The Caine Mutiny – 1954 – English
War film directed in 1954 by Edward Dmytryk, and starring Humphrey Bogart, José Ferrer, Van Johnson, Fred MacMurray, Robert Francis, May Wynn, Tom Tully, E.G. Marshall, Arthur Franz, Lee Marvin, Warner Anderson, Claude Akins, Katherine Warren, Jerry Paris, Steve Brodie…
Synopsis: During the World War II, the crew of a small insignificant ship in the U.S. Pacific Fleet experience an event unlike any event ever experienced by the United States Navy. A Ship’s Captain is removed from command by his Executive Officer in an apparent outright act of mutiny. As the trial of the mutineers unfold, it is learned that the Captain of the ship was mentally unstable, perhaps even insane. The Navy must decide if the Caine Mutiny was a criminal act, or an act of courage to save a ship from destruction at the hands of her Captain?
Review: The striking thing about the film to me was that it starts out seemingly as a jovial piece, it’s light hearted in structure for the first third but then we are introduced to Humphrey Bogart’s Captain Phillip Queeg and things start to change rather dramatically. Captain Queeg takes command of the USS Caine and promptly tries to whip the shoddy (had it good for too long) crew into shape, but soon the cracks start to appear in the Captain’s persona, and during a violent storm the crew decide enough is enough.
Adapted from Herman Wouk’s much lauded page turner, The Caine Mutiny triumphs in spite of its flaws because it lulls you in craftily to then unleash quality drama in the form of Bogart’s quite brilliant performance as Queeg. It’s a class show from Bogart as he plays out the various forms of sanity with terrific results. Backed up by Fred MacMurray, Jose Ferrer and Van Johnson the film isn’t found wanting for acting gravitas, sadly the direction from Edward Dmytryk does plod at the times when the film cries out for impetus, and a romantic subplot involving Robert Francis’s Ens. Willis Seward Keith has no right to be here, since it really is a waste of time. Yet they are forgivable flaws, for this be a cracking picture that is essential for Bogart purists, and essential viewing for those interested in a quality story telling up there on the screen.