James Jones Movies
One of the most influential novelists of the mid-20th century to deal with the subject of war, James Jones was something of a fixture in Hollywood as a source of great books. James Ramon Jones was born in Robinson, IL, in 1921, the son of Ramon Jones, a dentist, and the former Ada Blessing. The stock market crash in October 1929 destroyed the family's finances, and Ramon later sank into alcoholism, while Ada was crippled by diabetes. Seeing limited prospects in front of him and eager to separate himself from his family, James enlisted in the U.S. Army in June 1939 and was stationed in New York, Puerto Rico, the Canal Zone, and California, before he was transferred to the Army Air Corps in Hawaii.
Jones was present when Pearl Harbor was attacked and served in the defense of Hawaii; while awaiting reassignment to a combat area, he took some literature and writing courses at the University of Hawaii. In late 1942, he was shipped out for the Solomon Islands, and, in January 1943, participated in fighting on Guadalcanal. Jones's army record was marred by his going AWOL in late 1943 after he was denied leave and his request for a limited duty assignment was ignored. In the late winter of 1944, he was suddenly promoted to sergeant, though by then was manifesting enough mental problems that he was sent to a psychiatric unit for observation. In the summer of that year, after being diagnosed with a psychoneurotic disorder, he was honorably discharged. Jones later moved to New York (briefly attending New York University) and then to North Carolina before returning to live with the Handys in Robinson, IL, where he spent five years working on the book that became From Here to Eternity, receiving encouragement from two Scribners editors, Maxwell Perkins and Burroughs Mitchell. Meanwhile, Jones published his first short story, Temper of Steel, in Atlantic Monthly during 1948.
From Here to Eternity was finished in 1950 and published in 1951. The film rights were immediately bought for 87,000 dollars by Columbia Pictures, whose president, Harry Cohn, vowed to turn the 850-page book into a major movie, despite having to overcome such hurdles as a narrative that freely mentioned homosexuality, whorehouses, marital infidelity, and as much brutality as had ever been offered to the filmgoing public. A huge amount of Jones's experiences seemed bound up within the narrative, which was an uncompromising love/hate account of the army. The screenplay by Daniel Taradash kept the spirit of the book intact and the resulting film by Fred Zinnemann (starring Burt Lancaster, Deborah Kerr, Montgomery Clift, Frank Sinatra, and Donna Reed) was one the most honored and prestigious (and successful) ever issued by Columbia, winning eight Academy Awards, including Best Picture. It quickly took on a life of its own in popular culture, with the romantic tryst in the surf on the beach between Lancaster's Milt Warden and Kerr's Karen Holmes becoming one of the most suggestive and widely known (and parodied) love scenes of the decade. Sinatra's performance as Maggio rescued his acting career from oblivion, while Clift's cemented his reputation as one of the finest actors of his generation.
Over the remainder of the 1950s, Jones split with Lowney Handy (with whom he had run a writer's retreat) in an acrimonious break-up and, with help from novelist Budd Schulberg, met and married actress Gloria Patricia Mosolino. Jones also finished and published his second novel, Some Came Running, the story of a returning ex-soldier who finds himself alienated from the pettiness and prejudices of his hometown. Although it was far longer than From Here to Eternity and got decidedly mixed reviews because of its length, the book became a bestseller and earned Jones 250,000 dollars for the film rights. Vincente Minnelli turned it into a very good movie starring Frank Sinatra, Shirley MacLaine, and Dean Martin. By the end of the '50s, Jones had moved to Paris (where he lived until 1974) with his wife and started a family. He published the short novel The Pistol in 1959 and later served as a consultant on Darryl F. Zanuck's production of The Longest Day. In 1962, Jones published his war novel The Thin Red Line, the follow-up to From Here to Eternity in what eventually became a World War II trilogy. Set amid the fighting on Guadalcanal, the story was filmed for the first time in 1964 by director Andrew Marton under auspices of Philip Yordan's Security Pictures, with Jack Warden (who had also been in From Here to Eternity) playing the role of Milt Warden and Keir Dullea as a sensitive recruit in his company. His next novel, Go to the Widow-Maker (1967), dealt with a favorite Jones hobby, skin diving, and male perceptions of sexual prowess. The one after that, The Merry Month of May, dealt with the student uprising in Paris in 1968 from the standpoint of expatriate American students. He also published a collection of short stories dealing with war and small-town life under the title The Ice-Cream Headache and Other Stories.
By this time, Jones occupied the front rank of popular American authors, with peers including Schulberg, Herman Wouk, and Irwin Shaw. From Here to Eternity remained a favorite among serious high school students and was studied in literature classes; Some Came Running and The Thin Red Line weren't far behind, though their film adaptations were less well-known. During the 1970s, however, he lost focus on his fiction. He moved his family back to the United States, which he found completely transformed from the country he'd known in the '50s. Some of these reactions were reflected in his mystery novel A Touch of Danger (1973), in which a 50-ish American private investigator takes a case that plunges him into murder, the drug trade, and hippies. He also became a war correspondent for The New York Times Magazine in Vietnam. His writing, embodied in Viet Journal (1974), reflected a bitter hatred of the war, the corruption of the South Vietnamese government, the savagery of the Vietcong and North Vietnamese Army regulars, and admiration for the American soldiers. Living on Long Island, he wrote the text for a war art book called WWII: A Chronicle of Soldiering (1975). Jones'ss health began to fail around this time, just as he was finishing his last war novel, Whistle. The writer was forced to dictate the last chapters that he finished, and the final four were completed from his notes and unedited writing by a longtime friend, Willie Morris. Published posthumously in 1978, it became a bestseller in hardcover as the final part of an epic story of World War II and the men who fought in it, drawing in two generations of readers who had known From Here to Eternity and The Thin Red Line.
In 1979, two years after Jones'ss death, a miniseries was made of From Here to Eternity. Directed by Buzz Kulik and starring William Devane, Natalie Wood, and Steve Railsback, it was sufficiently popular to generate a short-lived TV series. (There had also been an overt rip-off of the book entitled Pearl in 1978 starring Robert Wagner, Dennis Weaver, and Angie Dickinson on a rival network.) In 1998, The Thin Red Line was adapted to the big screen once again, this time by director Terrence Malick and starring Sean Penn in a star-studded, epic, 170-minute version. The release of that movie resulted in a new lease on life for the original novel, just as Zinnemann's From Here to Eternity periodically led viewers back to its source over the decades. The latter film had endured so well that it rated a 50th anniversary theatrical re-release in late 2003. ~ Rovi
This musical release from gospel music ensemble Rance Allen Group captures a live performance by the group, recorded after the Greater Grace Temple's return to Detroit in 2004. Some of the songs featured in the concert include "It's Your Time", "Let The Music Get Down In Your Soul", and more. ~ Cammila Collar, Rovi
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Michael Schenker is respected as one of the greatest guitarists of his time. At one point he almost replaced Joe Perry in Aerosmith. His fame is much greater in Europe than in the United States. This concert film features the artist performing 14 songs including "Ready to Rock," "Mother Mary," "Assault Attack," "Let It Roll," "Lights Out," "Rock 'n' Roll Believer," "Arachnophobiac," "Into the Arena," "Only You Can Rock Me," "On and On," "Too Hot to Handle," "Armed and Ready," "Doctor Doctor," and "Rock Bottom." ~ Perry Seibert, Rovi
- Michael Schenker, Chris Logan, (more)
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The return of director Terrence Malick to feature filmmaking after a twenty year sabbatical, this World War II drama is an elegiac rumination on man's destruction of nature and himself, based on James Jones' semi-autobiographical novel, his follow-up to From Here to Eternity. James Caviezel stars as Private Witt, a deserter living in peace and harmony with the natives of a Pacific island paradise. Captured by the Navy, Witt is debriefed by a senior officer (Sean Penn) and returned to an active duty unit preparing for what will be the Battle of Guadalcanal. As Witt goes ashore in the company of his fellow soldiers, they meet diverse fates. Sergeant Keck (Woody Harrelson) is killed by an exploding grenade. Captain John Gaff (John Cusack) is an intelligent, sober leader facing the destruction of his command because his commanding officer Colonel Tall (Nick Nolte) is bucking for a general's star. Sergeant McCron (John Savage) loses his mind. Private Bell (Ben Chaplin) gets a "Dear John" letter from his beloved wife. However, as the U.S. troops advance up grassy slopes toward entrenched Japanese positions, it is Witt's voiced-over ruminations on life, death, and nature that are the real heart and soul of The Thin Red Line (1998). Adrien Brody appears as Private Fife, the major character of Jones' novel and the author's alter-ego, although Fife has been relegated to a minor supporting role by Malick's filmed adaptation. ~ Karl Williams, Rovi
- Sean Penn, Adrien Brody, (more)
Having previously spawned an Academy Award-winning film, which starred Burt Lancaster, Deborah Kerr, and Frank Sinatra, James Jones' best-selling military novel From Here to Eternity was adapted into a six-hour miniseries in 1979. Set in Honolulu in 1941 in the days prior to the December 7 attack, the film concerns four principal characters: Sergeant Milt Warden (William Devane), who yearns for a promotion; Karen Holmes (Natalie Wood), the restless wife of Warden's CO, who enters into a torrid affair with the sergeant; Private Robert E. Lee Prewitt (Steve Railsback), a sensitive soul who loves the army but instinctively rebels against everyone wearing stripes; and prostitute Lorene Rogers (Kim Basinger), with whom Prewitt falls in love. The TV version is able to sidestep the censorship restrictions of the original movie, which means that the Warden/Holmes affair is conducted in bed as well as on the beach, and that Jones' indictments of military iniquities isn't subject to "official" approval. Originally telecast on three consecutive weeks in February 1979, From Here to Eternity led to a brief weekly series in 1980, with Devane and Basinger carried over from the miniseries, but with Don Johnson as Prewitt (who dies in the original novel) and Barbara Hershey as Karen Holmes. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi
- Natalie Wood, William Devane, (more)
Set during the Allied invasion of the island of Guadalcanal in the Pacific theater during WWII, this film is based on the novel by James Jones. Keir Dullea is Private Doll, who dreads the invasion and steals a pistol to help him protect himself. Sergeant Welsh (Jack Warden), a caustic, battle-scarred veteran, hates Doll, whom he considers a coward. In battle, Doll kills a Japanese soldier and is filled with remorse, which further angers the sergeant. The next day, an emboldened Doll wipes out an entire enemy machine gun post and begins to feel as sadistic as Welsh. The two must work together to clear away some mines, but as they do, their platoon is surprised by a Japanese raid. ~ Michael Betzold, Rovi
- Keir Dullea, Jack Warden, (more)
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The Longest Day is a mammoth, all-star re-creation of the D-Day invasion, personally orchestrated by Darryl F. Zanuck. Whenever possible, the original locations were utilized, and an all-star international cast impersonates the people involved, from high-ranking officials to ordinary GIs. Each actor speaks in his or her native language with subtitles translating for the benefit of the audience (alternate "takes" were made of each scene with the foreign actors speaking English, but these were seen only during the first network telecast of the film in 1972). The stars are listed alphabetically, with the exception of John Wayne, who as Lt. Colonel Vandervoort gets separate billing. Others in the huge cast include Eddie Albert, Jean-Louis Barrault, Richard Burton, Red Buttons, Sean Connery, Henry Fonda, Gert Frobe, Curt Jurgens, Peter Lawford, Robert Mitchum, Kenneth More, Edmond O'Brien, Robert Ryan, Jean Servais, Rod Steiger and Robert Wagner. Paul Anka, who wrote the film's title song, shows up as an Army private. Scenes include the Allies parachuting into Ste. Mere Englise, where the paratroopers were mowed down by German bullets; a real-life sequence wherein the German and Allied troops unwittingly march side by side in the dark of night; and a spectacular three-minute overhead shot of the troops fighting and dying in the streets of Quistreham. The last major black-and-white road-show attraction, The Longest Day made millions, enough to recoup some of the cost of 20th Century Fox's concurrently produced Cleopatra. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi
- John Wayne, Robert Mitchum, (more)
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After the success of From Here to Eternity, pairing Frank Sinatra with another James Jones novel made perfect sense. Set in the aftermath of World War II, the film stars Sinatra as a recently discharged soldier whose promising writing career has derailed. After a drunken card game, Sinatra finds himself aboard a bus for his Indiana hometown of Parktown, with recent acquaintance Shirley MacLaine in tow. An unrefined good-time girl, MacLaine allows her affections to settle on the hard-drinking Sinatra, who wants little to do with her as he reluctantly sets about re-establishing ties he thought to have abandoned over a decade before. These include a brother (Arthur Kennedy) unable to discard his salesman's persona, his disapproving wife (Leora Dana), and their teenage daughter (Betty Lei Keim). Meanwhile, Sinatra makes a variety of new acquaintances both respectable and otherwise, including a local gambler (Dean Martin) and a creative writing instructor (Martha Hyer) smitten with his writing and possibly with him. Shaking up the complacency of his small hometown more by accident than design, Sinatra forces all those around him to reevaluate their behavior. After a variety of smaller parts, this is the role that cemented MacLaine's name, earning her an Oscar nomination for Best Actress. ~ Keith Phipps, Rovi
- Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, (more)
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The scene is Schofield Army Barracks in Honolulu, in the languid days before the attack on Pearl Harbor, where James Jones' acclaimed war novel From Here to Eternity brought the aspirations and frustrations of several people sharply into focus. Sergeant Milt Warden (Burt Lancaster) enters into an affair with Karen (Deborah Kerr), the wife of his commanding officer. Private Robert E. Lee "Prew" Prewitt (Montgomery Clift) is a loner who lives by his own code of ethics and communicates better with his bugle than he does with words. Prew's best friend is wisecracking Maggio (Frank Sinatra, in an Oscar-winning performance that revived his flagging career), who has been targeted for persecution by sadistic stockade sergeant Fatso Judson (Ernest Borgnine). Rounding out the principals is Alma Lorene (Donna Reed), a "hostess" at the euphemistically named whorehouse The New Congress Club. All these melodramatic joys and sufferings are swept away by the Japanese attack on the morning of December 7. No words could do justice to the film's most famous scene: the nocturnal romantic rendezvous on the beach, with Burt Lancaster's and Deborah Kerr's bodies intertwining as the waves crash over them. If you're able to take your eyes off the principals for a moment or two, keep an eye out for George Reeves; his supporting role was shaved down when, during previews, audiences yelled "There's Superman!" and began to laugh. From Here to Eternity won eight Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, and supporting awards to Sinatra and Reed. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi
- Burt Lancaster, Montgomery Clift, (more)