Even if you haven’t seen the film, you’ve probably at least heard of it. Or at the very least, you know about the famous beach scene. From Here To Eternity may not be a household name like some of the other films I’ve reviewed, but it is an extraordinary movie that really shouldn’t be overlooked.
Robert E. Lee Prewitt (Montgomery Clift) is a soldier stationed at Florida. He used to be a talented boxer, but quit after accidentally blinding an opponent. While the Captain tries to make him detest army life so that he’ll go back to boxing, the Captain’s wife (Deborah Kerr) is having an affair with Sarge Warden. (Burt Lancaster) Meanwhile, Prewitt gets into a fancy bar with the help of close friend Angelo, (Frank Sinatra) and falls in love with a prostitute with a bad rep. (Donna Reed)
So, yeah. The story is fairly complex, but what makes this film work is the acting. Everyone in this film feels natural, like a real person rather than a performance. Clift? Very strong acting, with a lot of emotional weight to deliver. Lancaster? Beautifully natural and subtle. Kerr? Awful lot of emotion to get through, and it all comes out flawlessly. Sinatra? Very likable, and he really sells those drunk scenes. Reed? Very interesting character, and she pulls it off perfectly.
Not only do we have the acting, but the general direction and tone is just wonderfully done. You grow to feel for the characters and as the film goes on, you really feel like you’re there as all this is happening. Most of the film takes place in late 1941, but when the Japs attack during the climax, (I don’t think I’m giving anything away by saying that.) you suddenly feel like you’re trapped in the battle. At one point, I almost ducked under the blanket!
The cinematography, production design, and some pretty cool effects all add up to create an amazing motion picture. But like I said before, it’s really the acting that carried the film. Fred Zinneman set out to make a movie that would inspire audiences for generations to come. And while it’s not Casablanca or All About Eve, it’s still one heck of a film.
With a budget of 1.65 million, Zinnemann made a better Pearl Harbor movie than Michael Bay did with 140 million. It just goes to show you, money isn’t everything.