The Caine Mutiny (1954)

123 or 127 mins | Drama | September 1954

Director:

Edward Dmytryk

Writer:

Stanley Roberts

Producer:

Stanley Kramer

Cinematographer:

Frank F. Planer

Production Designer:

Rudolph Sternad

Production Company:

Columbia Pictures Corp.
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HISTORY

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 Aug 1951 DV and HR 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 Nov 1951 NYT article, Kramer assigned Wouk to collaborate on a treatment with Stanley Roberts. As noted in an Oct 1951 LADN 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. ... More Less

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 Aug 1951 DV and HR 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 Nov 1951 NYT article, Kramer assigned Wouk to collaborate on a treatment with Stanley Roberts. As noted in an Oct 1951 LADN 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 Oct 1951 Var item indicated that the Navy objected to the word "mutiny" remaining in the film's title, but by Aug 1952 Var noted that the Navy had approved retaining the novel's title.
       An Oct 1952 NYT 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 Dec 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 HR calling it "one of the most exciting maritime adventures ever placed on film." DV 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 Jun 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 Jan 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 8 May 1988 by CBS. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
American Cinematographer
1 Jul 53
p. 306.
Box Office
12 Jun 54
p. 26.
Box Office
19 Jun 1954.
---
Daily Variety
26 Mar 1952.
---
Daily Variety
14 Apr 1952.
---
Daily Variety
28 Aug 1952.
---
Daily Variety
21 Nov 1952.
---
Daily Variety
2 Dec 1952.
---
Daily Variety
9 Jun 54
p. 3.
Film Daily
9 Jun 54
p. 6.
Hollywood Citizen-News
19 Dec 1952.
---
Hollywood Reporter
16 Aug 51
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Aug 51
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
6 Mar 52
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
6 May 52
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
4 Nov 52
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
19 Dec 52
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
5 Jun 53
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
21 Aug 53
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
9 Nov 53
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
31 Dec 53
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
21 Jan 54
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
9 Jun 54
p. 3.
Los Angeles Daily News
18 Oct 1951.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
12 Jun 54
p. 25.
New York Times
19 Oct 1952.
---
New York Times
25 Jun 54
p. 17.
Time
7 Apr 1952.
---
Time
7 Jun 1954.
---
Variety
10 Oct 1951.
---
Variety
18 Oct 1951.
---
Variety
25 Nov 1951.
---
Variety
28 Nov 1951.
---
Variety
27 Aug 1952.
---
Variety
9 Jun 54
p. 6.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Stanley Kramer Production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
PRODUCER
WRITERS
Addl dial
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
2d unit cam
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Film ed
SET DECORATOR
COSTUMES
Gowns
MUSIC
Mus dir
SOUND
Sd eng
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
MAKEUP
Makeup
Hair styles
PRODUCTION MISC
COLOR PERSONNEL
Technicolor col consultant
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel The Caine Mutiny: A Novel of World War II by Herman Wouk (Garden City, NY, 1951).
AUTHOR
SONGS
"I Can't Believe You're in Love with Me," words and music by Jimmy McHugh and Clarence Gaskill
"Yellowstain Blues," words and music by Fred Karger and Herman Wouk.
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Authority and Rebellion
Release Date:
September 1954
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 24 June 1954
Production Date:
3 June--24 August 1953
Copyright Claimant:
S G.S. Corp.
Copyright Date:
4 July 1954
Copyright Number:
LP3925
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Recording
Color
Technicolor
Widescreen/ratio
1.85:1
Duration(in mins):
123 or 127
Length(in reels):
13
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
16627
Passed by NBR:
No
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 ... +


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. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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