From Here to Eternity Movie Poster Image

From Here to Eternity



Classic characters fight, drink, smoke, and have affairs.
  • Review Date: September 20, 2005
  • Rated: NR
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 1953
  • Running Time: 118 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

This film sets high standards for loyalty, courage, and patriotism. The people who live up to those standards are deemed heroic and noble.

Positive role models

Military personnel range from evil to divine and touch on everyone in between. Typical to the period, women are portrayed only as subsidiary, romantic partners used to move the male stories forward.


Several intense fist fights, a struggle using a knife and a broken bottle, and a second knife fight during which one of the combatants is killed off camera. Another character dies after a severe off-camera beating. Given the scope of the action, relatively little blood is spilled and severe injuries are not shown. Scenes, including some newsreel footage, of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor is limited in scope and takes up only the last 10 minutes of the film: machine guns and rifles are fired; airplanes strafe the military compound, bombs drop, and some bodies fall to the ground.


Though this 1953 film contains perhaps the most famous screen kiss of all time -– Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr in a passionate embrace on a sandy beach as the tide rolls over them- – it’s actually tame by today’s standards. The kiss lasts a few seconds and then the camera cuts away. Two intensely romantic relationships build strongly and result in scenes of ardent kissing. Everything else, including adultery, is hinted at or discussed, but not seen.


There are a number of ethnic slurs: “wop” and “Japs.” No swearing or obscenities.

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Multiple scenes of drinking and drunkenness. The soldiers drink heavily while not on duty and most of the major characters bond while inebriated. Cigarette smoking is pervasive.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that by modern standards of sexuality, language, and violence, this classic film would not be considered objectionable, however, it still contains highly intense situations, including the mistreatment and death of some of its strongest and most likeable characters. There are multiple scenes of bullying, fist fights, and knife fights, though none is bloody or gory. Even the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor is only moderately violent. Airplanes strafe the military compound in wide shots; rifles, machine guns and artillery are used to fight back, but very little in the way of “hits” or aftermath is seen. Sexuality is limited to passionate kissing, embracing and references to adulterous behavior. There is a great deal of drinking, drunkenness, and smoking throughout; in almost all instances it is seen as acceptable behavior given the time (1941) and place (a military compound in Hawaii).

What's the story?

War is hell. Being stationed in Hawaii directly before a war, however, is not hell. If FROM HERE TO ETERNITY is remotely accurate, Hawaii in the 1940s was a pretty hot scene -- the drinks were cold, the passions were high, and the ladies were at least as lovely as the scenery. The star-studded ensemble piece follows several plots. Frank Sinatra plays the rebellious Pvt. Angelo Maggio. Montgomery Clift plays Pvt. Robert E. Lee "Prew" Prewitt, a former bugler who romances Alma Burk (Donna Reed) and undergoes hazing as his peers try to force him into a boxing match. Deborah Kerr gives an icy hot performance as Karen Holmes, neglected wife of Capt. Dana "Dynamite" Holmes (Philip Ober).

Is it any good?


This film is not a work of feel-good boosterism; instead it's a collection of human dramas set against the backdrop of a Hawaiian U.S. Army base in the days leading up to Pearl Harbor. As the characters fight, drink, smoke, begin and end affairs, they act in ways that are familiar and easy to relate to.

The direction of Fred Zinnemann helped sculpt the movie, which won eight Oscars, many for the exceptionally talented cast. This is one of those movies that everyone should see, even if it's not their preferred style or genre, simply because the film is so heavily referenced in mass culture. A steamy scene of Karen Holmes kissing Milton Warden on the beach is particularly resonant. And, though the pacing of the movie might be difficult for younger viewers, From Here to Eternity is overall captivating.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about issues of class raised by the officer/enlisted man hierarchy as well as Alma's story of being romantically rejected because she wasn't a "proper" wife. How are issues of class visible in the military setting? How do these issues affect romances and other plot lines?

  • Another topic for discussion is Prewitt's refusal to box. Prewitt explains his refusal to the other men, but they refuse to listen. Did Prewitt have any better options for addressing this issue?

  • What do you notice about the difference between modern movies and classics like this one? How have times changed? How are cultural changes reflected in film?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:October 15, 1953
DVD release date:October 23, 2001
Cast:Burt Lancaster, Deborah Kerr, Montgomery Clift
Director:Fred Zinnemann
Studio:A&E Home Video
Character strengths:Courage
Run time:118 minutes
MPAA rating:NR

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Teen, 13 years old Written byBestPicture1996 September 20, 2009

Heavy topics make good Best Picture-winner

It had very good acting, and you felt for the characters at the end, which is always essential for me if a movie is going to grab my attention. A lot of people will probably get depressed by all the heavy themes, but that's what adds to the drama and realism of its pre-12/7 topic.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Teen, 14 years old Written byFILMCRITIC500 July 10, 2013

tremendous drama film features terrific acting and fighting

an excellent piece of war drama, this fun and intricate movie weaves many storylines of many likeable characters with a great plot that climaxes in a grand battle. and while the movies violence is very mild, the film has plenty of smoking and drinking that younger kids cant handle. mentioned earlier, the violence is kept to a minimum. people are shot, beaten, stabbed, and one character dies from severe wounds. the Peal Harbor scene has real footage from WWII and many large explosions. among the action, there is nonstop smoking and drinking in nearly every scene. and while brief, the iconic sex scene is somewhat steamy.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Teen, 16 years old Written bywho3697cares November 8, 2009
It might not be as good as the novel, but on its own this movie is very excellent, and the cast is simply superb.


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