Hello, everybody. Mr. Joe Morella and Mr. Frank Segers here again at our usual Classic Movie stand. Mr. Norman Maine is still at the barbecue preparing that blasted luau.
We continue today with another in a series of blogs — written by our resident Books 2 Movies maven Larry Michie — about the classic 1953 movie “From Here To Eternity,” which tracks a group of Army soldiers stationed in Hawaii just before Pearl Harbor.
Throughout “From Here To Eternity” our series, we have been exploring in some detail what was in the 1951 James Jones novel (considered one of the best of the 20th century) that did NOT make it to the movie (perhaps best known today for that photo of Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr passionately kissing on a Hawaii beach.)
On April 4, The New York Times published an intriguing article stating that “explicit mentions” of gay sex in Jones’ original manuscript never made it to the novel’s published edition. Now, 60 years later, a digital version of the novel is being prepared by the Jones estate (he died in 1977) that will restore the excised material.
According to the Times article, the deleted stuff includes two scenes. “In one, a soldier, Pvt. Angelo Maggio (Frank Sinatra in the movie) mentions how he has oral sex with a wealthy man in exchange for $5 or $10 that ‘comes in handy in the middle of the month.’ Another deals with a military investigation into possible homosexual activity.”
Our man Larry wasn’t privy to the electronic version of the Jones’ novel, but he did dig through the 650-page print version. Here’s what he has to say on this new development. AN UPDATE OF SORTS —
The New York Times recently said that a new printing of “From Here To Eternity” would include a previously excised bit about a homosexual encounter for pay. I’m not sure what that entails, but this is certain: Throughout the original James Jones novel there are references to homosexual activity, including a non-commissioned officer who had his own group of boys. There also was mention of meeting with “queers.”
More to the point, the novel goes on at length about a foray by Maggio (Sinatra) and Prew (Montgomery Clift) to an area in town where homosexual hook-ups are taken for granted, and a chapter of the novel depicts the two soldiers in a well-appointed apartment with two men who are quite clear about their status.
No sexual contact is mentioned — mostly, Maggio keeps demanding more drinks. The two men they visit are highly educated, well-spoken, and generally affable. They are, however, included in a huge roundup by MPs of soldiers hanging out in the neighborhood. Naturally, everyone denies everything.
James Jones, however, made everything perfectly clear, if you’re willing to read between the lines.
Thanks, Larry. Our final words. Although James Jones may have made himself clear in his novel, there was certainly no suggestion of homosexuality in “From Here To Eternity” the movie. Any hint of gay sex in a 1953 commercial Hollywood picture would have been considered way over the line.