From Here to Eternity

Nobody ever lies about being lonely.–Prewitt


The last two movies I’ve watched, Stagecoach and From Here to Eternity, both have iconic scenes in them. In Stagecoach, there’s John Wayne as the Ringo Kid, standing on the side of the road with rifle in one hand, saddle in the other. And in From Here to Eternity, there’s Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr making out on the beach as the waves crash around them. I had of course already seen static images of both scenes and knew they were coming, but it’s still fun to finally get to see them in context.

In addition to having such iconic scenes, the films are also similar in that they’re both about the interactions among disparate people thrown together by circumstance.  The characters in such plots don’t have to be particularly well-rounded. In fact, I suspect it works better when they are not, so long as they are interesting and played by competent actors who are given good dialogue. Fortunately, in this regard, From Here to Eternity doesn’t disappoint. Burt Lancaster and Montgomery Clift chew up the scenery as First Sergeant Milton Warden and Private Robert E. Lee Prewett, essentially Hemingway types who live by a code, both in terms of who they are as individuals and in terms of their chosen career as military men. Deborah Kerr and Donna Reed also fare well as their significantly more complicated love interests who always seem to reveal just the tip of the iceberg to men who mean well and with whom they can’t help falling in love but who will probably never understand them.  And in the midst of it all is the dramatic irony that comes from having it all take place during the days leading up to and on December 7, 1941.  If that sounds like a lot, it’s because it is, and I suspect From Here to Eternity will reward repeat viewings.  Anybody want to watch it again?

P.S. – Speaking of watching it again, I’m glad I got to watch it for the first time on the big screen, shown at the local theater as a “Fathom Event.” These movies would resonate anywhere, but there’s definitely something about seeing them on the big screen, which makes me sad that there were only three souls besides myself who came to see it.


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