From Here To Eternity [Blu-Ray] Fred Zinnemann

From Here To Eternity [Blu-Ray] Fred Zinnemann
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It must have been strange to live in the early '50s, when James Jones's best-selling novel was deemed impossible to adapt for the screen due less to how its sprawling story spanned a daunting 800-plus pages than the prudish production codes of the time. It makes it all the more miraculous that From Here To Eternity emerged bearing enough of its source material that Jones was compelled to write an enthusiastic letter to director Fred Zinnemann after the release praising the finished product, which Zinnemann's son, Tim, reads here on a commentary track. The story is set largely in the barracks of an Army base in Hawaii, just before the onset of WWII, where a rebellious soldier named Prewitt (Montgomery Clift) has just left his bugle company. Adjusting to a new existence under Captain Holmes (Philip Ober), which is made unjustifiably tortuous due to his insistence on not lending his expert fighting abilities to the Captain's struggling boxing team, Prewitt makes fast friends with Maggio (Frank Sinatra), a feisty Italian, and begins slowly earning the respect of Sergeant Warden (Burt Lancaster). Warden is embroiled in a steamy affair with the Captain's promiscuous wife, Karen (Deborah Kerr), leading to the iconic (and extremely controversial, at the time) shot of the two embracing on the beach with water rushing all around them. The film remains undeniably absorbing, in spite of the compromises that had to be made in order to adhere to the strict filming guidelines, including changing what is obviously a house of prostitution into a "social club" and the U.S. Army dictating that no actions be shown that might reflect them in a bad light. The actors are all fantastic, including Oscar-winning turns by Sinatra and Donna Reed, as Prewitt's love interest, whom he meets while she's working at the aforementioned club (making her a social worker?). A variety of extras included on the release offer a comprehensive look at every aspect of the film, eventually proving to be somewhat redundant by the third time you've heard how Clift was only cast after Zinnemann refused to make the film with anyone else in the role. The low-key but highly personal commentary track with son Tim also features Alvin Sargent, who appeared briefly in the film, before going on to write Julia, which was coincidentally directed by Fred Zinnemann. A separate track made exclusively for the Blu-Ray is a unique graphics-in-picture history of the film, consisting of pop-up facts and interviews with film writers, historians and those involved even tangentially with the production. (Sony)