Welcome to Macho Moments, a look at some of my favorite random scenes in movies that just make you go, "oh shit!" or "somebody's gonna get it!". Our first installment takes us back to 1953's From Here to Eternity. Based on the best selling novel by James Jones, the 800 page tome was thought to be unfilmable. Director Fred Zinnemann and writer Daniel Taradash proved that wrong as the film was a huge hit of the decade and won 8 Oscars (we saw one of them at the Sony Lot this week, nice timing eh?). Playing on Turner Classic Movies this past Memorial Day weekend, I sat down for the flick and somehow enjoyed it even more than in the past. Chronicling the daily military base drama of Pearl Harbor before the 1941 attacks, Eternity boasts a stellar cast that includes Burt Lancaster as a Sergeant falling for his Captain's wife, Deborah Kerr as the suffering trophy wife, Montgomery Clift as a bugler and boxer who won't fight anymore, Frank Sinatra as a wise-cracking trouble maker and Ernest Borgnine as a mean and violent military prison boss.
While the film is known for it's iconic beach scene of Lancaster and Kerr smooching in the surf, the scene I remember most is the bar fight. Sinatra's Angelo Maggio and Borgnine's "Fatso" Judson have already butted heads over choice of music and racist taunts. Enjoying the bar scene during a weekend pass, Judson makes a crude remark about Maggio's sister which leads the whipper snapper to smacking the larger man in the back of the head with a bar stool! Judson whips out a knife and it looks like someone is going to the hospital until badass and oh so cool guy Sgt. Milton Warden aka Burt Lancaster steps in. Apparently Warden is one of the best soldiers around having already fought in Asia. When Judson fails to back down, Warden kicks it into badass mode and breaks a bottle, ready to get the killing started. Phew! Great scene by all involved as you're just waiting for the shit to go down. Especially Lancaster, who was headlining his first big studio feature and would go on to box office and award glory in roles like Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, Sweet Smell of Success and Elmer Gantry in the ensuing years.