"The Current Cinema: Queeg Redivivus," by John McCarten

(The New Yorker, July 3, 1954)
As pictures of the United States Navy go, "The Caine Mutiny" isn't bad.... [T]he types we meet on the U.S.S. Caine are a rather shallow lot, but for all their superficiality, they are amusing, and some of Mr. Wouk's inventions about the made captain of the vessel result in comic situations of a pretty high order.... I will say that the main problem in Mr. Wouk's novel concerns a lieutenant commander in the Regular Navy who gives every evidence...of being crazy. Presumably, he started stripping his mental gears in childhood and finished off the process in the North Atlantic before we encounter him in the Pacific. According to one of the rules of the Navy, a master who is off his rocker may be relieved of his post by one of his juniors in a member of extreme peril, and Mr. Wouk attempts to show just why an executive office serving under such a psychopath might be moved to supercede him. Obviously, a business of this sort is far from frivolous, but the movie is least persuasive when it tries to be solemn. Indeed, toward the end, when the screen writer is striving most sedulously to interpret Mr. Wouk's odd notion that it was somehow ironic to have joined the Navy in the nineteen thirties, as the befuddled captain did, while civilians were out making fortunes on the W.P.A., the thing becomes an incomprehensible shambles. But I don't think we ought to be overly troubled by this dubious climax, because there is sufficient hilarity and derring-do in the picture to offset the philosophical handicaps.


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