Wednesday, February 17, 2010

review: the Caine Mutiny

Again, a story about a slightly mad officer in the Navy. Two in a row - what are the odds?
While one is more of a comedy, this is quite the drama.
It follows the story of a young navy officer assigned to a down-and-out boat near the end of WWII. Once the serving officer is relieved of duty, the boat gets a new commander: Queeg (Bogart). He is strict, to the book, and also seems to suffer from paranoia. Needless to say, there is a mutiny (not like the one in mutiny on the bounty) and a trial.
This movie is quite interesting, but not exactly a wonderful film. You don't quite know who to cheer for. Queeg is a pain in the ass, but he is also suffering from something. He asks for help, so you can't really blame him. The exec. officer is honestly doing what he thinks is right, and he has to care for the crew, so he's in the right. In the moment of the mutiny, everything seems clear, but the trial tears everything up. People lying, twisting the truth, and so forth. Only at the end, during a party scene, does everything go right, and everyone gets his right way.
Bogart is fantastic. His portrayal of this man has to keep you wondering if he is crazy or not - and then once you know, he has to hold you as a sympathetic character. Not easy, but Bogart certainly is up to the task. The young man, who the story centers around, was played by Robert Francis. His portray is believable convincing, and he does a good job at being the medium man between the audience and the world of the movie. This was his film debut, and he was being groomed for stardom, being a young hotshot at the time - unfortunately, he died in a plane crash in 1955 before his career ever would reach a star status. Jose Ferrer is sublime. He is only in the film a short while (as Maryk's lawyer) but his ending speech maked the whole movie work. Van Johnson (as Maryk - the exec officer) is kind of the conflicted hero. He doesn't like or want to do what he does, but his concious leads him. It is interesting to see him in this movie as I only know him from a couple of musicals. Quite a different role for him. Fred MacMurray is very good at keeping the audience off-balance. Through most of the movie, you really like him. He's smart, witty, and a little bit of a rebel. Then something happens and suddenly, he makes you unsure of him. Then, next thing you know, you're completely at the opposite. It takes talent to make an audience go off-balance, and he does it well.
All in all, a pretty good movie.
3 and 1/2 out of 5 stars

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