Saturday, September 3, 2011

From Here to Eternity (1953)

Private Prewitt (Montgomery Clift) transfers from his bugle corp to a fighting unit in Hawaii. He was a boxer and doesn't want to box anymore, personal reasons. He is reunited with old friend, forty year old buck private Maggio (Frank Sinatra). His new CO is Captain Holmes, but the unit is run by hard-ass Sargent Warden (Burt Lancaster).

It seems Captain Holmes needs another boxer and won't take no for an answer. Prewitt takes all the abuse he can dish out. While off duty, Prewitt and Maggio seek out the company of the ladies. And by "company", we mean "have polite conversation with while they wear overly complicated dresses", nudge nudge, wink wink. Prewitt falls for one such lady (Donna Reed) even though her bland conversation and total lack of exposed skin is available to any man willing to pay for it.

Well, Maggio strikes up a great friendship with Sargent Fatso (Ernest Bognine, Mermaid Man, boys and girls!), Sargent Warden falls for single girl "Mrs. Captain Holmes" (Deborah Kerr), Prewitt learns to play nice, some young Japanese gentlemen stop by for a picnic, and everyone lives happily ever after. Except the people who die.

So, the question is this. Is From Here to Eternity a war movie masquerading as a love story, or a love story masquerading as a war movie? More on that later.

Montgomery Clift was totally miscast as Prewitt. I didn't believe him as a soldier, let alone a boxer. The fact that he got nominated for an acting Oscar either means academy voters were enthralled with this movie or I don't know anything about acting. I'm open to either interpretation.

The famous scene, you know the one, with Lancaster and Kerr (not a cur!) making out on the beach totally didn't play out as I expected. They run into the surf, wash ashore while kissing, run to their blankets, and Lancaster accuses her of being a slut. Not what I expected.

It won a ton of Oscars, and deserved them I would guess. It is a very well made movie with some good acting. Sinatra was good in his role. Oscar worthy, I don't know, but good. AMRU 3.5.

And to answer my question, totally the latter.

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