Re-Enlistment Blues

Happy, happy Frank Thursday! Yes, it happens to be your lucky day with it being the countdown to Frank Sinatra Day and Frank Thursday!

One of the most romantic love scenes ever to be filmed. Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr.
One of the most romantic love scenes ever to be filmed. Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr.

Last Thursday I finally made my roommates sit down with me and watch From Here to Eternity (1953). It is an incredibly special movie in and of itself, but especially if you know Frank’s story with it. At the time, Frank’s career was pretty much in the dumps (stick around for tomorrow’s installment in the countdown to here that part of the story!). He wanted a part in any movie really, but especially this movie. He read the script, no, more like poured over it. He marked it up and down and learned it front and back. He knew that the part of Angelo Maggio was just for him. It was well known that he wanted the part, but because of the state of Frank’s reputation at the time nobody wanted to give him the part. After a few different nudges from different people, Frank finally landed the part with the magic words, “I’ll do it for nothing!” And so he got the role that changed the rest of his life.

Montgomery Clift and Donna Reed as Prew and Lorene.
Montgomery Clift and Donna Reed as Prew and Lorene.

From Here to Eternity is about a group of people, really, in Hawaii in the months leading up to Pearl Harbor. Burt Lancaster, Deborah Kerr, Donna Reed, and Montgomery Clift make up the rest of the major cast. Dynamite, right? Montgomery Clift plays the lead role of Robert E. Lee Prewitt, or Prew, a young man who loves the army and is an amazing bugler. He transfers into a different company where he is put through the “treatment”. The company is heavy into boxing, and Prew was once a boxer but will no longer fight because he accidentally caused a man to go blind once while they were practicing. So the men in the company begin putting him through all kinds of punishments to get him to box, but he never will.  Burt Lancaster plays the sergeant of the company, who falls in love with the captain’s wife, played by Deborah Kerr. The sergeant tries to look out for Prew, but in the end he thinks that Prew should give in and box. He calls him a “hothead” and tells him from the beginning that sometimes “you’ve gotta play ball”. Frank, as I mentioned, plays Angelo Maggio, a friend of Prew’s. He is a wonderful character, strong and funny. He seems to be the character in the company that everybody really enjoys being around, almost like the little brother. He takes Prew down to a gentleman’s club where Prew falls in love with Donna Reed’s character Lorene.

Frank as Angelo Maggio. His portrayal of this wonderful character earned him a Best Supporting Actor Academy Award.
Frank as Angelo Maggio. His portrayal of this wonderful character earned him a Best Supporting Actor Academy Award.

But all isn’t really rose colored, even with everybody falling in love. There is the problem that the sergeant and the captain’s wife cannot be together; she has a dark past to overcome. Lorene and Prew are in love but she wants to marry a “proper” man and live in a “proper” home and raise “proper” children, because when you’re “proper” you’re safe. Maggio also ends up in the stockades after several different events. The scene in which they find out his fate is heart-wrenching, with several men waiting anxiously in the office of the captain to hear “what he got”. And in the midst of all of this comes the attack on Pearl Harbor. In order to find out what happens, I suppose you’ll have to go and watch it! I very highly recommend it. It won several different awards, including Best Picture and Best Supporting Actor for Frank and Best Supporting Actress for Donna Reed. In the end, all I can really say about this movie is that it touches something in the human soul, and when you finish watching it you have that sort of raw feeling. But I guess that’s what you expect from such a great drama.

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