From Here to Eternity, based on the novel by James Jones
A different version of this note and thoughts on other books are available at:
- https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLEVa4_CsRStSBBDo4uJWT8BSWtTTn0N1E and http://realini.blogspot.ro/
From Here to Eternity might stay in the history of cinema for…eternity.
Or it might not.
The film benefits from a wonderful cast, a great director and an acclaimed original material in the novel by James Jones.
But in spite or because of all that, in my opinion the moving picture does not quite manage to be a chef d’oeuvre.
Fred Zinnemann is the director and he has been at the helm of at least two masterpieces, if not more likely more:
- High Noon, A Man of All Seasons to which we need to add Julia and maybe The Search
About Montgomery Clift, his partner in the film, Burt Lancaster said that he has such a force that he made him scared.
Montgomery Clift is also behind the rise of three of the best actors: Paul Newman, Marlon Brando and James Dean.
He did not take up the roles in Somebody Up There Likes Me, On the Waterfront and East of Eden and hence gave a chance to the aforementioned trio.
Alongside the two demigods of cinema, we have a series of other great professionals in key roles in the film:
- Deborah Kerr, Frank Sinatra, Ernest Borgnine, Jack Warden
In his book The Kid Stays in the Picture, the producer, head of Paramount and the man behind The Godfather, Chinatown, Love Story and other significant or paramount productions, roger Evans mentions an incident with Sinatra.
The great singer was infamous for his relationship with the Mafia and some other bad behaviors in his private life.
Robert Evans was the producer of Rosemary’s Baby, directed by Roman Polanski and with Mia Farrow, for a short while the wife of Frank Sinatra who would not let her participate at the film, after a moment.
To take revenge, the actress wanted to take an add in major newspapers that would just highlight the box office of her film, a success story and then that of Sinatra’s movie, which was pretty much a financial disaster…
Burt Lancaster is Sgt. Milton Warden, in love with the wife of his superior officer, Karen Holmes as portrayed by Deborah Kerr.
Montgomery Clift has the role of Robert Prewitt, in love with another girl, Alma aka Lorene and is a famous boxer.
Because he injured severely a friend, while they practiced, sending him into a coma from which he recovered only to lose his eyesight, Robert Prewitt does not want to get in the ring and fight ever again.
But his unit wants to gain the championships and they want him to participate, or if not, he will face severe consequences.
When he maintains his refusal, he is abused, assigned to all the most difficult and obscene tasks and made to suffer, without a pass and throughout all this time he is made to crawl through mud and dirt in order to lose his determination.
In the meantime, Milton Warden has an affair with the wife of his captain, but this is somehow virtuous nearly, for it is the husband who had been philandering for a long time and furthermore, he is the cause of the death of their baby and a long, terrible suffering on the part of Karen Holmes.
Robert Prewitt falls in love with Lorene, who is actually called Alma, but has a stage name, in the club where she works.
Both relationships are difficult to “maintain” and in the case of the sergeant, it is even dangerous for it could land him in the stockade.
This is where Angelo Maggio aka Frank Sinatra lands and is abused by an enemy he made in a club, played by Ernest Borgnine.
The fate of Angelo Maggio becomes dramatic and it actually marks the fate of his friend, Robert Prewitt.
The latter is mad at the suffering inflicted upon his friend, basically tortured while in prison and tries to revenge it.
There is so much going on that I am thinking that this may be part of the reason why I was not overwhelmed by this film
From Here to Eternity has been included on The New York Times’ Best 1,000 Movies Ever Made list: