From Here to Eternity (1953) starring Burt Lancaster, Montgomery Clift, Deborah Kerr, Donna Reed, Frank Sinatra, Philip Ober, Mickey Shaughnessy directed by Fred Zinnemann Movie Review

From Here to Eternity (1953)   3/53/53/53/53/5

Montgomery Clift and Frank Sinatra in From Here to Eternity (1953)

Not the Eternity I Expected

Robert E. Lee Prewitt is a man of many talents including being an ace bugler and even better boxer except he has given up on fighting having left his friend and sparring partner blind. Having transferred to Schofield in Hawaii Prewitt finds himself at odds with Capt. Dana Holmes (Philip Ober) who demands he fights in the ring for the base but refuses. Holmes decides to make his life a misery and wants Sgt. Milton Warden (Burt Lancaster) to persuade him to change his mind. Warden is also treading a fine line in secret when he starts to have an affair with Holmes's wife Karen (Deborah Kerr) who is well known for her extra marital dalliances. Meanwhile Prewitt has started to get cosy with Lorene (Donna Reed) who works at the social club whilst his friend Angelo Maggio (Frank Sinatra) finds himself falling foul of the stockade sergeant. Unbeknown to everyone the Japanese are planning to bomb Pearl Harbour.

I've watched "From Here to Eternity" many times and despite being impressed by many aspects of it I have never been blown away by it as so many people have. In fact having read many reviews of "From Here to Eternity" I am often bewildered by some of the comments which suggest it is an authentic portrayal of war and the men who fought. I say that because in truth "From Here to Eternity" is a melodrama, a soap opera story set in the days prior to the attack on Pearl Harbour dealing with stories surrounding several characters.

Deborah Kerr and Burt Lancaster in From Here to Eternity (1953)

Now there are several stories in "From Here to Eternity", we have Prewitt's determination not to box and so faces a hard time for refusing to take to the ring. We have the cheeky Maggio who has an element of bitterness about him as he always seems to lack the luck of others. And of course we have the romantic drama between Milton and Karen and whilst it is a gushing romance with that iconic scene of them rolling in the sand on the beach as the waves crash over them it is over the top. I guess I expected something different but the whole nature of this romance and the over the top romantic dialogue ends up coming across as cheesy rather than realistic.

But here is the thing, whilst the storyline fails to charm me in the way it has charmed many there are aspects of "From Here to Eternity" which impress me. That starts with the cinematography which has crispness which considering its age is fantastic and that crispness picks up on some wonderful detail from the interiors of the social club to the outside at the training base. In fact the whole production is visually impressive with a wonderful musical score which rises and falls to emphasise that romantic side of the movie.

And then there is the acting and "From Here to Eternity" not only has an impressive cast but a cast who all deliver interesting characters. Sinatra steals many a scene as he gives Maggio that streetwise temperament and chip on his shoulder whilst Clift plays it solid and silent which makes his character intriguing but reliant. Add to this the romance of Lancaster and Kerr and the central characters all deliver very distinct characters with the likes of Donna Reed and Ernest Borgnine filling in the gaps with equally good supporting performances.

What this all boils down to is that "From Here to Eternity" is a beautiful production with great acting, interesting characters and beautiful cinematography. But the melodramatic storyline leaves me wanting especially when you read some people say it is authentic only then to have to listen to some seriously over the top romantic dialogue.