FROM HERE TO ETERNITY
Review by Michael Jacobson
Burt Lancaster, Montgomery Clift, Deborah Kerr, Donna Reed, Frank Sinatra
Director: Fred Zinnemann
Audio: Dolby Digital Mono
Video: Full Frame 1.33:1
Studio: Columbia Tri Star
Features: See Review
Length: 118 Minutes
Release Date: October 23, 2001
never been so miserable in my life as I have since I met you.”
wouldn’t trade a minute of it. ”
Here to Eternity is simply one of the best films to ever come out of Hollywood, and a
true classic in every sense of the word. It’s
dramatic tales of love and anger, of loyalty and betrayal, of friends and
enemies set against the backdrop of one of the biggest turning points in the
history of our country makes it a movie that never grows old, and a perfect film
is 1941, and the United States Army has been resting as comfortably as it can in
between the two greatest wars of the modern era. Onto a base in Hawaii comes young Private Robert E. Lee
Prewitt (Clift), clearly a man of principles in a job where principles are
sometimes required to take a back seat. He
accepted a demotion to Private from Corporal over such a matter.
base’s commanding officer wants to put Prewitt on their boxing team for a
chance to win a championship. Prewitt
earned a reputation for his prowess in the ring, but has since refused to fight
after accidentally blinding a man during a sparring match.
This doesn’t win him many friends, and soon he becomes the victim of
“the treatment”, which involves one fatigue detail after another and very
men who do befriend him are fellow private Angelo Maggio (Sinatra, in an Oscar
winning role), a good but occasionally hot tempered Italian American, and
Sergeant Warden (Lancaster), who tries to run his outfit with as much fairness
as he’s allowed to.
is secretly in love with his CO’s alluring wife, Karen Holmes (Kerr, playing
against type). She has an unhappy
marriage that has never recovered from a dark incident from the past.
In the meantime, Prewitt is introduced to a special club in town by
Maggio, where he falls for the lovely Alma, a.k.a. Lorene (Reed, another Oscar
film follows all stories gracefully. Sergeant
Warden only finds anxious stolen moments with Karen, and finds that he may have
to do the one thing he’s never wanted to in order to keep her.
Prewitt, because of his refusal to give in and box, finds very few
chances to meet with Alma, who adamantly claims she doesn’t want to be a
soldier’s wife. As for Maggio,
whose willingness to stand up for his friend has often gotten him into the same
hot water, he makes an enemy of a racist stockade sergeant that will eventually
lead to his undoing in one of the picture’s saddest sequences.
dramatic stories are fleshed out by the terrific characters, all played to
perfection by their respected actors. Lancaster
is terrific as always as the dutiful but fair Warden, and his romantic scene on
the beach with Ms. Kerr has become one of cinema’s most indelible images.
Montgomery Clift, who was director Fred Zinnemann’s personal choice for
the role of Prewitt, creates another in a line of characters he was famous for
in his all-too-short career; that of the sensitive loner who tries to forage his
way as best as he can under weighty circumstances.
Frank Sinatra, who has been labeled “The Voice” by MGM and never given a real
acting role in a film before, lobbied hard and long for the chance to play
Maggio. He ended up getting the
role after a convincing screen test (his improvisation of playing with olives as
dice was even put into the picture), but very little money to do it.
It was a career defining moment for the Chairman of the Board, who proved
his acting mettle in an unforgettable performance and as mentioned, took home a
well-deserved Oscar for his work.
characters and their stories are more than enough to make for a lasting movie
impression, but the film saves its most potent moments for last, as all of them
find themselves snagged up in the events of December 7, 1941…a day that would
not only live in infamy, but forever change the course of many lives.
Warden, Prewitt and Maggio are no exceptions, and neither are Karen and
some fifty years later, watching From Here to Eternity leaves one with
the unshakable impression that they’ve seen something remarkable.
The stories of passion and tragedy carry the audience from one singular
moment to a next, as well as an entire country from peace to war.
TRIVIA: Look for George
Reeves, TV’s Superman, in a small role as Sergeant Maylon Stark.
is not a bad looking offering from Columbia Tri Star, but has a few
print-related problems worth noting. Though
brighter sequences render well, with good light to dark contrasts, sharp images
and a clean look, darker ones show much more wear and tear, with some flickering
caused by build up on the film, plus more spots and streaks and a less cleaner
contrast leading to more grain. It
looks better on DVD than it did on previous VHS versions, but it may be time to
consider taking this classic in for a full restoration.
The overall results are still generally good, and very watchable, but
it’s impossible to overlook the occasional striking flaws.
mono soundtrack fares much better, with as much potent dynamic range as I can
ever remember hearing from such a track. The
climactic ending is loud and explosive, and will fill your living room with the
terrible sounds of war. In other
scenes, dialogue is always extremely clear and the music tastefully rendered.
There are no complaints in this department.
disc seems like it’s nicely packaged, but a closer look reveals
otherwise…the so-called “making-of” featurette runs a mere two and a half
minutes, and contains nothing worthwhile. The
“Fred Zimmermann: As I See It”
piece runs over nine minutes, but again, most of the running time is taken up by
film clips, leaving only a few behind the scenes home video clips as the only
treats. There is a trailer for this
film plus two others, filmographies, production notes (in the booklet), and an
audio commentary by the director’s son Tim Zimmermann and bit actor Alvin
Sargent. It doesn’t start
promising, as Zimmermann says he’ll talk about “as much as I can
remember”, and Sargent confesses to not knowing why he was asked to take part.
It gets better. Though not really screen-specific, both men share memories
about the picture, and Sargent especially has many fond remembrances of
Montgomery Clift, which are nice to hear. Overall,
a decent listen, but not an exemplary one.