From Here to Eternity (1953)
Full Cast and Crew for From Here to Eternity (1953)
Cast (in credits order)
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Original Music by
Non-Original Music by
Film Editing by
Art Direction by
Set Decoration by
Costume Design by
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Awards for From Here to Eternity (1953)
Academy Awards, USA
1954 Won Oscar Best Actor in a Supporting Role
1954 Won Oscar Best Actress in a Supporting Role
1954 Won Oscar Best Cinematography, Black-and-White
1954 Won Oscar Best Director
1954 Won Oscar Best Film Editing
1954 Won Oscar Best Picture
1954 Won Oscar Best Sound, Recording
1954 Won Oscar Best Writing, Screenplay
1954 Nominated Oscar Best Actor in a Leading Role
1954 Nominated Oscar Best Actor in a Leading Role
1954 Nominated Oscar Best Actress in a Leading Role
1954 Nominated Oscar Best Costume Design, Black-and-White
1954 Nominated Oscar Best Music, Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture
1954 Nominated BAFTA Film Award Best Film from any Source - USA.
Cannes Film Festival
1954 Won Special Award
Directors Guild of America, USA
1954 Won DGA Award Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures
Golden Globes, USA
1954 Won Golden Globe Best Motion Picture Director
1954 Won Golden Globe Best Supporting Actor
Golden Screen, Germany
1984 Won Golden Screen
National Film Preservation Board, USA
2002 - National Film Registry
New York Film Critics Circle Awards
1953 Won NYFCC Award Best Actor
1953 Won NYFCC Award Best Director
1953 Won NYFCC Award Best Film
1953 Won Gold Medal
Writers Guild of America, USA
1954 Won WGA Award (Screen) Best Written American Drama
AMG Info for From Here to Eternity (1953)
US (1953)- 118 min. - Feature, B&W
Amazon.com Review for From Here to Eternity (1953)
Here's a model for adapting a novel into a movie. The bestseller by James Jones, a frank and hard-hitting look at military life, could not possibly be made into a film in 1953 without considerably altering its length and bold subject matter. Yet screenwriter Daniel Taradash and director Fred Zinnemann (both of whom won Oscars for their work) pared it down and cleaned it up, without losing the essential texture of Jones's tapestry. The setting is an army base in Hawaii in 1941. Montgomery Clift, in a superb performance, plays a bugler who refuses to fight for the company boxing team; he has reasons for giving up the sport. His refusal results in harsh treatment from the company commander, whose bored wife (Deborah Kerr) is having an affair with the tough-but-fair sergeant (Burt Lancaster). You remember--the scene with the two of them embracing on the beach, as the surf crashes in. The supporting players are as good as the leads: Frank Sinatra and Donna Reed won Oscars (and Sinatra revitalized his entire career), and Ernest Borgnine entered the gallery of all-time movie villains, as the stockade sergeant who makes Sinatra miserable. Zinnemann's work is efficient but also evocative, capturing the time and place beautifully, the tropical breezes as well as the lazy prewar indulgence. This one is deservedly a classic.
CineBooks' Motion Picture Guide Review for From Here to Eternity (1953)
US (1953): Drama/War
The massive James Jones novel, thought to be impossible to convert to the screen, is brought forth here in a powerful, unforgettable portrait of pre-World War II enlisted men, their women, and the grim destiny that overtook them all.
For Prewitt's obstinacy, Holmes orders his top sergeant, Warden (Burt Lancaster), to give Prewitt every dirty detail in the company. Warden, a by-the-book soldier, empathizes with Prewitt and respects and befriends him, but he becomes angry when he is stonewalled after trying to convince Prewitt to compromise.
Personal conflict. Warden is also involved in a secret, torrid affair with Holmes's sluttish wife Karen (Deborah Kerr). Nagging Warden are the rumors that Karen has had many affairs on many Army posts. When he raises questions about this to Karen, she explodes.
Holmes himself is also being unfaithful, and he treats Karen as an unwanted concubine. Prewitt bears up under the harsh treatment Holmes administers, his suffering eased by a newly established relationship with a hostess, Alma Lorene (Donna Reed) he has met at the New Congress Club dance hall where enlisted men hang out. Meanwhile, Prewitt's only other friend Angelo (Frank Sinatra) a wisecracking, tough enlisted man, commits several small offenses and draws repeated company punishment.
He and Prewitt meet with their friends in a smoky saloon one night, and Angelo shows his friends some family photos. The beer-bellied, sadistic sergeant of the dreaded stockade Sgt. "Fatso" Judson (Ernest Borgnine) saunters by, picks up a photo of Angelo's sister, and makes an obscene remark about her. Angelo goes berserk and slams a stool down on the back of Judson's head. The giant sergeant turns and says in amazement, "You hit me." "Yeah," snarls Angelo, "and I'm about to do it again!" Judson spits out a racial slur, and the two face each other in what is obviously an uneven match.
When Judson pulls a switchblade, Warden, who has been sitting with some other sergeants, jumps up and tells both men to stop. Angelo obeys, but Judson sneers and makes a move toward Angelo. Warden breaks a bottle and juts the jagged edge toward Judson, telling him that he will take on the stockade sergeant if he doesn't quit. Judson will not face Warden and puts the knife away, but he warns Angelo before leaving that someday Angelo will wind up in the stockade where he will be waiting.
His own way. Prewitt continues to do dirty details; saddled with kitchen police, he jokes with Warden that he might find a pearl in the dishwater. He is less jocular with Alma, explaining that his real dream has always been to play taps at Arlington National Cemetery. He has demonstrated his wonderful musical ability during the barroom scene, and he forever carries his own bugle mouthpiece to remind him of his ambition. Yet he is immovable in his resolve to resist Holmes' pressures to fight, later explaining his philosophy (and that of most of the old Army regulars) by stating that "A man's gotta go his own way or he's nothin"' and "A man's gotta do what a man's gotta do." Prewitt tells Alma that he's been in the Army since age seventeen and that "I'm a thirty-year man. I'm in for the whole ride."
Revenge. One night Prewitt gets drunk with Warden, and the two declare their friendship while sitting in the middle of the road. Just then Angelo, who has gone AWOL and been thrown in the stockade, staggers down the road and collapses into Prewitt's arms. Battered and bleeding, he describes how he escaped the stockade after not being able to take Judson's beatings anymore. He smuggled himself aboard a garbage truck and then fell off the truck, having been injured internally. He dies in Prewitt's arms, and Prewitt vows revenge.
Later Prewitt finds Judson coming out of a downtown Pearl Harbor bar and inveigles him into an alley where he confronts him with Angelo's death. The sneering stockade brute pulls his knife, but Prewitt yanks out a switchblade of his own. Both men rush each other, with Judson severely injuring Prewitt, but Prewitt manages to mortally wound Judson, who dies in the alley.
Prewitt staggers off to take refuge in Alma's house, recuperating until he can rejoin his outfit. Warden carries Prewitt on the roll call even though he is AWOL. By this time, Holmes has been relieved of his command. Earlier, St. Galovitch (John Dennis), the heavyweight of the company boxing team, had tried to embarrass Prewitt and then picked a fight with him in the parade ground, beating him mercilessly until Prewitt fought back, pounding Galovitch senseless while Holmes watched without attempting to interfere. Staff officers witnessed the fight and Holmes' do-nothing attitude, which later causes him to be relieved. Warden, meanwhile, has broken off with Karen, preferring, like his friend Prewitt, to give his whole allegiance to the Army.
Pearl Harbor. Then, early Sunday morning, December 7, while Warden and other soldiers are entering the mess hall for breakfast, a roar of engines is heard. Warden steps outside to see a lone soldier running across the parade ground screaming unintelligibly, and a lone fighter plane following him, strafing the barracks and field and killing the running soldier. Warden races into the mess hall and orders all enlisted men to put on their helmets and get beneath their bunks. The bombs start falling, while distant explosions signal the sinking of the U.S. battleships helplessly anchored in the harbor. Warden breaks into the armory and issues automatic weapons to his sergeants, who clamber to the roofs of Schofield Barracks to return fire at the Zeros streaming overhead. Warden, holding a heavy machine gun, knocks down a Japanese fighter to the cheers of his men.
Prewitt, though still bleeding from his knife-fight wound, insists upon returning to his company now that war has broken out. Alma tries to stop him, but he gives his last loyalty to the service that has been so rigid with him. Running past nervous sentinels on guard against Japanese invasion forces, Prewitt is shot to death when not halting to be identified. Warden finds his body and tells an officer that Prewitt "was always a hardhead but the best damned soldier I ever knew."
With World War II begun, civilians depart Pearl Harbor by boat, among them Alma and Karen who meet on a liner, both looking back at the receding Pearl Harbor where they're leaving behind lost loves. Alma lies to Karen, telling her that Prewitt was a fighter pilot who was killed while taking off to meet the Japanese fighters. They toss their leis into the water at film's end.
Zinnemann endured an uphill battle all the way, mostly with Columbia's head, Harry Cohn. Cohn had purchased the novel for $82,000 and was determined to retain its seamy story, raw language, and violence, rejecting one adaptation after another. The Army was not happy with Jones's fierce indictment of its system and refused use of Schofield Barracks unless some major concessions were made. One chief point involved Ober's role. In the novel he gets away with everything, even being promoted to major, but in the film he is cashiered for his cruelty and malfeasance. Cohn personally oversaw the entire production, flying to Hawaii to visit the on-location shootings and sets, and lavishly permitted a $2 million budget. He demanded that the film be brought in promptly, and Zinnemann wrapped it up in 41 days. Cohn was elated with the financial and critical success of the film, as it grossed $19 million in its first run. When the rest of the industry was turning to 3-D, wide-screen, and rampant color, the old Hollywood formula of black-and-white could still generate profits. The production would eventually soar beyond $80 million in receipts.
Casting. The feature roles were also difficult to cast over Cohn's whimsical supervision. Cohn felt Clift was too temperamental, but eventually Zinnemann did hire Clift, for $150,000. Clift loved Taradash's tight, realistic script and immediately went into training for the role, one where he stayed drunk through most of the production. (In the drunk scene with Lancaster, Clift actually was intoxicated.) Clift's performance was nevertheless stunning, and he was positive he would win an Oscar. (Manny Klein dubbed the wonderful blues Clift plays on the bugle, including the "Reenlistment Blues.") Clift became depressed when he didn't win an Academy Award, and his career plummeted. He valued for the rest of his life the consolation prize that Zinnemann gave him—a miniature gold trumpet mounted like an Oscar.
Conversely, FROM HERE TO ETERNITY provided Sinatra with a real career boost, as his vocal cords had hemorrhaged, he had gained unfavorable publicity from his wooing of Ava Gardner, and he owed the government more than $100,000 in back taxes. Sinatra and wife Gardner begged Cohn for the Maggio role, and after Sinatra gave an impressive screen test, Cohn hired him at rock-bottom prices, paying him a mere $8,000. Sinatra's performance was nothing less than electrifying, and he suddenly became a much sought-after actor.
The part of the slatternly, lonely officer's wife was initially given to Joan Crawford, but when she was told what plain attire she would have to wear, she exploded: no designer originals, no Crawford. Kerr, a rather distant actress, was thought to be perfect for the trysting wife, all the more sensuous by virtue of her cool posture that thaws in the memorable beach scene where she and Lancaster make love as the surf washes over them.
Even Reed was not the first choice for her part, Julie Harris having been originally selected by Zinnemann. Cohn objected, calling Harris a "child frightener," and insisted that Reed play the role of the prostitute (changed to a hostess for the film).
Pauline Kael Review for From Here to Eternity (1953)
US (1953): Drama/War
Prewitt, the bugler-hero of James Jones' Dreiserian novel about Army life in Hawaii before Pearl Harbor, is a soldier who loves the Army (he's committed to be a 30-year man), yet he believes that "if a man don't go his own way, he's nothin'." The conflict between his status and his determination to have his rights is the mainspring of the action. Jones' bulky book does such an honest job of storytelling that it triumphs over its pedestrian prose; the movie succeeds by the smooth efficiency of Fred Zinnemann's lean, intelligent direction, and by the superlative casting. Montgomery Clift's bony, irregularly handsome Prewitt is a hardhead, a limited man with a one-track mind, who's intensely appealing; Clift has the control to charm—almost to seduce—an audience without ever stepping outside his inflexible, none-too-smart character. Burt Lancaster has a role that's just about perfectly in his range as Sergeant Warden, the man's man who's also a ladies' man (the lady is Deborah Kerr); Frank Sinatra, in his first straight acting part, surprised audiences with a softly modulated, likable performance as Maggio, who loses his life because of his high spirits; Ernest Borgnine is the smiling, innocently murderous Fatso; Donna Reed is the respectable prostitute. This was the movie of its year, as ON THE WATERFRONT was to be the next year, and not just because each swept the Academy Awards, but because these films brought new attitudes to the screen that touched a social nerve; they weren't the same kind of winner as BEN-HUR. Yet a displacement occurs in the course of the action here: Prewitt's fate gets buried in the commotion of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. And Clift's innovative performance was buried in the public praise for Sinatra and Lancaster. It was almost as if the public wanted to forget Prewitt's troublesome presence. The remarkably compact screenplay is by Daniel Taradash. Produced by Buddy Adler, for Columbia; cinematography by Burnett Guffey. With Philip Ober, Harry Bellaver, and Mickey Shaughnessy.
Leonard Maltin Review for From Here to Eternity (1953)
US (1953): Drama/War
Toned-down but still powerful adaptation of James Jones' novel of Army life in Hawaii just before Pearl Harbor. Depiction of Japanese sneak attack combines unforgettable action scenes with actual combat footage. Brilliantly acted by entire cast, including Sinatra in his "comeback" role as the ill-fated soldier Maggio. Eight Oscars include Best Picture, Director, Screenplay (Daniel Taradash), Cinematography (Burnett Guffey), and Supporting Actors Sinatra and Reed. Remade in 1979 as a TV mini-series, which in turn spun off a brief series.
Memorable Quotes from From Here to Eternity (1953)
Angelo Maggio: Only my friends can call me a little Wop!
Robert E. Lee "Prew' Prewitt: Nobody ever lies about being lonely.
Robert E. Lee "Prew' Prewitt: A man don't go his own way, he's nothing.
Karen Holmes: Come back here, Sergeant. I'll tell you the story; you can take it back to the barracks with you. I'd only been married to Dana two years when I found out he was cheating. And by that time I was pregnant. I thought I had something to hope for. I was almost happy the night the pains began. I remember Dana was going to an officers' conference. I told him to get home early, to bring the doctor with him. And maybe he would have... if his "conference" hadn't been with a hat-check girl! He was drunk when he came in at 5 AM. I was lying on the floor. I begged him to go for the doctor, but he fell on the couch and passed out. The baby was born about an hour later. Of course, it was dead. It was a boy. But they worked over me at the hospital, they fixed me up fine, they even took my appendix out -- they threw that in free.
Alma: Sit down and -- and get comfortable. I'll make you a martini and see what's to cook for dinner.
[Warden brings papers to Holmes' house for his signature, knowing that only his wife would be there.]
Karen Holmes: Don't try to be gallant, Sergeant. If you think this is a mistake, come right out and say so. ...Well, I guess it's about time for me to be heading home, isn't it? ...Well, isn't it?
Karen Holmes: I never knew it could be like this! Nobody ever kissed me the way you do.
Karen Holmes: You certainly chose a lovely spot for our meeting. I've had three chances to be picked up in the last five minutes.
Captain Dana Holmes: You know why you were assigned to G Company?
Alma: Prew, it's true we love each other now, we need each other, but back in the States it might be different.
Sergeant Maylon Stark: Leva tells me you've been eyeing the Captain's wife like a hound dog at hunting time.
Angelo Maggio: Let's go to a phone booth or something, huh? Where I will unveil a fifth of whiskey, I have hidden here under my loose, flowing sports shirt.
Annette: That'll be four bucks, babyface. Two for initiation fee, two for this month's dues.
Robert E. Lee "Prew' Prewitt: Well, what am I? I'm a private no-class dogface. The way most civilians look at that, that's two steps up from nothin'.
Robert E. Lee "Prew' Prewitt: A man should be what he can do.
Karen Holmes: If you're looking for the Captain... he ain't here.
Karen Holmes: [to Sgt. Warden standing outside her porch in the pouring rain] Well, you'd better come inside.... you'll get wet.
Alma: [Maggio offers her a drink] No, thanks, I don't drink.
Trivia for From Here to Eternity (1953)
Eli Wallach accepted the role of Angelo Maggio, but then turned it down because he had agreed to appear in Kazan's Broadway production of "Camino Real" and had a scheduling problem.
Joan Crawford refused a role because she abhorred the costumes.
Columbia Picturs head Harry Cohn wanted Aldo Ray to play Prewitt and Joan Crawford for the Karen Holmes role. Director Fred Zinnemann had his own ideas.
The scene in which Prew meets Maggio and Lorene in the bar after he walks off guard duty, was actually Frank Sinatra's screen test for the part of Maggio. To impress director Fred Zinnemann, he did an ad-lib using olives as dice and pretending to shoot craps. The entire sequence was kept as is and used in the picture.
A false rumor has been circulating for years that George Reeves, who played Sgt. Maylon Stark, had his role drastically edited after preview audiences recognized him as TV's "Superman." According to director Fred Zinnemann, screenwriter Daniel Taradash and assistant director Earl Bellamy, the rumor is false. Every scene written for Reeves' character was filmed, and each of those scenes is still present in its entirety in the film as released.
Montgomery Clift didn't manage to move like a boxer despite extensive boxing lessons, so he had to be doubled by a real boxer for the long shots in the boxing match. The fight had to be carefully edited so the close-ups and other shots matched satisfactorily. Nonetheless, the use of the double is obvious if you pay attention to the details.
In the scene where Burt Lancaster and Montgomery Clift play drunk sitting on the street, Clift actually was drunk, but Lancaster was not.
The novel was deemed unfilmable for a long time because of its negative portrayal of the US Army (which would prevent the Army from supporting the film with people and hardware/logistics) and the profanity. To get Army support and pass the censorship of the time, crucial details had to be changed. The brothel became a night club, the whores: hostesses. The profanity was removed, the brutal treatment in the stockade toned down and Captain Holmes removed from the army instead of promoted.
Joan Fontaine was offered the role of Karen Holmes but had to decline due to family problems. She now regrets it and blames the failure of her late career to turning down the offer.
The now classic scene between Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr in the rushing water on the beach was not written to take place there. The idea to film with the waves hitting them was a last minute inspiration from the director.
Harry Cohn was so convinced that Deborah Kerr could not be "sexy" enough to play the lead in this film that he almost did not cast her.
The novel was a best seller when it was released. One actor always bragged to his friends that if they ever made a film of the book, he'd play a part. Shortly after saying this, he was actually called to audition for the film. The actor was Ernest Borgnine.
Cameo: [James Jones] in the background chatting with hostesses and other soldiers over Ernest Borgnine's shoulder as Fatso (Borgnine) plays the piano at the New Congress Club.
Shot in a mere 41 days and for only $1 million.
Frank Sinatra had to campaign especially hard to get this part as his career had hit a low point by this time.
The title phrase comes originally from Rudyard Kipling's 1892 poem "Gentlemen-Rankers," about soldiers of the British Empire who had "lost [their] way" and were "damned from here to eternity."
Shelley Winters turned down the role of Alma, as she had just given birth to her daughter Vittoria.
Goofs for From Here to Eternity (1953)
Factual errors: The impromptu bugle solo in the club is obviously a trumpet solo dubbed into the scene. There's no way a valve-less bugle could achieve the range of notes heard in that solo.
Continuity: In the bar fight scene between Fatso and Maggio, Sgt. Warden breaks a bottle to stop the fight and eventually throws the broken bottle across the room. Later, the smashed bottle is visible on the table in a close-up.
Continuity: When Sergeant Warden walks over with Private Prewitt to the Supply store, we first see Corporal Leva with his hand at his ear. In the next shot, his hand is down on the table.
Continuity: When Private Maggio is dressing and using the talcum powder, he's holding it with his right hand after the last soldiers leave and then powders his left arm. In the next shot immediately after, he's placing it on a shelf in his locker with his left hand.
Boom mike visible: When 1st Sgt. Milton Warden is walking Pvt. Robert E. Lee 'Prew' Prewitt over to Supply, the shadow of the boom mike can be seen on Prewitt's blouse.
Continuity: During Sgt. Warden's visit (pretending to look for Capt. Holmes), Karen tells him that she will phone her husband and walks to the dining room. When she stands in the doorway, we see two chairs inside, on the left. In the next shot, they both enter the room and the chairs are not there.
Continuity: Inside the dining room, Sgt. Warden puts some rolled up sheets of paper on the table. When Karen picks them up, they are unrolled.
Continuity: When Prewitt dies, his face turns to his left-hand side. Later his face appears turned to the right.
From Here to Eternity (1953)
Format: Black & White, Closed-captioned, NTSC
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