The only reason this movie is worth watching anymore is to watch the ship’s captain (played by Humphrey Bogart) be destroyed by his own rampant paranoia and blaming it on his subordinates. Other than that, “The Caine Mutiny” is a by-the-numbers Navy drama.
Cadet Keith (Robert Francis) is disappointed when he is assigned to the Caine, a beat-up piece of junk that is only held together by rust and the spunk of its crew, who all love their captain William H. DeVriess (Tom Tully). But when Captain DeVriess is reassigned, the crew is devastated to find that their new captain, Phillip Queeg (Bogart), is a by-the-books and strict dictator over everything on the ship, even getting upset at everyone around him if one sailor’s shirt isn’t tucked into his pants.
But he only gets worse from there.
At first, Queeg’s decisions seem minor, like a tow-line being snapped by the rutters while he was yelling at his fellow officers. Eventually, this leads to Queeg interrupting a movie the crew was enjoying, and turning the ship inside out looking for a key to the refrigerator, after a pound of strawberries went missing.
Queeg does not seem to care whether his men live or die, so long as he runs a tight ship and makes a good example to the Navy. But he also feels that his own men are undermining him, trying to make him look bad as they laugh about him behind his back, even giving him the nickname “Old Yellow Stain.”
All this comes to a boil when the Caine gets caught in a storm and Queeg ramps up his paranoia even further. Bogart’s eye dart from side to side, as if he’s looking for people snickering at him, and seems more invested in his pride than the safety of his crew.
Outside of the scenes with Captain Queeg though, there is not much to “The Caine Mutiny.” There is a standard romance involving Cadet Keith and his girlfriend, and the usual bonds between shipmates during war. These scenes aren’t necessarily bad, but I couldn’t tell you anything about them that you haven’t already seen in dozens of other WW2 films.
Overall, watch “The Caine Mutiny” for Bogart’s performance and how the crew reacts the captain’s paranoia.
Final Grade: B-