The Caine Mutiny


2h 5m 1954
The Caine Mutiny

Brief Synopsis

Naval officers begin to suspect their captain of insanity.

Film Details

Also Known As
Authority and Rebellion
Genre
Drama
War
Adaptation
Release Date
Sep 1954
Premiere Information
New York opening: 24 Jun 1954
Production Company
Columbia Pictures Corp.
Distribution Company
Columbia Pictures Corp.
Country
United States
Location
Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, United States; San Francisco, California, United States; Yosemite Valley, California, United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel The Caine Mutiny: A Novel of World War II by Herman Wouk (Garden City, NY, 1951).

Technical Specs

Duration
2h 5m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Sound System)
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.85 : 1
Film Length
13 reels

Synopsis

In 1944, at his officer training graduation, Ensign Willie Keith attempts to keep his wealthy, clingy mother from learning of his serious involvement with nightclub singer May Wynn. Disappointed, May does not see Willie off as he sails from San Francisco to the naval base at Pearl Harbor. Upon arriving in Hawaii, Willie reports to his assigned ship, the U.S.S. Caine , a beat-up, destroyer-mine sweeper, and meets cynical novelist Lt. Tom Keefer, the sober executive officer, Lt. Steve Maryk and another newcomer, Ensign Harding. Willie is unable to conceal his disappointment in the casual Capt. DeVriess and the dilapidated Caine , yet he nevertheless refuses a transfer arranged by his mother and grudgingly settles down to months of drilling of the clumsy, unkempt crew. When DeVriess is transferred, Willie anticipates the arrival of the new commanding officer, Capt. Francis Philip Queeg, coming off two years of combat duty in the Atlantic. Although mystified by the crew's sentimental send-off of DeVriess, Willie is pleased with Queeg's brisk, if peculiar, manner. Queeg appoints Willie morale officer and immediately orders the Caine thoroughly cleaned up. A few days later, after a standard target practice exercise, Willie is summoned to the bridge to be reproached by the captain for not punishing a disheveled sailor. Queeg becomes so engrossed in the reprimand that the Caine steams undirected in a circle, severing its target tow-line. The incident results in the Caine being summoned back to San Francisco, where Willie goes to see May and presents her to his anxious mother. Willie takes May to Yosemite and proposes, but May refuses, claiming that Willie is still too concerned about his mother's opinions. Shortly after returning to sea, the Caine is ordered to escort assault teams to enemy-held beaches, but during the first mission, Steve is forced to take temporary command when Queeg is inexplicably absent. When the captain finally arrives, he grows anxious at the enemy shelling and alarmed as Steve slows the ship to protect the smaller landing craft. Queeg orders the Caine to drop its yellow dye marker to indicate the landing zone, then to retreat to open sea. Willie is perplexed by the captain's behavior, while Tom makes sarcastic comments about Queeg's bravery. Later, Steve sternly rebukes several officers, including Tom, Willie and Harding, for making up a song, "Yellowstain Blues," which besmirches Queeg. Willie is bitterly disappointed by Queeg's character lapse, but neither he nor any of the officers respond when Queeg makes a thinly veiled request for support. When Tom observes that Queeg's eccentric mannerisms and increasingly irrational behavior indicates that he is mentally unsound, Steve demands that he take the charge to the medical officer, but Tom refuses. Disturbed by Tom's suggestion, however, Steve gets a book on mental illness from the ship's library and begins keeping a log of Queeg's escalating erratic behavior, which has begun to sap the crew's morale. Late one night, Queeg summons all the officers to begin an investigation of the disappearance of a gallon of strawberries from the mess. When the lengthy inquiry extends to searching each crew member for a duplicate mess key that Queeg is certain must have been used in the theft, Tom reiterates his challenge of Queeg's mental soundness and suggests Steve consider relieving the captain according to Navy regulations. Steve is further upset when Harding, who must leave the ship to attend his seriously ill wife, reveals that he witnessed the mess boys eating the strawberries and reported the incident to Queeg, but the captain threatened to cancel Harding's emergency leave if he repeated the story. Steve then asks Tom and Willie to accompany him to fleet commander Admiral Halsey to seek advice. On board Halsey's carrier, Tom reconsiders, cautioning Steve that he may ruin his career by accusing Queeg. Uncertain, Steve acquiesces and the men return to the Caine . The fleet is then ordered out to sea into a strong storm, during which Queeg risks capsizing the Caine by stubbornly maintaining the ordered course, despite Steve's pleas to turn the ship. When Queeg appears terrified by the violent pitching of the ship, Steve, fearful for the ship's safety, relieves him of command using the Navy code. Willie supports Steve, and Queeg's order for their arrest is ignored by the other officers. Some time later, in San Francisco, May telephones her support to Willie, as he and Steve are brought up for court-martial. Cynical Lt. Barney Greenwald is the only lawyer who grudgingly accepts Willie and Steve's case. At the trial the prosecution is led by Lt. Cmdr. Challee, who establishes Willie's naval inexperience and gradual loathing of Queeg. Testimony offered by other sailors reveals only that Queeg was a demanding, driven commander. Under questioning, Tom admits that he was not present at many of Queeg's supposed displays of unstable behavior and lies that he had not suggested to Steve that Queeg might be mentally unfit. Tom then goes on to say that he does not believe Steve's log holds enough information to justify the mutiny. A naval psychiatrist asserts that Queeg is not mentally ill, but under Barney's probing admits that the captain suffers from deep paranoia due to long and arduous combat duty. When Queeg takes the stand, he severely criticizes Steve, yet is unable to explain his earlier positive written evaluation of his executive officer. Barney brings up the tow-line and dye stain incidents, but Queeg insists his officers were disloyal and unsupportive. Queeg grows increasingly agitated when Barney mentions the missing strawberries and when Harding's name is brought up, the captain takes up his nervous habit of rolling metal balls in his hand and launches into a lengthy, rambling defense. In the face of Queeg's obvious instability, Steve and Willie are acquitted. Afterward, during the celebration with the Caine 's officers, a drunken Barney chastises them for not supporting Queeg and for putting the ship in danger by their recklessness. The men are startled when Barney accuses Tom of being the true instigator of the Caine mutiny. Soon after, Willie and May marry and, upon returning from their honeymoon, Willie reports to his new ship to discover, with a sense of relief, that his commanding officer is DeVriess.

Photo Collections

The Caine Mutiny - Movie Posters
Here is a group of American movie posters from Columbia Pictures' The Caine Mutiny (1954), starring Humphrey Bogart, Jose Ferrer, and Fred MacMurray.

Videos

Movie Clip

Caine Mutiny, The (1954) - There Ain't No More Strawberries Executive officer Maryk (Van Johnson) narrating from his diary, recording concerns about Captain Queeg (Humphrey Bogart), who launches his famous inquiry about fruit, alarming Keefer (Fred MacMurray) and others, James Edwards as Whittaker, in The Caine Mutiny, 1954.
Caine Mutiny, The (1954) - You're A Sick Man Desperate to save the ship, executive officer Maryk (Van Johnson) seizes command from Captain Queeg (Humphrey Bogart) in a storm, the critical scene from The Caine Mutiny, 1954, from Herman Wouk's novel.
Caine Mutiny, The (1954) - A Ship Is Like A Family Ensign Harding (Jerry Paris) with a ditty about Captain Queeg (Humphrey Bogart), who summons Keith (Robert Francis), Keefer (Fred MacMurray) and Maryk (Van Johnson) to a tense meeting, after a cock-up at sea in The Caine Mutiny, 1954.
Caine Mutiny, The (1954) - War Is Hell Affluent newly-minted Ensign Keith (Robert Francis) is aghast coming aboard at Pearl Harbor, 1944, meeting Keefer (Fred MacMurray), Maryk and the very informal Captain DeVriess (Tom Tully), early in Edward Dmytryk's The Caine Mutiny, 1954.
Caine Mutiny, The (1954) - I'd Much Rather Prosecute First appearance of JAG lawyer Greenwald (Jose Ferrer), dismissing Keefer (Fred MacMurray) as he considers taking the case of accused Maryk (Van Johnson) and Keith (Robert Francis), in The Caine Mutiny, 1957, from Herman Wouk's novel.
Caine Mutiny, The (1954) - I Kid You Not Captain Queeg (Humphrey Bogart) introduces himself and his ball-bearings to officers Maryk (Van Johnson), Keefer (Fred MacMurray), eager Ensign Keith (Robert Francis) et al, early in Edward Dmytryk's The Caine Mutiny, 1954.

Hosted Intro

Film Details

Also Known As
Authority and Rebellion
Genre
Drama
War
Adaptation
Release Date
Sep 1954
Premiere Information
New York opening: 24 Jun 1954
Production Company
Columbia Pictures Corp.
Distribution Company
Columbia Pictures Corp.
Country
United States
Location
Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, United States; San Francisco, California, United States; Yosemite Valley, California, United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel The Caine Mutiny: A Novel of World War II by Herman Wouk (Garden City, NY, 1951).

Technical Specs

Duration
2h 5m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Sound System)
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.85 : 1
Film Length
13 reels

Award Nominations

Best Actor

1954
Humphrey Bogart

Best Editing

1954
Henry Batista

Best Picture

1954

Best Score

1954

Best Sound

1954

Best Supporting Actor

1954
Tom Tully

Best Writing, Screenplay

1955

Articles

The Essentials - The Caine Mutiny


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

The Essentials - The Caine Mutiny

The Essentials - The Caine Mutiny

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

Behind the Camera - The Caine Mutiny


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

Behind the Camera - The Caine Mutiny

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

Behind the Camera - Jan. 12


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

Behind the Camera - Jan. 12

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

The Caine Mutiny


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

The Caine Mutiny

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

TCM Remembers Van Johnson - Important Schedule Change on TCM In Honor To Salute VAN JOHNSON


Turner Classic Movies Pays Tribute to Van Johnson on Tuesday, December 23rd with the following festival of films. This program will replace the previously scheduled movies for that day so please take note.

The new schedule for the evening of Tuesday, December 23rd will be:
8:00 PM In the Good Old Summertime
9:45 PM A Guy Named Joe
12:30 AM Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo
2:30 AM The Last Time I Saw Paris
4:30 AM Thrill of a Romance


Van Johnson (1916-2008)

Van Johnson, the boyish leading man whose clean cut, All-American appeal made him a top box-office draw for MGM during World War II, died on December 12 in Nyack, New York of natural causes. He was 92.

He was born Charles Van Dell Johnson on August 25, 1916, in Newport, Rhode Island. By his own account, his early childhood wasn't a stable one. His mother abandoned him when he was just three and his Swedish-born father offered little consolation or nurturing while he was growing up. Not surprisingly, Johnson found solace in singing and dancing lessons, and throughout his adolescence, he longed for a life in show business. After graduating high school in 1934, he relocated to New York City and was soon performing as a chorus boy on Broadway in shows such as New Faces of 1936 and eventually as an understudy in Rodgers and Hart's musical, Too Many Girls in 1939.

Johnson eventually made his way to Hollywood and landed an unbilled debut in the film version of Too Many Girls (1940). By 1941, he signed a brief contract with Warner Bros., but it only earned him a lead in a "B" programmer Murder in the Big House (1941); his contract soon expired and he was dropped by the studio. Johnson was on his way back to New York, but as luck would have it - in the truest Hollywood sense - friends Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz introduced him to Billy Grady, a lead talent scout at MGM, which was currently Ball's new studio. Johnson was signed up and almost immediately MGM had a star on its hands.

It might have been slow going at first, with Johnson playing able support in films such as Dr. Gillespie's New Assistant and The War Against Mrs. Hadley (both 1942). By 1943 the studio capitalized on his broad smile and freckles and starred him in two of the studio's biggest hits: A Guy Named Joe and The Human Comedy. Those two films transformed him into a boxoffice draw with a huge following, particularly among teenage girls. A near fatal car accident that same year only accentuated the loyalty of his fans, and his 4-F status as the result of that accident created an opportunity for him when so many other leading actors of the era (James Stewart, Clark Gable) were off to war. Johnson was quickly promoted as MGM'sleading man in war heroics and sweet romancers on the big screen: The White Cliffs of Dover, Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo (both 1944), Thrill of a Romance, the episodic Week-End at the Waldorf (both 1945), and a musical remake of Libeled Lady entitled Easy to Wed (1946).

Hits though these were, it wasn't until after the war that Johnson began to receive more dramatic parts and better material such as supporting Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy in the political farce State of the Union (1948). other significant roles included the well-modulated noir thriller The Scene of the Crime, the grim war spectacle Battleground (both 1949), the moving domestic drama Invitation (1952) in which he played a man who is paid to marry a woman (Dorothy McGuire) by her father. Before he left MGM, he closed his career out in fine form with the sweeping musical Brigadoon, co-starring Gene Kelly and Cyd Charisse; and the lilting soaper The Last Time I Saw Paris (both 1954) with Elizabeth Taylor.

After he left MGM, the parts that came Johnson's way weren't as varied, but he had his moments in The Caine Mutiny (1954), the beguiling romance drama Miracle in the Rain (1956) with Jane Wyman; and his lead performance in one of the first successful made for-TV-movies The Pied Piper of Hamelin (1957). By the '60s, Johnson returned to the stage, and played the title role in London's West End production of The Music Man. He then returned to Broadway in the drama Come on Strong. He still had a few good supporting parts, most notably as Debbie Reynolds' suitor in Norman Lear's scathing satire on marital differences Divorce American Style (1967); and television welcomed his presence on many popular shows in the '70s and '80s such as Maude, Fantasy Island, The Love Boat and of course Murder She Wrote. There was one last graceful cameo in Woody Allen's The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985), yet for the most remainder of his career, Johnson worked mainly on the dinner theater circuit before retiring from showbiz completely by the mid-90s. He is survived by a daughter, Schuyler.

by Michael T. Toole

TCM Remembers Van Johnson - Important Schedule Change on TCM In Honor To Salute VAN JOHNSON

Turner Classic Movies Pays Tribute to Van Johnson on Tuesday, December 23rd with the following festival of films. This program will replace the previously scheduled movies for that day so please take note. The new schedule for the evening of Tuesday, December 23rd will be: 8:00 PM In the Good Old Summertime 9:45 PM A Guy Named Joe 12:30 AM Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo 2:30 AM The Last Time I Saw Paris 4:30 AM Thrill of a Romance Van Johnson (1916-2008) Van Johnson, the boyish leading man whose clean cut, All-American appeal made him a top box-office draw for MGM during World War II, died on December 12 in Nyack, New York of natural causes. He was 92. He was born Charles Van Dell Johnson on August 25, 1916, in Newport, Rhode Island. By his own account, his early childhood wasn't a stable one. His mother abandoned him when he was just three and his Swedish-born father offered little consolation or nurturing while he was growing up. Not surprisingly, Johnson found solace in singing and dancing lessons, and throughout his adolescence, he longed for a life in show business. After graduating high school in 1934, he relocated to New York City and was soon performing as a chorus boy on Broadway in shows such as New Faces of 1936 and eventually as an understudy in Rodgers and Hart's musical, Too Many Girls in 1939. Johnson eventually made his way to Hollywood and landed an unbilled debut in the film version of Too Many Girls (1940). By 1941, he signed a brief contract with Warner Bros., but it only earned him a lead in a "B" programmer Murder in the Big House (1941); his contract soon expired and he was dropped by the studio. Johnson was on his way back to New York, but as luck would have it - in the truest Hollywood sense - friends Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz introduced him to Billy Grady, a lead talent scout at MGM, which was currently Ball's new studio. Johnson was signed up and almost immediately MGM had a star on its hands. It might have been slow going at first, with Johnson playing able support in films such as Dr. Gillespie's New Assistant and The War Against Mrs. Hadley (both 1942). By 1943 the studio capitalized on his broad smile and freckles and starred him in two of the studio's biggest hits: A Guy Named Joe and The Human Comedy. Those two films transformed him into a boxoffice draw with a huge following, particularly among teenage girls. A near fatal car accident that same year only accentuated the loyalty of his fans, and his 4-F status as the result of that accident created an opportunity for him when so many other leading actors of the era (James Stewart, Clark Gable) were off to war. Johnson was quickly promoted as MGM'sleading man in war heroics and sweet romancers on the big screen: The White Cliffs of Dover, Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo (both 1944), Thrill of a Romance, the episodic Week-End at the Waldorf (both 1945), and a musical remake of Libeled Lady entitled Easy to Wed (1946). Hits though these were, it wasn't until after the war that Johnson began to receive more dramatic parts and better material such as supporting Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy in the political farce State of the Union (1948). other significant roles included the well-modulated noir thriller The Scene of the Crime, the grim war spectacle Battleground (both 1949), the moving domestic drama Invitation (1952) in which he played a man who is paid to marry a woman (Dorothy McGuire) by her father. Before he left MGM, he closed his career out in fine form with the sweeping musical Brigadoon, co-starring Gene Kelly and Cyd Charisse; and the lilting soaper The Last Time I Saw Paris (both 1954) with Elizabeth Taylor. After he left MGM, the parts that came Johnson's way weren't as varied, but he had his moments in The Caine Mutiny (1954), the beguiling romance drama Miracle in the Rain (1956) with Jane Wyman; and his lead performance in one of the first successful made for-TV-movies The Pied Piper of Hamelin (1957). By the '60s, Johnson returned to the stage, and played the title role in London's West End production of The Music Man. He then returned to Broadway in the drama Come on Strong. He still had a few good supporting parts, most notably as Debbie Reynolds' suitor in Norman Lear's scathing satire on marital differences Divorce American Style (1967); and television welcomed his presence on many popular shows in the '70s and '80s such as Maude, Fantasy Island, The Love Boat and of course Murder She Wrote. There was one last graceful cameo in Woody Allen's The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985), yet for the most remainder of his career, Johnson worked mainly on the dinner theater circuit before retiring from showbiz completely by the mid-90s. He is survived by a daughter, Schuyler. by Michael T. Toole

Quotes

Situation quiet; the Captain's been put away for the night.
- Lt. Keith
I don't want to upset you too much, but at the moment you have an excellent chance of being hanged.
- Barney Greenwald
Well, he's certainly Navy.
- Lt. Keith
Yeah... so was Captain Bligh.
- Lt. Keefer
Will you look at the man? He's a Freudian delight; he crawls with clues!
- Lieutenant Tom Keefer
I'm going to be frank with you two. I've read the preliminary investigation very carefully and I think that what you've done stinks.
- Barney Greenwald

Trivia

When Humphrey Bogart broke bread into small pieces to symbolize the deteriorating state of Queeg's mental condition, a military advisor on the set told him that no naval officer would eat bread that way.

Richard Widmark was chosen for the lead role, but producer Stanley Kramer wanted Humphrey Bogart.

Preparations for filming took 15 months.

Actress Donna Lee Hickey adopted the name of her character in this movie, May Wynn, as her stage name, and made eight more films under that name. In the novel, May Wynn is itself a stage name.

The length of time it took to make the film, which was unheard of at the time, was due in part to the unwillingness of the US Navy to endorse the film. Without the Navy's endorsement, it would have been impossible for the filmmakers to use naval equipment and personnel. The Navy was concerned that the film's subject dealt with a mutiny, and that audience would feel that it was a true story. But the filmmakers reached a compromise upon agreeing to include the comment in the opening titles that there has never been a mutiny on a US Navy vessel.

The abortive visit to Admiral Halsey was filmed on the USS Kearsarge (CV 33).

Notes

The working title for this film was Authority and Rebellion. The following written prologue appears in the onscreen credits: "We acknowledge the courtesy of the United States Department of Interior, National Park Service for scenes photographed in Yosemite National Park." An additional prologue adds: "There has never been a mutiny in a ship of the United States Navy. The truths of this film lies not in its incidents, but in the way a few men meet the crisis of their lives." The following epilogue appears before the closing credits: "The dedication of this film is simple: To the United States Navy."
       As noted in the onscreen credits, Herman Wouk's best-selling novel, The Caine Mutiny, was awarded the 1952 Putlizer Prize for fiction. According to August 1951 Daily Variety and Hollywood Reporter news items, producer Stanley Kramer purchased the rights to the novel for between $60,000 to $70,000, after other studios turned it down because of the refusal of the United States Navy to cooperate in the film's production. According to several contemporary reports, at least two other studios submitted treatments to the Navy, all of which were rejected.
       Kramer's purchase rested on the stipulation that the screen treatment would be subject to approval by the Navy. According to a November 1951 New York Times article, Kramer assigned Wouk to collaborate on a treatment with Stanley Roberts. As noted in an October 1951 Los Angeles Daily News article, Wouk denied that the Navy had insisted upon changing "Capt. Queeg" from an Annapolis graduate to a reservist or that the Navy had rejected his initial treatment. An October 1951 Variety item indicated that the Navy objected to the word "mutiny" remaining in the film's title, but by August 1952 Variety noted that the Navy had approved retaining the novel's title.
       An October 1952 New York Times item revealed that there were two scripts prepared for Kramer, one that included "Willie" and "May's" romance and another, shorter version that only included action on the Caine and the court-martial. In December 1952 the Navy gave official approval of the film's script and assigned a technical advisor to assist in production. Director Edward Dmytryk noted in his autobiography that Wouk's initial contribution to the script was "a disaster" and that Stanley Roberts then took over the rewrite; Wouk is only credited onscreen as the author of the novel on which the film is based. Dmytryk also stated that he was unaware of studio head Harry Cohn's strict insistence that Columbia films run no longer than 2 hours and indicated that Roberts quit over the stipulated cuts required to bring the screenplay down to fit the time requirement. The final screenplay was trimmed by nearly fifty pages by writer Michael Blankfort, who is credited onscreen with "additional dialogue."
       Portions of the film were shot on location in San Francisco and Yosemite, CA and Pearl Harbor, HI. According to Dmytryk's autobiography, the Navy provided an old "four stack" ship and two sister destroyers for the production. News items noted that Columbia held the release of The Caine Mutiny to mid-1954 in order to spread out distribution of their bigger productions. The film was released to general acclaim, with Hollywood Reporter calling it "one of the most exciting maritime adventures ever placed on film." Daily Variety noted the film's "near-perfect casting."
       Humphrey Bogart's performance as the anxious, steel-ball rolling Capt. Queeg, obsessed with missing strawberries, is frequently cited by modern critics as a highlight of the actor's career. In conjunction with the film's release, Bogart was pictured as Queeg on the cover of a June 1954 issue of Time magazine, which included an article on the actor's lengthy career. Bogart received an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor for The Caine Mutiny, and Tom Tully received a nomination for Best Supporting Actor. The film also received the following nominations: Best Picture; Best Film Editing; Best Music (Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture); Best Sound Recording; and Best Writing (Screenplay). The film marked the debut of actor Robert Francis (1930-1955). Francis died in a plane crash shortly after completing his last film, The Long Gray Line (see below). Although the onscreen credits indicate that the film marked the debut of actress May Wynn, Wynn previously appeared in several bit parts, beginning with the 1952 film Dreamboat, under her real name, Donna Lee Hickey. The actress took her new stage name from the character she played in The Caine Mutiny,
       Prior to production of the film, Wouk reworked his novel into a two-act play entitled The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial, which debuted on Broadway in January 1954. The play starred Henry Fonda as "Barney Greenwald," John Hodiak as "Steve Maryk," Lloyd Nolan as "Capt. Queeg," Charles Nolte as "Willis Keith" and Robert Gist as "Tom Keefer," and was directed by Charles Laughton. Wouk wrote the teleplay for a television remake, which starred Jeff Daniels and Brad Davis, and was directed by Robert Altman and broadcast on May 8, 1988 by CBS.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States Summer June 1954

Formerly distributed by RCA/Columbia Picture Home Video.

Released in USA on video.

Released in USA on laserdisc June 15, 1994.

Released in United States Summer June 1954