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FROM HERE TO ETERNITY (1953)

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Discussion before

The Hawaiian beach became the sexiest place on earth in this tale of doomed love on an army base just before World War II. James Jones’ bestseller was considered unfilmable because of its length, profanity and sexuality, not to mention its cynical view of Army life. Columbia head Harry Cohn bought the rights nonetheless, and Daniel Taradash finally came up with a script that pleased the boss, the censors and the U.S. military. Director Fred Zinnemann fought for the perfect actors to turn the picture into a classic. Deborah Kerr, cast against type as a straying military wife, shared a steamy surfside love scene with Burt Lancaster that has become an iconic image of passion. Donna Reed broke with her girl-next-door typecasting to play a worker in a gentleman’s club, while Frank Sinatra took on a strong dramatic characterization after mostly lightweight vehicles and Montgomery Clift threw himself into his role as a rebellious private. Zinnemann would later credit Clift for the high caliber of acting in the film. His original, deeply committed performance elicited genuine reactions from his co-stars, helping Sinatra and Reed win Oscars for their work. The film won six other Oscars, including Best Picture, for its gritty depiction of military life and the array of powerful performances from all involved. (d. Fred Zinnemann, 118m, DCP)

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