I love the Academy Awards and last year I realized how few of the “Best Picture” winners I’d actually seen. So I made it a goal to see all 83 winners and blog my thoughts about them along the way.

Why did it win? Should another movie have won instead? Has it become a beloved classic or do many of you not even recognize the title? I invite you, my friends and guests, to comment along with me. Do you agree/disagree? I should be fair and place a SPOLIER ALERT on this blog since I’ll be writing about various parts of the movie. So read at your own risk…

I have often told people that I have movie amnesia… I can see a movie and forget all about it years later. So for that reason, I am re-watching the 27 I’ve seen before. That said, if no one visits or reads my blog and I basically perform the online equivalent of talking to a brick wall, that’s fine; if for nothing else, it’ll be my own reminder. Enjoy!

And the Oscar goes to…

Friday, June 17, 2011

From Here to Eternity, 1953

Not Rated

“From Here to Eternity” is based on an 859-page best-selling and controversial novel about Army life on a Hawaii military base just prior to the surprise attacks on Pearl Harbor. Apparently, the book is quite explicit on different levels, so the movie script had to be changed and edited.

The book and film’s title comes from a line from Rudyard Kipling’s poem “Gentleman Rankers”: “damned from here to eternity.” A gentleman ranker is a soldier who is qualified by either experience or education to be promoted to officer but chooses to remain a soldier. That description can apply to almost every main character in the film, if not directly, than symbolically, and because of that they have damned themselves or their relationships.

Deborah Kerr plays the part of a neglected captain’s wife who has been cheated on, so in return is also adulterous. She starts a secret relationship with Burt Lancaster’s character who is a sergeant who even after her pleading refuses to accept a promotion that would relocate him. I remember Kerr from “An Affair to Remember” and “The King and I”. I never really warmed up to her character in this film; I think she has an affinity for playing somewhat cold characters.

Montgomery Clift plays ex-boxer Robert Prewitt who is the best bugle player in the corps (but has possibly the worst posture I've ever seen). He refuses to box again for the army since the last time he did, he rendered a man blind. He is a stubborn man and won’t succumb to the conniving schemes attempted to get him to change his mind. With his stubbornness though is a strong bond and loyalty for friends. He falls for Donna Reed’s character who works in what is basically a whorehouse off base. Of course, I recognized her from one of my favorite Christmas classics “It’s a Wonderful Life”. I wasn’t as big a fan of her character in this film however… She’s quite selfish and deluded. Even the end left my sister and I wondering… Was she lying about the death of her “fiancé” because she was misled or because she was fantasizing since she apparently had no pride?

Frank Sinatra, whom I’ve always been a fan of, plays the part of Italian-American Angelo Maggio who has a brotherly bond with Prewitt. I thought he was excellent in this role and deserving of his Academy Award. His character is also quite stubborn which unfortunately leads to his demise near the end.

I couldn’t help but think of the more recent movie “Pearl Harbor” from 2001. That also is the story of romance on an Army base. While I am a fan of that movie, I will admit, I don’t think they got the vernacular and overall way of life correct of the ‘40s. I will applaud them on their authentic re-creation of the attacks though.

“From Here to Eternity” was up against “Julius Caesar”, “The Robe”, “Roman Holiday”, and “Shane”. It won 8 of its 13 nominations with Frank Sinatra and Donna Reed taking home character awards (their firsts and only). Only because I am fixated on anything Disney, I will include this bit of trivia for you from this year’s award ceremony: Walt Disney achieved a milestone as the individual with the most Oscar wins (4) in a single year. He won in four categories: Best Cartoon Short Subject: Toot, Whistle, Plunk and Boom, Best Documentary Short Subject: The Alaskan Eskimo, Best Documentary Feature: The Living Desert, and Best Two-Reel Short Subject: Bear Country.

I post the original movie posters at the beginning of my posts, so I thought I would include this famous scene shot here. This is the more recognizable cover now on DVDs and posters. I’m not much of a water baby, but to me this is anything but sexy and romantic…

And here’s what Deborah Kerr said about shooting it:

“It had to have rocks in the distance, so the water could strike the boulders and shoot upward — all very symbolic. The scene turned out to be deeply affecting on film, but, God, it was no fun to shoot. We had to time it for the waves, so that at just the right moment a big one would come up and wash over us. Most of the waves came up only to our feet, but we needed one that would come up all the way. We were like surfers, waiting for the perfect waves. Between each take, we had to do a total cleanup. When it was all over, we had four tons of grit in our mouths—and other places.” — Deborah Kerr

Sorry Deborah, it may be a generational thing, but I wasn’t “deeply affected” by the scene.

Probably the most touching scene for me was the one when Prewitt played the bugle in memory of his friend and fellow soldier Maggio. (Unfortunately, I couldn’t find this scene shot online.) I never gave the bugle much attention and didn’t realize that the note-playing all comes from the placement of the tongue.

Another scene that mesmerized me was when the Japanese planes first started flying over the base. The soldiers are caught in such a state of panic that they are in the large grass courtyard literally running in every direction. The scene was shot from the angle of a plane overhead and they looked like ants scattering after their hill is kicked in. (Sorry, I was unable to get a picture of that scene either.)

But I have included comments about the fashion seen in this movie by my sister and guest blogger, Alli:

High waists are probably the iconic image that comes to mind when thinking about 1940s swimwear, as demonstrated in the famous beach scene from this movie. The belly button did not see sunlight until the 1960s when it became the naval of fashion, literally, with cropped tops. It is my guess that since belly buttons are mostly hidden in today’s haute couture, there is a rising attraction to retro swimsuits with flattering high-waists, halter straps, sweetheart necklines, and skirt bottoms.
For history: http://www.vintagedancer.com/vintage-retro-1940s-and-1950s-swimsuits-history-and-shoping-guide/
For shopping: http://www.modcloth.com/store/ModCloth/Womens/Swimwear and http://www.popinaswimwear.com/.

1 comment:

  1. We watched the water scene at least 3 times and each time we were amazed at how ridiculous it looked and how funny it became so popular and "romantic." Thanks for including Deb's quote.