From Here to Eternity

The setting is an army base in Hawaii in 1941. Montgomery Clift, in a superb performance, plays a bugler who refuses to fight for the company boxing team; he has reasons for giving up the sport. His refusal results in harsh treatment from the company commander, whose bored wife (Deborah Kerr) is having an affair with the tough-but-fair sergeant (Burt Lancaster). You remember–the scene with the two of them embracing on the beach, as the surf crashes in. The supporting players are as good as the leads: Frank Sinatra and Donna Reed won Oscars (and Sinatra revitalized his entire career), and Ernest Borgnine entered the gallery of all-time movie villains, as the stockade sergeant who makes Sinatra miserable. Zinnemann’s work is efficient but also evocative, capturing the time and place beautifully, the tropical breezes as well as the lazy prewar indulgence. This one is deservedly a classic. –Robert Horton

The Heiress

Dull and plain Catherine (Olivia de Havilland) lives with her emotionally distant father, Dr. Sloper (Ralph Richardson), in 1840s New York. Her days are empty — filled with little more than needlepoint. Enter handsome Morris Townsend (Montgomery Clift), a dashing social climber with his eye on the spinster’s heart and substantial inheritance. William Wyler’s Oscar-winning film is an adaptation of the Henry James novel Washington Square.

Wild River

A young field administrator for the TVA comes to rural Tennessee to oversee the building of a dam on the Tennessee River. He encounters opposition from the local people, in particular a farmer who objects to his employment (with pay) of local black laborers. Much of the plot revolves around the eviction of an elderly woman from her home on an island in the River, and the young man’s love affair with that woman’s widowed granddaughter.

Red River

Dunson is driving his cattle to Red River when his adopted son, Matthew, turns against him.