Fred Zinnemann’s From Here to Eternity is my ultimate favorite film. I first encountered the 1953 film because I had wanted to check out Frank Sinatra’s Oscar-winning performance. Although I was there because of Sinatra, the performer who ultimately stole the show, or at least my attention, was Montgomery Clift.
Clift wasn’t a newcomer by that time. And though his legacy now isn’t as prestigious or iconic as some of the others, he was truly a remarkable actor. In Eternity, he played Prewitt, a bugle-playing soldier with principles.
In the course of the movie, Monty’s Prewitt got himself tangled with a girl played by Donna Reed. They had been seeing each other for a while; everything seemed right. But that was only until Alma–Reed’s character–brought up the topic of marriage. She had set her mind to marry someone–she hoped it would be Prew, but due to desperation, anyone would do–because she needed to settle. She needed the security. She needed to not feel lonely.
Prewitt, who was a man pretty much already married to the Army, dismissed the idea. Alma accused him for thinking that she was lying. But Prew didn’t think so. He knew that:
“Nobody ever lies about being lonely.”
There are many details that can vouch for the quality of Montgomery Clift’s performance in From Here to Eternity, but the one thing that has the most impact on me was this scene, and in particular, that line quoted above. It was such a simple line of dialogue, and perhaps, most people dismissed it for not being anything special. However, there was something in the way Monty delivered it, the way the story progressed up until that point, as well as the state I was in when I first saw this that made that simple line so profound to me.