This glistening horse apple won eight Academy Awards. I believe it should have received another: “Best Pulling of Wool Over Critical Eyes.” Sure, if you look beyond the misogyny, promotion of horrible living and laughably overwritten characters, this thing is a brilliant example of mediocrity.
From the opening frames to the merciful closing shot, this film offers a belligerent circus of low living. From celebrating drunkenness and prostitution to actively supporting (and even explaining away) adultery, this film’s morality is something I’d expect from today’s turd merchants. From Here To Eternity proves that in some cases, they didn’t make movies like we thought they used to.
The script is a dizzy collection of disconnected events. The characters belch out corny lines and act in maddening and illogical ways (even for people bent on self-destruction). The only character I noticed in the film that is 1) realistic and 2) consistent in his thinking and action is SSgt. Fatso Judson, played by a young and very menacing Ernest Borgnine. Fatso doesn’t like Angelo (Frank Sinatra in the film’s only truly good performance) and he acts in a fashion to express this dislike. He tells Angelo he doesn’t like him and he is going to hurt him. He does. In the end, Fatso is the only person to remain consistent.
The main character is the film’s biggest problem. Montgomery Clift’s angry and haunted Pvt. Robert E. Lee ‘Prew’ Prewitt (even his name is overdone) is a cartoon. He is a top-notch boxer and professional level bugle player. He has the constitution of an ox and even is great at getting drunk. Prewitt is too perfect. In every competition he wins. In every conflict he ends with the upper hand. Even when he loses, he wins. Now, I am certain there are people out there like this guy but that doesn’t mean I want to spend two hours watching them pout.
The film’s other big area of concern is the relationship between 1st Sgt. Milton Warden and his Captain’s wife Karen Holmes. These two are presented as troubled lovers of convenience. It doesn’t matter how they are presented — she is married and they are committing adultery. The film never condemns this fact. It just accepts it and moves on; after all, her husband is a jackass, so morally it’s acceptable, right? The image of these two adulterers kissing on the beach is a standard-bearer for Hollywood romance. Then again, perhaps these two moral retards posing as plankton in the backwash of the world is suitable.
If the 2×4 I’ve been hitting you with hasn’t done its job, I’ll just come out and say it: I did not like this film. Films like this make me think that we’ve descended from apes because only diaper-wearing, screeching chimps could have made something this inane.