From Here to Eternity is a 1953 war drama film directed by Fred Zinnemann and stars Burt Lancaster, Montgomery Clift, Deborah Kerr, Donna Reed, and Frank Sinatra. The film is based on the novel of the same name by James Jones and won 8 Academy Awards out of 13 nominations.
Private Robert Lee Prewitt (Clift) arrives at the barracks in Pearl Harbor, where he finds himself pressured by his new commander to join the barracks' boxing team. Prewitt, haunted by a previous experience, refuses to do so. Prewitt soons finds himself heavily mistreated, but stubbornly refuses to change his mind about boxing. Meanwhile, Sergeant Milton Warden (Lancaster) begins an affair with Karen (Kerr), the wife of one of the barracks' leading captains.
I have been compiling a mental list together of what I simply call the Forgettable Best Picture Winners (somewhat inspired by "The Forgettable Presidents"). Some films on this list include Cavalcade, How Green Was My Valley, and Gentleman's Agreement, all of which are vapid dramas that have nothing truly memorable about them. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has grown quite predictable over the years with what films will, at least, get nominated for Best Picture and which ones are most likely to win. Back then, nearly every Best Picture winner involved the blossoming of a love tale and/or the exploitation of historical periods and events for the sake of attempting to generate supposedly sensual drama. Of course, there really wasn't that much variety in terms of film genres back then. There was no Marvel Cinematic Universe, cheap cash-grab horror flicks, or anything else that might be blown off as gimmicky.
So where am I going with this? It's that From Here to Eternity was the indication that I am growing progressively tired of seeing basically the same style of film with nearly all of these really old Best Picture winners. There's always a love story, or the film is always taking place in a significant time in history. It's not right of me to fault a film just because it takes place during World War II or some other time period, but it has now become annoyingly repetitive and it's a clear sign that the Academy was very closed-minded back then. But again, was there really any specific genre of film in notable existence in the 50's other than drama, war, or romance?
A drama film is the most susceptible to being boring and unengaging, which is the painful truth about From Here to Eternity.
- The film is well-acted, which is sadly the only real quality that it has going for it. Normally I like to point out a specific actor or actress and commend them for their performance, but that's unfortunately not the case this time. Nobody is bad, but nobody is utterly fantastic either.
- From Here to Eternity has no concrete characteristic to distinguish it from any other romantic war drama. Something like The Best Years of Our Lives can be viewed as a heartwarming commentary on the struggles and hardships of veterans returning home from service. From Here to Eternity, on the other hand, has no evidence to suggest that it's an intriguing political commentary or features a truly memorable romance (one iconic beach scene isn't enough). We have a character who knows how to box, and he gets into a few fistfights. The Japanese planes come and bomb Pearl Harbor. All well and good, but there's no golden nugget for us to admire and talk about. This is why the film is a Forgettable Best Picture Winner.
There's not much appeal to From Here to Eternity, despite being well acted. It might have been seen as a truly great film back then, but time has not been too kind to it. The most frustrating part is that a key piece, whether it'd be a performance, the story, or even the soundtrack, to truly make it a memorable Best Picture winner is just not there.
Recommend? No. This is one of those goes in one ear and comes out the other kind of films.
Here you'll find my reviews on just about any film you may have seen. I try to avoid major spoilers as much as possible. I structure my reviews in the following way: