Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

From Here to Eternity


I realized that, though I had seen some bits here and there, I had never seen this entire movie. It won a slew of Oscars, including Best Picture. It is very steamy for 1953, with adultery and the famous beach scene where Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr are crashed into by a big wave. There is a sub-plot with Montgomery Clift romancing a “dance hall girl,” (a prostitute in the novel) Donna Reed, and another with Frank Sinatra and his troubles with the brutal stockade sergeant, Ernest Borgnine. (Apparently the legend that Old Blue Eyes got the part with assistance—“I’ll make him an offer he can’t refuse’—from Mafia friends isn’t true.) There are many changes from the even racier book, the most significant being the elimination of all references to homosexuality, and many things were cleaned up concerning some of the deeds of the bad guys and bad practices at the insistence of the Army, which the filmmakers needed in order to shoot at the real Schofield Barracks in Hawaii. In the book Sinatra’s character survives his brutalization; here he dies tragically.

We have since seen many much more high-tech productions of the attack on Pearl Harbor, and yet when it comes, I was still moved, as I always am. All the actors turn in stirring performances. In spite of all the clean-up, this still ranks as a classic, and well worth seeing.