It’s odd that programmers would choose Fred Zinneman’s lip-smacking ensemble melodrama from 1953 as the centrepiece of a BFI retrospective of the work of actress Deborah Kerr – it’s a stretch to call her one of the film’s key players. Yes, she gets to canoodle in the Hawaiian surf with Burt Lancaster, but the film mostly focuses on the band of dysfunctional tyros at a nearby army base whose carefree, pre-Pearl Harbor lives are on the road to ruin long before the bombs drop. ‘From Here to Eternity’ remains a garish but compelling ode to the lonely lot of the pacifist, and Montgomery Clift is outstanding as the blighted boxing-champ-cum-bugle-player who is constantly goaded by friends (Frank Sinatra), enemies (Ernest Borgnine) and lovers (Donna Reed) to unleash his ferocious alter-ego. The film is anonymously directed, functionally paced and hysterical at times, though it seduces as a hot-blooded spectacle that stitches emotional detail onto the epic canvas of history.
Cast and crew