Monday, July 19, 2010

From Here to Eternity (1953)

So many of the films on the Oscar winner list I’ve never heard of or seen, but there are a few that I’ve heard of before and never seen. From Here to Eternity (1953) was one of those movies. I knew I’d heard of From Here to Eternity before, but I could not for the life of me remember why or where. So when I sat down to watch it and discovered that it was another war movie (I had just finished All Quiet on the Western Front) I wasn’t thrilled. I know, I’d better get use to war movies, because a lot of them won Oscars. Anyway, about a half hour into the film I gasped the famous Garvey Gasp known to all in the John Moy family and choked on my Diet Coke. I suddenly realized why I’d heard of this film before. The famous love makin’ on the beach scene! I’ve always wanted to watch that! I’ve never made it on the beach, (the thing about where the sand could get bothers me a bit) but I’ve always wanted to see how it’s done.

Anywho, that’s enough about sex on the beach. To call From Here to Eternity a war movie would be a bit misleading. While it does take place on Pearl Harbor military base on the brink of World War II, it’s really about relationships.
From Here to Eternity focuses on Private Prewitt (played by the attractive Montgomery Cliff), a young man who has been transferred to base at Pearl Harbor. He is a great trumpet player and also a fabulous boxer. Captain Holmes has heard of Prewitt’s boxing ability and wants him to join his regiments boxing team. Holmes promises Prewitt that he could become a sergeant if he chooses to box. Prewitt refuses to join and we later learn that he accidently blinded a man with his golden fists during a boxing match.

Prewitt is treated cruelly by Holmes and the other soldiers on base. His only friend is Maggio (played expertly by Frank Sinatra). No matter what they do, Prewitt does not crack. One night things go too far. Prewitt and another soldier engage in a fight and the other soldier accuses Prewitt of beginning the fight. He is court-martialed by the commanding officer. Holmes, still holding on to hope that Prewitt will box begs for an alternative. The commanding officer demands that Holmes resign his position and leave the army. He does and Captain Ross (who has been boinking Holmes’ wife, including on the beach) is put in charge of the base.

Meanwhile Maggio gets into a nasty bar fight with Staff Sergeant Judson. One night Maggio blows off night duty to go to the bar and is court-martialed for going AWOL. He is placed in the stockade, under the watch of none other than Judson. He is abused in prison. Maggio escapes one night and finds Prewitt, telling him of the horrible torture at the hands of Judson. He dies in Prewitt’s arms. Since Maggio was Prewitt’s only friend he tracks down Judson and the two engage in a knife fight. Judson is killed and Prewitt was gravely injured.

He hides at the apartment of his girlfriend Lorene (played by the one and only Donna Reed) who he met while she worked at a gentlemen’s club. When the Japanese attack Pearl Harbor Prewitt tries to return to his base to help his fellow soldiers but is shot.

It’s a really touching ending to a touching movie. There’s some kind of irony about Prewitt refusing to fight except when it comes to avenging his dead friend.

There were three main highlights of this movie : 1. Sex on the beach, 2. Frank Sinatra (rumored to have received the role through his mafia connections) who won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar, 3. Donna Reed who won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar. I’d grown up hearing about the Donna Reed show, so I was excited to see this famous lady that puts all other housewives to shame. Little did I know she was playing an escort. Scandalous.

Here's the trailer.  Keep watching til 46 seconds to see some necking on the beach.

The movie was nominated for 13 Academy Awards and won eight of them. It ranks 52nd on AFI’s Top 100 movies of all time.

I’ll give it three statuettes out of five. It wasn’t fabulous, but I feel like it’s a movie everyone should say they’ve seen.

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