Robert Francis is a wet-behind-the-ears naval officer whose first posting is aboard the Caine, a ramshackle minesweeper. He is dismayed by the rough-looking crew and captain, and when that captain is replaced by Bogart, a by-the-book commander, Francis is initially relieved. But Bogart’s fixations on minutiae are tyrannical and obsessive, his refusal to admit error dangerous, and his behaviour increasingly erratic and paranoid. Francis and fellow officers Fred MacMurray and Van Johnson reali…e that Bogart is unfit for command, and one stormy night, Johnson (the first mate) is forced to take action. The consequences are serious.
The dialogue is scintillating, the characters memorably drawn, and the suspense keeps mounting, up to and including the climactic court martial, where second-billed José Ferrer finally appears. If Ferrer’s closing speech, which too obviously tries to change our perception of some events, is a clumsy denouement, even it is a gripping scene to watch.
The mono is crisp and warm. The dialogue is always clear and free of distortion, and the volume level is consistent and good. There is no stereo remix, and believe me, it isn’t missed at all. The film is largely dialogue-driven, but even the scenes with the storm or battles still sound perfectly adequate. Nice bass to the score.
Now and then, there is a bit of flicker, and the colour timing isn’t perfect, but these are fleeting and minor imperfections. There is some grain, too, but the print is generally a good one, and is free of damage. The image is sharp, and there is no visible edge enhancement, and the colours are, for the most part, very strong.
Historians and writers Richard Peña and Ken Bowser provide and informative and interesting commentary track. They are joined by others in the very solid two-part featurette “Behind The Caine Mutiny,” which doesn’t sidestep the role of the HUAC hearings in director Edward Dmytryk’s career (like Elia Kazan, he named names).
A terrific time at the movies, despite (and arguably because of) some flaws.
Special Features List
- Audio Commentary
- 2-Part Featurette