From Here to Eternity
Directed by: Fred Zinneman
Its been a while since I last reviewed a 50s classic. To tell the truth, I was missing all those black and white exciting rides. I think the last time I reviewed a classic was The 400 Blows, back in November I think. Well now I am back with a review for this great World War II epic from the year 1953, back then when many of award categories were split in two: color and black and white.
From Here to Eternity is based on James Jones novel. It is set in 1941 in the island of Oahu. Private Robert E. Lee Prewitt was transferred to company G at Schofield Barrack. There he encounters Captain Holmes, a ruthless and ambitious man who holds a proposition for him: to box for him in the boxing club to win the boxing trophy. Prewitt happened to be a great boxer before joining the army, but after an incident with a friend of his he quit boxing forever. But this doesn't sound good to the captain and he sets his mind into making Prewitt's life a living hell. Prewitt befriends Angelo Maggio, a fellow soldier, as stubborn as him, with some disciplinnary troubles, and he meets Alma "Lorene" Burke, a nightclub hostess whom he falls in love for. And while all this is going on, Sargeant Milton Warden starts an affair with Karen, the captain's wife, and unexpectedly he falls in love with her. All this happens the prior months to the attack on Pearl Harbor.
The film's strength lies in its writing. The story is sad, its touching, its compelling. James Jones' novel (which I haven't had the chance of reading but now after watching the film I woul like to) has a wonderful set of characters and situations and it was the screenwriter's duty to put them on screen, and he certainly did a great job. I found myself rootng deeply for the characters, despite not being the most likeable fellows around, and many times I wanted to stop watching, just to prevent the coming events from happening.
The performances all around were great. Montgomery Clift and Burt Lancaster (Rober E. Lee Prewitt and Milton Warden) did pretty good jobs with their characters, but the best male actor of the film was Frank Sinatra (Angelo Maggio). A little interesting fact before I start talking about his performance: Sinatra was rumored to have landed this role thanks to connections with the Mafia, and this would inspire Mario Puzo to write to subplot of Johnny Fontane (Vito's godson), including the horse head segment, in The Godfather. Anyway, Sinatra's performance was a very good and inspired one. He played his character naturally, as if he wasn't even acting. He could be a partying good friend or a mad stubborn "monkey" and he still would seem to be natural. He deserved his Best Supporting Actor Oscar, and to tell the truth it was saddening what happened to his character. For the ladies, Deborah Kerr and Donna Reed both played magnificently their roles, but my favorite was Deborah Kerr as the temperamental, promiscuous and hard-to-love Karen Holmes, Captain Holmes wife. Her character, though unlikable, was a pleasure to watch, thanks to the Deborah Kerr who could splendidly fit into her role.
From Here to Eternity is an outstanding and compelling which depicts the lives and troubles of a group of soldiers before the Pearl Harbor attack. It's rich in storytelling, has great and interesting characters, unforgettable performances and a wonderful script. It is not perfect, it has flaws, but they are minor and forgivable and nothing worth of condeming.
My rcommendation: It is a great film, recommended.
My score: 91 - 96 %