Published on February 14th, 2008 | by Chris0
From Here to Eternity (1953)
I've seen From Here to Eternitya few times now, and each time I wonder how it continually winds up on the top of the "best war movies of all time" lists. Is it a bad movie? Absolutely not, but I think it makes a better "chick flick" than war movie, and the reasons are pretty obvious.
We have Sgt. Warden (Burt Lancaster) going after an affair with Captain Holmes' (Philip Ober) wife Karen (Deborah Kerr.) Without a doubt these are the steamiest parts of the film, and produce the famous "beach kiss" scene we've all seen a million times over. In the end though, she wants more than he's willing to give up, and it basically ends.
More important is the tale of one Pvt. Robert E. Lee Prewitt (Montgomery Clift) aka "Prew." He's brought to Hawaii by Capt. Holmes to join his boxing squad. The problem is that Prew has shunned the ring, having accidentally blinded a man by a knockout punch. The fun ensues as he's beaten and ridiculed into going back to the ring, but he'll have no part of it. Between him and his buddy Maggio (Frank Sinatra) the drinking and reveling they do outweighs anything they do on the base.
Along the way Prew meets up with one of the "companion" girls at the local club, Alma (Donna Reed) and they fall hopelessly in love. (sigh)
Unfortunately it's the reveling that gets Maggio into trouble, and in the stockade, where the warden Sgt. "Fatso" Judsen (Ernest Borgnine) beats him so badly he has to force an escape. He gets rolled from the truck he escapes on, and dies in the arms of Prew....
...who of course goes out after blood, and after Fatso. He knifes him in an alley, and holes up with Alma.
Oh, and did I mention this all takes place on Hawaii? In the days leading up to Dec. 7, 1941? Yeah, I guess that's important, as the Japanese start their attack, Prew is torn between facing his punishment for murder, and getting back to his squad. He finally chooses the latter, and is shot and killed trying to sneak back onto the base.
From Here to Eternity ends with Karen and Alma leaving the island, mourning in each their own way, and discovering the connection that exists between them.
I dunno, maybe I "had to be there" to understand why this consistently rates high on everyone else's war movie scale. Maybe the portrayal of the island's nightlife and base-life brings back memories for those who were there and remember it.
I just don't get it. From Here to Eternity is your typical sappy 50's soap opera love story (and it does get rather 50's-ish quite often) and just doesn't do it for me. I'm sure there are parts I'm leaving out, but its just not that memorable to me. As a love story I'd give it a full 9/10, but as a war movie I'm going with five.
(I guess this is as fitting a day to post a review of From Here to Eternity as any, too 😉
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Summary: I just don't get it. From Here to Eternity is your typical sappy 50's soap opera love story (and it does get rather 50's-ish quite often) and just doesn't do it for me. I'm sure there are parts I'm leaving out, but its just not that memorable to me. As a love story I'd give it a full 9/10, but as a war movie I'm going with five.