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Although FROM HERE TO ETERNITY ($27) earned the Academy Award for Best Picture of 1953, along with seven other Oscars, much of the film plays like a rather "soapy" melodrama. Of course, it is the caliber of the film’s performances that raises the film above typical melodrama, especially when one considerers that the cast of FROM HERE TO ETERNITY is comprised of silvers screen legends at the peaks of their prowess. In fact, the performances were so good that the film received numerous Oscar nominations in the acting categories, with Frank Sinatra and Donna Reed taking home Academy Award statuettes for their supporting work in the film.

Set in Hawaii, in the days prior to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, FROM HERE TO ETERNITY tells of the trials and tribulations of a group of military men and the women they love. Burt Lancaster portrays 1st Sgt. Milton Warden, the CO’s right hand man, who begins a torrid love affair with his Commanding Officer’s neglected wife Karen (Deborah Kerr). Montgomery Clift is Pvt. Robert E. Lee Prewitt, a former middleweight boxer who endures a severe hazing because he refuses to put on the gloves again for his company. Despite his predicament, Prewitt manages to find love with a party girl named Lorene (Donna Reed). Frank Sinatra earned his Oscar as Pvt. Angelo Maggio, a fairly reckless soldier, who winds up on the wrong side of sadistic Sgt. James "Fatso" Judson (Ernest Borgnine). The cast of FROM HERE TO ETERNITY also includes Philip Ober, Mickey Shaughnessy, Harry Bellaver, Jack Warden and Claude Akins.

Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment has made their Superbit edition of FROM HERE TO ETERNITY available on DVD in a nice looking full screen transfer that frames the movie in its proper 1.37:1 aspect ratio. I’m sure there are those expecting outright perfection from any DVD bearing the Superbit moniker. However the Superbit presentation of FROM HERE TO ETERNITY is still directly tied to the condition of the existing black and white film elements, which have age related flaws. There are blemishes here and there throughout the course of the presentation, as well as other inconsistencies in the image that are directly related to the condition of the film elements from which this transfer came.

For the most, Burnett Guffey’s Academy Award winning cinematography looks quite good, although some of the day for night processed photography looks a bit off. Blacks appear pretty accurate and the whites are clean. Contrast is usually smooth and the nicely varied grayscale provides good depth. However, there are a few shots where the contrast is a bit harsh looking, with the whites beginning to show signs of becoming blown out. Of course, where this Superbit title really shines is in the virtual absence of digital compression artifacts, due to the fact that it has been authored in such a way to utilize a DVD’s full storage capacity to maintain a high data transfer rate for both the audio and video throughout the entire presentation.

For this release, FROM HERE TO ETERNITY comes with a Dolby Digital monaural and DTS 5.1 channel soundtracks. Let me state up front, that the DTS track does an amazingly good job of creating multi-channel sound from a monaural source, which is especially effective during the Pearl Harbor attack sequence. However, I also have to state that the Dolby Digital track is one of the best sounding half-century-old monaural tracks that I’ve ever heard. Even though it is monaural, track has surprising fidelity and really holds its own for music, sound effects and for vocal reproduction. On either track, one will find the dialogue completely understandable, with the actors' voices always maintaining a distinct sense of character. Both soundtracks definitely get the nod, and I am sure the purists will gravitate towards monaural, while those who want a bit more zip will be enjoying the multi-channel DTS. Subtitles are provided on the DVD in English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Korean and Thai. The basic interactive menus allow one access to the standard scene selection and set up features and nothing else.

While the plot can be a bit melodramatic, FROM HERE TO ETERNITY is great old style Hollywood entertainment. While the film elements aren't perfect, the movie definitely benefits from the Superbit treatment, especially where the soundtracks are concerned. The DVD is highly recommended to movie buffs and anyone discovering classic films for the first time.



From Here to Eternity (Superbit Collection) (1953)


DVD reviews are Copyright © 2003 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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