From Here to Eternity (1953)
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With all the awards and other honours bestowed on this movie, I have to admit that I was slightly disappointed. Sinatra was a standout, and Clift was terrific in the lead role, but both Lancaster and particularly Borgnine have done a lot better in other movies - and not all of the plot threads were equally interesting.
Not bad in any way, just less that I expected.
What happens to soldiers tuned for war when it's peace time? From Here to Eternity, set in the weeks before the attack on Pearl Harbor, shows them drinking, womanizing, and fighting, the tension they feel not so much because of some precognitive dread, but because of bad leadership. Their captain is also in shenanigans mode. In a way, this is a precursor to other war films on the margins of war itself, films like M*A*S*H and Jarhead. But there's frankly too much happening - the curse of adapting a novel - giving short shrift in particular to the female characters and their romances with key soldiers. Deborah Kerr is more hard-edged than I've ever seen her, even unrecognizable at times, and I believe this might have been one of her greatest performances if the film didn't forget about her for the length of a bible. Donna Reed is in the same boat. In the end, I know what the film's theme is - a soldier's listlessness when the role's ambitions are impossible to fulfill or corrupted to other goals - but I'm not entirely sure what it's trying to say about that. It either needed to be pruned or extended; I'm not sure which.
I enjoyed this much more than I expected, mostly due to the fact that I had no idea what it was about, and that the only image I’ve had of the film is that stupid (yet iconic) shot of Lancaster and Kerr kissing on the beach. (I call it stupid because the shot is less than two seconds and that affair is only one of three storylines. ) I haven’t seen a lot of classic films that have intertwining storylines, and with a great cast like this. Add onto that, the negative side of the military that we still see in movies, today (specifically, abuse - reminded me of A Few Good Men and Full Metal Jacket). Very refreshing.
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In 13 official lists
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This movie ranks #20 in AFI's 100 Years...100 Passions
This movie ranks #24 in 101 War Movies You Must See Before You Die
This movie ranks #27 in Academy Award - Best Picture
This movie ranks #43 in Academy Award - Best Cinematography
This movie ranks #189 in Academy Award - Best Picture Nominees
This movie ranks #229 in BFI's 360 Classic Feature Films Project
This movie ranks #248 in 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die
This movie ranks #301 in The New York Times's Book of Movies
This movie ranks #351 in Library of Congress's National Film Registry
This movie ranks #415 in Emma Beare's 501 Must-See Movies
This movie ranks #458 in David Thomson's Have You Seen?
This movie ranks #730 in Halliwell's Top 1000: The Ultimate Movie Countdown
This movie ranks #762 in TSPDT's 1,000 Greatest Films: 1001-2000