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Mainstream - The Caine Mutiny Collector's Edition


The Caine Mutiny Collector's Edition
Humphrey Bogart, Jose Ferrer, Van Johnson, Fred MacMurray
Directed by Edward Dmytryk
Originally released 1954
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment 2007
125 minutes

The Caine Mutiny, considered by many as Humphrey Bogart's best film, is still a very interesting movie more than fifty three years later.  The movie most certainly looks great in The Caine Mutiny Collector's Edition. Those who like a good psychological thriller or a good war movie will certainly enjoy this silver screen classic.

The Caine Mutiny is told via a young ensign, Keith Smith (played by Robert Francis) whose first assignment is the rather rundown and disorganized minesweeper Caine. He is a by the book fresh-cheeked young man who does not cotton well to the laidback style of Captain DeVriess (Tom Tully). This is in part to set up the idea that Keith should have taken to the more by the book no nonsense Captain Queeg, DeVriess' replacement and that the crew of the Caine could use a little bit more discipline.

Once Captain Queeg takes over command of the Caine the ship is run much more tightly, to the great dissatisfaction of Lieutenants Maryk (Van Johnson) and Keefer (Fred MacMurray in a role far different from his My Three Sons and usual Disney fare) and to the growing dismay of young ensign Keith. Queeg is a bit of a nutter and a stickler to minutia. The men slowly start to question his decisions and resent him. When a typhoon threatens the ship, Maryk mutinies and relieves Queeg of command. He is supported in his decision by ensign Keith.

Much has been said about the court martial scene which is believed to be Bogart's finest moment in this movie. Not to take away from a classic but a viewer raised on Law And Order and Matlock will probably feel this is more of a Matlock style courtroom scene. Queeg's mental breakdown during his testimony, necessary to get Maryk and Keith off the hook for mutiny, happens too fast. Lawyer Jose Ferrer has to push too few buttons to get Queeg to break down.

This said, The Caine Mutiny is a great movie. It's early smattering of comedy sets up the drama of both the mutiny and the courtroom scene. This is a great ensemble cast performance in which Fred MacMurray really stand out though saying why kind of reveals the ending to those who have not seen Caine yet.

The Caine Mutiny Collector's Edition features a commentary track by film historians Richard Pena and Ken Bowser in addition to a two-part thirty-five minute feature Behind The Caine Mutiny. Interesting stuff but most certainly not enough to make a fan of the movie salivate. I would really have liked it if the movie experts had commented on a scene in this psychological thriller: why did Queeg ban westerns from being shown and why does punish the men when he catches them watching Hopalong Cassidy?

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