Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.5.
USA, 1954. Columbia Pictures Corporation. Screenplay by Stanley Roberts, additional dialogue by Michael Blankfort, based on the novel by Herman Wouk. Cinematography by Franz Planer. Produced by Stanley Kramer. Music by Max Steiner. Production Design by Rudolph Sternad. Costume Design by Jean Louis. Film Editing by Henry Batista, William A. Lyon.
It’s World War II, and the Caine is the one of the most disreputable boats in the fleet with its slovenly crew and badly managed equipment. Young Robert Francis comes on board in the position of Ensign and is disappointed with the lack of command shown by captain Tom Tully, so he is thrilled when the man gets his walking papers and is replaced by hard-assed, uncompromising Captain Queeg (Humphrey Bogart). After a few weeks, however, it becomes apparent that Queeg’s disciplinary personality borders on the paranoid psychotic, his obsession with missing foodstuffs reaching the point of unreasonable hysterics. This all comes to a head when the captain’s decisions during a dangerous typhoon force Lieutenant Van Johnson to relieve him of all his duties and essentially lead a mutiny on the ship that then is followed by a court-martial on dry land. Entertaining, richly photographed, and beautifully acted, this adaptation of Herman Wouk’s novel suffers mainly from the problem of size and scope: it’s obviously a much bigger book, and the attempt to include a whole slew of elements from the original story in a two hour film results in an unevenly handled story. Francis’ story with his girlfriend, the life aboard ship and the scenes in the courtroom all seem to be warring with each other for dominance. Bogart is terrific, however, and his characterization of Queeg does a lot to hold it all together.
Academy Award Nominations: Best Picture; Best Actor (Humphrey Bogart); Best Supporting Actor (Tom Tully); Best Screenplay; Best Film Editing; Best Sound Recording; Best Score of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture
Venice Film Festival: In Competition