Saturday, March 07, 2015

The Caine Mutiny

With Sharon gone for the weekend at the retreat, I watched The Caine Mutiny as an HD rental on the AppleTV. Jack wandered in and watched the last 45 minutes. The 1954 film is based on the 1951 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of the same name by Herman Wouk. I finished reading the book last week. The movie depicts a mutiny aboard a fictitious World War II U.S. Navy destroyer minesweeper, the USS Caine (DMS-18), and the subsequent court-martial of two officers.

The film received Oscar nominations for Best Picture, Best Actor (Humphrey Bogart), Best Supporting Actor (Tom Tully), Best Screenplay, Best Sound Recording (John P. Livadary), Best Film Editing, and Best Dramatic Score (Max Steiner). It didn't win in any category. Marlon Brando won the Best Actor Award for On the Waterfront, while On the Waterfront won Best Picture. The Caine Mutiny was the second highest-grossing film in the United States in 1954.

In order to get the movie down to two hours, the director cut 50 pages from the screenplay. Without this cut, it would have been a three to four hour movie. The end result is that the film doesn't provide much backstory for characters. The plot focuses on a few events leading up to the mutiny, the mutiny and the trial.

The movie was mildly entertaining, but it doesn't do the book justice. The book is really a story of the metamorphosis of Willie Keith, not a story about the mutiny and the trial. The book does a great job of painting a picture of Keith's relationships with his mother, father, girlfriend and fellow officers; all of this is really missing from the film. My recommendation is to read the book and then watch the movie as a curiosity.

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