Best Picture Review: “From Here to Eternity” (1953)

From Here to Eternity (1953)
From Here to Eternity (1953)

Lauren and I have really been plowing through the Best Picture winners lately.  March has been our busiest month yet, and it’s only the 19th.  This of course is mostly because we have nothing else to watch as we wait for Comcast to come install our cable.  We also know our movie project is going to drop off considerably as soon as the baseball season starts and the Twins are playing.

So, as soon as we finished The Greatest Show on Earth Wednesday night, we immediately popped in 1953’s From Here to Eternity.

From Here to Eternity takes place in the days leading up to December 7, 1941 when the Japanese attack Pearl Harbor, and centers around Private Robert E. Lee Prewitt (Montgomery Clift), who has just transferred to Pearl Harbor after being booted from first chair bugle at wherever he was before.  He is renown for his boxing skills, but outright refuses to box for the dastardly Captain Dana Holmes.  Thus, Holmes and his henchmen make life a living hell for Prewitt, whose only friend is Private Angelo Maggio (Frank Sinatra).

Throughout the movie we watch as Prewitt and Maggio endure hardships one after the other.   Prewitt is severely punished for virtually any little thing he does wrong, and Maggio winds up being detained in solitary confinement after a drunken night on the town.  Also in the spotlight is an affair between Capt. Holmes’ wife Karen and 1st Sergeant Milton Warden.  You may remember this famous scene of the two getting down and dirty on the beach.

Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr
Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr

Time for spoilers!  Maggio escapes from the stockade and dies after being thrown from a truck in the process, but before he dies, he tells Prewitt of the bastard guard who repeatedly beats him.  So Robert E. Lee Prewitt tracks down the guard named Fatso and kills him.  Meanwhile, Prewitt has fallen in love with a woman named Lorraine.  When the Japanese attack, Prewitt leaves Lorraine to rush back to camp to fight, but is gunned down by one of his own men before he even arrives.

I liked From Here to Eternity quite a bit.  For some reason that I can’t pinpoint, it reminds me of the movie Pearl Harbor, only the attack scenes don’t even start until there’s ten minutes left.  The attacks were a very small part of the movie.  This was a movie with a lot of different characters and several different storylines, some of which intertwined, as the days before the attack numbered.

I thought the acting and script were strong.  The fighting scenes were pretty realistic and the war scenes were as good as any up to this point.  The love scenes were a little PG, but then again, it was 1952.  And the characters loved to drink a lot… not like the guy from The Lost Weekend, but they got drunk as often as possible.

There weren’t many negatives, other than going back to black-and-white after two straight colored films.  The ending was kinda abrupt, and it seemed like some loose ends were left hanging.

Here are my updated Top 10, which keep changing slightly.

  1. The Best Years of Our Lives (1947)
  2. Mrs. Miniver (1942)
  3. All About Eve (1950)
  4. Grand Hotel (1932)
  5. Gone With the Wind (1939)
  6. Casablanca (1943)
  7. Mutiny on the Bounty (1935)
  8. It Happened One Night (1934)
  9. From Here to Eternity (1953)
  10. All Quiet on the Western Front (1930)
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