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54 of 57 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The quest to steal Hitler's rubber...
It's thought by many that Marlon Brando was probably one of the greatest actors to grace the silver screen, if not one of the weirdest (at least later in his life). Based on that alone (his acting, not his weirdness), I purchased Morituri (1965), having heard little to nothing about the film. The fact it also stars Yul Brynner didn't hurt either. Regardless, I am glad...
Published on October 9, 2004 by cookieman108

versus
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The more I watch, the more I like
The first time I watched this film, I must admit that I fell asleep during it. But over time, after viewing it several times, I found that it was not as bad as I initially thought. In fact it was somewhat entertaining. Some parts of the film are indeed gripping, but for the most part the film is slow-paced. Brando gives a captivating performance, considering what he has...
Published on August 5, 2004 by Jenks


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54 of 57 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The quest to steal Hitler's rubber..., October 9, 2004
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This review is from: Morituri (DVD)
It's thought by many that Marlon Brando was probably one of the greatest actors to grace the silver screen, if not one of the weirdest (at least later in his life). Based on that alone (his acting, not his weirdness), I purchased Morituri (1965), having heard little to nothing about the film. The fact it also stars Yul Brynner didn't hurt either. Regardless, I am glad I picked this one up, as it's really quite good.

The title, as far as I can tell, is Latin meaning `for those about to die', which seems apt after watching the film. Directed by Bernhard Wicki, someone I've never heard of, probably because he was an Austrian who mainly directed German films, the film stars Marlon Brando and Yul Brynner. Also appearing are Janet Margolin (Nevada Smith), Trevor Howard (The Third Man), and a German actor I've never heard of named Martin Benrath who I thought was quite good.

The film, set during WWII, begins with German Captain Rolf Mueller being given charge of a cargo ship, leaving Japan and destined for occupied France, one that contains critical raw materials, mainly rubber, important for Germany's war effort. He's none too happy with his assignment, as some of the crew is made up of undesirables and political prisoners destined to be tried upon arrival (I would guess they wouldn't be to eager to reach their destination). The Allied forces, on learning of the contents of the ship, approach Robert Crain, a German demolitions expert and ex-patriot hiding in English ruled India, for the purpose of getting him on the ship, not to blow up the ship, but to disarm the scuttle charges (apparently German ships contained explosives so that if they were to get captured, the captain was to detonate the explosives and `scuttle', or sink, the vessel to keep it out of enemy hands). The Allies want the contents of the ship, not only to hinder Germany's war efforts, but also to assist their own. With assistance, Crain does get aboard the ship, under the guise of an SS security officer named Hans Kyle. Members of the SS, it seems, were not entirely popular by any one's account, especially not by other Germans (think the police and their dislike for their own internal affairs division). This creates complications for Crain/Kyle, as he must secretly search the ship for an unknown number of explosive charges, disarm them, within a certain amount of time, all while keeping the captain and the crew `in the dark'. Not only that, but the ship is forced to take on a group of American prisoners for transport. Things are getting hairier by the minute...

Most of the film takes place on a cargo ship, providing for a very claustrophobic, tense atmosphere throughout. Brando plays his role in a very subdued manner, but it works well. I thought his German accent a bit odd, not entirely bad, just odd, but I got used to it, especially since the movie runs about two hours. Not only did Brando have the acting chops to pull off his character, but he also had the physique, as he had to run, climb, swing and crawl to get around the ship to disable the explosive charges. He seemed very within character, especially the parts when his character discussed his feelings against against war in general. Brynner was also very good as a non-party German, who, while maybe not believing in his leaders political motives, wasn't a traitor either. I really liked the diverse complexity, including compassion and kindness, of his character, the sailor committed to his duties, forced to captain this particular ship with a questionable crew. There was a great deal of character development throughout, which served well to really display the differences among the German people in general with regards to their feelings and loyalties towards their leadership and/or their country. I thought the direction of the film to be really good, as the camera always seemed position in such a way to capture the best possible point of view for that particular scene. The story moved along well, although some will say it was too slow, but I didn't think so...I found myself pretty much glued to the screen, enjoying all aspects of the movie. One of my favorite scenes was when Crain/Kyle is confronted in closed quarters by two German officers from the submarine, which delivered the American prisoners. His ability to play on their own sense of paranoia as they questioned him about his reason for being on the ship was very intelligent and interesting to watch. The plot is complicated, but if you can watch with no distractions, you should be able to follow it along well.

The anamorphic wide screen picture on this DVD looks pretty good, but I did feel it could have been cleaned up a little. There were some very minor flaws visible every once in awhile, but the main thing I noticed was the `softness' in the black parts when scenes were heavily shadowed. It's kind of hard to explain, but a bit more noticeable than the other flaws. As far as special features go, there's a teaser trailer for the film (I'm unsure who made this, but after watching the movie, I felt the person who did make it had no idea or even a sense of what the film was about, as it presented something other than what the movie was, at least I felt), and original theatrical trailer, and trailers for some other, older Fox war films like Crash Dive (1943), The Hunters (1958), and What Price Glory (1952). All in all, I thought Morituri was very decent, well made film rich with characters and a complex plot that rewards those with the patience to enjoy the more sophisticated side of films (I'm not trying to be snobby here, but I do feel this film hasn't gotten the attention it deserves, unduly so).

Cookieman108
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39 of 40 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Neglected masterpiece, May 8, 2005
By 
Michael C. Browning (Palm Beach Gardens, FL United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Morituri (DVD)
This movie came out amid a spate of World War II remembrance movies in the early 60s, I think, and by then people were getting tired of the genre. That's a pity, because this is a really remarkable piece of work. There are parts of it that seem almost directed by Orson Welles, particularly the extraordinary camerawork below decks as Brando tries to defuse the bombs that would sink the ship. The script is one of the most searchingly intelligent you'll ever come across, and the whole thing explores the theme of loyalty and lying and expediency with a brilliance you just don't see in movies anymore. It's like Kafka at sea. There are splendid scenes where Brando, using an exaggerated German accent, makes himself into an SS agent, then has to backtrack to present himself in another role to Yul Brynner (who is also excellent in this film) like an instant chameleon. Then he has to act another way for the crew. Then he has to act another way for the woman. Then he has to act another way for the German officers. I've never seen Brando do better. There is a sort of hall-of-mirrors strangeness and refined characterization in this film that makes it quite unique. The DVD presentation is crystalline and the play of shadows and light over the decks and underdecks is quite astonishing. Jerry Goldsmith, who must have been very, very young when he did this, did the score. It reminds me strongly of "The Third Man," with virtual zither-like effects. I don't want to make this sound too academic and hypercritical, but this odd little movie is one of the smartest, most intelligent, artistic things I have seen in a long while. It makes all the John Wayne movies about Marines taking beaches and saving China from the Chinese, look very, very stupid. Exquisitely written, exquisitely acted, exquisitely filmed. This is the best movie you never saw.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a classic wwII sea adventure, October 10, 2005
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This review is from: Morituri (DVD)
This is one of the best WWII films i Have seen. It really boggles my mind that this film flopped at the box office and with the critics.

Brando and Brynner are amazing to look at and the screen crackells with their chemistry.

The film has serious drama, dialogue and the plight of the concentration camp vicitms is poignantly handled.

Brando is amazing to look at and his command of the accents is great to watch. He is just brilliant and Brynner stands up to him very well..

The direction is tight and the cinematography is one of the best i have ever seen.

The movie should be reevaluted and get its rightful and much deserved appreciation.

a 21 gun salute to the movie. Another slap on the critics who ssaid that Brando did nothing great in the 60s.

The only hitch that i can see is that there should have been extra features besides the trailors in the dvd.

all in all, great fun.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Those Who Are About To Die, September 9, 2005
By 
Octavius (United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Morituri (DVD)
Bernhard Wicki's film of high seas suspense in a world of espionage during WWII. A very tight script and good direction compensated by the amazing talents of Brynner and Brando.

The film focuses on the character of Marlon Brando who plays a wealthy German who had escaped from Germany to settle in India. Brando is the epidemy of self interest and doesn't care who wins the war. British intelligence approaches him and orders him to board a German merchant vessel leaving Tokyo Harbor for Strasbourg France with a cargo of rubber for the war effort. The Allies are also short on rubber and so coerce Brando to seize the ship under the threat of deporting him back to Germany where he would probably be shot as a traitor. Under such duress, Brando accepts the assignment and begins to demolish the explosives that are intended to scuttle the ship should it be captured or impaired. Brynner is the ship's commander and is an apolitical character. Although old fashioned in terms of patriotism, Brynner's character has no love for Hitler or the party unlike his 1st mate. Brando uses his cover as an SS officer to manipulate the first mate. At the same time, Brando uses his real identity to persuade the prisoner crew to mutiny and come with him to meet the Allied ships waiting for them. Things go terribly wrong however as the ship deviates from its expected course and Brando's cover is blown. What follows is a high suspense story of courage and determination.

This is a great film with lots of character development and suspense. The performances of Brando and Brynner are simply outstanding. This is a great film to own.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent underrated movie!, July 9, 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Morituri [VHS] (VHS Tape)
Morituri is an excellent Film which suprisingly is virtually unknown.It is an epsionage thriller set aboard a German freighter in WW2 which is taking back rubber from Japan.A German agent working for the British is on the ship to try and deliver the rubber into allied hands.
Marlon Brando is the agent and is as usual excellent in his role. But the best performance comes from Yul Brynner as Captain Mueller who is sick of the war and Hitler and the Nazis. Also Trevor Howard puts in a brief performance as the cynical Col.Slater which is good too. Excellent piece of cinema!
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars As tense as they come, August 31, 2006
This review is from: Morituri (DVD)
Few films have me sitting on the edge of my seat for a full two hours, but this is one of them. Brando is superb, Brynner is great, his Nazi subordinate is excellent: no one lets this picture down. The story is implausible, and you have to suppress your disbelief, but the twists and turns, the bluff and double-bluff are so gripping that it's not hard to do. Beautifully shot in moody noir and white it is also directed with a terrific sense of sustained excitement, and certainly kept me guessing --- every cliche was side-stepped. I had no idea how it was going to end. The plot line is so convoluted that at times it seems almost shapeless, but what holds it together are the extremely well-written individual scenes, where the dialogue is razor-sharp and exceptionally well-delivered by the performers --- Brando especially. It's sad to think that these kinds of adventure tales are no longer made: almost all we get now are monotonous TV-style bang-bang-bangs; or overblown blockbusters aimed at morons. Presumably the reason it didn't do too well at the box-office is that a small group of Americans are shown as little better than their Nazi counterparts.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The more I watch, the more I like, August 5, 2004
By 
Jenks (Chicago, IL) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Morituri (DVD)
The first time I watched this film, I must admit that I fell asleep during it. But over time, after viewing it several times, I found that it was not as bad as I initially thought. In fact it was somewhat entertaining. Some parts of the film are indeed gripping, but for the most part the film is slow-paced. Brando gives a captivating performance, considering what he has to work with, as a saboteur sent to disarm explosives on a ship traveling from Japan to Germany. But I believe top honors go to Yul Brynner in his performance as a grouchy, no nonsense sea captain, who seems more concerned with lighting up a cigar than anything else. Brynner provides a nice and interesting contrast to Brando's cool, slick and self-contained character. And not to be overlooked, actress Janet Margolin, gives a powerful performance as a Jewish refugee that makes the ultimate sacrifice to aid in the effort of disarmimg the ship, her performance alone deserves a star. Overall, I recommend this film with reservations. If you're looking for a faced paced edge of your seat thriller, look elsewhere. But if you're just looking for a decent 1960's Brando film that gets better over repeated viewings then you've come to the right place.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars No separate peace, January 12, 2007
This review is from: Morituri (DVD)
In this brilliant espionage action drama, two men are seeking a separate peace with fascism - one through attempting neutrality, one through attempting blind nationalism, both by avoiding a clear decision for either side. Neither seems willing to be honest with themselves. They both must face their denial and the fact that they must choose. Two cynical realists have to decide what is worth believing in. Along the way is edge-of-your-seat action, intense drama, and thrilling espionage.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Salute From the Dead, September 24, 2005
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This review is from: Morituri (DVD)
Marlon Brando plays a German engineer trying to hide out WWII in peace and security in India. He has no interest in the war and could not care less who wins as long as he doesn't have to do anything to risk his precious hide. In his world view, all war is bad and is never justifiable.

Yul Brynner plays the captain of a German cargo ship in Japan. He is an honorable man who despises the Nazis but he is a patriot. His mission is to get a cargo of badly needed rubber back to Europe for the German war machine. In doing this, he is plagued by a true believer Nazi for a 1st officer and by his reputation, tarnished by a previous sinking. Whatever happens, he is not to let his cargo fall into the hands of the Allies who need it just as badly as the Nazis.

Trevor Howard plays a British intelligence officer in India. He learns of Brando's identity and manages to force him through coercion to take an assignment posing as a Nazi agent traveling back on Brynner's ship. Brando's mission is to prevent the German's from scuttling the ship, if attacked, so that the Allies can get the rubber.

The principle characters cordially detest each other but come to respect each other. Each undergoes changes as they are more exposed to vehement National Socialism. Brando even comes to learn that there are some things worth dying for. The title comes from the Latin for the old gladiator's salute: "We who are about to die, salute you." Before its over, the main cast learns what is worthy of such a salute.

There are no big battles sequences nor is there a lot of action. Instead, this is a human drama taking place in wartime as the characters learn about each other and themselves.

This is a pretty good film for one that has such a well known group of stars and is so little known.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Underrated and in some ways gripping, September 14, 2002
By A Customer
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This review is from: Morituri [VHS] (VHS Tape)
Brando plays a German who bolted from Deutschland when the war was about to start. He is recruited against his will by Statter (Trevor Howard), a British officer to attempt to save for the British a cargo of rubber on its way form Japan to France. Aside from the suicidal aspects of the project as pointed out by Brando's character Schroeder and its improbability in the real war, the movie has a mostly believable and compelling plot. The compassionless brutality of the ... is better and more realistically portrayed in this film than all but a few others, and it is graphically emphasized by the black and white format. A one point, a beautiful, young woman is casually shot with evident relish between the eyes by the ship's second officer, who is an enthusiastic .... Some American captive sailors are shown as cringing brutes without a great deal more moral cognizance than their Nazi captors. Yul Bryner struggles between loyalty to the Fatherland and his inner ... imperatives. In some ways, the movie is a polemic, but in others not. In any case, it is a gripping thriller, and the acting is uniformly excellent.
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Morituri
Morituri by Bernhard Wicki (DVD - 2004)
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