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Det Jim McLeod

Opinion On The Caine Mutiny (1954)

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I thought the movie was great 8/10. The love story angle was a bit distracting, but once Humphrey Bogart's Captain Queeg is introduced, it is totally riveting. The strawberry and shirt tail scenes are classics and the typhoon sequence is powerful. All the performances are first rate. Van Johnson has his best performance as the conflicted mutineer Marek, Fred MacMurray is great as the gutless Keefer and Robert Francis very good as the wet behind the ears officer Keith. Jose Ferrer shows up later as the defense attorney Greenwald. 

But the most interesting thing for me was the film leaves the idea of the mutiny being justified up to the viewer. At the end Greenwald "torpedoes" Queeg on the witness stand and Marek and Keith are acquitted. Greenwald shows his disgust at the job he had to do after the trial is over. In my opinion I think Marek and Keith were correct when they relieved Queeg of his duty. The typhoon scene was what clinched it for me. Queeg seemed disoriented and did not seem to be coherent enough to give orders while the ship is imminent danger. Marek and Keith are criticized since they were not as experienced but  Keith says on the stand that they were not on the bridge. And we the viewers saw the whole thing. 

Do you think the mutiny was justified? Or what is your opinion on the film?

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I always enjoy THE CAINE MUTINY. Though I confess I too could have done without the love story.

I can see both sides on the case of the mutiny. At the time of the typhoon I do think Marek needed to do what was necessary to save the ship and the lives of the men since Queeg was completely incompetent at the time to handle such a stressful situation.

On the other hand I do think that Greenwald was correct that if the men had been a bit more willing to try and accommodate Queeg, however difficult he may have been, perhaps the situation during the typhoon wouldn't have come up....he might have been a bit more coherent and confident to be able to handle the stress of getting through the storm and a bit more willing to listen to the men in what to do to avoid going under.

At the very least the men could have been a bit more discreet in mocking Queeg.

I do think that Keefer (Fred MacMurray) seemed almost determined to undermine Queeg's authority from the start....hence why he's considered the real bad guy of the film instead of Queeg.

I give the movie a solid 8/10 as well.

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2 minutes ago, Bethluvsfilms said:

At the very least the men could have been a bit more discreet in mocking Queeq.

I do think that Tom (Fred MacMurray) seemed almost determine to undermine Queeq's authority from the start....hence why he's considered the real bad guy of the film instead of Queeg.

The nickname Yellowstain was given to Queeg, but I think Keefer was the most cowardly character in the film.

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Even Keefer himself admits to being  a yellowbelly by the end of the movie.

When Marek says he's surprised Keefer had the guts to show up at the acquittal party for Marek and Keith after Keefer had taken the stand against Marek at the hearing, Keefer says he simply didn't have the courage NOT to appear.

I loved it when Greenwald threw that drink in Keefer's face.

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yeah, but after the yellowstain incident it looks like keefer is going to confront queeg but marek stops him....

"don't look for trouble, Tom."

:huh:

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My brother(Navy veteran) and others I knew who are Navy veterans claim that command can be taken over by an underling when it's apparent the ship and crew are in danger and the captain is acting erratically or irresponsible.  And that it's not really mutiny.    I don't really know the finer legal points about it, but there were surely enough witnesses on the bridge to testify to Queeg's erratic behavior.  Why none of them were asked to testify(as far as I know) I couldn't say.

Another on my list of movies that were as good as the book.

Sepiatone

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1 hour ago, Bethluvsfilms said:

On the other hand I do think that Greenwald was correct that if the men had been a bit more willing to try and accommodate Queeq, however difficult he may have been, perhaps the situation during the typhoon wouldn't have come up....he might have been a bit more coherent and confident to be able to handle the stress of getting through the storm and a bit more willing to listen to the men in what to do to avoid going under.

That opens up another interesting question. Was Queeg an unhinged paranoiac or just a quirky neurotic?

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:D   Heck.....

I play with my balls all the time too, but can't tell you what people call me because of it...  ;)

Sepiatone

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25 minutes ago, Det Jim McLeod said:

That opens up another interesting question. Was Queeg an unhinged paranoiac or just a quirky neurotic?

My view is that due to combat stress he became a quirky neurotic and after lack of loyalty from the officers of the Caine,  became an unhinged paranoid. 

That is what I got from Greenwald's take on what happened.

 

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Should have been in black and white, and with Steiner's score considerably scaled down.

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THE CAINE MUTINY still works.  One of HUMPHREY's ignoble characters who failed to receive what he needed most: loyalty.  Still a cynical downer, the performances are stunning, particularly VAN JOHNSON and FRED MACMURRAYJOSE FERRER is always good, but maybe his best part.  Within a year of release, ROBERT FRANCIS died in a plane crash. 

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I always thought Van Johnson was particularly good in this film as the torn second-in-command officer.

As some may remember, at the time Johnson quite often was cast in more lighter fare and/or as sort of a comedy relief role in heavier or more dramatic films as the wisecracking, glib and somewhat cynical sort, such as in the war-themed Battleground, Command Decision, and in the political drama State of the Union, but in this case he does well in showing how an officer of such high rank and responsibly must be of more serious mind in the execution of his duties, but yet still makes the role a likeable and interesting one.

(...in fact, because of his usual castings and image, I've also always thought he wouldn't have been all that miscast in the MacMurray part either)

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"And after all is said and done, to think that I'm the only one....."

Blech!

I did like the way they tried to make Willie and May's romance a steamy affair a la Deborah Kerr and Burt Lancaster in FHTE.  You know, grown-up, real adult, lol.  And it was -- there was no ambiguity, these two were sleeping together.

After Bogie I thought the finest performance was Van's.   A truly underrated and versatile performer.   I'm normally impressed with Jose Ferrer as an actor but thought he was over-the-top as Barney, even when drunk.   I liked Robert Francis.  I could envision John Ford wanting him as part of his stock company.

    

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18 minutes ago, Dargo said:

I always thought Van Johnson was particularly good in this film as the torn second-in-command officer.

As some may remember, at the time Johnson quite often was cast in more lighter fare and/or as sort of a comedy relief role in heavier or more dramatic films as the wisecracking, glib and somewhat cynical sort, such as in the war-themed Battleground, Command Decision, and in the political drama State of the Union, but in this case he does well in showing how an officer of such high rank and responsibly must be of more serious mind in the execution of his duties, but yet still makes the role a likeable and interesting one.

(...in fact, because of his usual castings and image, I've also always thought he wouldn't have been all that miscast in the MacMurray part either)

I agree about Van Johnson in The Caine Mutiny.    One of his best, grounded performances.    Maybe his looks had something to do with that:

 MGM lent him to Columbia for The Caine Mutiny (1954) in the role of Stephen Maryk. He refused to allow concealment of his facial scars when being made up as Maryk, believing that they enhanced the character's authenticity. Herman Wouk describes Maryk as having "ugly but not unpleasant features" in the novel.

 

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The love story had to be there because of the book - one of the mammoth successes of the 50's.

I have a 16mm kinescope of THE CAINE MUTINY COURT-MARTIAL with Lloyd Nolan as Queeg. A remarkable performance.  At the end of the show director Charles Laughton comes out and pays tribute to John Hodiak, part of the Broadway cast who died shortly before the CBS telecast. He was replaced by Frank Lovejoy.

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Has anyone mentioned that Robert Francis's love interest in the film, named May Wynn, is played by actress May Wynn, one of the few instances of a film character with the same name as the actor performing the role (she adopted the name from this role). Wynn would be married to Jack Kelly of Maverick fame for a while and is, I believe, the only cast member of The Caine Mutiny still with us today.

The-Caine-Mutiny-3_Snapseed.jpg

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13 minutes ago, TomJH said:

Has anyone mentioned that Robert Francis's love interest in the film, named May Wynn, is played by actress May Wynn, one of the few instances of a film character with the same name as the actor performing the role (she adopted the name from this role).

 

Did May Wynn ever do a film with Gig Young??? 😁

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It's one of the Columbia Orphans, so it's been more visible on streaming lately.

It's also recently surged in popularity with young viewers seeking out why older viewers kept making "Strawberries" and "Ball bearings" jokes during the Trump impeachment and his constant warnings of the Biden Conspiracy.  I'd already seen the movie, and MacMurray's psycho-analyses of Queeg's paranoia ("The tendency to repeat certain idiosyncratic words or phrases in moments of crisis") was a helpful guide to understanding the First Three Years, and all the Presidential Tweets in it.

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2 hours ago, Ray Faiola said:

 

Did May Wynn ever do a film with Gig Young??? 😁

LOL

Good one, Ray!

No, and I don't think she ever did a movie with Bruce Bennett either. ;)

For the uninitiated here, actor Byron Barr would also change his name to a character named "Gig Young" which he played in a movie early in his career, and just as actress May Wynn did.

(...and so, no, admittedly my "Bruce Bennett" attempt at a joke here, and another actor who changed his name and started out in pictures with the name of Herman Brix, wouldn't quite be the same sort'a thing, as Brix never played a movie character named Bruce Bennett beforehand...but of course, THIS would never stop me from trying, huh!) ;)

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I always get the urge to immediately eat certain foods when they're presented or talked about in movies -- strawberries and vanilla ice cream from THE CAINE MUTINY, the mouth-watering Budapest Christmas dinner lucky Rudy will get to enjoy courtesy of lonely Frank Morgan in THE SHOP AROUND THE CORNER, et. al.

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13 hours ago, Ray Faiola said:

 

Did May Wynn ever do a film with Gig Young??? 😁

Would have been a riot if she guest starred with JUNE HAVOC on the TV show"December Bride".  ;)  or did a movie with  ED and KEENAN WYNN.  :D

Sepiatone

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My dad was a Navy vet from WWII. His favorite movie was THE CAINE MUTINY. Every time he would watch it, the last scene would come up and, with a big smile on his face he'd say the line with Tom Tully - "Take her out!"

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I understand that the scene towards the end in which Greenwald extols the virtues of captains like Queeg was done to appease the U.S. Navy, which didn't like the idea of a film about a commander out of a cracker jack box. Would anyone know if the play had a different ending from the film?

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16 hours ago, Ray Faiola said:

The love story had to be there because of the book - one of the mammoth successes of the 50's.

I have a 16mm kinescope of THE CAINE MUTINY COURT-MARTIAL with Lloyd Nolan as Queeg. A remarkable performance.  At the end of the show director Charles Laughton comes out and pays tribute to John Hodiak, part of the Broadway cast who died shortly before the CBS telecast. He was replaced by Frank Lovejoy.

That's wonderful.  I like JOHN HODIAK a lot!

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18 minutes ago, TomJH said:

I understand that the scene towards the end in which Greenwald extols the virtues of captains like Queeg was done to appease the U.S. Navy, which didn't like the idea of a film about a commander out of a cracker jack box. Would anyone know if the play had a different ending from the film?

From Wiki related to the book:

At a party celebrating both the acquittal and Keefer's success at selling his novel to a publisher, an intoxicated Greenwald calls Keefer a coward. He tells the gathering that he feels ashamed of having destroyed Queeg on the stand because Queeg did the necessary duty of guarding America in the peacetime Navy, which people like Keefer saw as beneath them. Greenwald asserts that men like Queeg kept Greenwald's Jewish mother from being "melted down into a bar of soap" by the Nazis. He calls Keefer, not Maryk, "the true author of 'The Caine Mutiny'". Greenwald throws a glass of "the yellow wine" in Keefer's face, thereby bringing the term "Old Yellowstain" full circle back to the novelist.

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