Starring: Burt Lancaster, Montgomery Clift, Deborah Kerr, Frank Sinatra, Donna Reed, Philip Ober, Ernest Borgnine
Director: Fred Zinnemann
Summary: Enlisted men in Hawaii fight for love and honor on the eve of World War II
Other Nominations: Director*, Actor (Clift), Actor (Lancaster), Actress (Kerr), Supporting Actor (Sinatra)*, Supporting Actress (Reed)*, Adapted Screenplay*, Dramatic/Comedy Score, Sound Recording*, B&W Cinematography*, B&W Costume Design, Film Editing*
-This is a really strong cast, even if I didn’t think everybody deserved their nominations. Our two male leads are the highlights: Lancaster is the prototype for a Hollywood leading man, being a good actor who’s handsome, well-built and Clift is way better here than in either of the previous two movies I had seen in him, as he’s much more expressive and less stilted. Both of them also have great chemistry with their respective actresses and make this a very solid (and for the time, steamy) romance movie. Donna Reed does a good job, playing completely against type as a gentleman’s club hostess (compare this to her role as Jimmy Stewart’s wife in It’s a Wonderful Life); Deborah Kerr is solid (and also against type), but she’s failed to really impress me yet, which is frustrating because I know she was amazing in The Innocents, a movie that should be getting the kind of accolades The Haunting gets. Sinatra plays with type this time (vs. Anchors Aweigh) and while he’s definitely more than just a singer trying to act, but I still didn’t think he should have won an Oscar for his performance. Finally, I liked Borgnine, who goes way against his (future) type playing a sadistic, racist man who runs the stockade.
-Credit for boldness, this movie crosses a lot of lines that were pretty solidly in place before. This is the first movie I can think of where the U.S. Army is depicted as having tons of scumbags in it (even if they do eventually get their comeuppance), which is especially amazing since the Korean War was still going on as of the filming of this movie. Second, the movie is totally indifferent to a (deserved) extra-marital affair which was one of the last sacred cows of the Production Code.
-This is slow movie that takes its sweet time with everything, which gives it a low-energy vibe, which clashes with the many lurid elements of the movie.
-The movie tries to do too much in just two hours, with three major plots: the romances of Lancaster/Kerr and Clift/Reed, and Clift being hazed for not joining the company boxing team. The biggest casualty is Lancaster and Kerr’s romance, as it is potentially the most interesting, yet it gets ignored for long stretches in the movie.
Very solid romance movie with an eve of entering WWII backdrop, it’s really the performances that make this movie even if the script has some issues.