From Here to Eternity (1953)

As far as war movies go, the standards have kept being lifted higher and higher as the years have gone on. "Platoon" seems like a perfect war movie, it's got a plot that differs than the actual fighting of the war and it brings forth great performances, particularly from Willem Dafoe. Then there's "Saving Private Ryan" and most recently "The Hurt Locker". But recall where these movies got their start. From the very beginning of film, war movies have been made: "Wings" the first Best Picture, "All Quiet on the Western Front", even "Gone With the Wind" has war in it. But I feel that "From Here to Eternity" lacks something that all other war movies have: a little war.
"Eternity" centers around two main characters: Sgt. Milton Warden and Pvt. Prewitt. Prewitt who has just changed companies at the beginning of the film and is trying to get into step with his new one. The leader of the company, Capt. Dana Holmes, has some delusional idea that if Prewitt will box for the company then he will get a promotion. In this effort to get himself higher up, Holmes allows his men to torment Prewitt. But Prewitt has sworn off boxing because of an accident that happened—he's also a talented bugle player, random and not necessary to the plot but still fun.
Sgt. Milton Warden is too efficient at his job. He thinks (and he's right) that without him, Capt. Holmes wouldn't know what to do with the company. He's charming and classically good-looking, as are the women in "From Here to Eternity".
Burt Lancaster plays Warden, a role that is good for him and plays to his strengths but doesn't appear to have challenged him enough. It seems tailor cut to him and I feel that he should have played it with more intensity because he comes across as arrogant sometimes when he's not supposed to.
Montgomery Clift plays Prewitt and he's really the best part of the movie (aside from a surprsing performance by Frank Sinatra). The way he carries himself as Prewitt is precisely what the role demands.
Also included in this movie is a very good Donna Reed as a call girl and Deborah Kerr as Holmes' headstrong wife.
But even though it's a war movie, the main point of the film is about the relationships that the characters form with each other. There's really not that much "war" in it to begin with. If you know your dates and your history you'll be able to predict what will happen next.
Although it's famous and it's good, it's not groundbreaking.

Score: 3 stars out of 4

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