the reason i put this film to the top of my netflix queue is that i saw donna reed beat out thelma ritter in the best supporting actress category that year. by the time i got the film i had completely forgotten that this was the reason so i didn’t go into this film with that on my mind. that said, reed turned in probably the best performance of the film, but ritter’s performance in pickup on south street was better – more unique, more memorable, had just as much range and was just plain better; and so goes the film… looking over the multiple nominations (picture, director, sound, editing, cinematography, screenplay, sup. actor/actress (won), score, actor/actor/actress, costume design (lost)) that this film garnered i can’t help but think it was a weak year. in fact, shane and stalag 17 should have cleaned up, but i guess patriotism was running high at the time so “from here to eternity” was the big winner.
the first half of the film does a good job of balancing the various storylines, and thus keeping the viewer engaged. unfortunately the second half gets a bit bogged down in sentimentality and then patriotism. the film never really won me over – clift’s cool hand luke type of character just didn’t inspire me and lancaster was good, but not great. i can see why this film won for best picture, but in retrospect i think many would admit it’s not as good as stalag 17 or shane.