Director: Fred Zinnemann
Cast: Burt Lancaster, Montgomery Clift, Deborah Kerr, Donna Reed, Frank Sinatra, Philip Ober, Mickey Shaughnessy, Harry Bellaver, Enerst Borgnine, Jack Warden
This is a film that boasts being credited with one of the steamiest on-screen love scenes ever put on film. And while I must say, the sandy, salty romp in the surf between Deborah Kerr and Burt Lancaster is nothing to be ignored, it was not sumptuous enough to sustain the entire film from becoming a rather large bore.
In 1954, the film won an endless number of awards, particularly from The Academy, taking big-time Oscars like Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting Actress (Reed), Best Sound, and Best Writing. And while I see the film's value to an America that loves the military and its 'boys,' I had a hard time understanding how this film had managed to be such a blockbuster.
Well anyway, it follows the story of three army men: Pvt. Robert E. Lee Prewitt, a transfer top bugler who is hard-headed after a tragic history with boxing; Sgt. Milton Warden, a noble, loyal man who is lovesick for his Captain's wife; and Pvt. Angelo Maggio, a scrawny, loud-mouthed, and good-natured smart alec who gets himself into trouble on a regular basis. All stationed in Hawaii in the peacetime days leading up to the December 7th attack on Pearl Harbor, we witness their struggles with their superiors, one another, and even love/loneliness.
I have nothing against the acting, score, mis en scene, or any of the goodies that make up great films. I guess my gripe comes from my personal opinion of this straight-on pro-military film. While it does make points on the limits and sometimes absurdities of the US Army, it does in many ways still celebrate the men and the structure that perpetuate the machine of war. For me, someone who finds the entire institution of military to be nonsensical, I have a hard time enjoying a film about the innermost workings of that very institution. While there have been other military films that I have not only tolerated better but actually greatly appreciated, this one fell flat for me almost immediately on all fronts.
What makes this one of the best films of all time? Someone explain this to me-- I really am curious! Did it just come at the right time?
I think that I get it. The ultimate macho man movie with heart... but I can still only honestly give it 2 stars on my scale of personal enjoyment. Lo siento, FHTE enthusiasts...