We’ve all seen this shot. Deborah Kerr locked in a passionate embrace with Burt Lancaster on a Hawaiian beach, waves crashing around them as they kiss in the sand. You’d think this would be indicative of the romance in the movie as a whole, but if you’ve ever sat down and actually watched From Here to Eternity (Disc/Download), then you know- there are no happy endings to be found. I see the image, and I just want to scream: “False advertising!!!”
In fact, the love story subplots of this classic film only receive the bare minimum of screentime. This is a movie about military power trips, not trips down the aisle. I’d equate it more to Cool Hand Luke than Casablanca. Burt Lancaster, Montgomery Clift, and Frank Sinatra are terrific in their roles as three conflicted army soldiers on the eve of the Pearl Harbor attack, while Deborah Kerr and Donna Reed are magnetic as their love interests. Where the plot drags and meanders, the actors soar. It’s funny to me that the famous beach scene gets vaulted as one of the most romantic movie images because the truth of that scene is far different. Burt Lancaster wants to see how far his boss’s wife will go with him, believing she’s already been “loose” with soldiers in the past. When he mentions her reputation, it’s like a needle scrape across the record. Suddenly, that beach gets very, very cold. It’s a great moment, and there’s certainly a lot of drama when she explains her situation, but… “romantic” it is not. I guess we were all too mesmerized by Burt’s muscles to notice. By “we”, I mean myself.
One thing these characters do frequently is drink. Clearly, the army is a very stressful environment, even in paradise. Legend has it, one of Frank Sinatra’s favorite cocktails was the Navy Grog, a delicious tiki concoction that’s fallen by the wayside due to its complicated preparation. The drink was meant to be garnished and sipped through an ice cone, which required a special mold to make, and… yeah. I’m not doing that. So let’s keep the drink recipe and alter the prep for the modern home bar enthusiast. While watching From Here to Eternity, I recommend drinking an Army Grog.
1 oz Dark Rum
1 oz Gold Rum
1 oz White Rum (I used Koloa Rum, in a nod to Hawaii!)
1 oz Honey Syrup (1:1 ratio honey to water)
¾ oz Club Soda
¾ oz Grapefruit Juice
¾ oz Lime Juice
Lime Wheel garnish
Combine rums, honey syrup, club soda, grapefruit, and lime juices in a shaker with ice. Shake until chilled, then strain into a glass filled with crushed ice. Garnish with a lime wheel.
With a slew of Oscars to its credit (including one for Ol’ Blue Eyes), From Here to Eternity manages the tricky task of being a war picture with mass appeal. Maybe the key is that there’s very little actual war depicted. We all know it’s coming, which provides even more tension for the fate of these characters, but we’re not bogged down with fighter jets and explosions. So go ahead, call it a great movie. Just don’t call it a romance. Cheers!