Friday, July 16, 2010

From Here To Eternity

Movie Review: From Here To Eternity

Director: Fred Zinnemann

Reviewed: 16 July 2010

jamesintexas rating--*** 1/2.

From Here To Eternity marks my first film starring Frank Sinatra, Montgomery Clift, and my first film (that isn't Field of Dreams) starring Burt Lancaster. It is pre-Pearl Harbor on Oahu, and Sgt. Milton Warden (Lancaster) deals with his overbearing and corrupt boss while simultaneously making time with his superior's wife (Deborah Kerr) while Pvt. Prewitt (Clift) refuses to box for the company and befriends Pvt. Mazzio (Sinatra) while romancing Lorene (Donna Reed). The film depicts the relationships, hazing, and suffering of these characters as they make their way through pre-war Hawaii.

Lancaster cuts such a figure in this film, physically and with his voice. Clift is pitch-perfect as a tormented ex-boxer who refuses to break. And Sinatra? Completely magnetic; you can't take your eyes off him when he's on screen. The musical scenes break up the film a bit, with the soliders singing the Re-Enlistment Blues at times, and the sense of place is captured beautifully; at times, Diamond Head is poking out of the background as the lovers talk on Waikiki Beach.

The Pearl Harbor attack sequence is frightening and uncertain. The story-telling works and has power. The iconic kiss on the beach with the crashing wave remains iconic. For a film of its time to depict the Army in such a negative, realistic light must have been controversial. The film crashes to a halt with serious melodrama and departures. But, it remains powerful.

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