Tuesday Night at the Movies: The Caine Mutiny (1954)

I got a new DVD player yesterday, so to celebrate, I moved up movie night one day!

Humphrey Bogart is a hard man to hate. Not the actor, I mean, but his characters. Even when he is at his most callous and hard-hearted, I found that I could at least accept his characters for what they were, warts and all.

But that was before I watched this movie. In it, he plays one of the most loathesome characters I have ever seen on screen. Capt. Queeg, at first, is a strict disciplinarian, and a character that, although I might have found him a little rough, was still a man with whom I could like at some level. But that did not last. More on that later.

The focal point of the story is the character of ensign Keith (played by Robert Francis) who has just been given his first assignment as a navy officer aboard the Caine, a minesweeper. Keith is put off by the lax discipline aboard the ship by the captain, DeVreiss. Early on however, DeVriess is replaced by Capt. Queeg, whose discipline is much more in tune with what Keith likes.

During one dressing down of a seaman, however, Queeg neglects his duties as a captain, and the result is a cut towline. But Queeg refuses to accept responsibility, blaming others for his mistake. Later, he becomes erratic and exhibits more paranoia when it discovered that someone has taken the leftover strawberries that were served wih dinner.

Eventually, his erratic behavior results in his second in command, Lt. Maryk (played by Van Johnson), to relieve him of his command during a dire situation in a typhoon. The next part of the movie is a trial of Lt. Maryk for mutiny. Two more big names are here with E. G. Marshall as the prosecutor and Jose Ferrer as Maryk's defense attorney.

Bogart does an excellent job, as do the others. I'm putting Herman Wouk's book that the movie was based on my reading list.

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