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From Here to Eternity


By Bret McCabe | Posted 8/17/2005

Itís tempting to knight Fred Zinnemannís star-studded 1953 adaptation of James Jonesí novel as the granddaddy of all World War II movies, save the fact that military combat plays no role on screen. Minor, personal wars are center stage here, and somehow an inescapable feeling of disaster runs through this entire melodramatic firecracker. Set on an Oahu Army base in the waning months of 1941, From Here to Eternity follows the drinking, carousing, drinking, adultering, drinking, fighting, and drinking of soldiers preparing to fightóthey just donít know when. Pvt. Prewitt (Montgomery Clift) takes many lickings and keeps on bugling, Pvt. Maggio (Frank Sinatra) trades verbal ire with Staff Sgt. Judson (Ernest Borgnine), island hostess Alma (Donna Reed) comforts these men in one way or another, and the Łber-manly Sgt. Warden (Burt Lancaster) shares an immortal kiss in the surf with Karen (Deborah Kerr, finally not playing a prim, prude British lady), the sexpot wife of his commanding officer. And by the time Eternity reaches its almost big-picture inconsequential close on the morning of Dec. 7, 1941, these men and women have already been through hellóand the real battles havenít even started yet.

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