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!
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...