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Damn the Defiant! (1962)

Alec Guinness , Dirk Bogarde , Lewis Gilbert  |  NR |  DVD
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (74 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Alec Guinness, Dirk Bogarde, Maurice Denham, Nigel Stock, Richard Carpenter
  • Directors: Lewis Gilbert
  • Writers: Edmund H. North, Frank Tilsley, Nigel Kneale
  • Producers: Douglas Peirce, John Brabourne
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Anamorphic, Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: Spanish, French, Portuguese, Georgian, Chinese, Thai
  • Subtitles for the Hearing Impaired: English
  • Region: Region 1 encoding (US and Canada only)
    Some Region 1 DVDs may contain Regional Coding Enhancement (RCE). Some, but not all, of our international customers have had problems playing these enhanced discs on what are called "region-free" DVD players. For more information on RCE, click .
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: October 10, 2000
  • Run Time: 101 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (74 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00004W5SS
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #21,753 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Damn the Defiant!" on IMDb

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Alec Guinness must battle a mutinous crew and Napoleon's fleet in the rousing, historical adventureDAMN THE DEFIANT! As commander of the British warship H.M.S. Defiant, the humane Crawford (Guinness) strives to maintain order throughout the ship against the ceaseless brutality of sadistic first mate Scott-Padget (Dirk Bogarde). After Crawford is injured in a fiery battle with a French treasure ship, angry seaman Vizard (Anthony Quayle) leads the crew to mutiny when Scott-Padget takes over. Nowwith Vizard in command, Crawford persuades him to join the British fleet to help fight against France's planned invasion of England in hopes for a mutiny pardon. But when a vengeful sailor murders Scott-Padget, the Defiant crew must decide between saving their country or their own lives.

Set in 1797 at the beginning of the Napoleonic Wars, Damn the Defiant! (also known as H.M.S. Defiant) is an enthralling British naval drama made to capitalize on MGM's epic remake of Mutiny on the Bounty, also released in 1962. It's based on Frank Tilsey's novel Mutiny and stars Alex Guinness as a fair-minded captain locked in psychological conflict with his manipulative, coldly malicious first officer (Dirk Bogarde), and the parallels with the famous true story are clear. However, there were many naval mutinies during this period, and this large-scale saga, which includes some spectacularly staged widescreen naval battles, offers a realistic depiction of life in the British navy at the time--from the press gangs and floggings to the appalling food and living conditions.

Director Lewis Gilbert--who previously helmed Sink the Bismarck! (1960)--strikes a good balance between the personal drama and sweeping maritime adventure. Guinness successfully varies his firm-but-fair officer from The Bridge on the River Kwai, Bogarde is chillingly hateful, and Anthony Quayle gives strong support. --Gary S. Dalkin

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
146 of 148 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Even better in the DVD version! October 20, 2000
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
First I'll repeat what I wrote in my review of the VHS version of "Damn the Defiant!":
"There aren't a lot of movies about the Royal Navy during the Napoleonic Wars, despite the popularity of novels such as those written by Patrick O'Brian and C.S. Forester, but "Damn the Defiant" is an action film far above average. Not only does it boast fine acting by Alec Guiness and Dirk Bogard, it presents an unusually realistic look at life aboard a warship in the Age of Fighting Sail. If you like Jack Aubrey and Horatio Hornblower, then this is a movie you shouldn't miss.""
And I will now state that the DVD version is even better. It presents both the "widescreen" as well as the clipped "full screen" versions (the VHS has only the "full screen") and visually the "widescreen" is much more impressive, giving an even better impression of life aboard a sailing man of war. If you are at all interested in this era of history, this DVD is a real keeper!
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66 of 66 people found the following review helpful
Format:VHS Tape
The movie presents a side of Napoleanic British Royal Navy life I have seldom seen in film. Lashings are common enough in sailing films, but the use of corporal punishment, press gangs, and poor shipboard life and the like reveal a picture of life in the Royal Navy in the early 1800s less often shown.
As for the movie...while a a good and decent ship's captain (played by Alec Guinness) prepares for sea, we learn that his young son will ship out with him as a new midshipman. In the meantime navy pressgangs are out on the streets rounding up men to be pressed into service in the navy. Involved in rounding up men for the crew is a new first officer (Dirk Bogard).
The story centers around conflict between the good and fair captain and his devious and conniving first officer. Caught in the middle of them is the young, innocent midshipman son of the captain.
A supporting plot involves a plan by the sailors to seek for improved conditions...and there is, of course, the war.
One thing leads to another, and the captain is wounded in battle. While the captain is bedridden the now outwardly abusive first officer takes over and runs roughshod over the crew and the ship.
I enjoy this film for it's fine efforts toward historical accuracy. The character development is excellent, and you can feel the strain on the captain as he stands by and is helpless to remove his son out from under the thumb of the 1st officer.
An excellent yarn of life at sea. Guinness is, as always, outstanding. Top notch! Top marks! 5 stars.
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45 of 45 people found the following review helpful
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
This is a fine story of life aboard a British naval vessel during the Napoleonic wars. Alec Guiness stars as the enlightened and thoughtful captain, Dirk Bogarde is the cruel and hard first lieutenant (executive officer). The two are locked in a battle of wills and leadership concerning the means by which the ship will be commanded. The captain believes that a happy ship is an efficient ship, and seeks to lead by inspiration. The first lieutenant believes in merciless discipline, reinforced with his sadistic love of inflicting punishment. This conflict is complicated by the fact that the men of the British fleet are plotting the famous Spithead mutinies, and the first lieutenant has influential friends in London. This is a very interesting story of leadership and conflict.
The storyline moves along smartly most of the time, and the acting is quite good. The special effects are very good--no "bathtub ships" or battles. Guiness does his customary excellent job in his role as captain, although I personally thought he might have exerted more personal force than he did; his leadership style as portrayed in the film is somewhat understated. Bogarde is excellent as the villainous first lieutenant--you'll hate him by the end of the movie.
This is a fine movie worth watching more than once.
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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars In the tradition of Hornblower November 15, 2000
Damn the Defiant is built around a true incident, the "Spithead Mutiny" of the British Channel Fleet during the war with France in 1797. British sailors rose up in a mostly peaceful rebellion against the abominable conditions in which they were forced to serve. The movie, based on the novel "Mutiny" by Frank Tilsley, tells the story of the frigate Defiant, on a solitary mission deep into the French held Mediterrean Sea. The crew, already involved in the planning for the fleet-wide mutiny, suffer under the lash of the ship's sadistic First Lieutenant (Dirk Bogarde), while the Captain (Alec Guinness) is incapacitated, first by the torture of his son and then by the loss of his arm in a battle with a French frigate. But the good triumph in the end, as is right. It is a surprisingly complex story with well developed characters, but it delivers plenty of action as well. The battle scenes are well done, though the final action with a fire ship is too clearly model work. The DVD provides a fine viewing experience. The video is generally very good. The picture is soft occasionally and the rich colors become over-saturated in a few brief instances, but I did not find any of these flaws too distracting, and it is far better than my old VHS recording. The sound is very full and the dialogue was always clear and never overwhelmed. Obviously, a movie this old is not going to provide the same kind of audio as a contemporary film, but I found no serious fault with it. I highly recommend Damn the Defiant to any fan of naval adventure in the age of sail, as typified by Horatio Hornblower.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
It was great.
Published 13 hours ago by William Meriwether Black
4.0 out of 5 stars excellent drama about the life of early british seaman espically ...
excellent drama about the life of early british seaman espically kidnapping men on the streets of englands cities to become royal navy i enjoyed it
Published 28 days ago by mark fabrizio
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent movie
Excellent movie. Maybe Peter Weir
saw this one before doing Master and
Commander. I don't know. But this is
an excellent english movie with great
actors. Read more
Published 1 month ago by mariano rodriguez
5.0 out of 5 stars ... watched this movie the other night and we both loved it. If you...
My wife and I watched this movie the other night and we both loved it. If you enjoy a good yarn about the British Navy during the Napoleonic wars, this movie is for you! Read more
Published 2 months ago by Wayne E. Torbert
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Movie and Acting by Sir Alec Guiness and Dirk ...
Great Movie and Acting by Sir Alec Guiness and Dirk Bogarde, a great family entertainment and a Rare Gem of a Movie over all...
Published 2 months ago by Gerald Shattuck
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 2 months ago by Ray A
4.0 out of 5 stars ALEC IS GREAT
Published 3 months ago by Roy Speer
5.0 out of 5 stars Such a Great Movie
1962--even then the British made great films. This movie goes along the same lines as "Mutiny on the Bounty" so for any true film buff, no explanation needed. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Russell S
5.0 out of 5 stars A fine story, done in traditional style.
Alec Guinness fan here, and this is another one of his fine efforts; he's a steadfast icon of integrity and understanding. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Avid Reader
5.0 out of 5 stars Who can resist a sea-faring tale of the British Royal navy?
When I was a kid way back when, this film was broadcast on tv. Even then I found it enthralling. To quote Midshipman Harvey Crawford: "Think of it, Mother--sailing the... Read more
Published 5 months ago by simbabina
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