Sunday, May 6, 2012

From Here to Eternity

From Here to Eternity

From Here to Eternity is a 1953 drama film directed by Fred Zinnemann and based on the novel of the same name by James Jones. It deals with the troubles of soldiers, played by Burt Lancaster, Montgomery Clift, Frank Sinatra and Ernest Borgnine, stationed on Hawaii in the months leading up to the attack on Pearl Harbor. Deborah Kerr and Donna Reed portrayed the women in their lives.

The film won eight Academy Awards out of 13 nominations, including for Picture, Best Director (Fred Zinnemann), Adapted Screenplay, Supporting Actor (Frank Sinatra) and Supporting Actress (Donna Reed).

* Burt Lancaster as First Sergeant Milton Warden
* Montgomery Clift as Private Robert E. Lee "Prew" Prewitt
* Deborah Kerr as Karen Holmes
* Donna Reed as Alma "Lorene" Burke
* Frank Sinatra as Private Angelo Maggio
* Philip Ober as Captain Dana "Dynamite" Holmes
* Mickey Shaughnessy as Corporal Leva
* Harry Bellaver as Private First Class Mazzioli
* Ernest Borgnine as Staff 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
* Tyler McVey as Major Stern (uncredited)

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

Hollywood 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. This has been dismissed on several occasions, however, 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." 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. Sinatra gained the role, ultimately taking a pay cut in the process (earning $8,000, a huge drop from his $130,000 salary for Anchors Aweigh) to star in the film.

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.

Joan Crawford and Gladys George were offered roles, but George lost her role when the director decided he wanted to cast the female roles against type while Crawford's demands to be filmed by her own cameraman led to the studio taking a chance on Deborah Kerr, also playing against type.

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 Kerr's and Lancaster's characters are having sex than it is in the novel and in the later, miniseries based on the book. Also left out of the film are Maggio being a male hustler and the portrait of the gay nightlife in Waikiki.

The on-screen chemistry between Lancaster and Kerr may have spilled off-screen; it was alleged that the stars became romantically involved during filming.

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 television's Superman. This is depicted in the film 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 Kemo'o (pronounced "kay-moe-o" in Hawaiian) Farms Bar and Grill. Choy's was chosen by James Jones in honor of Kemo'o Farms' head chef. Kemo'o Farms Bar and Grill is still in operation and remains 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.

Two songs are noteworthy: "Re-Enlistment Blues" and "From Here to Eternity", by Robert Wells and Fred Karger.

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