It's a tradition for television stations to show a selection of war movies over the Memorial Day holiday and it is fast becoming a tradition for the studios to release a slew of war themed DVDs to celebrate the contribution of the nation's veterans in time for the last Monday in May. Special mention this year goes to Columbia who are releasing collector's editions of two classics that had already been afforded a release on those shiny silver discs. First up is "The Caine Mutiny" which was first released on DVD back in late 1998. That bare bones version was widely panned for its poor transfer, which featured an overabundance of digital noise and was presented in basic stereo. Those failings have been corrected for this most recent digitally remastered release. Here we are presented with a quite exceptional picture and soundtrack and a nice smattering of special features. Based on a Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Herman Wouk the film (which itself was nominated for seven Academy Awards in 1954) details the tension between the captain of a World War II era minesweeper (played superbly by Humphrey Bogart) and his crew. Bogart's character is overly paranoid and viewed by some as displaying cowardice in the face of battle. Playing the part of the executive officer, Lt. Steve Maryk is Van Johnson who, spurred on by third in command, the spineless Lt. Keefer (Fred MacMurray), finally takes control of the ship when the safety of the ship and crew are threatened. Queeg's stubborn insistences to maintain the heading of the ship in a typhoon, flying in the face of good seamanship, forces Maryk to take action and he, along with Ensign Keith, are charged with mutiny upon return to port. It is here that the movie truly shines. Reluctantly defending the two is the always-excellent Jose Ferrer, and the scene where he interrogates Queeg on the stand is spellbinding. Complimenting the movie Columbia have added an interesting scene specific audio commentary by Program Director of the Film Society of Lincoln Center Richard Pena and filmmaker and producer Ken Bowser. The two detail the difficulties the filmmakers initially faced when confronted with an initially uncooperative Department of he Navy, careers of the actors involved and the context of the film in relation to a political environment that saw Hollywood filmmakers blacklisted. Apparently the Navy has never had a mutiny onboard one of its ships (a fact which leads to the placement of a disclaimer to the beginning of the picture) and they were none too pleased with the fictitious account. However, following a change in command, they reversed their decision and offered the use of dockyards, ships, aircraft carrier and even real sailors for the movie. Both Pena and Bowser return for the two-part documentary on the making of the movie. Running for 18:48 and 16:16 respectively they are joined by Film Critic Bob Castle. The three begin by discussing the mood in Hollywood at the time. Apparently movie audiences declined rapidly from 1946 to 1962 with the advent of television and greater foreign competition and so a nervous industry was looking for a "sure bet." Producer Stanley Kramer had bought the film rights to "The Caine Mutiny" book before it became a bestseller for $60,000. The book was a major selling point that led to the producers being able to cast the movie with a strong ensemble. Castle mentions some of the un-credited roles to illustrate this and Bogart reportedly read the book and actively campaigned for the role of the captain. Rounding out the special features are trailers for "Walking Tall: The Payback," "Hard Luck" and "Edison Force." None bear any thematic connection with the main feature. Recommended
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