Director: Fred Zinnemann
Year Released: 1953
Neutered film of James Jones' (esteemed) novel about Army life at a base in Hawaii - before the bombing of Pearl Harbor - is loaded with phenomenal acting talent but is structurally frail. There's really nothing bad you could say about the cast, as they do all fantastic work keeping this afloat (pun certainly intended), from Montgomery Clift as the nonconformist Prewitt to Frank Sinatra as his good-time buddy Maggio to Deborah Kerr as the morose wife of a boxing-fanatic husband. For this viewing (I've seen the picture two or three times now), I became more impressed with Burt Lancaster's assured performance and his conflict over being a leader of men (he refuses to become an officer) - it's one of his greatest roles, and one I seem to have overlooked on other viewings. But the movie itself is cramped and choppy (it's oh-so-very heavy on plotting): Prewitt's dash to suicide is still odd and the Positive Spin put on everything (by the U.S. Army, who had a hand in it) goes against Jones' deep problems with the military.