From Here To Eternity--The Film That Was Almost Never Made

By: Andrew Conway

The first time that I saw from here to eternity
was late in the sixties. I have been somewhat of
a fan of Frank Sinatra's and I wanted to see
what part he would play in this so called
"military" film. I must admit that I was
surprised at the content of this film. Being in
the military at this time, I could almost under-
stand why the military was against this movie
when it first came out years earlier. That may
have been one of the reasons that I liked it so

>From Here to Eternity is a 1953 movie based on the
novel by James Jones in which characters work
through daily bouts of intimidation and infidelity
on a military base in the days preceding the
attack on Pearl Harbor. The plot of this film is
that in 1941 Hawaii, a private is cruelly punished
for not boxing on his unit's team, while his
captain's wife and second in command are falling
in love.

James Jones based his this novel, in 1951, on his
own military experience as a World War II veteran,
and created a scathing portrait of peacetime
military life in the U.S. army in the months
before Pearl Harbor. Although Jones' novel became
a best-seller and winner of the National Book
Award, few studios viewed this project as a viable
endeavor. Warner Bros. and 20th Century-Fox did
attempt initial treatments of the book, only to
finally dismiss it as unfilmable because of
excessive profanity, sexual situations, and
unflattering views of the military.

Harry Cohn, president of Columbia Pictures, bought
the film rights to the novel for $82,000, the
project became known as "Cohn's folly." Cohn,
for those of you not familiar with the movie
mogul, had a reputation built on aggressive, rude,
and tyrannical behavior. Director Fred Zinnemann
referred to Cohn as "a robber baron, predatory
and cunning," and admitted to initially disliking
Cohn so much that he asked his agent to get him
off the film.

The movie was budgeted at around two million
dollars, making it one of the costliest films of
the year.

The story encompasses groundbreaking themes of
prostitution, adultery, military injustice,
corruption, violence, alcohol abuse, and murder.
It involves the personal lives of its main
characters – an enlisted man, an unappreciated
officer's wife, a prostitute and a military
outcast. The major male characters wage their own
battle against corruption at higher levels.

Its five stars, Burt Lancaster, Montgomery Clift,
Deborah Kerr, Frank Sinatra, and Donna Reed all
received Oscar nominations and Reed and Sinatra
won for Best Supporting Actress and Actor. [Frank
Sinatra, for his performance as Maggio--had to
fight and plead for the role, after first choice
Eli Wallach backed out.]

The famous beach lovemaking scene between
Lancaster and Kerr was featured on numerous films
in popular media. In actuality, the scene only
lasted 3 seconds.

This Film Won 8 Oscars. Another 12 wins & 7

This is one great classic film that was almost
never made. Cohn's folly turned out to be
Cohn's golden egg. No matter what anyone thought
of this man personally, at least he had the
hignsight to see beyond the naysayers during this

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