Eli Wallach accepted the role of Angelo Maggio, but then turned it down because he had agreed to appear in Elia Kazan`s Broadway production of "Camino Real" and had a scheduling problem.
The scene in which Maggio meets Prew and Lorene in the bar after he walks off guard duty, was actually Frank Sinatra`s screen test for the part of Maggio. To impress director Fred Zinnemann, he did an ad-lib using olives as dice and pretending to shoot craps. The entire sequence was kept as is and used in the picture.
A false rumor has been circulating for years that George Reeves, who played Sgt. Maylon Stark, had his role drastically edited after preview audiences recognized him as TV`s "Superman". According to director Fred Zinnemann, screenwriter Daniel Taradash and assistant director Earl Bellamy, the rumor is false. Every scene written for Reeves` character was filmed, and each of those scenes is still present in its entirety in the film as released. This rumor is nonetheless repeated as truth in Hollywoodland (2006), a movie about the investigation into Reeves` death.
Montgomery Clift didn`t manage to move like a boxer despite extensive boxing lessons, so he had to be doubled by a real boxer for the long shots in the boxing match. The fight had to be carefully edited so the close-ups and other shots matched satisfactorily. Nonetheless, the use of the double is obvious if you pay attention to the details.
In the scene where Burt Lancaster and Montgomery Clift play drunk sitting on the street, Clift actually was drunk, but Lancaster was not.
The novel was deemed unfilmable for a long time because of its negative portrayal of the US army (which would prevent the army from supporting the film with people and hardware/logistics) and the profanity. To get army support and pass the censorship of the time crucial details had to be changed. The brothel became a night club, the whores hostesses. The profanity was removed, the brutal treatment in the stockade toned down and Captain Holmes removed from the army instead of promoted.
Joan Fontaine was offered the role of Karen Holmes but had to decline due to family problems. She now regrets it and blames the failure of her late career to turning down the offer.
The now classic scene between Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr in the rushing water on the beach was not written to take place there. The idea to film with the waves hitting them was a last minute inspiration from the director.
Harry Cohn was so convinced that Deborah Kerr could not be "sexy" enough to play the lead in this film that he almost did not cast her.
The novel was a best seller when it was released. One actor always bragged to his friends that if they ever made a film of the book, he`d play a part. Shortly after saying this, he was actually called to audition for the film. The actor was Ernest Borgnine.
Cameo: [James Jones] in the background chatting with hostesses and other soldiers over Ernest Borgnine`s shoulder as Fatso (Borgnine) plays the piano at the New Congress Club.
Shot in a mere 41 days and for only $1 million.
Frank Sinatra had to campaign especially hard to get this part as his career had hit a low point by this time.
The title phrase comes originally from Rudyard Kipling`s 1892 poem "Gentlemen-Rankers", about soldiers of the British Empire who had "lost [their] way" and were "damned from here to eternity".
Shelley Winters turned down the role of Alma, as she had just given birth to her daughter Vittoria.
Ronald Reagan and Walter Matthau were among the actors considered for the role of Sgt. Warden.
If Columbia head Harry Cohn had gotten his way, the film would have starred Aldo Ray as Prewitt, Edmond O`Brien as Warden, Rita Hayworth as Karen, Julie Harris as Lorene and Eli Wallach as Maggio.
An urban myth regarding the casting of Frank Sinatra was that the Mafia made Columbia Pictures an offer they couldn`t refuse. This of course was fictionalized in Mario Puzo`s novel "The Godfather" and its subsequent film adaptation. The real reason for Sinatra`s casting was mainly his then-wife Ava Gardner, who was shooting a film for Columbia head Harry Cohn and suggested to him that he use Sinatra. Although initially reluctant, Cohn eventually saw this as being a good idea, as Sinatra`s stock was so low at the time that he would sign for a very low salary. Sinatra had been lobbying hard for the role,even suggesting he would do it for nothing, but he was eventually hired for the token amount of $8,000.
Future screenwriter Alvin Sargent has a bit part in the film. He was paid $400 for a week`s work in Hawaii. Sargent would later go on to win an Oscar for Julia (1977), also directed by Fred Zinnemann.
Original novelist James Jones was not happy with the film, as he considered it to be too sanitized.
Harry Cohn resisted the idea of casting Montgomery Clift as Prewitt as "he was no soldier, no boxer and probably a homosexual". Fred Zinnemann refused to make the film without him.
The film went on to gross $18 million, the tenth highest grossing film of the 1950s.
Dubbed "Cohn`s Folly" because many thought the novel was too long and too adult to be filmed. Harry Cohn paid $82,000 for the rights.
James Jones himself was one of the numerous writers who had attempted to adapt the book for the screen.
The US Army was initially reluctant to lend their co-operation to the production. Producer Buddy Adler had been a Lieutenant Colonel in the Signal Corps during WWII and was able to bring his influence to bear.
A nationwide search of Army surplus stores yielded pre-Pearl Harbor style Springfield rifles, canvas leggings, campaign hats and flat steel helmets. The extras - who were all real soldiers - were all drilled to learn how to use all this outdated equipment.
Fred Zinnemann insisted on filming in black and white, as he felt that "color would have made it look trivial". He also eschewed the use of any of the popular new widescreen ratios.
Fred Zinnemann was chosen to direct the project largely at the suggestion of screenwriter Daniel Taradash, who had been impressed with Zinnemann`s handling of the previous war-themed movies The Search (1948), The Men (1950) and Teresa (1951).
Fred Zinnemann was initially reluctant to make the film, as he had an inherent distrust of Columbia head Harry Cohn. He also felt that in the then climate of McCarthyism, to voice anything that cast any doubt over such institutions as the Army, the Navy or the FBI was just asking for trouble.
Montgomery Clift threw himself into the character of Prewitt, learning to play the bugle (even though he knew he`d be dubbed) and taking boxing lessons. Fred Zinnemann said, "Clift forced the other actors to be much better than they really were. That`s the only way I can put it. He got performances from the other actors, he got reactions from the other actors that were totally genuine."
Burt Lancaster was nervous when he started the film. Most of his previous pictures had been fairly lightweight productions, and this was his first "serious" role. He was especially intimidated by Montgomery Clift`s skill and intensity.
Montgomery Clift, Frank Sinatra and author James Jones were very close during the filming, frequently embarking on monumental drinking binges. Clift coached Sinatra on how to play Maggio during their more sober moments, for which Sinatra was eternally grateful.
As scripted, Deborah Kerr and Burt Lancaster`s classic clinch on the beach was to be filmed standing up. It was Lancaster`s idea to do it horizontally in the surf. The scene was filmed at Halona Cove on the eastern side of Oahu, near Koko Head Crater and Sandy Beach, and the location became a major tourist attraction for years after.
The MPAA banned photos of the famous Burt Lancaster-Deborah Kerr passionate kiss on the beach for being too erotic. Many prints had shortened versions of the
Tied with Gone with the Wind (1939) for the most Oscars won by a single film up to that point in time - eight. By coincidence, both films feature George Reeves.
The film helped to popularize Aloha shirts.
The censors demanded that Deborah Kerr`s swimsuit should feature a skirt in its design so as to not be too sexually provocative.
Film debut of Claude Akins.
Tyrone Power turned down the Burt Lancaster role because he was committed to a play at the time.
The patch on the left uniform shoulder of the soldiers in the film was the Hawaiian Department insignia of the U.S. Army.
The two leads ranked #5 on Moviefone`s `The Top 25 Sexiest Movie Couples`. [May 2008]
Broke box office records during its run at the Capitol Theatre in New York City, where the film had its U.S. premiere.
At the first meeting at the beach, Warden makes a comment about Karen "... acting like Lady Astor`s horse...". This is a variant of "Mrs Astor`s Pet Horse" and refers to someone who is either overly dressed-up or made-up, or full of self-importance ("Dictionary of American Regional English").
Maggio`s comments about Gimbel`s basement refer to a famous New York department store on Lexington Avenue and 86th Street.
Joan Crawford was originally meant to play her role in From Here to Eternity (1953), but when she insisted on shooting the film with her own cameraman, the studio balked. They decided to take a chance and cast Deborah Kerr, who then was struggling with her ladylike stereotype, to play the adulterous military wife who has an affair with Burt Lancaster. The casting worked and Ms. Kerr`s career thereafter enjoyed a new, sexier versatility.
Deborah Kerr was romantically involved with Burt Lancaster while filming From Here to Eternity (1953).
The last Academy Award Best Picture winner to receive nominations in all of the four acting categories.
Deborah Kerr`s characterization and performance in this movie is considered to be a cast against type as Kerr had previously been typecast in lady like roles and this part was considered a breakthrough for her into more sexy characters.
Kim Stanley campaigned for role played by Donna Reed.