From Here to Eternity Blu-ray Review
Schofield Barracks, Hawaii. It’s fast approaching fall, 1941. Into this setting we meet a group of people whose lives, whether they know it or not, will soon be intertwined. This is the story of FROM HERE TO ETERNITY.
Based on James Jones’ novel, FROM HERE TO ETERNITY tells the tale of soldiers and civilians, gentlemen and ladies. We meet First Sergeant Milton Warden (Lancaster). He’s a career soldier who does his job well. Too well, in fact. His company commander, Captain Holmes (Phillip Ober) spends much of his time away “on business,” leaving the daily running of the company to Top Warden. When he’s not “out” Captain Holmes is manages the regiments boxing team. Enter Private Robert E. Lee Prewitt (Clift). Holmes has had him assigned to the unit because he’s a fine boxer. The captain is not happy when Prewitt tells him he’s done with fighting. Some time ago, while sparring with a friend, Prewitt injured the man badly and hung up his gloves. Holmes tells him he’s not going to force him to fight but you know that he’ll make sure others put the pressure on him. Among Prewitt’s closest friends is Angelo Maggio (Frank Sinatra). Maggio loves his fun, and his drink. He takes Prewitt to a private club where he meets Lurlene (Donna Reed). Sparks fly instantly between the two. Sadly, there are no sparks between Captain Holmes and his wife, Karen (Kerr). Seems the Captain’s roving eyes have driven a wedge between them. This doesn’t mean Karen is sitting home alone. Far from it. In fact, shortly she’ll be sitting with Sgt. Warden. And I’m sure a lot of other things.
One of the greatest films of the 1950s, it’s so good to see FROM HERE TO ETERNITY finally make it to Blu-ray. The cast is outstanding…probably one of the best collections of talent assembled to make any film EVER! Lancaster shines as the father figure to his men. Tough but fair he does what he can to make their tour in the Army a success. Lancaster is one of my all time favorite actors and his work here is among his best. As Karen, Kerr surprises. Probably more associated to film fans with more “dignified” characters in films like THE KING AND I and AN AFFAIR TO REMEMBER, she smolders on the screen (at least as much smoldering as could be done in 1953). The film also served as a stepping stone for actors like Reed, Ernest Borgnine, Claude Akins, George Reeves and Jack Warden. At the time of filming Frank Sinatra couldn’t buy a ticket to SEE a movie, much less make one. He begged for the role of Maggio and delivered an Oscar-winning performance. To me the standout performer here is Clift. This has always been my favorite Montgomery Clift performance and it’s a treat to see it on Blu-ray.
FROM HERE TO ETERNITY was nominated for 13 Academy Awards and took home 8 statues, among them Best Picture, Director (this was Fred Zinnemann’s first directing Oscar…he would win another one for directing A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS), Sinatra for Best Supporting Actor and Reed for Best Supporting Actress. Both Lancaster and Clift were nominated in the Best Actor category and no doubt split the vote, with the award going to William Holden for STALAG 17. This is a must-see for even the most basic film lover.
FROM HERE TO ETERNITY BLU-RAY REVIEW
Video: Presented slightly smaller then it’s original aspect ratio (1.34:1 vs 1.37:1), the film has been beautifully restored. Even though it’s in black and white the picture is sharp and clear with no muting of images.
Audio: The English sound track is presented in two formats: DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio and Dolby Digital Mono. Both tracks are clearly produced.
Eternal History: Graphics-in-Picture: You can access this feature on the menu screen. Behind the scenes information, trivia and other tidbits appear on the screen as the film plays.
Audio Commentary: Director Zinnemann’s son, Tim, and longtime Zinnemann collaborator Alvin Sargent, talk about the production of the film, especially the anticipated trouble with the censors at the time. Sargent won two Screenplay Academy Awards, including one for the film, “Julia,” which Zinnemann directed.
The Making of “From Here to Eternity” (2:23): A very brief newsreel that talks about the film and it’s Oscar nominations.
Fred Zinnemann: “As I See It” (9:35): Part of what I’m assuming was a documentary on Zinnemann’s work. In it, the director shares stories about the making of the film and also some dazzling color home movies he took on set, often shown alongside the film scene they encompass.
Lobby Cards: A set of (5) reproduction lobby cards come folded in the Blu-ray case. They are perforated if you want to separate them and frame them.