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THE CAINE MUTINY

As far as I am concerned there are still far too few classic films available on DVD, which is why whenever such a film manages to trickle out of one of the major studios it should be considered an event. Even worse is the fact that screen legend Humphrey Bogart is totally underrepresented on DVD. Therefore, the DVD release of THE CAINE MUTINY ($28) is what I consider a major event. Humphrey Bogart is best remembered for the "tough-guy" roles he played in countless movies, however Bogart was a true actor who did his best work in the films where he wasn't type cast. THE CAINE MUTINY is one of Bogart's most memorable films because of his truly standout performance as a less than perfect Naval Officer who snaps under the pressures of command during W.W.II.

THE CAINE MUTINY is based upon Herman Wouk’s Pulitzer Prized-winning novel, which tells the tale of the officers on board the USS Caine; a broken down minesweeper assigned to combat duty during the Second World War. Humphrey Bogart portrays Lieutenant Commander Philip Francis Queeg, the newly assigned commanding officer of The Caine. Queeg is a by-the-book navy man who meets some initial resistance when he tries to whip the sorry ship (and its even sorrier crew) into shape. However, the longer Queeg remains in command, it becomes obvious to his subordinates that Queeg’s harsh, regimented character only masks the man’s more serious idiosyncrasies. Queeg’s erratic behavior during a number of minor incidents aboard The Caine forces the senior officers to question the stability of their captain. However, it is Queeg’s indecision during a typhoon that forces the officers of The Caine to relieve the captain of his command.

While the story of THE CAINE MUTINY is fascinating, it is the superb performances of Hollywood legends that make this film truly memorable. Bogart is simply unforgettable as Queeg; his performance brings to life the insecure man unprepared for the command of a naval vessel. Unlike his lightweight roles at MGM, Van Johnson proves himself up to the strong dramatic material. Johnson delivers one of the most assured performances of his career as Lieutenant Steve Maryk, the executive officer of The Caine. With both DOUBLE INDEMNITY and THE CAINE MUTINY, Fred MacMurray proved that he did his best work as an actor when he too was cast against type. MacMurray is brilliant as Lieutenant Tom Keefer, a manipulating rat whose understated approach undermines Queeg and sets in motion that chain of events that lead to the film’s climatic court-martial trial. José Ferrer shows up late in the proceedings, but his larger-than-life performance as defense attorney Lieutenant Barney Greenwald invigorates the film’s final act.

THE CAINE MUTINY arrives on DVD in both full screen and 16:9 enhanced wide screen presentations. This is the first video incarnation of THE CAINE MUTINY to be offered in wide screen and comes as something of surprise. THE CAINE MUTINY was made just as Hollywood was moving from the standard 1.33:1 aspect ratio to wide screen and the film looks as though it could be shown either way. Personally, I prefer the wide screen version of THE CAINE MUTINY because the film seems more cinematic in this presentation.

Columbia TriStar’s transfer is quite good, offering a sharp and highly detailed image. In fact, close-ups of the actor’s faces display every line and wrinkle, with the scars on Van Johnson’s forehead are especially well pronounced. Film grain is somewhat noticeable througout the film, but is never too bothersome. THE CAINE MUTINY is a classic film from Hollywood’s Technicolor heyday and the DVD reproduces the vivid hues without a problem. There were times where flesh tones appeared a tad too orange, but usually they were on the money. There were a few blue flashes on the film element, which is a problem inherent with older IB Technicolor film elements. Still, nothing comes close to warm glowing colors of this long lost film process from the golden age of movie making. Compression artifacts were virtually undetectable thanks to solid DVD authoring.

The Dolby Digital monaural soundtrack suffers slightly from the limitations of 1950s audio recording technology. The music is slightly harsh sounding, however dialogue is always clean and intelligible. A theatrical trailer is the only supplement supplied on the DVD and it is accessible through the standard issue interactive menu system.

 
THE CAINE MUTINY 


The Caine Mutiny (1954)

ENHANCED FOR 16:9 TELEVISIONS 


DVD reviews are Copyright © 1999 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.


 

 

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