In Hawaii 1941, a private is harassed by his fellow soldiers for refusing to join their boxing team, while his commander falls in love with their captain's wife.
From Here to Eternity (1953)
Directed by Fred Zinnemann
Written by Daniel Taradash
Starring Burt Lancaster, Montgomery Clift, Deborah Kerr,
Frank Sinatra, Donna Reed, Philip Ober, Ernest Borgnine
Based on the novel by James Jones
Oscar Wins - Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor (Frank Sinatra), Best Supporting Actress (Donna Reed), Best Director,
Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Cinematography,
Best Sound Recording, Best Film Editing
Oscar Nominations - Best Actor (Burt Lancaster), Best Actor (Montgomery Clift), Best Actress (Deborah Kerr), Best Costume Design, Best Original Score (Morris Stoloff, George Duning)
From Here to Eternity has a timeless quality to it, and that's owed to the fantastic direction from Fred Zinnemann, the stellar cinematography from Burnett Guffey, and the unreal performances from everyone involved. It's so rare for a film to have multiple actors up for Best Actor, but it's always a treat because you've got cinematic titans battling it out for screen supremacy. In this case, it's Burt Lancaster and Montgomery Clift, as the film is principally their respective stories happening simultaneously. But the supporters are just as incredible, notably Frank Sinatra who staged a career comeback and an Oscar win with this film. Basically what we've got here is one of the most revered films of the 1950's, and one that has actually earned the mantle of "classic."
Our story takes place in Hawaii 1941, just a bit before the bombing of Pearl Harbor, which makes up the ending and transforms this romantic drama into a full-blown war movie. Private Robert E. Lee Prewitt (Clift) has been reassigned to a new unit, and they want him to join their boxing team. But he gave up boxing after he hurt a friend, so they harass and torture this kid, hoping they'll break his spirit and he'll join the team. Meanwhile, Prewitt's commander Sgt. Warden (Lancaster) has fallen in love with Karen Holmes (Kerr), his captain's neglected wife. The two know they have a doomed romance, but they jump in with both feet anyway. This film treats love like a disease, like something that ruins your life. Also, this film vilifies the military and condemns individuality. It's the most communist film I've ever seen, and this was made in 1953 in the heart of the Cold War.
I admire how ahead of its time this movie was. This film deals with prostitution, desertion, adultery, a miscarriage, and makes the U.S. Army look like a gang of thugs. I can't believe Fred Zinnemann was able to make this movie, but it's such a treat to watch.