From Here to Eternity
Before "Peyton Place," James Jones'"From Here to Eternity" was arguably the most controversial best-selling novel of the 1950s. Stationed on a military base in Hawaii during the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor, the author concocted a hard-hitting exposé on the injustices and hypocrisy of military life, juxtaposing the stories of three enlisted men during the period just preceding the infamous attack.
Though considered unfilmable, the story was nonetheless snapped up by Columbia, who delivered a highly sanitized script to master story-teller Fred Zinnemann. Casting against type, the director selected aristocratic Deborah Kerr (in Marilyn Monroe drag) as a promiscuous officer's wife, wholesome Donna Reed as a call-girl, and introspective Montgomery Clift as a macho former boxer and GI. It worked. The film went on to be nominated in all the major Oscar categories, garnering eight awards, including Best Picture of 1953. One of the winners was Frank Sinatra, whose career had been at a nadir when he was chosen to play the supporting role of the tough, Italian-American Private Maggio. Clift lost to William Holden, as did Burt Lancaster, who was superb as the stalwart Sgt. Warden. After sixty years, he still manages to look hot on that O'ahu beach, laying that now iconic lip-lock on Deborah Kerr.
Columbia released "From Here to Eternity" on DVD in 2001, in an excellent transfer, accompanied by two informative featurettes on the evolution of the project. In commemoration of the film's sixtieth anniversary, the studio is releasing it in Blu-ray format. With respect to sharpness and contrast, the new 1080p high definition film transfer is a noticeable improvement over the already terrific DVD edition. The real treat is the 5.1 DTS-HD soundtrack, which enables the distinguished Daniel Taradash screenplay to be heard with remarkable clarity, and provides true stereo separation for the voices and musical score. The documentaries from the DVD are retained for the Blu-ray, as is the audio commentary. The new special feature is a graphic-in-picture track, which includes running video and written commentary projected over the movie. Film historians, as well as friends and family of the cast and crew, contribute interesting insights into the making of this legendary film.
Unquestionably, "From Here to Eternity" is far less scandalous to our eyes than it was to those of audiences in 1953. Yet this well-crafted, expertly acted film is an absolute essential for any collection of great Hollywood films; and offering state-of-the-art quality at a reasonable price, Columbia's new Blu-ray is definitely the way to go!
From Here to Eternity