Saturday Night Cinema: From Here to Eternity (1953)

Tonight’s Saturday night cinema classic is a tribute to those to whom we still owe so much. From Here to Eternity, starring (Burt Lancaster, Montgomery Clift, Frank Sinatra and Deborah Kerr, takes place in Honolulu, in the languid days before the attack on Pearl Harbor.

“From Here to Eternity,” has become an outstanding motion picture in this smash screen adaptation. It is an important film from any angle, presenting socko entertainment for big business. Full review
William Brogdon, Variety

Deserving to be seen and remembered for so much more than that kiss, this is old school drama of the highest order. And then there’s always the beautiful theme – pre-Kenobi sampling, of course… Full review
Kim Newman, Empire

This film is not a work of feel-good boosterism; instead it’s a collection of human dramas set against the backdrop of a Hawaiian U. S. Army base in the days leading up to Pearl Harbor. Full review
Carly Kocurek, Common Sense Media

From Here to Eternity (1953)

Directed by: Fred Zinnemann
With: Montgomery Clift, Burt Lancaster, Deborah Kerr, Frank Sinatra, Donna Reed

History Extra

This is by far the most acclaimed and admired of all Pearl Harbor films. Its appeal lay, in part, in its timeliness: eight years after the end of the war, audiences were ready to look back without the flag-waving or moral certainties that characterise wartime films. Thus, in From Here to Eternity the attack on Pearl Harbor does not serve as the springboard for revenge scenarios or for exposés of Japanese treachery. Rather, it represents an awakening from the malaise and drift of the prewar period.

Today the film is best remembered for the image of Karen Holmes (Deborah Kerr) and Sergeant Warden (Burt Lancaster) kissing on the beach. Their story is just one of the plot lines that reveals the dissolute morality that precedes the attack; Holmes is married to Warden’s commanding officer. Captain Holmes (Philip Ober) is a weak leader interested only in gaining promotion through the army ranks. Private Maggio (Frank Sinatra) is a childish hothead who eventually dies at the hands of a sadistic stockade guard (Ernest Borgnine). Private Robert E Lee Prewitt (Montgomery Clift) is a champion boxer who refuses to fight in the army’s boxing league and is therefore abused by Holmes and his subordinates. Prewitt’s only solace is found with Lorene (Donna Reed), a ‘hostess’ in a Honolulu ‘social club’.

When the Japanese finally arrive, the attack itself is portrayed only briefly, but it has the effect of restoring order and purpose to the characters’ lives. The men are galvanised and become fighters. The women are sent back to the mainland, looking forlorn but also ready to live respectably.

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