Verdammt in alle Ewigkeit (1953)

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Verdammt in alle Ewigkeit: Directed by Fred Zinnemann. With Burt Lancaster, Montgomery Clift, Deborah Kerr, Donna Reed. In Hawaii in 1941, a private is cruelly punished for not boxing on his unit’s team, while his captain’s wife and second-in-command are falling in love.

“One of the big blockbuster best sellers of the post World War II years is James Jonesu0026#39;s From Here to Eternity, a tale of the peacetime army in Hawaii before Pearl Harbor. The book was definitely going to be made into a film and it was only a question of casting to make it a success.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eDirector Fred Zinneman had a good intuitive sense about casting here, even against type. The two principal female parts were done against type. Deborah Kerr who made a career of playing respectable women played a captainu0026#39;s wife whou0026#39;s drinking and playing around. Not that husband Philip Ober is letting grass grow under his feet either, but Kerru0026#39;s latest sexual exploit involves her with the First Sergeant of her husbandu0026#39;s company, Burt Lancaster. u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eDonna Reed, who up to that point was best known for being Mary Bailey in Itu0026#39;s A Wonderful Life, plays a prostitute here. A girl from the wrong side of the tracks, jilted by a rich boyfriend stateside, sheu0026#39;s in Hawaii to make money and then go home and buy some respectability. Sheu0026#39;s not looking for romance with any soldiers, but you canu0026#39;t plan these things.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eEspecially Montgomery Clift if he comes in your life. Itu0026#39;s been argued that this is Cliftu0026#39;s greatest role and a case can sure be made for it. His character of Robert E. Lee Pruitt is like so many who still join the army today, from small town America who have no future there and find a home in the Armed Services. What makes Clift unique is that strong sense of individualism he canu0026#39;t control in an organization that does not encourage individuality.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eClift and Lancaster are a great study in contrasts and thatu0026#39;s what drives From Here to Eternity. Lancaster as Sergeant Milt Warden is the ultimate professional soldier, held in the highest regard by his men. Lancaster is someone who knows how to work the system, you see it in the way he manipulates his captain. Of course heu0026#39;s got to be a manipulator there since heu0026#39;s having an affair with Deborah Kerr. He tries to protect Clift from himself and ultimately fails.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eClift has transferred into an infantry company and he was at one time a boxer. But he blinded someone in a fight and quit boxing. Philip Ober who prides himself on having several champions in various weight classes worked to get Clift in his company. Clift upsets his plans by refusing to box so he has the various sergeants give him u0026quot;the treatment.u0026quot; u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eCliftu0026#39;s best friend in the company is a tough street wise soldier from the big city named Angelo Maggio, played by Frank Sinatra. Sinatra read the book and knew this part was for him. He did everything he had to do to get that part, including working for scale. At the time Sinatra was considered a has been as singer and actor. Sinatra was right on the money in terms of picking a role. His faith in himself and Columbia Pictures and Fred Zinnemanu0026#39;s faith in him netted him an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor, one of eight awards won by From Here to Eternity.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eBy the way Sinatra credited both Lancaster and Clift in helping him through this film as a dramatic actor. Lancaster and Sinatra didnu0026#39;t inhabit the same Hollywood orbit, but they remained friends for life. The same could not be said for Clift. Allegedly, some five or six years after From Here to Eternity and after Monty Cliftu0026#39;s automobile accident while shooting Raintree County, Clift at some party at Sinatrau0026#39;s made a drunken pass at one of Sinatrau0026#39;s retainers. That got him kicked out of Sinatrau0026#39;s circle permanently.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eIn fact From Here to Eternity was also the Best Picture of 1953, with Zinneman getting his second Best Director Oscar in a row after the one he took home in 1952 for High Noon. Donna Reed won for Best Supporting Acress. Burt Lancaster and Montgomery Clift were both nominated for Best Actor, but split the vote allowing William Holden to win for Stalag 17. Another great acting job itself. And Kerr was up for Best Actress, but lost to Audrey Hepburn for Roman Holiday.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eFrom Here to Eternity is a film loaded with good actors in small roles who got their first notice in this film. Ernest Borgnine, Robert J. Wilkie, Claude Akins, Jack Warden, Mickey Shaughnessy, all play various soldiers and each one is memorable. Especially Borgnine as the vicious sadistic sergeant of the stockade.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eTVu0026#39;s Superman was in From Here to Eternity also. George Reeves who was looking to escape the typecasting from Superman has a part as another sergeant who warns Lancaster about Deborah Kerr. He gave a fine performance, but most of it wound up on the cutting room floor. That would have unforeseen tragic consequences.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eThis is not any kind of glamorous army. These people are all too real and not very noble. The original novel was toned down quite a bit for the screen. But when the attack on Pearl Harbor comes, the men rise to the occasion, do their jobs in a more than competent manner and led by Burt Lancaster in that company. Itu0026#39;s these men who won that war in the Pacific and the one in Europe as well and From Here to Eternity despite the less than noble portrayals of them as individuals is a great tribute to them as a team.”

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