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The Caine Mutiny

The Caine Mutiny(1954)

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teaser The Caine Mutiny (1954)

SYNOPSIS

At Pearl Harbor, Ensign Willie Keith (Robert Francis) is assigned to the destroyer Caine, which is under the command of Captain DeVriess (Tom Tully). The less than presentable appearance of the ship is soon addressed by a change in command and Lieutenant Commander Philip Francis Queeg (Humphrey Bogart) is brought in as DeVriess's replacement. At first, Queeg's command appears to be an improvement, instigating a spit-and-polish approach to the ship's upkeep. But soon Queeg begins to behave erratically; he displays cowardice during a beachhead landing and drastically overreacts to the discovery that some strawberries are missing from the icebox. As his mental condition worsens, some crewmembers - Ensign Keith, Lieutenant Maryk (Van Johnson), and Lieutenant Keefer (Fred MacMurray) - become increasingly concerned and are eventually forced to challenge his command during a typhoon when the ship appears to be in danger of sinking. The result of their actions is a court-martial trial which pits the mutinous officers against Queeg.

Producer: Stanley Kramer
Director: Edward Dmytryk
Screenplay: Herman Wouk (novel), Stanley Roberts, Michael Blankfort (additional dialogue)
Production Design: Rudolph Sternad
Cinematography: Frank Planer
Costume Design: Jean Louis (gowns)
Film Editing: Henry Batista, William A. Lyon
Original Music: Max Steiner
Principal Cast: Humphrey Bogart (Lieutenant Commander Philip Francis Queeg), Jose Ferrer (Lieutenant Barney Greenwald), Van Johnson (Lieutenant Steve Maryk), Fred MacMurray (Lieutenant Tom Keefer), Robert Francis (Ensign Willie Keith).
C-125m. Letterboxed. Closed captioning.

By Jeff Stafford

THE LONG VIEW

The Caine Mutiny (1954), based on the best-selling novel by Herman Wouk, was the first commercially successful collaboration between producer Stanley Kramer and director Edward Dmytryk, a former victim of the anti-communist blacklist and one of the original 'Hollywood Ten.' While their previous films together - The Sniper (1952), Eight Iron Men (1952), and The Juggler (1953) - were well received by critics, it wasn't until they made The Caine Mutiny that they produced a box-office hit (It was the fourth highest grossing film of 1954). Yet, it almost didn't get made.

For one thing, the Navy Department initially objected to the making of the film and without their cooperation, the project was doomed. However, Kramer and the head of Columbia Pictures - Harry Cohn - eventually won the Navy Department's approval and permission to use some of their ships and locations by offering them a number of concessions to the script: the enlisted men would not be presented as unintelligent, unkempt, or as scurvy misfits; Captain Queeg's cowardice would be minimized and his character made more sympathetic; the film would open with a disclaimer that read, "There has never been a mutiny in the United States Navy. The truth of this story lies not in its incidents but in the way a few men meet the crisis of their lives." The Navy also wanted the word mutiny dropped from the title but, luckily, Kramer prevailed against this request as so many people were already familiar with the Wouk novel.

In addition to the Navy's demands, Harry Cohn made some of his own stipulations; a romantic subplot needed to be added involving Ensign Keith and his girlfriend, May Wynn, that wasn't in the novel and the film would have a strict budget of two million dollars. Edward Dmytryk later said, "One penny beyond that, or a minute beyond two hours' length and Columbia had the right to take over the film for editing."

The author of the novel, Herman Wouk, wrote the first screenplay treatment but it ran nearly 500 pages long which would have translated into a 15 hour film. It was also a departure from the original story since Wouk wanted to do something new with the material. So Stanley Roberts was brought in for a rewrite but he left after refusing to add Cohn's requested romantic subplot, leaving Michael Blankfort to complete the job. As for the cast, Humphrey Bogart was always Kramer's first choice to play Captain Queeg, even though Dick Powell campaigned heavily for the role. When Bogart was later asked how he managed to be so convincing as a paranoid personality, he replied, 'Simple, everybody knows I'm nuts, anyway.' In truth, it was just great acting and Bogart received his third Best Actor Oscar nomination for his performance (he lost to Marlon Brando in On the Waterfront). The Caine Mutiny also garnered Academy Award nominations for Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor (Tom Tully), Best Screenplay, Best Sound Recording, Best Film Editing, and Best Dramatic Score (by Max Steiner).

by Scott McGee

back to top
teaser The Caine Mutiny (1954)

Because the public was so familiar with the The Caine Mutiny from the book and the play, anticipation for the Hollywood adaptation ran high. National magazines ran several stories on the film's production and imminent release. Publications from Variety to The Christian Science Monitor were publishing features and interviews before the New York premiere of The Caine Mutiny, detailing the making of the film and the anticipated response from audiences around the country.

The Caine Mutiny was made under tight restrictions from Columbia Studios' chief Harry Cohn, who demanded that the final cut not exceed two hours in running time and a $2 million budget. If the running time or the budget ran over, ultimate control of the production would fall into Harry Cohn's tyrannical hands. The reason why Cohn insisted on the two hours maximum running time was purely financial; if it was no more than 120 minutes in length theaters could squeeze in an extra showing of the film per day.

One of the naval officers who advised the filmmakers on technical aspects during the making of The Caine Mutiny held a bitter grudge against one of his former commanding officers, whom he described as a "Captain Queeg." The officer asserted that the novel "should be required reading for every man and officer in the United States Navy."

The Caine Mutiny opens with the epigraph that states that there has never been a mutiny in the United States Navy. The Navy insisted on the epigraph in exchange for the production's use of Pearl Harbor, planes, aircraft carriers, destroyers, combat boats, and the port in San Francisco. In fact, this was the only film made with the complete cooperation of the Navy for which they didn't want credit, only the opening disclaimer. The agreement was the result of heavy pre-production cajoling between the producers and the U.S. Navy. At first, the Navy was cool to the idea of lending support to The Caine Mutiny. Rear Admiral Robert Hickey, information chief of the Navy, wrote to the producers: "I believe your production would plant in the minds of millions the idea that life in the Navy is akin to confinement in a psychiatric institution." The Navy suggested several changes to the script, including a change of title to "The Caine Incident." In the end, the Navy's suggested changes were kept to a minimum and the final script was approved for shooting.

To capture the excitement of the typhoon scene, the filmmakers originally intended to steer the ship (a replica of the USS Caine) into an actual gale for the bad-weather footage. It was eventually decided that the typhoon would be artificially created in a studio by special effects technician Lawrence W. Butler.

Columbia Studios was determined to hire Humphrey Bogart for the top role in The Caine Mutiny, and Bogart was enthusiastic about playing Captain Queeg, but the Columbia brass did not want to pay him his top salary. Bogart was rather miffed at this, complaining to wife Lauren Bacall, "This never happens to (Gary) Cooper, or (Cary) Grant or (Clark) Gable, but always to me." Bogart correctly figured that Harry Cohn and company knew that Bogart wanted to play the part so fervently that he would agree to take less money rather than surrender the part to someone else. Cohn and Columbia were right, and Bogart was cast in one of his best roles.

The Navy technical advisor, Commander James C. Shaw, grew upset with the way the character Captain Queeg butters his toast during the infamous "strawberry" scene. Shaw understood that Queeg was mentally unbalanced, but that didn't mean that he was not an officer and a gentleman. Shaw figured that any officer who graduated from Annapolis would know the military standard for breaking a slice of bread into small pieces before buttering it. Unfortunately, Bogart (in the role of Queeg) felt like Shaw was personally attacking his performance and became agitated. To placate both parties, the crust was trimmed from the bread, thus reducing the size and satisfying both Bogart and the Navy.

Humphrey Bogart's tour de force performance in the climactic courtroom scene was so powerful that it completely captivated the onlooking film technicians and crewmen. After the scene's completion, the company gave Bogart a round of thunderous applause.

Producer Stanley Kramer and director Edward Dmytryk cast Lee Marvin as one of the USS Caine's supporting sailors, not only for his knowledge of ships at sea but for his acting talent. Throughout the production, the former Marine served as an unofficial technical advisor to the filmmakers. Sometimes a shot would be set up, only to be criticized by Marvin as being inauthentic. In addition to The Caine Mutiny, Dmytryk directed Lee Marvin in Eight Iron Men (1952) and Raintree County (1958).

Stanley Kramer gave Fred MacMurray a prominent role in The Caine Mutiny during a difficult period in the actor's life - his wife had just died - and work was a needed distraction for him. MacMurray's unsympathetic Lieutenant Tom Keefer was one of a handful of parts that went against his usual nice-guy typecasting. His few unlikable roles in Double Indemnity (1944) and The Apartment (1960) contrasted sharply with his more audience-friendly appearances in movies like The Egg and I (1947) and The Absent-Minded Professor (1961) and the TV series, My Three Sons.

by Scott McGee

back to top
teaser The Caine Mutiny (1954)

Because the public was so familiar with the The Caine Mutiny from the book and the play, anticipation for the Hollywood adaptation ran high. National magazines ran several stories on the film's production and imminent release. Publications from Variety to The Christian Science Monitor were publishing features and interviews before the New York premiere of The Caine Mutiny, detailing the making of the film and the anticipated response from audiences around the country.

The Caine Mutiny was made under tight restrictions from Columbia Studios' chief Harry Cohn, who demanded that the final cut not exceed two hours in running time and a $2 million budget. If the running time or the budget ran over, ultimate control of the production would fall into Harry Cohn's tyrannical hands. The reason why Cohn insisted on the two hours maximum running time was purely financial; if it was no more than 120 minutes in length theaters could squeeze in an extra showing of the film per day.

One of the naval officers who advised the filmmakers on technical aspects during the making of The Caine Mutiny held a bitter grudge against one of his former commanding officers, whom he described as a "Captain Queeg." The officer asserted that the novel "should be required reading for every man and officer in the United States Navy."

The Caine Mutiny opens with the epigraph that states that there has never been a mutiny in the United States Navy. The Navy insisted on the epigraph in exchange for the production's use of Pearl Harbor, planes, aircraft carriers, destroyers, combat boats, and the port in San Francisco. In fact, this was the only film made with the complete cooperation of the Navy for which they didn't want credit, only the opening disclaimer. The agreement was the result of heavy pre-production cajoling between the producers and the U.S. Navy. At first, the Navy was cool to the idea of lending support to The Caine Mutiny. Rear Admiral Robert Hickey, information chief of the Navy, wrote to the producers: "I believe your production would plant in the minds of millions the idea that life in the Navy is akin to confinement in a psychiatric institution." The Navy suggested several changes to the script, including a change of title to "The Caine Incident." In the end, the Navy's suggested changes were kept to a minimum and the final script was approved for shooting.

To capture the excitement of the typhoon scene, the filmmakers originally intended to steer the ship (a replica of the USS Caine) into an actual gale for the bad-weather footage. It was eventually decided that the typhoon would be artificially created in a studio by special effects technician Lawrence W. Butler.

Columbia Studios was determined to hire Humphrey Bogart for the top role in The Caine Mutiny, and Bogart was enthusiastic about playing Captain Queeg, but the Columbia brass did not want to pay him his top salary. Bogart was rather miffed at this, complaining to wife Lauren Bacall, "This never happens to (Gary) Cooper, or (Cary) Grant or (Clark) Gable, but always to me." Bogart correctly figured that Harry Cohn and company knew that Bogart wanted to play the part so fervently that he would agree to take less money rather than surrender the part to someone else. Cohn and Columbia were right, and Bogart was cast in one of his best roles.

The Navy technical advisor, Commander James C. Shaw, grew upset with the way the character Captain Queeg butters his toast during the infamous "strawberry" scene. Shaw understood that Queeg was mentally unbalanced, but that didn't mean that he was not an officer and a gentleman. Shaw figured that any officer who graduated from Annapolis would know the military standard for breaking a slice of bread into small pieces before buttering it. Unfortunately, Bogart (in the role of Queeg) felt like Shaw was personally attacking his performance and became agitated. To placate both parties, the crust was trimmed from the bread, thus reducing the size and satisfying both Bogart and the Navy.

Humphrey Bogart's tour de force performance in the climactic courtroom scene was so powerful that it completely captivated the onlooking film technicians and crewmen. After the scene's completion, the company gave Bogart a round of thunderous applause.

Producer Stanley Kramer and director Edward Dmytryk cast Lee Marvin as one of the USS Caine's supporting sailors, not only for his knowledge of ships at sea but for his acting talent. Throughout the production, the former Marine served as an unofficial technical advisor to the filmmakers. Sometimes a shot would be set up, only to be criticized by Marvin as being inauthentic. In addition to The Caine Mutiny, Dmytryk directed Lee Marvin in Eight Iron Men (1952) and Raintree County (1958).

Stanley Kramer gave Fred MacMurray a prominent role in The Caine Mutiny during a difficult period in the actor's life - his wife had just died - and work was a needed distraction for him. MacMurray's unsympathetic Lieutenant Tom Keefer was one of a handful of parts that went against his usual nice-guy typecasting. His few unlikable roles in Double Indemnity (1944) and The Apartment (1960) contrasted sharply with his more audience-friendly appearances in movies like The Egg and I (1947) and The Absent-Minded Professor (1961) and the TV series, My Three Sons.

by Scott McGee

back to top
teaser The Caine Mutiny (1954)

At Pearl Harbor, Ensign Willie Keith (Robert Francis) is assigned to the destroyer Caine, which is under the command of Captain DeVriess (Tom Tully). The less than presentable appearance of the ship is soon addressed by a change in command and Lieutenant Commander Philip Francis Queeg (Humphrey Bogart) is brought in as DeVriess's replacement. At first, Queeg's command appears to be an improvement, instigating a spit-and-polish approach to the ship's upkeep. But soon Queeg begins to behave erratically; he displays cowardice during a beachhead landing and drastically overreacts to the discovery that some strawberries are missing from the icebox. As his mental condition worsens, some crewmembers - Ensign Keith, Lieutenant Maryk (Van Johnson), and Lieutenant Keefer (Fred MacMurray) - become increasingly concerned and are eventually forced to challenge his command during a typhoon when the ship appears to be in danger of sinking. The result of their actions is a court-martial trial which pits the mutinous officers against Queeg.

The Caine Mutiny (1954), based on the best-selling novel by Herman Wouk, was the first commercially successful collaboration between producer Stanley Kramer and director Edward Dmytryk, a former victim of the anti-communist blacklist and one of the original 'Hollywood Ten.' While their previous films together - The Sniper (1952), Eight Iron Men (1952), and The Juggler (1953) - were well received by critics, it wasn't until they made The Caine Mutiny that they produced a box-office hit (It was the fourth highest grossing film of 1954). Yet, it almost didn't get made.

For one thing, the Navy Department initially objected to the making of the film and without their cooperation, the project was doomed. However, Kramer and the head of Columbia Pictures - Harry Cohn - eventually won the Navy Department's approval and permission to use some of their ships and locations by offering them a number of concessions to the script: the enlisted men would not be presented as unintelligent, unkempt, or as scurvy misfits; Captain Queeg's cowardice would be minimized and his character made more sympathetic; the film would open with a disclaimer that read, "There has never been a mutiny in the United States Navy. The truth of this story lies not in its incidents but in the way a few men meet the crisis of their lives." The Navy also wanted the word mutiny dropped from the title but, luckily, Kramer prevailed against this request as so many people were already familiar with the Wouk novel.

In addition to the Navy's demands, Harry Cohn made some of his own stipulations; a romantic subplot needed to be added involving Ensign Keith and his girlfriend, May Wynn, that wasn't in the novel and the film would have a strict budget of two million dollars. Edward Dmytryk later said, "One penny beyond that, or a minute beyond two hours' length and Columbia had the right to take over the film for editing."

The author of the novel, Herman Wouk, wrote the first screenplay treatment but it ran nearly 500 pages long which would have translated into a 15 hour film. It was also a departure from the original story since Wouk wanted to do something new with the material. So Stanley Roberts was brought in for a rewrite but he left after refusing to add Cohn's requested romantic subplot, leaving Michael Blankfort to complete the job. As for the cast, Humphrey Bogart was always Kramer's first choice to play Captain Queeg, even though Dick Powell campaigned heavily for the role. When Bogart was later asked how he managed to be so convincing as a paranoid personality, he replied, 'Simple, everybody knows I'm nuts, anyway.' In truth, it was just great acting and Bogart received his third Best Actor Oscar nomination for his performance (he lost to Marlon Brando in On the Waterfront). The Caine Mutiny also garnered Academy Award nominations for Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor (Tom Tully), Best Screenplay, Best Sound Recording, Best Film Editing, and Best Dramatic Score (by Max Steiner).

Despite the accolades and impressive box office receipts, the director felt that The Caine Mutiny could have been even better. In Stanley Kramer: Filmmaker by Donald Spoto, Dmytryk said, "..it's a disappointment in my career, to tell the truth. I insist it could have been a classic...but Kramer, who (with Dore Schary) is the most publicity-conscious man in the industry, got high-handed with Harry Cohn, and in fact had to toe the line...Stanley Roberts' original script was about 190 pages, even without the romantic subplot...It should have remained that - a three and one-half or four-hour picture - and it would have been more logically developed, the characters would have been further fleshed out. It would have been perfect."

Producer: Stanley Kramer
Director: Edward Dmytryk
Screenplay: Herman Wouk (novel), Stanley Roberts, Michael Blankfort (additional dialogue)
Production Design: Rudolph Sternad
Cinematography: Frank Planer
Costume Design: Jean Louis (gowns)
Film Editing: Henry Batista, William A. Lyon
Original Music: Max Steiner
Principal Cast: Humphrey Bogart (Lieutenant Commander Philip Francis Queeg), José Ferrer (Lieutenant Barney Greenwald), Van Johnson (Lieutenant Steve Maryk), Fred MacMurray (Lieutenant Tom Keefer), Robert Francis (Ensign Willie Keith).
C-125m. Letterboxed. Closed captioning.

by Jeff Stafford

back to top