Damn the Defiant! (1962)

October 11, 2009



As you can probably tell by how few and far between my Dirk Bogarde film reviews have become, I have resorted to rationing. I thought I only had a few more films left to view, so I wanted to make sure that I didn't watch them all in one spurt. Luckily, I found someone that had more than 15 Dirk Bogarde films I thought were unavailable, and I'm expecting them in the mail this week! Now I can binge instead of ration ;)

While I'm eagerly awaiting the arrival of my Dirk Bogarde (hereto after referred to on this blog as DB) stash, I watched Damn the Defiant!, which was described on Netflix as a British version of Mutiny on the Bounty. It really wasn't.

I actually thought it was better than Mutiny on the Bounty. (I'm referring to the Clark Gable version, I've never seen --nor do I care to see-- the Marlon Brando version.) Alec Guinness stars as the soft spoken, gentle Captain Crawford. DB is the blustery, brazen and hard-nosed Lieutenant Scott-Padget. (A name that was really fun to hear them repeat over and over. Just say it aloud, isn't it a fun name? Scott-Padget!) While the Captain thinks that his crew works better if they aren't pushed too hard, the Lieutenant prefers to brow beat the poor men, and punish them for even the slightest wrongdoing. And Lt. Scott-Padget has a history of undermining the Captains of ships he has sailed on before-- a trait that reminded me very much of his character in The Servant. Perhaps it was this role that made the producers of The Servant realize how perfect DB would be for that part.

There are a few things that make this movie completely different from Mutiny on the Bounty. First of all, the Captain is a teddy bear! No Charles Laughton is he. The real problem child on this ship is DB, whose very presence makes the crew mutinous. Additionally, the crew remains committed to serving their country despite their mutinous intentions. And one more thing. This movie will literally make you sea sick. The camera constantly bobs up and down, from side to side as if you're standing on the boat with the actors. It makes for great technique but you might want to take a Dramamine before viewing!

(You can see how lopsided the camera is in this shot.)

This also contained some of the most graphic episodes of violence that I've seen in a film from this period. There were quite a few battles scenes that turned my stomach (I mean in addition to it already being upset from the rough seas.) Nothing like a modern slasher, mind you, but enough to be a little disturbing.

Damn the Defiant! is definitely one of my favorite DB movies. As ruthless and sadistic as his character was, I couldn't help but like him! Perhaps it has something to do with how devastatingly handsome he was in this movie... just maybe...

Seriously!!!




5 comments:

Mercurie said...

I've always loved movies set at sea, whether naval movies like Damn the Defiant, or pirate movies. Damn the Defiant is definitely one of the best. And I agree it is better than either version of Mutiny on the Bounty! You do have a point about the camera though, they did all too good a job of simulating the movement of a ship!

Nicole said...

I'm not much into films on the sea but I may give this a try. It should be very interesting to see, Dirk as the jerk and Alec as the nice guy. I could see it the other way around, so it definitely sparks my interest in seeing it. Excellent review and pictures!

Amanda Cooper said...

Okay, you've convinced me. I'm going to go add some DB movies to my Netflix queue RIGHT NOW!!

How do I get myself into these things?? I've already got over 400 movies in my queue already! The question: do I really need more?! The answer: oh, always. : )

Keith said...

That's awesome about the movies coming. Have fun with those. Great writeup on this film. I've always wanted to see it, but never had the chance. I liked the photos. I do love movies set at sea.

Jennythenipper said...

I saw this when it was on Netflix too. I really enjoyed it, once it got rolling with the battles. Some of the best sea battles ever. I am a sucker for anything from the Napoleonic wars, due to my Jane Austen obsession. To me the most interesting part is the focus on the kids on the ship, which is something to a 20th century mind that it's difficult to wrap your head around. It was hard to see DB as the baddy and nice to see Guiness playing a different sort of military commander than he does on Bridge on the River Kwaii or Tunes of Glory.