aboard a British warship during the Revolutionary and Napoleonic
Wars was not a pleasant experience for the crew, with rotten food,
foul water and the slightest level of insubordination earning
some nasty punishments.
could get your back shredded by strokes of the cat o'nine tails,
be made to walk a line of your shipmates as they belted you with
ropes, get dragged under the keel of the ship and get ripped by
barnacles - or just hung from the yardarm.
board a ship the captain was the giver of life and death and his
senior officers could make life very unpleasant if they had a
captains were big on stern discipline, others - like Admiral Horatio
Nelson - took a more enlightened approach to their men's welfare.
In Damn the Defiant!, Alec Guinness plays Captain Crawford,
a humane and fine officer who respects his crew and knows that
harsh discipline will affect the good performance of his vessel
for him and the crew they take aboard a brilliant, but brutal,
first officer Lieutenant Scott-Padget (Dirk Bogarde) who is determined
to break the will of the men.
of the senior men on board the Defiant know that a mutiny is brewing
in the Royal Navy and their ship is only one of the entire British
fleet that is ready to explode.
away on a mission into the Mediterranean the Defiant is almost
ripped apart by the conflict between the well-connected Scott-Padget
and the captain.
into the story some excellent action scenes involving exciting
sea battles and you have an excellent evening's entertainment.
is smoothly confident as Crawford, but even he is tested by the
energy and viciousness of Bogarde's Scott-Padget. Considering
it is very much out of the usual character played by Bogarde he
is exceptionally believable and quite the action anti-hero.
Quayle plays the leader of the mutineers and there are some nice
smaller roles taken by excellent British actors, including Tom
Bell as the headstrong and violent Evans.
is an older movie and the video transfer is a bit up and down.
Generally sharp, it does have rich colour, although there doesn't
seem to have been a lot of cleaning up of the original negative
done as there are a large number of specks and dots appearing.
are also a number of historical inaccuracies including naming
Napoleon Bonaparte, who had yet to take power when this was set,
and a British ship being ordered to fire at the rigging of a French
frigate when the key aim of Royal Navy captains was to blow the
bellies out of their foes' vessels.
those little bits of pickiness aside, Damn the Defiant!
is an excellent naval drama and will certainly be a welcome addition
to my home library.
Movie 80%, Extras 45%