The Caine Mutiny
The 2007-issued "Collector's Edition" DVD of Edward Dmytryk's The Caine Mutiny (1954) easily supplants the original Columbia TriStar standard disc of the movie, which was released in 1999. The same non-anamorphic widescreen aspect ratio (1.85-to-1) is used, but this is a much cleaner transfer. Additionally, a liberal selection of bonus materials is present, including a reasonably informative documentary, Inside The Caine Mutiny. What is less satisfying is the commentary track by Richard Pena and Ken Bowser, two cineastes who are obviously fans of the movie, but who apparently couldn't be troubled to do a "dry-run" screening of the movie to check on the points they were going to cover -- they get most of the background information on the production of the movie correct, but fall down whenever it's time to discuss any actors other than the leads, or talk about career-arcs and credits; so they expound a lot about how good Humphrey Bogart's or Van Johnson's performances are, but mis-identify two actors whom they take the trouble to identify, in terms of their work and careers, and overlook one of the stranger aspects of the casting (the female lead, May Wynn, did NOT use her own name in the movie -- her name was Donna Lee Hickey and she changed it to the character's name). They also find a flaw in the script where one doesn't really exist -- the Third Fleet, of which the USS Caine was part, was caught in a typhoon in December of 1944 that sank three ships; the script merely fictionalizes the dates, but the presence of Halsey's flagship and the surrounding events concerning the Caine were necessary for verisimilitude, and the two participants, who know a lot more about film -- as opposed to movies -- than about World War II, just blow these matters off as bad choices in the script; the producers were not just making use of an aircraft carrier; and some of the footage that they seem to identify as shot for the movie is, in fact, familiar stock footage. These are all matters that are as easy to get right as wrong, but no one apparently took the trouble to check their material before laying it down. Still, their discussion is lively, and if they stimulate some more interest in the underlying book -- of which the movie, good as it is, is a mere shadow -- then they will have done a service to all concerned. And they are correct in their analysis of the movie's politics, which are comfortably liberal but couched in very conservative terms. The disc opens automatically to an easy-to-use menu, which allows quick access to all features. And the movie is very generously chapter-encoded.