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DVD & Blu-ray Reviews
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From Here to Eternity Blu-ray ReviewBlu-ray Sony Pictures
Oct 02 2013 01:18 PM | Richard Gallagher in DVD & Blu-ray Reviews
- Studio: Sony
- Distributed By: N/A
- Video Resolution: 1080P/AVC
- Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
- Audio: English 1.0 DD (Mono), English 5.1 DTS-HDMA, Spanish 1.0 DD (Mono), French 1.0 DD (Mono), Japanese 1.0 PCM (Mono), Other
- Subtitles: English, English SDH, Spanish, French, Dutch, Portuguese, Other
- Rating: Not Rated
- Run Time: 1 Hr. 58 Min.
- Package Includes: Blu-ray
- Case Type: Standard Blu-ray Keep Case with Cardboard Sleeve
- Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)
- Region: ABC
- Release Date: 10/01/2013
- MSRP: $19.99
The Production Rating: 5/5Gentlemen-rankers out on a spree,
Damned from here to Eternity,
God ha' mercy on such as we,
Baa! Yah! Bah!
- Rudyard Kipling, "Gentlemen Rankers"
From Here to Eternity, winner of the Academy Award for Best Picture of 1953, is based upon a highly-praised novel of the same name by James Jones. The book contains much brutality and profanity, not to mention adultery and prostitution, and it was considered to be unfilmable by many. Nevertheless the film, in the capable hands of director Fred Zinnemann, manages to capture the essence of the novel even while sanitizing the more lurid aspects of the story. From Here to Eternity was nominated for thirteen Academy Award and won eight, and it is now available in a stunning Blu-ray from Sony.
The film opens at Schofield Barracks, a U.S. Army base on the island of Oahu in Hawaii. Private Robert E. Lee Prewitt (Montgomery Clift) has been transferred from another unit and is reporting for duty. He bumps into an old friend, Private Angelo Maggio (Frank Sinatra), who is astounded to learn that Prewitt gave up his choice position as a bugler for another company and was transferred to an infantry company. Prewitt had felt insulted when his Company Commander showed favoritism toward another bugler who was not as proficient as him. He then meets First Sergeant Milton Warden (Burt Lancaster), the top enlisted man in the company. Prewett learns from the Company Commander, Captain Holmes (Philip Ober), that he had been transferred to Schofield Barracks because of his boxing prowess. Prewitt had been an n excellent boxer at his prior post, but he gave up the sport after he accidentally blinded his sparring partner. Much to Captain Holmes' dismay, Prewett refuses to join the boxing team. The other soldiers, with the exception of Maggio, then decide to make Prewett change his mind by giving him "The Treatment" (i.e., making him as miserable as possible, both physically and psychologically).
In the meantime, we learn that Captain Holmes and his wife, Karen (Deborah Kerr), have a rapidly deteriorating marriage. Holmes frequently leaves the base to attend to "business" in Honolulu and his wife knows that he is actually seeing other women. Sergeant Warden is contemptuous of Captain Holmes. "He'd strangle in his own spit if he didn't have me around here to swab his throat out for him" says Warden, dismissively. Warden has had his eye on Karen, and his interest is piqued when he hears stories that she had flings with enlisted men while she and her husband were stationed at Fort Bliss in Texas. One day Warden comes to see Karen at her home on the base while Captain Holmes is away, and after some hesitation it becomes clear that she is as interested in Warden and he is in her. Later they make a date to meet at the beach, which culminates in the famous scene of them in a passionate embrace while the waves roll over them. This romance cannot possibly turn out well, of course.
Prewett gets a break from the hazing when payday arrives. Maggio is a member of the New Congress Club, a "gentleman's club" where there are plenty of pretty women to entertain the troops. At the club Prewett meets Lorene (Donna Reed) and immediately falls for her (Lorene is also known as "Alma"). She came to Hawaii from Oregon a little more than a year ago with the intention of making enough money to set herself up for life. Although the film does not specifically identify her as a prostitute, it is obvious that no woman is going to make that much money by merely flirting and dancing with soldiers. She finds herself intrigued by Prewett, who is not like the other soldiers. An altercation then breaks out between Maggio and the vicious Sergeant "Fatso" Judson (Ernest Borgnine). The trouble between Maggio and Judson portends serious problems down the road.
Although set in the days prior to the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor, and in spite of the fact that the film contains exciting scenes of that attack (including some actual footage), From Here to Eternity really is not a war movie. It is about the human dynamics at play in a military society where living a "normal" lifestyle is pretty much impossible and where rank is more important than competence. James Jones drew upon his own experiences in the Army during World War II when he wrote the novel, a factor which strongly contributes to the film's sense of authenticity.
The cast is magnificent. Burt Lancaster both looks and acts the part of a First Sergeant. Deborah Kerr is lovely and vulnerable as the love-starved Karen, and Montgomery Clift is excellent as the soldier who will not conform and insists upon standing by his principles. The film proved to be a milestone and turning point in the career of Frank Sinatra, who won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. Donna Reed is actually too lovely to be totally believable as a prostitute, but she nevertheless won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. Ernest Borgnine is suitably menacing as the nasty Sergeant Judson, and the other supporting roles are filled by such notable actors as Jack Warden, Claude Akins, and even George Reeves in a small role. Director Fred Zinnemann took home a well-deserved Academy Award, as did screenwriter Daniel Taradash for his brilliant adaptation.
The bottom line is that From Here to Eternity is one of the great films of all time, and Sony has given it the treatment it deserves with this sparkling Blu-ray.
Video Rating: 5/5 3D Rating: NA
This black & white Blu-ray presentation of From Here to Eternity is gorgeous. It is framed at 1.33:1 and is displayed at 1080p utilizing the AVC codec. Interestingly, a contemporaneous review in the New York Times says that it was shown in widescreen when it premiered at the Capitol Theater in Manhattan on August 5, 1953. Regardless, it seems clear that it was intended to be projected at 1.33:1. The picture is spotless, grain structure is perfect, contrast is excellent, black levels are solid and shadow detail is very good. Most of the film was shot on location in Hawaii and the Academy Award-winning cinematography by Burnett Guffey has never looked better. For an expert's opinion, please refer to the comments made by Robert A. Harris:
A few words about...™ From Here to Eternity -- in Blu-ray
Audio Rating: 4.5/5The audio is crystal clear and free of defects. My research indicates that From Here to Eternity was released with a three-channel stereo soundtrack in theaters which were so equipped but in mono elsewhere. Here we have the audio available both in English 5.1 DTS-HD MA and English mono. It took me a little while to get used to the stereo separation, which is pronounced and not subtle. When a character talks while off-camera, the words come entirely out of the speaker which is on the same side as the character, as opposed to having that dialogue merely emphasized through that speaker. The center channel volume is lower on the 5.1 soundtrack than on the mono soundtrack. My advice is to try both and choose the one which you prefer
Special Features: 3.5/5The only Blu-ray exclusive among the extras is a "Graphics-in-Picture" track. "Watch this feature-length track for the complete story of how 1953's Best Picture came to the screen. New Interviews and rare photos explore James Jones' controversial source novel, the film's legendary casting and censorship struggles, and its role in launching a new era of frankness in American film." When activated a P-I-P window opens in the lower right of the screen and provides the viewer with still photos, publicity shots and posters, and commentary by film historians.
There is an informative commentary track by Fred Zinnemann's son, Tim Zinnemann, and Alvin Sargent, a surviving member of the cast who had a small role in the film.
"The Making of From Here to Eternity" is a very brief featurette which includes a few clips from color film which Fred Zinnemann shot while on location.
Also included are excerpts from "Fred Zinnemann: As I See It." The director talks about his differences with Columbia studio head Harry Cohn, who was opposed to giving to role of Pruett to Montgomery Clift, and he discusses at length the factors that went into the casting of Deborah Kerr against type. This featurette has a running time of 9 1/2 minutes. It would have been nice to see the entire thing, which apparently is unavailable anywhere.
This Blu-ray also comes with five postcard-sized replica lobby cards.