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Die Caine war Ihr Schicksal [Alemania] [Blu-ray]
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Humphrey Bogart begeistert in diesem spannungsgeladenen Drama nach dem Pulitzer-Preis gekrönten Roman von Herman Wouk. Kapitän Queeg übernimmt das Kommando auf der US "Caine". Er verwirrt seine Mannschaft mit unverständlichen Entscheidungen über die Führung des Schiffes. Nach und nach wird die Situation immer unhaltbarer, die Mannschaft merkt, daß Queeg neurotisch ist und eine Gefahr für alle darstellt. Als der Kapitän während eines Hurrikans völlig die Nerven verliert, übernimmt der zweite Offizier das Kommando, um das Schiff zu retten. Für Queeg ist das Meuterei. Er rächt sich für die Schande während der Verhandlung vor dem Militärgericht.
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More than anything, despite the presence of ships, the film is mainly a showcase for great acting. The quality of the cast simply can't be exaggerated. There are a host of stellar performances, and they even have such future stars as Lee Marvin in throwaway parts. Humphrey Bogart absolutely dominates the screen with one of the finest performances of his career. Most of the fan and critic polls I have seen over the years of the greatest movie stars of all time invariably place Bogart in the number one spot, and when you see him in this role, and then realize that he has 7 or 8 roles just as great, it is easy to see why. He is such a forceful presence that one would imagine that he wouldn't have been capable of a variety of roles, yet you contrast this film with THE MALTESE FALCON and THE AFRICAN QUEEN, and you realize that he had a capacity to play a surprisingly wide range of roles. Lt. Commander Queeg lacks almost all of the qualities of Rick in CASABLANCA, and possesses a host of lamentable ones as well. The scene in which Queeg cowardly has the U.S.S. Caine quickly outrun the landing crafts it is assigned to protect and then retreat to safety as fast as possible is made all the worse by the courage his characters in other films display. Queeg's final crack up on the witness stand at Lt. Maryk's court martial is justifiably famous, and is among the great scenes in cinema. It is now impossible for any character in any film to play with a pair of steel balls and not think of Bogart.
The rest of the cast is hardly shamed by Bogart. Van Johnson, as the loyal, enormously capable, conscientious Lt. Maryk is superb. (This is, by the way, the only film in which the make up department didn't cover the quite large scars on his forehead that he suffered over a decade earlier in a serious car wreck, which resulted in a steel plate being placed in his forehead.) Robert Francis, who had a promising career cut short at the age of 25 in a plane crash he suffered a year after this film, is solid as the young, idealistic Ensign Keith (though the parallels between his hesitancy to stand up to his mother and marry the woman he loves and his hesitancy to stand up to his commanders isn't developed as much as it is implied) holds his own against stiff competition. Fred MacMurray, who spent his entire career bouncing between utterly lovable and absolutely reprehensible characters, here takes the latter course as the complex, spineless Lt. Keefer. His character adds a delicious degree of ambiguity to the film. Jerry Paris, who would later play Rob and Laura Petrie's friend in THE DICK VAN DYKE SHOW, is excellent as the ship's other junior ensign. Tom Tully managed an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor in his stellar performance as Lt. Commander DeVriess, the first commander of the Caine. Jose Ferrer (who is, by the way, George Clooney's uncle by marriage), whose screen roles never seemed to come up to the level of his talent, is outstanding in his small but memorable role as the mutineers' defense attorney.
On a minor note, I very much enjoyed the very unusual location scene in Yosemite National Park. Although we take location shots for granted today, Hollywood in the thirties, forties, and fifties was only very slowly willing to undertake location shots. It is hard today to realize how radical it was for directors like John Huston (who shot parts of THE TREASURE OF SIERRA MADRE in Mexico and THE AFRICAN QUEEN in Africa) or John Ford (who shot extensively in Arizona for his Westerns and in Ireland for THE QUIET MAN) to shoot on location. The general preference was to build sets on Hollywood backlots. It is so unusual to see location shots that no sound film was shot on location in Chicago (many films were made at the old Essanay Studios in Chicago in the teens and twenties) until the superb Jimmy Stewart CALL NORTHSIDE 777. The scenes in this one, therefore, set in Yosemite are pretty unique.
Special mention this year goes to Columbia who are releasing collector's editions of two classics that had already been afforded a release on those shiny silver discs.
First up is "The Caine Mutiny" which was first released on DVD back in late 1998. That bare bones version was widely panned for its poor transfer, which featured an overabundance of digital noise and was presented in basic stereo.
Those failings have been corrected for this most recent digitally remastered release. Here we are presented with a quite exceptional picture and soundtrack and a nice smattering of special features.
Based on a Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Herman Wouk the film (which itself was nominated for seven Academy Awards in 1954) details the tension between the captain of a World War II era minesweeper (played superbly by Humphrey Bogart) and his crew. Bogart's character is overly paranoid and viewed by some as displaying cowardice in the face of battle.
Playing the part of the executive officer, Lt. Steve Maryk is Van Johnson who, spurred on by third in command, the spineless Lt. Keefer (Fred MacMurray), finally takes control of the ship when the safety of the ship and crew are threatened. Queeg's stubborn insistences to maintain the heading of the ship in a typhoon, flying in the face of good seamanship, forces Maryk to take action and he, along with Ensign Keith, are charged with mutiny upon return to port.
It is here that the movie truly shines. Reluctantly defending the two is the always-excellent Jose Ferrer, and the scene where he interrogates Queeg on the stand is spellbinding.
Complimenting the movie Columbia have added an interesting scene specific audio commentary by Program Director of the Film Society of Lincoln Center Richard Pena and filmmaker and producer Ken Bowser. The two detail the difficulties the filmmakers initially faced when confronted with an initially uncooperative Department of he Navy, careers of the actors involved and the context of the film in relation to a political environment that saw Hollywood filmmakers blacklisted.
Apparently the Navy has never had a mutiny onboard one of its ships (a fact which leads to the placement of a disclaimer to the beginning of the picture) and they were none too pleased with the fictitious account. However, following a change in command, they reversed their decision and offered the use of dockyards, ships, aircraft carrier and even real sailors for the movie.
Both Pena and Bowser return for the two-part documentary on the making of the movie. Running for 18:48 and 16:16 respectively they are joined by Film Critic Bob Castle.
The three begin by discussing the mood in Hollywood at the time. Apparently movie audiences declined rapidly from 1946 to 1962 with the advent of television and greater foreign competition and so a nervous industry was looking for a "sure bet." Producer Stanley Kramer had bought the film rights to "The Caine Mutiny" book before it became a bestseller for $60,000. The book was a major selling point that led to the producers being able to cast the movie with a strong ensemble. Castle mentions some of the un-credited roles to illustrate this and Bogart reportedly read the book and actively campaigned for the role of the captain.
Rounding out the special features are trailers for "Walking Tall: The Payback," "Hard Luck" and "Edison Force." None bear any thematic connection with the main feature.
Captain Phillip Queeg (Humphrey Bogart) is in command of the USS Caine. Very unpopular with the men he gradually becomes more and more paranoid and his chief officers believe he is no longer competent to be in charge of the ship. His Executive Officer Lt Steve Maryk (Van Johnson) suspects that Queeg is a very sick man and not fit to command the ship due to his wild and erratic behaviour. Lt Tom Keefer (Fred MacMurray) feels the same way but is not prepared to make a stand against the Captain. During a violent storm Queeg loses his nerve and Maryk takes over the command only to be accused by Queeg of mutiny. ("Mr Maryk, if you question my decision once more I'll order you off this bridge". - Bogart to Van Johnson). Maryk does take over the ship against Queeg's wishes and when back on land charges of mutiny are brought against him. The trial that follows forms the main focus of the film (and for me it was the most interesting) with some very tense and impressively acted dramatic scenes showing Bogart at his best. Lt Barney Greenwald (Jose Ferrer) is engaged as defending counsel for Maryk who is being charged with mutiny. However, things begin to look very bad for Maryk when Tom Keefer is called to give evidence and fails to support him. Some other witnesses are also unable (or reluctant) to show that Queeg was unfit to command the ship and Greenwald appears to be losing his case. Then Captain Queeg is called to the stand and has to face some strong questioning from Greenwald leading to the dramatic climax of the film.
Some favourite lines from the film:
Humphrey Bogart (to crew): "You people think you're very clever, but you're not fooling me".
Bogart (to Van Johnson): "Mr Maryk, you may tell the crew for me there are four ways of doing things aboard my ship. The right way, the wrong way, the navy way, and my way - they do things my way we'll get along".
Johnson (to Fred MacMurray): "I don't get it. Is the captain off his head or isn't he? Is this record I've kept correct or not?".
Johnson (to Bogart): "Captain, I'm sorry, but you're a sick man. I'm relieving you as captain of this ship under article 184".
Bogart (to officers): "You'll all hang for conspiracy for mutiny".
Bogart (on witness stand): "Ah .... but the strawberries! That's where I had them. They laughed at me and made jokes, but I proved beyond a shadow of a doubt, and with geometric logic, that a duplicate key to the wardroom icebox did exist".
Jose Ferrer (to the officers): "Sure, I got a guilty conscience. I defended you Steve because I thought the wrong man was on trial. So I torpedoed Queeg for you. I had to torpedo him and I feel sick about it".
"The Caine Mutiny" was directed by Edward Dmytryk who was also responsible for "Raintree County", "The Young Lions" and many other classic films. "The Caine Mutiny" was remade as a TV movie in 1988 with Eric Bogosian, Jeff Daniels, Brad Davis and Peter Gallagher. I have never seen this so I can't comment on it. However, I did see the Bogart version several times and doubt if anything else could come up to that standard. TV movies are seldom as good as the big screen originals.
Bogart was nominated for the Best Actor "Oscar" for his performance in this film but was unfortunately beaten by Marlon Brando in "On the Waterfront". The film received a nomination for Best Picture but the award again went to "On the Waterfront". Actor Tom Tully was nominated as Best Supporting Actor for his role as Captain DeVriess but the award went to Edmond O'Brien for "The Barefoot Contessa". Even though it failed to win any Academy Awards "The Caine Mutiny" remains a very important dramatic and exciting film and the acting from all the principals was excellent. Another memorable Bogart winner that should not be missed.
Humphery Bogart plays a paranoid and eccentric captain who has been assigned to command the CAINE. Fred MacMurray plays the insightful (although spineless) 3rd in command. The name of the ship is somewhat symbolic as the biblical brother-against-brother evolves into a story of sailor-vs.-sailor (and officer-vs.-officer).
What pushes this film across the waves are the Naval politics of the supreme position of a commanding officer. In a perfect world, nobody would ever dispute a captain's authority. In a less than perfect world, captains can become delusional and lose their ability to think clearly. The choices the crew makes in these episodes forms the crux of the plot.
The film is well done and is filmed just 10 years after WWII. Therefore, many of the ships depicted likely really did see combat during the epic struggle. The acting is top-notch, especially with Bogey having the unusual role of a character who is prone to making mistakes.
On the downside, the soundtrack is way, way over-done. It shows how far Hollywood has come in the past 50 years to make soundtracks that complement the movie instead of constantly being overly-dramatic.
Also, I found the love-interest between the ensign and his girlfriend to be a bit of an after-thought. It never really seemed to "fit" with the rest of the film. But, that's just me.
If you're a fan of Naval movies, this classic is a must-see. It is also a good film for supervisors on all levels as it is somewhat of a satire on what happens when the focus of leaders is trained on being arrogant instead of doing their job.