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From Here to Eternity (1953)

Not Rated | | Drama, Romance, War | 28 August 1953 (USA)
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In Hawaii in 1941, a private is cruelly punished for not boxing on his unit's team, while his captain's wife and second-in-command are falling in love.

Director:

Fred Zinnemann

Writers:

Daniel Taradash (screen play), James Jones (based upon the novel by)
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Popularity
4,871 ( 61)
Won 8 Oscars. Another 14 wins & 7 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Burt Lancaster ... Sgt. Milton Warden
Montgomery Clift ... Robert E. Lee Prewitt
Deborah Kerr ... Karen Holmes
Donna Reed ... Alma aka Lorene
Frank Sinatra ... Angelo Maggio
Philip Ober ... Capt. Dana Holmes
Mickey Shaughnessy ... Sgt. Leva
Harry Bellaver ... Mazzioli
Ernest Borgnine ... Sgt. 'Fatso' Judson
Jack Warden ... Corp. Buckley
John Dennis ... Sgt. Ike Galovitch
Merle Travis ... Sal Anderson
Tim Ryan ... Sgt. Pete Karelsen
Arthur Keegan Arthur Keegan ... Treadwell
Barbara Morrison ... Mrs. Kipfer
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Storyline

It's 1941. Robert E. Lee Prewitt has requested Army transfer and has ended up at Schofield in Hawaii. His new captain, Dana Holmes, has heard of his boxing prowess and is keen to get him to represent the company. However, 'Prew' is adamant that he doesn't box anymore, so Captain Holmes gets his subordinates to make his life a living hell. Meanwhile Sergeant Warden starts seeing the captain's wife, who has a history of seeking external relief from a troubled marriage. Prew's friend Maggio has a few altercations with the sadistic stockade Sergeant 'Fatso' Judson, and Prew begins falling in love with social club employee Lorene. Unbeknownst to anyone, the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor looms in the distance. Written by Ed Sutton <esutton@mindspring.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

The boldest book of our time... Honestly, fearlessly on the screen! See more »

Genres:

Drama | Romance | War

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

28 August 1953 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

De aquí a la eternidad See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$1,650,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$30,500,000
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

3 Channel Stereo (Western Electric Recording)

Color:

Black and White (archive footage)| Black and White

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

In the scene where Burt Lancaster and Montgomery Clift play drunk sitting on the street, Clift actually was drunk, but Lancaster was not. See more »

Goofs

An obvious stunt double is used for Galovitch in his fight with Prewitt. Actor John Dennis has a fair-haired crew cut. His double has darker, thicker hair which recedes noticeably at the temples. See more »

Quotes

Sgt. James R. 'Fatso' Judson: Are you sore about something?
Robert E. Lee "Prew' Prewitt: I don't like the way you play the piano.
[Fatso laughs]
Robert E. Lee "Prew' Prewitt: Remember Maggio?
Sgt. James R. 'Fatso' Judson: Oh, the wop? Yeah, real tough monkey.
Robert E. Lee "Prew' Prewitt: You killed him.
Sgt. James R. 'Fatso' Judson: Did I? Well if I did, he asked for it.
Robert E. Lee "Prew' Prewitt: The Army's gonna get you sooner or later, Fatso. But before they do, I want a piece of you myself.
[Fatso pulls out a switch blade]
Robert E. Lee "Prew' Prewitt: I figured that.
[...]
See more »

Crazy Credits

Opening credits prologue: SCHOFIELD BARRACKS HAWAII 1941 See more »

Connections

Referenced in What's My Line?: Lucille Ball (1954) See more »

Soundtracks

Magic Hands
(uncredited)
Performed by Danny Stewart and His Islanders
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
"Re-enlistment blues"
17 May 2009 | by Steffi_PSee all my reviews

It's often said that the simplest stories are the best. This isn't true. The simple stories are easy to get right, but a complex ensemble piece with multiple protagonists and numerous subplots can be just as effective, although it's a lot harder to pull off successfully. From Here to Eternity stands in the tradition of The Best Years of Our Lives, Seven Samurai and The Godfather, of pictures with interwoven plots that have become classics thanks to strong screen writing, intelligent direction and powerful acting performances.

Part of the reason From Here to Eternity works is because it is very quick in establishing its characters and plot lines. It opens with a series of interlinking scenes, introducing us to Montgomery Clift, Frank Sinatra, Philip Ober, Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr, giving us clues about Clift's past and hinting at the future relationship between Lancaster and Kerr, all in the space of five minutes. Director Fred Zinnemann, with a confidence that is lacking in his earliest features, shoots these scenes with subtle technique to give them maximum storytelling effect. For example, he gives Clift's character a superb introduction, walking at a right angle to the marching column until he is brought right into close-up. Once the dialogue begins he uses sudden changes of angle to highlight certain lines, for example the close-up of Lancaster telling Kerr "I'd be happy to help", at which point the audience know exactly what is going to happen between those two characters. Donna Reed is of course introduced a little later, but to compensate she is given a very distinctive first shot, framed on her own immediately after some busy crowd shots.

But Zinnemann's direction isn't all pure functionalism. He makes sparing use of attention-grabbing stylisation when the moment demands it, such as the dolly-out through the rain-soaked window during Lancaster and Kerr's first kiss. And this stylisation even helps keep the narrative together, for example cutting from the roaring sea at the end of the famous beach scene to the smoke rising from Clift's cigarette. Throughout the various parallel plots there is a tone of melancholy and regret, and Zinnemann keeps this commonality with his consistency of style.

Of course, you get the same problem or at least the same feature in From Here to Eternity as you do in They Died with Their Boots on or Titanic, in that the audience, knowing their history, know what is going to happen at the end. The strength of the non-combat story lines is such that we forget when and where we are, and as such it is important that we are eased into the finale of the Pearl Harbour attack so it does not seem such a surreal break in tone. This is done with characteristic subtlety, with two objects placed noticeably yet not obtrusively into the frame to jog our memories. The first is a calendar showing December 6th on the wall beside Burt Lancaster, and the other a signpost reading "Pearl Harbour" after his final meeting with Kerr.

One of the biggest challenges for the makers of an ensemble piece is that you need a larger than normal pool of leading players, and yet you must ensure none of them will overshadow the others. This is another thing they got right in From Here to Eternity. Clift, Kerr and Lancaster are all competent performers without big egos, and they all give steady performances, even if they are far from career-bests. As to Sinatra, what's amazing is not the quality of his performance (it was always evident he could act) but that he was even allowed to play a dramatic, non-musical role. It just goes to show the increased flexibility of cinema in the 1950s, as well as the rising status of the musical genre. To give it some perspective, can you imagine Fred Astaire or Bing Crosby having done the same thing in the 30s? From Here to Eternity won 1953's Best Picture Oscar, and like all successful pictures was followed by a host of imitators. 1955's Battle Cry for example is another many-stranded story about soldiers at the start of World War Two, and even features a rather tepid knock-off of the famous beach scene. However, while Battle Cry has some nice moments, structurally it is an absolute mess, an example of how easy it is to do a botch job on a complex storyline. That's why From Here to Eternity is such a rarity, being an ensemble piece that really works.


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