From Here to Eternity

1953

Action / Drama / Romance / War

12
Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Certified Fresh 92%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Upright 84%
IMDb Rating 7.7 10 39504

Synopsis


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Director

Cast

Frank Sinatra as Angelo Maggio
Burt Lancaster as Sgt. Milton Warden
Donna Reed as Alma aka Lorene
Ernest Borgnine as Sgt. 'Fatso' Judson
720p.BLU 1080p.BLU
848.92 MB
1280*952
English
NR
23.976 fps
1hr 58 min
P/S 2 / 9
1.78 GB
1440*1072
English
NR
23.976 fps
1hr 58 min
P/S 3 / 7

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by Steffi_P 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.

Reviewed by EUyeshima 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.

Reviewed by Spikeopath 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.

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