Friday, 14 November 2014

Vintage Film Review: From Here to Eternity

I had long-awaited watching this classic film after we picked up a copy on VHS for free in the charity shop.  What an utter disappointment it turned out to be!

The film was released in 1953, based on James Jones' book.  Starring Burt Lancaster, Montgomery Clift, Deborah Kerr and Frank Sinatra, it's a tale centred around a military base in Hawaii, before Pearl Harbour plunges everyone into war.

Image from All Posters, where you can buy this poster here.

I looked up some critics' reviews after watching it, and was flabbergasted at how highly they regarded what, to me, was a long, boring film with hammed acting.
The romantic scenes between Lancaster and Kerr are particularly excruciating to watch, with the dialogue so strangely stilted that you would have thought that they were text messaging rather than speaking face to face. And as for that iconic moment?  Blink, and you'll miss 'that kiss' in the surf.  The women in the story are of course a bit neurotic/hysterical/promiscuous.

The whole thing was far too melodramatic for my tastes, with a bit of patriotic gunning-down-a-Japanese-plane thrown in near the end, and no real reference to the scale of the Pearl Harbour attack or what it meant on a wider political scale.  There wasn't much of a context for the characters, and I didn't really care at the end about one unarmed and injured soldier who'd just committed murder stupidly running about the lawns at night in the middle of a possible invasion, and refusing to stop when he had the chance.  It just didn't make sense.

At the time of the film's release, the US was heavily embroiled in North Korea, and I think the film morphs to the point of propaganda at the end - yes it depicts bullying in the army but even the victim at the end says he loves the army, in his poor institutionalised way.  We are still supposed to think how brave and amazing all of the soldiers are, even though the ones portrayed in the film are violent bullies and drunks, frequenting brothels and having affairs.  If the ending hadn't been so patriotic I doubt it would have passed the censors at a time when the US needed the public to back its use of troops in Korea.

The final thing that irked me was that despite being set in 1941, they'd made no attempt to set costumes and hair in that era, so it all looked a bit 1950s and didn't ring true.

Bah!  Don't bother with it.


  1. The only thing I know about this one is the scene where they're rolling around making out on the beach as the waves wash over them, which looks cool but doesn't seem like it would be either pleasant or sexy.

    1. Sand in your knickers is never pleasant or sexy...

  2. You know, I've seen that very same thing (little to no attempt to costume a film set just a decade earlier) in a few other vintage movies over the years, too. It always strikes me as being like, "Oh, come on, you probably had clothes older than the intended year still in your closet, you couldn't even make a halfhearted attempt to be period appropriate". And yet, at the same time, perhaps it says something about that fact that some people at least, didn't feel like styles had changed enough since then to bother with distinguishing between the two years through the costuming in a given film.

    ♥ Jessica

    1. That's an interesting point Jessica, maybe that they didn't feel styles had changed enough - I hadn't though of that! x

  3. It's always a disappointment when a film you've long awaited watching doesn't meet your expectations. :( I hate when that happens! :(


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