L13FC: From Here to Eternity

Welcome back to the Lucky 13 Film Club. With the Oscar results still ringing in my ears, the focal point today is on “Best”. Take From Here to Eternity, for instance. In 1954, the film won eight Academy Awards out of 13 nominations, including awards for Best Picture, Best Director (Fred Zinnemann), Adapted Screenplay, Supporting Actor (Frank Sinatra), and Supporting Actress (Donna Reed). This year’s winter project is studying Burt Lancaster. I thought he did a good job playing the disgruntled Sergeant who falls in love with his superior officer’s wife played beautifully by Deborah Kerr. In fact, Kerr and Reed were the standout performers in the ensemble. Montgomery Clift doesn’t move me much. Regardless, the principal actors were at the top of their game. Having watched From Here to Eternity with older eyes, I have to say I loved the film. 

Which ones are their best? 

Fred ZinnemannFrom Here to Eternity, High Noon, A Man for All Seasons, The Day of the Jackal? 

Burt LancasterBirdman from Alcatraz, Elmer Gantry, The Leopard, Sweet Smell of Success? 

Montgomery CliftA Place in the Sun, The Misfits? 

Deborah Kerr — An Affair to Remember, Black Narcissus, The King and I? 

Donna Reed —  It’s a Wonderful Life or From Here to Eternity? 

Frank Sinatra — From Here to Eternity, Manchurian Candidate, Guys and Dolls, Oceans 11, Man with the Golden Arm? 

What do you love about From Here to Eternity? 

Why is From Here to Eternity a satisfying drama?  I say because of the script written by Daniel Taradash and the acting of Frank Sinatra, Deborah Kerr, and Donna Reed. 

58 thoughts on “L13FC: From Here to Eternity”

  1. Have you seen “The Swimmer” with Lancaster? All of your choices are perfect examples of a MOVIE STAR – he knows how to own the screen! I love that he had a small part in “Field Of Dreams” near the end of his career!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I watched Swimmer the other day. I love the John Cheever short story. I read in the Lancaster bio that The Swimmer was taken and edited to death so that 40 percent was all that Frank Perry would claim. There are parts of the film that are wonderful and other parts (the dreamy, Hallmark flashbacks) that didn’t work for me. But, it does showcase the healthy physique of Lancaster. That can’t be easy to play a whole film in swimming trunks.
      I loved his bit role in Field of Dreams.

      Liked by 2 people

        1. I don’t know Bill, I thought it was a pretty clever alternative. Then again, I am probably saying that cause I prefer swimming in pools to the river πŸ™‚ Anyway, great to see you on here again πŸ™‚


      1. I agree with both you and John regarding The Swimmer. Believe it or not Cindy, the late Roger Ebert recognized it as an underrated gem (he did not use those words exactly) during it’s initial theatrical run in the late 1960’s.


        1. It got lost in translation. Too many people had control of its final outcome. It was a fun challenge and the story from Cheever is great. I love his stories. The cast was right — it was dreamy sequences and the filming looked like an afterschool special on ABC.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. I have seen ‘From Here’ more times than I can remember. Sinatra was surprisingly good, and Clift was just Clift. (Was he always the same? I think he was) Ernie Borgnine played a great screen villain too.
    But I will perhaps cause a rumpus by saying that I think Deborah Kerr was woefully miscast. As much as I agree that she was a great actress, (The Innocents, for example) I just never got her in the role of Karen. I always felt she should have been more ‘irresistible’. πŸ™‚
    As the post is about Lancaster, I should say I thought he was excellent, in a very ‘solid’ way.
    Best wishes, Pete. x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Pete. Thanks for the shout out for E. Borgnine as he was good as a the villain. Those bulging eyes! With regards to Clift, I agree. He doesn’t have that depth I like to see in an actor. As far as Kerr is concerned, being miscast, I thought she did fine. Maybe a little too cold for Lancaster’s cold character? Or a complimentary pairing? You needed someone hotter. I liked her facial expressions and her subtle performance spoke to me. I read the famous scene of them kissing in the waves was Lancaster’s idea during filming. That has to be his best impulsive decision in film. Love the sexual imagery in the frothing waves crashing on the rocks. Ha!

      Liked by 1 person

    2. I too agree with you Pete. No disrespect towards Deborah Kerr, but she really did not look like that “ideal girl” that Lancaster’s character would have fell head over heels over. I don’t know, maybe that is just me, but we are both in agreement nonetheless.

      Liked by 1 person

        1. You know after reading your comment about Kerr in a steamy role, I gave it some thought and I now think that Kerr’s casting was perfect as is everybody else. I think I saw what you and Bill were getting at. Nevertheless, I do still stand by my original sentiments of From Here to Eternity being only good as opposed to great.


  3. Great film through even older eyes. Great ensemble cast. Cliff’s character was the main character in the book, but Cliff could never have carried the movie. Lancaster was perfect in his role and his shoulders were very capable to lead the way. Frankly, this is one of the few times I like the movie over the book.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah! That’s rare, isn’t it? I haven’t read the book, so I don’t know. I did wish Clift turned up the notch a little. I just thought he could have done more with the role. Lancaster was the quintessential man, wasn’t he, from that era?

      Liked by 1 person

    2. The cast of the film was great, but for me, From Here to Eternity is no masterpiece. In fact, my favorite film adaptation of a James Jones book (it also has Frank Sinatra in it) is Vincente Minnelli’s 1958 small town melodrama Some Came Running.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Which ones are their best?

    Fred Zinnemann β€” Behold a Pale Horse, The Sundowers, Hatful of Rain, Kid Glove Killer, The Day of the Jackal

    Burt Lancaster β€” Birdman from Alcatraz, Elmer Gantry, Judgement at Nurenberg, Apache, The Leopard, The Gysy Moths, Atlantic City, Seven Days in May,

    Montgomery Clift β€” A Place in the Sun, Red River, The Misfits, Wild river

    Deborah Kerr β€” An Affair to Remember, Black Narcissus, The King and I?

    Donna Reed β€” It’s a Wonderful Life

    Frank Sinatra β€” Some Cae Running, Manchurian Candidate, The Detective, Guys and Dolls, Man with the Golden Arm, Pal Joey

    What do you love about From Here to Eternity? The book.

    Why is From Here to Eternity a satisfying drama? For me, it is not. Maybe becase my mother lived in pearl harbor during this tme period , but more than that, i think it failed to capture the book, which is one of the best WW2 novels by Americas finest novelist,, James Jones. Still, I liked donna Reed and almost any black and hite widescreen movie is worth watching for me.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Zinnemann – Not a fan.

      Lancaster – The Leopard and Seven Days in May are perfect. Apache is close, but no cigar. But why did you leave off Sweet Smell of Success? Atlantic City is very good.

      Clift – Love Red River and Wild River.

      Kerr – Love Black Narcissus. Why did you leave off The Innocents? An Affair to Remember was very good.

      Reed – Love It’s a Wonderful Life.

      Sinatra – Love Some Came Running, The Manchurian Candidate, Guys and Dolls and The Man with the Golden Arm.

      The film version of From Here to Eternity is good, but not great. I am probably closer to your opinion on that huh?


        1. For me, the most crucial aspect of a filmmaker’s job (whether he/she be an artist or a director-for-hire) is they need both a personal style or a trademark theme. Along with Stanley Kramer (Judgment at Nuremberg and Inherit the Wind), director Fred Zinnemann chooses controversial subject matter, but fails to either embrace it in a personal way. Both also have bland visual styles. If you want to learn more about what I am trying to say about him, let me offer you this story on Zinnemann that details the reasons even better than myself. Here is the link below and it is under the heading “Auteurist Condemnation”


          1. i read ths artice looking for some insight into zinnemnns shortcomings as a director but found very little as it was written by a stuent of sarris, the arguments were obvious and have been in currency among auteur therists for many decades. he has never been one of my favorite directors, but using the auteurist argument convinces me of nothing, since the their itself has plenty f hie in it and sarris himself has insanely misunderstood it, hollywood had only a very few auteur directors ad they were t the ones we read about in chahiers du cinema. the ony directors who exemplified the theory were the crtics turned film makers who devised t. Sarrs did cineastes a favom though, with his Dante esqe guide to american cinema, as he cut through a lot of junk and gave us some fekgul starting points. thise directors given auteur status were generally the ones who had directed a lot of excellent pictures, and it would have been difficult identifying them so easily without sarris research. but one cannot judge a drector on anothers faulty grading system.

            Liked by 1 person

    2. Thanks Bill for your thoughts. Day of the Jackal is one I haven’t seen by Zinnemann. James Jones the novelist — I assume you loved The Thin Red Line? I know you loved the movie. I had no idea that Jones wrote a novel Some Came Running. That sure was a great film! I better get myself to reading him.
      When you consider the great films you listed and all the talent grouped into a one film, From Here to Eternity (what a title, eh?) takes on all that star power and delivers for me.


      1. some came running is the finest of all american nvels. the movie was excellent on its own terms but captured nothing of the novel , and really failed with the maclaine character. i loved both film adaptations of the thi red line but again neither comes close to the novel. but a film can be excellent in its own right. for me, from here to eternity was a phony movie.m not bad but one of the least of the romantic wartime tales. there are so many that are better, big stars cant save a movie. the longest day had dozens of them and is virtually unwatchable from start to fnish, although several scenes are good if watched alone. i recimmend you read the uncut , first edition of Some Cae Runing. it is over 1000 pages long and iit went out of print and was replaced by a much shorter version to tie in with the movie. there is ow a restored version available, but i dont know if it has added things that jones cut fro his final draft or not. but if that is the only available version that is complete, i would suggest you read it.


      1. ithught she was always steamy. it was just a different kind of steamy. more realistic i think. she resembled svera of my girlfriends. pretty in a restrained with a lion inside waiting to be released. in many of her movies, er leading man understands this ad acts upon it. i think it is when she s compared to most of the trampy american actresses , she seems cold, but for an english lady, she is really hot. iwhen i was a teenager i ever understood her appeal, but after a lifetime of watching her, she makes perfect sense. PS i also think julie andrews is hot.


          1. “Ha ha. Yes, the playful eyes that know a lot. I didn’t have a problem at all with Deb’s performance. I thought her eyes were expressive.”

            Cindy, you will be happy to hear that I now have come to seeing that Deborah Kerr was perfectly casted to begin with πŸ™‚


    1. “I loved the movie From Here to Eternity so much as a teenager I watched it several times. Same with South Pacific, and Far Pavilions much later πŸ™‚”

      To ianscyberspace: I wish I could share your sentiments, but From Here to Eternity is only good as opposed to great.


  5. Burt’s performance is my favourite of this impressive cast. I’ve never been sold on Sinatra, although I always think of him and this film when I watch the Johnny Fontane scenes in The Godfather. Wasn’t Eli Wallach the original choice to play Maggio? Great comments as usual, it’s interesting to see so many contrasting opinions.

    Liked by 1 person

        1. Ah Black Narcissus was directed by Michael Powell (and Emeric Pressburger), who I consider to be one of the many greatest British filmmakers of all-time. For a while, Powell and Pressburger directed as a team πŸ™‚ Check out more of their stuff like The Red Shoes, A Matter of Life and Death among others because you will love them πŸ™‚

          Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey Paul πŸ™‚ From Here to Eternity is good, but not great. Nevertheless, I will admit that the performances by the entire cast is what makes it worth watching. As for Sinatra, check out not only The Manchurian Candidate, but also Some Came Running and The Man with the Golden Arm among others. Great to see you on here πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes I like the innocence of young love as it should be. Quite a contrast to the reality we see around us today Cindy. There is a lot of manipulation and betrayal pretending to be love initially but leading to sadness and in some cases ruin.


  6. From what you’ve explored so far, what would you say is an ideal starting place for a Burt Lancaster newbie? (Asking for a friend, of a friend, of a friend, of a friend . . . who turns out to be, well, me. πŸ˜‰


  7. I just re watched the film. Zinnemman is an excellent studio director, and did a fine job moving things along and keeping everything in balance. The actors captured the essence of their characters, but only Clift and, to a lesser degree, Reed, moved me. Lancaster was wooden. He displayed none of the inner turmoil that Frankenheimer brought out in him with Birdman of Alcatraz and The Gypsy Moths. Sinatra was a ham. I didnt believe his relationship with Borgnine at all, although Borgnine did a good job. In fact, most of the supporting players were excellent. Although I like Kerr and think she can play sexy roles, I found her performance here phony. The famous scene of the beach was ludicrous, but did display Lancasters physique effectively. That imposing frame was the only thing he brought to the part though. His all important relationship with Clift was undeveloped and thus unbelieveable. Despite the shortcomings of the cast, the film was iintelligently short with one glaring exception when Clift exited downstage right after a scene that should have faded to black with his first forward steps. The cinematography was expressive but conventional. I disagree with most of the article John linked. Both Zinnemman and Kramer were excellent studio directors, and it is unfair to dismiss them simply because they made films with a social conscience.


    1. Hi Bill. I’m glad you rewatched the film and found a lot to say about it. After watching and reading a lot of Burt L films, I realized he was possessed the physical attributes that surpassed his acting abilities. I didn’t care for Clift much at all. In fact, they all seemed wooden to me except for Sinatra who was the only one who had any energy in the film. Maybe that’s why he stood out to me. I enjoyed the film but see the flaws you are focusing. In the bio I read, Lancaster and Kerr had no chemistry off screen either. He was aloof and a jerk, apparently.


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