On the H.M.S. Defiant, during the French Revolutionary Wars, fair Captain Crawford is locked in a battle of wills against his cruel second-in-command Lt. Scott-Paget whose heavy-handed command style pushes the crew to mutiny.
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Defiant's crew is part of a fleet-wide movement to present a petition of grievances to the Admiralty. Violence must be no part of it. The continual sadism of Defiant's first officer makes this difficult, and when the captain is disabled, the chance for violence increases. Written by
Vizard says "We do a full try out tomorrow, at eight bells", but he doesn't say which eight bells (00:00, 04:00, 08:00, 12:00, 16:00, 20:00 or 24:00). See more »
[Scott-Padget turns back to the Captain as he begins to exit]
You may have the power of life and death over every man about this ship, sir, but I warn you: if we come through this voyage safely...
[Crawford looks up from his work]
To have followed Admiralty instructions may not be quite be enough.
[Crawford smacks his desk, jumps up and approaches Scott-Padget]
I will say this to you only once, sir: I will not be bullied or threatened and I intend to be obeyed! Your friends in London mean...
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Opening credits prologue: SPITHEAD, ENGLAND 1797 See more »
Few films have tried to capture the era of Horatio Hornblower, and even fewer do it as well as this one. It's an extremely well-made movie, though a bit difficult to classify. Traditionally, in a sea adventure, the dashing, sexy leader is the hero; in this case, he's the villain (brilliantly played by Dirk Bogarde, who normally plays more sensitive chaps). The good guy turns out to be a very UNdashing and flawed, but compassionate Captain.
I think Alec Guinness is the only actor who can portray a character who is colorless yet also make him sympathetic. Perhaps the World War II era (with its emphasis on teamwork, its glorification of the average G.I., and its near-worship of able, but dull, leaders like Omar Bradley) may have influenced it, because the movie strongly emphasizes the worth of the common man, especially as personified by Anthony Quayle's character.
It's an offbeat movie: part sea adventure, part character drama, part historical epic. Critics might say it's not satisfactory in any of these areas, but those of us who love it recognize how special and even unique it is. Now that Columbia has finally released on DVD a letter-boxed version one can fully appreciate its worth, not only for the sea battle scenes, but also the many two-shots of Guinness and Bogarde interacting (or, more often, snarling) at each other.
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