Wednesday, May 18, 2011
FROM HERE TO ETERNITY
Rumour has it that Frank Sinatra got his role in the movie because of his alleged Mafia connections and that this was the basis for a similar subplot in The Godfather. This has been dismissed on several occasions, however, by the cast and crew of the film. Director Fred Zinneman commented that "...the legend about a horse's head having been cut off is pure invention, a poetic license on the part of Mario Puzo who wrote The Godfather." More plausible is the notion that Sinatra's then-wife Ava Gardner persuaded studio head Harry Cohn's wife to use her influence with him
Lancaster was somewhat intimidated by Montegomery Clift's skill and intensity and said, "I'd never worked with an actor of Clift's caliber before. I was afraid he was going to blow me right off the screen."
One of the most unadaptable aspects of the novel concerns the off-base activities of many of the soldiers, of which you see no hint on the screen. In the book, the gay population of Honolulu is significant and visible, and many of the G Is, including Maggio, spend time with them as a source of income. Not, in most cases, involving sex, but companionship, going to their apartments, taking off their shirts, lounging around and looking beautiful and then getting paid "cabfare." Of course, some of the soldiers go farther, one even commits suicide over the fear of having "gone queer." Prewitt, Clift's character, tags along with Maggio on one of his "dates" and doesn't have any qualms about it. Casting Mongomery Clift gives an interesting undertone to the character. Patricia Bosworth in her biography of Clift, quotes another of his friends as saying, "Jimmy Jones (the author) was on a real macho kick, which I found phony as hell. This was 1953, but he was wearing a silver Navajo belt, silver bracelets and tight jeans, and he came on very strong sexually." Jones asked whether Clift was a homosexual and confided, "I would have had an affair with him, but he never asked me."
If you haven't seen the film, I highly recommend it. Frank Sinatra won an Academy Award for for his portrayal as did Donna Reed for her role as a pretty sweet little whore. It seems the Academy loves to give out awards to women who play harlots. The film was the last Academy Award Best Picture winner to receive nominations in all of the four acting categories. I would love to see it redone with all the "good parts" left in.
Montegomery Clift is always wonderful. His vulnerability and good looks make him very watchable. The book is of course more graphic in detail and a good read. The film popularized Aloha shirts.