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"From Here to Eternity" DVD
Reviewed by Ivana Redwine
Guide Rating -

Length: 118 minutes
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Winner of eight Academy Awards including Best Picture, "From Here to Eternity" is a powerful portrait of Army life for American soldiers stationed in Hawaii on the eve of World War II. I love this film's tale of the talented misfit who is accidentally killed by the organization he loves, and the movie has a pair of stories of doomed love thrown in for good measure. This great classic never looked or sounded better than when I watched it on Columbia TriStar DVD, but alas, the DVD's special features turned out to be lackluster.

As "From Here to Eternity" opens, Private Prewitt (Montgomery Clift) reports for duty at an infantry unit on Oahu, where he soon meets his new company commander Captain Holmes and First Sergeant Warden (Burt Lancaster). When Prewitt refuses to join the company boxing team, he finds himself the target of unremitting harassment. Meanwhile, Warden begins a torrid love affair with the commander's wife Karen (Deborah Kerr), leading to my favorite scene, where Lancaster and Kerr lie in a lovers' embrace on the beach as waves break over them.

One night Prewitt's buddy Private Maggio (Frank Sinatra) takes him to the New Congress Club in Honolulu, where he meets a hostess named Alma (Donna Reed). As romance blooms between Prewitt and Alma, Maggio is beaten so badly by a sadistic non-com that he dies from internal injuries. Then as Warden and Karen decide what to do about their romance and Prewitt and Alma decide what to do about theirs, Japan attacks Oahu on December 7, 1941, leading to one of the most dramatic and moving endings I've ever seen.

The DVD contains a two-minute-twenty-second featurette on the making of "From Here to Eternity," which contains very little information and isn't very interesting.

Also on the DVD is a feature where Fred Zinnemann, who won the Best Director Oscar for his work on "From Here to Eternity," talks for maybe five or six minutes about the movie. I admire Zinnemann's work, and I was grateful for the opportunity to see what he looked and sounded like, but I didn't feel like I learned much from this feature. Zinnemann died in 1997 at age 89.

The best special feature on the DVD is the sporadically interesting audio commentary track by Tim Zinnemann and Alvin Sargent. Tim is a movie producer and the director's son -- he was about 13 when "From Here to Eternity" was made. Sargent is a screenwriter, but he also played a minor role as one of the soldiers in "From Here to Eternity." They discuss some of the changes that had to be made to satisfy the censorship office (for example, Alma had to be a "hostess" instead of a prostitute) and to gain the cooperation of the U.S. Army (for example, Captain Holmes had to be punished instead of promoted). Also, Zinnemann dismisses the idea popularized by "The Godfather" that Mafia pressure was exerted to get Sinatra his role.

Selected Special Features on the DVD:

  • Commentary by Tim Zinnemann and Alvin Sargent
  • Excerpts from "Fred Zinnemann: As I See It"
  • Featurette: The Making of "From Here to Eternity"
  • Filmographies
  • Theatrical Trailers
  • DVD Release Date: October 23, 2001

Related Reviews
"From Here to Eternity" - DVD
"On the Waterfront" DVD
"Citizen Kane" - Special Edition DVD
"The Godfather Collection" DVDs
"Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" DVD

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