Thursday, February 16, 2012

30 Days of Oscar Day 23: The Caine Mutiny

Movie: The Caine Mutiny
Year: 1955

Nominations: Best Picture, Best Actor - Humphrey Bogart, Best Supporting Actor - Tom Tully, Best Screenplay, Editing, Score, Sound
Wins/Snubs: On the Waterfront took Best Picture, and Actor for Marlon Brando.  Their 3 nominations for Supporting Actor seemed to split the vote and it went to Edmund O'Brien from The Barefoot Contessa.  This was a year of strange breakdown in awards for writing - there's an award for 
"Story", "Screenplay" (which became Adapted Screenplay), and "Screenplay and Story" (which became "Original Screenplay").  On the Waterfront did win for "Screenplay and Story", The Country Girl (with Grace Kelly and Bing Crosby) won for "Screenplay".  Best Story was eliminated as a category in 1957.  Also separated out at this point is sound recording for "non-musicals", which The Caine Mutiny also didn't win in favor of The Glenn Miller Story.  

This is the first disappointing movie of Oscar 2012.  I was curious to see one of the also-rans from the year of On the Waterfront - and it stars Humphrey Bogart, whom I adore from The African Queen. However, I didn't care for it, and I'm surprised it got nominated for anything.  We follow Ensign Keith (Robert Francis) through his graduation from officers school into his commission on the USS Caine, a Naval mine-sweeper during WWII.  He's in love with a club singer his mother hasn't met.  He hates the Caine - the Captain (Tom Tully) and other officers (including Fred MacMurray) have resigned themselves to their awful assignment aboard a nearly defunct ship and barely follow the rules.  The Captain is soon replaced by a battle hardened no-nonsense Captain Queeg (Bogart).  Of course, enforcing rules makes him seem like a hard-ass.  And eventually his obsession with the rules starts to lead to mistakes and obsessions - they accident cut a towing line and Queeg becomes obsessed with who ate the last of the strawberries.  This wouldn't matter except they end up in a typhoon and Queeg's obsession with following the rules nearly kills them all.  The executive officer Maryk (Van Johnson) relieves him of duty.  Of course, that means Maryk is sent to a court martial.  His lawyer (Jose Ferrar - George Clooney's uncle) argues very convincingly that because Queeg has an unimpeachable reputation, there must have been another reason he nearly killed them all.  This convinces people he must have been crazy and deserved to be relieved of duty.  

The defense is really the only interesting dialogue and acting in the movie.  They ask Fred MacMurray to give evidence and he lies so he doesn't get accused of mutiny too.  And their strategy of proving he had to be crazy instead of incompetent because it's better to accuse a Naval commander of insanity than dereliction of duty was really impressively done.  However, watching Queeg go nuts was slow and boring.  The main youngster, Keith (Robert Francis) was so unlikeable and unconvincing that it's really hard to get drawn into the movie as a whole.  Can't say I liked this, even with Bogart.  


Dave Enkosky said...

I don't know. I remember enjoying this. Of course, I'm a sucker for damn near anything Bogart related. I thought he was convincing as the crazy Captain

Jess said...

It was a decent flick - very war related in context I think. But the supporting cast seemed a little too uneven to support Bogart and Jose Ferrar very well. It's one I think I'll have to see again someday.