Suspenseful action highlights this film in which Marlon Brando and Yul Brynner team up to defuse a Nazi freighter, poised to explode upon capture.
Marlon Brando plays a world-weary, conscientious objector to all wars in the tense, thoughtful Morituri
, an adult drama about wartime ethics and the price of commitment to a cause. Brando plays Robert Crain, a German deserter who escaped the Nazis with his fortune intact, happy to be sitting out the battle in British-governed India. His comfort is challenged when an intelligence official (Trevor Howard) essentially blackmails him into going undercover, posing as an SS officer taking passage on a German ship carrying tons of rubber for munitions. Crain's mission is to deliver the ship into Allied hands, but once he's aboard, he becomes a target of derision by the proud, anti-Nazi captain (Yul Brynner) and suspicion by a handful of Resistance members planning to scuttle the voyage. The dramatic irony in this film by German actor-director Bernhard Wicki is that Crain, who claims to take no sides and believes in nothing worth killing for, becomes a catalyst for a great deal of sacrifice and the underscoring of others' convictions with bloodshed. Janet Margolin has a memorable role as a half-mad, Jewish doctor who puts her life on the line to help Crain, and Brynner nearly steals the show in a tremendous performance as a man who has lost faith in everything. Some spectacular scenes give Morituri
a certain electricity, including a complicated, unbroken shot taken (one presumes) from a helicopter that swoops in on the ship from a distance to catch a few lines of dialogue and a bit of action. --Tom Keogh