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From Here to Eternity (1953)
"Pouring out of impassioned pages...brawling their way to greatness on the screen! "
In 1941 Hawaii, a private is cruelly punished for not boxing on his unit's team, while his captain's wife and second in command are falling in love.
Burt Lancaster 1st Sgt. Milton Warden
Montgomery Clift Pvt. Robert E. Lee 'Prew' Prewitt
Deborah Kerr Karen Holmes
Donna Reed Alma 'Lorene' Burke
Frank Sinatra Pvt. Angelo Maggio
Philip Ober Capt. Dana 'Dynamite' Holmes
Mickey Shaughnessy Cpl. Leva
Harry Bellaver Pvt. Mazzioli
Ernest Borgnine Sgt. James R. 'Fatso' Judson
Jack Warden Cpl. Buckley
John Dennis Sgt. Ike Galovitch
Merle Travis Sal Anderson
Tim Ryan Sgt. Pete Karelsen
Arthur Keegan Treadwell
Barbara Morrison Mrs. Kipfer - Owner of New Congress Club
Claude Akins Sgt. 'Baldy' Dhom (uncredited)
Vicki Bakken Suzanne (uncredited)
Margaret Barstow Roxanne (uncredited)
Henry Beau (uncredited)
Willis Bouchey Army Lieutenant Colonel (uncredited)
John Bryant Capt. G.R. Ross (uncredited)
Mary Carver Nancy (uncredited)
John L. Cason Cpl. Paluso (uncredited)
Mack Chandler Bit Part (uncredited)
John Davis Bit Part (uncredited)
Don Dubbins Pvt. Friday Clark - Bugler (uncredited)
Elaine DuPont (uncredited)
Moana Gleason Rose - Waitress in Enlisted Men's Club
Robert Healy Soldier (uncredited)
Douglas Henderson Cpl. Champ Wilson (uncredited)
June Horne Dance Hall Girl (uncredited)
James Jones Bit Part (uncredited)
Robert Karnes Sgt. Turp Thornhill (uncredited)
Manny Klein Trumpet Player (uncredited)
Edward Laguna Bit Part (uncredited)
Carey Leverette (uncredited)
Weaver Levy Bartender (uncredited)
William Lundmark Bill (uncredited)
Freeman Lusk Col. Wood (uncredited)
Tyler McVey Maj. Stern (uncredited)
Kristine Miller Georgette - Lorene's Roommate (uncredited)
Patrick Miller Bit Part (uncredited)
Robert Pike Maj. Bonds (uncredited)
Allen Pinson Bit Part (uncredited)
George Reeves Sgt. Maylon Stark
Joe Roach Bit Part (uncredited)
Fay Roope Gen. Slater (uncredited)
Delia Salvi Billie (uncredited)
Louise Saraydar Bit Part (uncredited)
Alvin Sargent Nair (uncredited)
Joseph Sargent Bit Part (uncredited)
Joan Shawlee Sandra (uncredited)
Al Silvani Soldier leaving New Congress Club (uncredited)
Angela Stevens Jean (uncredited)
Brick Sullivan Military Guard (uncredited)
John Veitch Bit Part (uncredited)
Guy Way Bit Part (uncredited)
Norman Wayne Bit part (uncredited)
Robert J. Wilke Sgt. Henderson (uncredited)
Jean Willes Annette - Club Receptionist
Norman Wright (uncredited)
Carleton Young Col. Ayres (uncredited)
Producer: Buddy Adler
Writer: James Jones,Daniel Taradash
One of the Best of the Fifties
If FROM HERE TO ETERNITY is the best war movie ever made, it is because it deals so exclusively with the human element of war. This is director Fred Zinnemann's masterpiece, the worthy recipient of eight Oscars. Without a doubt the best film of 1953, it is also one of the classics of world cinema.

Fred Zinnemann's strengths as a filmmaker--his intelligence and ability to tell a good story--serve him well in his direction of the excellent screenplay by Daniel Taradash. This is one of those rare wonders of film-making where so much that could have gone wrong goes miraculously right. The screenplay extracted from James Jones' novel couldn't be better, nor could the major characters have been entrusted to a finer cast.

Montgomery Clift rose to major stardom in A PLACE IN THE SUN, but in FROM HERE TO ETERNITY he tops everything done by an actor in the 1950s, save Brando's ON THE WATERFRONT. The most photogenic of actors during this period, he portrays a man with principles, a man who has to go his own way, and while we may cringe at some of the scenes where he has to endure "the treatment" because he refuses to yield to the whims of his superiors, we cannot help but identify with the man who has made the right choice.

Burt Lancaster plays the honest and confident sergeant, just the type of character who would make a hero for a major film, and although he is somewhat overshadowed by Clift, he is excellent and always a pleasure to watch. His strong face and body have the look of authority, and this may have been the first film where Lancaster was really acclaimed for his acting (although I also like his work in COME BACK, LITTLE SHEBA and THE KILLERS). Lancaster received his first Oscar nomination, and though Clift (on his third nomination) should easily have won, both actors split the votes to the benefit of William Holden in STALAG 17.

Deborah Kerr, all vestiges of her Scottish accent discarded, plays a hot tamale of a captain's wife with something of a past. She doesn't sleep with her husband, but it doesn't take her and Lancaster long to size each other up as potential lovers. In terms of length, Miss Kerr's role is more of a supporting one, but she brings such a wealth of strength and sensitivity to her scenes that she lifts her role to starring status. She received her second Best Actress nomination.

FROM HERE TO ETERNITY is quite famous for the performance of Frank Sinatra, very good as the hot-tempered Italian who won't back down from the wrath of Ernest Borgnine as the sergeant of the guard at the stockade where Sinatra has been sent after going AWOL. In his opening scenes, Sinatra seems to be the only sign of comic relief, but his final scene in Montgomery Clift's arms, when his last thoughts are of his friend and what could happen to him, has intense dramatic force.

Sinatra won an Oscar in the supporting category, as did Donna Reed for an excellent performance as the girl who becomes involved with Clift. This love affair has real warmth and heart. Miss Reed has a genuine sweetness in her scenes with Clift (plus a tragic quality in the film's final scene with Deborah Kerr) that gives her scenes in the New Congress Club a brittle hardness that is doubly potent.

All the girls in the New Congress Club look and act like hookers, but there is nothing in the action or dialogue that substantiates this. In fact, all efforts seem to have been made to give these girls the appearance of innocence, as if apologizing for including such scenes in a mainstream movie. Of course, the reasons were obvious in 1953: kids could see this movie and have no questions later, while adults got the picture. How many adults could think Army men would be satisfied with soft drinks and dancing? FROM HERE TO ETERNITY is a movie whose climax we know is coming, and when it does it almost has the quality of euthanasia. The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor is depicted in a few deft strokes, but Zinnemann makes the excitement and terror palpable.

There are many who remember this film for its powerful love scene on the beach between Lancaster and Miss Kerr, or maybe the barroom brawl scene involving Clift, Borgnine, and Lancaster, or perhaps any of the scenes at the New Congress Club, or Sinatra's final scene. Seeing this one again for the umpteenth time, I found almost any scene in it unforgettable. Maybe that's the definition of a great film.

User credit 1:1001 movies you must see before you die
User credit 2:256
Storage device:DVD
Imdb rating: 7.8
Musician: George Duning
Running time: 118 min
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Last modified: 2008-01-02 11:29:53