From Here to Eternity (1953)

Sixty-nine years ago today, the film From Here to Eternity premiered. It went on to win award after award that year. You should watch this movie.

From Here to Eternity 002

Title: From Here to Eternity
Directed by: Fred Zinnemann
Produced by: Buddy Adler
Screenplay by: Daniel Taradash
Based on: From Here to Eternity by James Jones
Starring: Burt Lancaster, Montgomery Clift, Deborah Kerr, Donna Reed, Frank Sinatra
Music by: George Duning
Cinematography: Burnett Guffey
Edited by: William A. Lyon
Color process: Black and white
Production Company: Columbia Pictures
Distributed by: Columbia Pictures
Release date: August 5, 1953
Running time: 118 minutes
Budget: $1.7–2.5 million
Box office: $30.5 million
Academy Awards Best Motion Picture
Academy Awards Best Director
Academy Awards Best Supporting Actor
Academy Awards Best Supporting Actress
Academy Awards Best Screenplay
Academy Awards Best Cinematography – Black-and-White
Academy Awards Best Film Editing
Academy Awards Best Sound Recording
Directors Guild of America Awards Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures
Golden Globe Awards Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture – Frank Sinatra
Golden Globe Awards Best Director – Motion Picture – Fred Zinneman
New York Film Critics Circle Awards Best Film
New York Film Critics Circle Awards Best Director – Fred Zinneman
New York Film Critics Circle Awards Best Actor – Burt Lancaster

In 1941, bugler and career soldier Private Robert E. Lee Prewitt transfers to a rifle company at Schofield Barracks on the island of Oahu. Because Prewitt was also a boxer, Captain Dana “Dynamite” Holmes wants him on his regimental team. Prewitt refuses because he stopped fighting after he blinded a friend. Holmes makes Prewitt’s life miserable; and ultimately orders First Sergeant Milton Warden to prepare a court-martial. Warden successfully suggests doubling Prewitt’s company punishment as an alternative. Prewitt is hazed by other non-commissioned officers and is supported only by his close friend, Private Angelo Maggio.

Prewitt and Maggio join a social club where Prewitt becomes attracted to Lorene. At the club, Maggio gets into an argument with stockade Sergeant Judson. Later, at a local bar, Judson provokes Maggio and the two nearly come to blows before Warden intervenes.

Warden, despite warning from another sergeant, risks prison after beginning an affair with Holmes’ wife, Karen. Karen’s marriage to Holmes is fraught with his unfaithfulness which was exacerbated after the stillbirth of a child and Karen’s subsequent infertility. Karen encourages Warden to become an officer which would enable her to divorce Holmes and marry him.

Maggio is sentenced to the stockade after walking off guard duty and getting drunk. This results in harsh treatment at the hands of Judson. Prewitt discovers Lorene’s name is really Alma and her goal is to make enough money at the club to return to the mainland and live a proper life. Prewitt tells her his career is in the military, and the two contemplate if they have a future together.

A sergeant named Galovitch, who is a member of Holmes’ boxing team, picks a fight with Prewitt. The fight is reported to Holmes who observes it without intervening. Prewitt gets the best of Galovitch, and Holmes learns Galovitch started the fight, but Holmes issues no punishment. Higher ranking officers observe Holmes’ conduct and force his resignation in lieu of a court martial.

Maggio escapes the stockade after a brutal beating from Judson. His injuries are aggravated during his escape and he dies in Prewitt’s arms. Prewitt seeks revenge against Judson and the two stab each other in a back alley. Judson dies from his wounds and Prewitt, severly injured, goes absent without leave and stays with Lorene. Warden covers for his absence.

The captain that replaces Holmes demotes Galovitch and affirms that boxing will not be used as a pathway to promotion.

Warden tells Karen about Prewitt. Karen tells Warden that Holmes’ resignation is forcing them back stateside; but Warden divulges he is not interested in becoming an officer. Karen walks away with both realizing their relationship has ended.

The Japanese attack Pearl Harbor. Warden keeps his head in the chaos. That night, Prewitt attempts to rejoin his company but is killed when he refuses to halt. Warden identifies him as a good soldier, but a hardhead.

Karen and Lorene coincidentally stand next to each other on the ship that is taking them to the mainland. Lorene tells Karen that her “fiance” died heroically during the Pearl Harbor attack and was awarded a silver star (none of which is true). She names Prewitt as the fiance, and looks at his bugle mouthpiece which she is holding. Karen recognizes the name, but just says that Robert E. Lee Prewitt is a funny name.

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