Study Guide

From Here to Eternity Screenwriter

Screenwriter

Stories from the Frontlines

James Jones wrote the book on which From Here to Eternity is based, and so should get a pretty significant amount of credit. Of course, Jones' book ran over 800 pages—so kudos to screenwriter Daniel Taradash for shaping it into a well-made movie with a running time of under 120 minutes. (His script ended up earning Taradash an Oscar.)

Jones' book is still considered one of the greatest American novels about World War II—perhaps the greatest. So, even though it's a doorstop, you should check it out.

Oh, and Jones and Taradash were both World War II veterans. Like his own characters, Jones was stationed on Oahu before the war and was present for the Pearl Harbor sneak attack. He later fought in the Battle of Guadalcanal, in addition to working as a foreign correspondent during the Vietnam War (though that was quite awhile after From Here to Eternity came out).

So, the book emerged straight out of his experience of army life—it's chock-full of true facts.

Master of Adaptations

War is important in Jones' other books, though none of them achieved the same success as From Here to Eternity. However, The Thin Red Line (1962) was made into a 1998 movie directed by acclaimed art-house auteur Terence Malick.

Also, Jones' book originally had way more adult content than in the movie. The "hostesses" who work at The New Congress Club are actually prostitutes, and Karen Holmes has a miscarriage because her adulterous husband gives her gonorrhea. Yikes.

Taradash was skilled at adaptations, later adapting the screenplay for Picnic (1955), based on a hit play by William Inge. He also wrote the scripts for Hawaii (1966), adapted from a James Michener book, and Bell, Book, and Candle (1958) adapted from a Broadway play by John van Druten.