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From Here to Eternity (Winner, 1953/26th Annual Academy Awards)

20 Jan

This Oscar winner was a lot of things for me: my first winner from the 1950’s, my first movie with an iconic scene (even though I didn’t know it from this movie) and my first winner which had a surprise (to me) Frank Sinatra appearance!

What From Here to Eternity was not: my first black and white movie (that would be It Happened One Night), my first winner based on a novel (The English Patient) or, unfortunately, my favorite Oscar winner I’ve watched so far, or anything even close.  And unlike some movies that I dislike or think are so-so, I can pinpoint my exact problem with From Here to Eternity…which shall be revealed further on (I can’t just blow my entire verdict in the second paragraph!)

So this movie follows Private Robert E. Lee Prewitt (played by Montgomery Clift) after he transfers to an Army unit stationed in Hawaii several weeks before the attack Pearl Harbor. He used to box for his unit, but after almost killing a man, decides to stop boxing (which doesn’t seem illogical to me). But his Lieutenant really wants him to help the unit win the boxing championship, and is determined to make his life a living hell until he’s convinced to join the team. I guess he’s never heard that saying about catching more flies with honey, but I digress.

Here’s my biggest issue with From Here to Eternity: there’s a whole parallel storyline, that barely intersects with the one described above! It’s like watching two separate movies that intercut occasionally.  The other main story is the love affair by Burt Lancaster Sergeant Warden and the unit captain’s wife Karen, played by Deborah Kerr (these two are the one rolling around in the surf in this iconic scene:

From Here to Eternity won best picture, director, supporting actor and supporting actress, AND was also nominated for best actor and actress.  Clearly, they saw something I’m not seeing, because I really was not into this movie.  I thought the plot dragged a little bit and was a little convoluted, bouncing back and forth between the competing story lines. I might have to give From Here to Eternity another shot in a different mind set, but we’ll have to see.  From Here to Eternity is currently streaming on Netflix.  Have you seen it?  Do you have any wise words to illuminate the plot for me?  Please share if so =)

Fun facts (courtesy of IMDB and Wikipedia)

  • The now classic scene between Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr in the rushing water on the beach was not written to take place there. The idea to film with the waves hitting them was a last minute inspiration from the director.
  • Shot in a mere 41 days and for only $1 million.
  • The last Academy Award Best Picture winner to receive nominations in all of the four acting categories. (It also received nominations for best picture, director and adapted screenplay, all three of which it won.)
  • The film helped to popularize Aloha shirts. (Thanks a lot, From Here to Eternity)