From Here to Eternity

From Here to Eternity

Infobox Film | name = From Here to Eternity

caption = original movie poster
director = Fred Zinnemann
producer = Buddy Adler
writer = James Jones (novel)
Daniel Taradash
starring =Burt Lancaster
Montgomery Clift
Deborah Kerr
Donna Reed
Frank Sinatra
Ernest Borgnine
Philip Ober
music =
cinematography = Burnett Guffey
editing =
distributor = Columbia Pictures
released = August 5, 1953 (U.S. release)
runtime = 118 min
language = English
budget =
amg_id = 1:18738
imdb_id = 0045793

"From Here to Eternity" is a 1953 drama film based on the novel of the same name by James Jones. It deals with the troubles of soldiers stationed on Hawaii in the days just before the attack on Pearl Harbor. The material of the rather explicit novel had to be considerably toned down to appease the censors of the time. For example, in the famous beach scene, it is less obvious that Deborah Kerr and Burt Lancaster's characters have actually been having sex than it is in the novel and the later, more frank 1979 miniseries based on the book.


Private Robert E. Lee Prewitt (Montgomery Clift) is transferred to Schofield Barracks on the island of Oahu. When Captain Dana Holmes (Philip Ober) learns of his reputation as a talented boxer, he pressures Prewitt to join the regimental boxing club that he heads, but the enlisted man stubbornly refuses. 1st Sergeant Milton Warden (Burt Lancaster) suggests that he try to get Prewitt to change his mind by making life as difficult as possible. He gets the other non-commissioned officers to help. Prewitt is supported only by his friend, Private Angelo Maggio (Frank Sinatra).

Behind his commander's back, Warden begins an affair with Holmes' neglected wife Karen (Deborah Kerr). As their relationship develops, she asks him to apply for officer training, so she can divorce Holmes and marry him. When he is finally forced to admit that he doesn't want to be an officer, she sadly ends the affair.

Meanwhile, Maggio antagonizes bigoted Sergeant James R. "Fatso" Judson (Ernest Borgnine). When the undisciplined Maggio goes AWOL, he is sentenced to the stockade, under Judson's charge. Judson takes the opportunity to beat the defiant prisoner repeatedly. Maggio manages to escape and find Prewitt; he tells him of the abuse he endured, then dies. Prewitt finds Judson and kills him in revenge. He then goes into hiding in the apartment of Lorene (Donna Reed), a nightclub "hostess" with whom he had become acquainted.

When the Japanese attack Pearl Harbor, Prewitt tries to return to camp, but is shot dead by a sentry. At the end, Lorene and Karen meet on a ship leaving for the mainland. Lorene tells Karen that her fiancé was an air force pilot shot down in the attack, but Karen recognizes Prewitt's name.


*Burt Lancaster as 1st Sergeant Milton Warden
*Montgomery Clift as Private Robert E. Lee Prewitt
*Deborah Kerr as Karen Holmes
*Donna Reed as Alma 'Lorene' Burke
*Frank Sinatra as Private Angelo Maggio
*Philip Ober as Captain Dana Holmes
*Mickey Shaughnessy as Corporal Leva
*Harry Bellaver as Private Mazzioli
*Ernest Borgnine as Sergeant James R. 'Fatso' Judson
*Jack Warden as Corporal Buckley
*John Dennis as Sergeant Ike Galovitch
*Merle Travis as Sal Anderson
*Tim Ryan as Sergeant Pete Karelsen
*Arthur Keegan as Treadwell
*Barbara Morrison as Mrs. Kipfer
*George Reeves as Sergeant Maylon Stark
*Claude Akins as Sergeant 'Baldy' Dhom
*Alvin Sargent as Nair
*Joseph Sargent as soldier
*Robert J. Wilke as Sergeant Henderson
*Carleton Young as Colonel Ayres

The novel's author, James Jones, had a small, uncredited part.


Legend has it that Frank Sinatra got the role in the movie because of his alleged Mafia connections, and that this was the basis for a similar subplot in "The Godfather", although, this has been dismissed on several occasions by the cast and crew of the film. Director Fred Zinneman commented that "The legend about a horse's head having been cut off is pure invention, a poetic license on the part of Mario Puzo who wrote "The Godfather"." [cite book |author=Nancy Sinatra |title=Frank Sinatra: An American Legend |publisher=Readers Digest Assn |location= |year=1995 |pages= |isbn=0-7621-0134-2 |oclc= |doi=] More plausible is the notion that Sinatra's then-wife Ava Gardner persuaded studio head Harry Cohn's wife to use her influence with him; this version is related by Kitty Kelley in her Sinatra biography. Sinatra himself had been bombarding Cohn with letters and telegrams asking to play the ill-fated Maggio, even signing some of the letters "Maggio". Sinatra benefited when Eli Wallach, who was originally cast as Maggio, dropped out to appear on Broadway instead. However, he was paid only $8,000, a huge drop from his $130,000 salary for "Anchors Aweigh".

Sinatra's screen-test was used in the final cut of the film; the scene included Sinatra improvising with a handful of olives, pretending they were a pair of dice.

The on-screen chemistry between Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr spilled off-screen; the stars became romantically involved during filming. [cite book |author=Buford, Kate |title=Burt Lancaster: an American life |publisher=Knopf |location=New York |year=2000 |pages= |isbn=0-679-44603-6 |oclc= |doi=]

A 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". This is depicted in the docudrama "Hollywoodland". However, Zinnemann maintains all his scenes were kept intact from the first draft, nor was there ever a preview screening.

The U.S. Army withheld its cooperation from the production (most of the movie was filmed where it was set, at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii) until the producers agreed to several modifications, most noticeably the fate of Captain Holmes. Numerous barracks locations are still intact and still occupied by active duty troops. In both the movie and the book the bar and restaurant called Choy's, where the fight scene takes place in the movie and where the novel opens is named Kemoo Farm, Choy's was chosen by James Jones in honor of Kemoo Farm's head chef. Kemoo Farm is still deeply associated with the adjacent Schofield Barracks and the cast and crew, especially Sinatra, are reputed to have patronized the bar to the point of excess.


Opening to rave reviews, "From Here to Eternity" proved to be an instant smash with critics and the public alike, with the likes of The Southern California Motion Picture Council extolling: "A motion picture so great in its starkly realistic and appealing drama that mere words cannot justly describe it." "Variety" agreed, stating, " The James Jones bestseller, "From Here to Eternity," has become an outstanding motion picture in this smash screen adaptation. It is an important film from any angle, presenting socko entertainment for big business. The cast names are exceptionally good, the exploitation and word-of-mouth values are topnotch, and the prospects in all playdates are very bright whether special key bookings or general run."

Of the actors, "Variety" went on to say, " Burt Lancaster, whose presence adds measurably to the marquee weight of the strong cast names, wallops the character of Top Sergeant Milton Warden, the professional soldier who wetnurses a weak, pompous commanding officer and the Gis under him. It is a performance to which he gives depth of character as well as the muscles which had gained marquee importance for his name. Montgomery Clift, with a reputation for sensitive, three-dimensional performances, adds another to his growing list as the independent GI who refuses to join the company boxing team, taking instead the 'treatment' dished out at the c.o.'s instructions. Frank Sinatra scores a decided hit as Angelo Maggio, a violent, likeable Italo-American GI. While some may be amazed at this expression of the Sinatra talent versatility, it will come as no surprise to those who remember the few times he has had a chance to be something other than a crooner in films.

"The New York Post" applauded Frank Sinatra, remarking that "He proves he is an actor by playing the luckless Maggio with a kind of doomed gaity that is both real and immensely touching." "Newsweek" also stated that "Frank Sinatra, a crooner long since turned actor, knew what he was doing when he plugged for the role of Maggio."

The cast agreed, Burt Lancaster commenting in the book "" that "His fervour (Sinatra), his bitterness had something to do with the character of Maggio, but also with what he had gone through the last number of years. A sense of defeat and the whole world crashing in on him... They all came out in that performance."

With a gross of $30.5 million equating to earnings of $12.2 million, "From Here to Eternity" was not only one of the top grossing films of 1953, but one of the ten highest-grossing films of the decade. Adjusted for inflation, its box office gross would be equivalent to in excess of $240 million U.S. in recent times.

Awards and nominations

Academy Awards

* Winner Best Picture - Buddy Adler, producer
* Winner Directing - Fred Zinnemann
* Winner Best Supporting Actor - Frank Sinatra
* Winner Best Supporting Actress - Donna Reed
* Winner Cinematography, black-and-white - Burnett Guffey
* Winner Film Editing - William A. Lyon
* Winner Sound Recording - John P. Livadary
* Winner Writing, Screenplay - Daniel Taradash
* Nominated Best Actor - Montgomery Clift
* Nominated Best Actor - Burt Lancaster
* Nominated Best Actress - Deborah Kerr
* Nominated Costume Design, black-and-white - Jean Louis
* Nominated Best Music Score - George Duning and Morris Stoloff

William Holden, who won the Best Actor Oscar for "Stalag 17", felt that Lancaster should have won for his portrayal of Sgt. Milt Warden. Sinatra would later comment that he thought his performance of heroin addict Frankie Machine in "The Man With the Golden Arm" was more deserving of an Oscar than his role as Maggio.

Golden Globe Awards

* Winner Golden Globe Best Supporting Actor - Frank Sinatra
* Winner Best Director - Fred Zinneman

New York Film Critics Circle Awards

* Winner NYFCC Award Best Film
* Winner Best Actor - Burt Lancaster
* Winner Best Director - Fred Zinneman

Cannes Film Festival

* Winner Cannes Film Festival Special Award of Merit
* Nominated Grand Prize of the Festival

British Academy of Film and Television Arts

* Nominated BAFTA Best Film From Any Source

Directors Guild of America

* Winner DGA Outstanding Directorial Achievement - Fred Zinneman

Writers Guild of America

* Winner WGA Best Written American Drama


* Winner Photoplay Awards - Gold Medal

National Film Registry

In 2002, the United States Library of Congress deemed the film "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" and selected it for preservation in the National Film Registry.

American Film Institute

*1998 AFI's 100 Years... 100 Movies #52
*2002 AFI's 100 Years... 100 Passions #20


External links

* [ "From Here To Eternity" at All Movie Guide]
*imdb title | id=0045793 | title=From Here to Eternity
* [ Script (pdf)]
* [ "Variety" review]


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