on an excellent Sony DVD.
  • John T. Ryan22 May 2012
    10/10
    Watered Down and Diluted Version of "Hot" Novel.
    Warning: Spoilers
    BY THE YEAR of 1953, when this blockbuster hit the movie houses, we were able to step back and take a much more objective collective look at many of the happenings of World War II, and to the years immediately preceding it. Through the use of adult fiction in the form of the novel, we are given a multi-tiered presentation of, what many would consider, a much more innocent America.

    BEING SET IN the U.S. Territory of Hawaii, and more specifically, right at Pearl Harbor, our story follows the story of several widely divergent people; telling their various stories through some loosely connected events. The story is knit together only by the membership by those in the U.S. Army; which function as a sort of cohesive literary glue.

    STRICTLY SPEAKING, THIS film is not a War Movie; but rather a study of people coexisting and managing to live out their lives in the presence of and even in spite of some very difficult happenings. Surely, we would have to take into account the fact that this was an Amderica at the tail end of the Great Depression. The characters in the story would be hardened and already weary of life itself.

    IN RESPECT TO the times in which the movie was made, its style is highly representative of the early '50's; which in a small way, dates it. The manner with which many of the contradictory happenings are dealt with are much more subtly dealt with. There is no area more indicative of this than in the matter of S-E-X.

    THE PORTRAYAL OF Master Sergeant (Burt Lancaster) 'dating' his Commanding Officer's wife (Deborah Kerr) is done up rather casually and highly watered down from the print page counterpart in the novel. For Example; the two of them both just happen to have bathing suits on under their evening clothes; allowing for an on screen moonlight swim, but no skinny dipping here. This was the '50's and the censor wouldn't allow it!

    WITH REGARD TO the relationship between the Montgomery Clift character and Donna Reed's, she has been described as a "Call Girl". In the portrayal, she works at a "hostess" at a "club". In reality, the establishment is a brothel and Miss Reed a prostitute.

    THERE IS SOMETHING to recommend this to all; even with old fashioned 'cleaned up' version that it is. Being contrasted with today's, 'anything goes', butt naked, explicit sex laden methods, we prefer some subtlety and use of the power of suggestion. After all, it requires some higher degree of brain power (thinking) and is suitable for younger viewers. We can testify to the veracity of this; as we (that is I) were a very innocent 7 year old when we saw it at the old Ogden Theater, kin Chicago, and it all went strictly TWA (over my head).

    BEFORE WE SIGN off, we must give proper praise and tribute to the performances by Ernest Borgnine and Frank Sinatra in rendering this as being a sort of "Noir goes to War" offering.
  • vincentlynch-moonoi18 October 2011
    Not as good as I expected
    Warning: Spoilers
    Over time, I've generally found that my ratings and reviews are not too far off the mainstream. But, with this film, I do have to disagree with just how good this movie really is. I'm not saying it's a bad movie. It's a good film, but I don't see in it what I would define as a great film. I do have to admit a prejudice here that may influence my view -- with rare exceptions I don't like war/military films.

    But what I found most disappointing here were the performances. I give high marks to Burt Lancaster -- not one of my favorite actors, but he is excellent here. The other actor whom I feel shined in this movie was one of the co-stars -- Philip Ober, who played the "bad guy" captain. And, Ernest Borgnine -- also not one of my favorites -- was very good in his "bad guy" role of Fatso.

    I've always thought that despite not always being a very likable person, that Frank Sinatra was an excellent actor. And while he did have some good scenes in this film, I felt his performance was very uneven. In fact, his scenes early in the movie were disappointing, but his death scene was excellent. Yet this was a breakthrough film for him. Perhaps he was so lauded for his performance because it was his first notable dramatic role. And he certainly grew as his film career progressed.

    Donna Reed and Deborah Kerr were, from my perspective, miscast. Their performances were fine, and their characters mellowed as the film went on. But their roles were of really unpleasant people at the beginning of the movie, so their characters were not what we're used to for either of those actresses. I found that very distracting.

    Montgomery Clift was excellent, as always, although seeing him as a boxer asked a lot of us.

    Yes, the scene on the beach with Kerr and Lancaster, is no doubt one of the all-time great movie scenes. The script is good, and unfortunately, reinforced some of the unfairness I was always aware of in the military (my father was career military).

    I do rate this as a very good film. But for me, not quite a great film.
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