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Damn the Defiant! (1962)

H.M.S. Defiant (original title)
Approved | | Adventure, Drama, History | 15 April 1962 (UK)
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.



(screenplay), (screenplay) | 1 more credit »

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Captain Crawford
Lieut. Scott-Padget
Maurice Denham ...
Mr. Goss (Ship's Surgeon)
Senior Midshipman Kilpatrick
Richard Carpenter ...
Lieut. Ponsonby
Peter Gill ...
Lieut. D'Arblay
David Robinson ...
Harvey Crawford
Robin Stewart ...
Ray Brooks ...
Peter Greenspan ...
Victor Maddern ...
Bryan Pringle ...
Sgt. Kneebone


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 Cleo <frede005@maroon.tc.umn.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The cry was MUTINY... and the decks ran red!... See more »


Approved | See all certifications »





Release Date:

15 April 1962 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

Damn the Defiant!  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)


(Eastman Color)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Harvey Crawford was born in 1785. See more »


As the second sailor is buried at sea you can see a rope tied to the body leading back along the ship. Obviously so they can haul the dummy back on board after the scene ends. See more »


Lieut. Scott-Padget: Ship's company ready to witness punishment, sir.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Opening credits prologue: SPITHEAD, ENGLAND 1797 See more »


Referenced in Carry on Forever: Episode #1.1 (2015) See more »

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User Reviews

Wonderful acting in this seagoing tale
31 December 2010 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

"Damn the Defiant." a 1962 film directed by Lewis Gilbert, is based on an actual incident, known as the Spithead Mutiny which took place during the 1797 war with France.

The ship is led by Captain Crawford (Alec Guinness), a fair man who is afraid to rattle the cage of his next in command, the sadistic Lieutenant Scott-Padget (Dirk Bogarde), who is well-connected and has ruined the careers of previous captains. The ambitious Scott-Padget, however, is determined to take over the ship and wants things his way. To this end, he brutalizes Crawford's young son, who is on board as a midshipman, knowing that the principled Crawford will not interfere.

However, there are mutineers on board, led by Vizard (Anthony Quayle) who have written a petition for better food and more money. They hate Scott-Padget, and if they take control, he's in big trouble.

This is a very good film with suspense as well as excitement, dominated by the acting of Guinness and Bogarde. Guinness is brilliant - you can see him making an effort to control his anger, and one also sees his great pain. When he at last asserts himself, he is very noble. Director Gilbert had to fight for Bogarde, so devalued was he by Hollywood, but Guinness spoke up for the actor as well, and he was cast. He does a great job - handsome, outwardly polite, and mean as dirt. Anthony Quayle is excellent as Vizard, who, in leading his men, demands patience.

Absorbing and entertaining, even if movies on the high seas aren't your thing.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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