From Here to Eternity (1953)

Sadly, I have spent a good chunk of time bashing the classics, especially those from Hollywood’s Golden Age. For the longest time, I avoided movies released before the 1970s because black and white stories never interested me. As I make my way through the Best Picture winners, I really only got the classic black and white ones left. 

Recently I just watched the 1953 winner, From Here to Eternity. I had no clue what this film would be about and wondered if I would enjoy it. I was quite impressed and thoroughly enjoyed this movie focused on a military unit stationed in Hawaii. 

This classic film stars Burt Lancaster, the captains’ yes man, but goes along with the gig because he has his own agenda. Montgomery Clift is a former boxer and solider who the story focuses on. Frank Sinatra is also a soldier stationed there who befriend Clift’s character Robert E. Lee Prewitt. Deborah Kerr, the captain’s wife and Donna Reed, who falls for Prewitt, plays love interests. 

I enjoyed Lancaster’s character Sgt. Milton Warden because he was an imposing figure who always did the right thing, I mean if you overlook the affair with the captains’ wife. He does his best to protect the unit’s men, including Prewitt, who was transferred to this unit to be their boxing champion. The only problem is he’s retired after severely injuring someone in a match. 

The rest of the unit think they are thug boxers and bully Prewitt, who bends but never breaks. It takes the entire movie to finally get him to fight, and the captain just lets it happen to “teach” him a lesson. 

I liked how the story was down to earth. It focused on life in the service and the pros and cons to living on base, with people you like and don’t like. In a shocking twist, which I did not see coming is the writers tied in Pearl Harbour’s attack into the final act. Sadly the initial attack with fighter jets kills one of our main characters, but I won’t spoil it for you. 

From Here to Eternity was entertaining and perfectly paced. The shift between base activities and outside activities kept the story interesting and entertaining. I wouldn’t say I dreaded the film, but I know I was concerned going in whether I’d enjoy it or not. In the end, I thought it was a fine film with great performances. The Academy clearly felt the same, awarding the feature film eight statues. 7/10

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