The Caine Mutiny was adapted from bestselling novel of the same name published in 1951, coincidentally the same year Nicholas Monsarrat published The Cruel Sea, which was also made into a film and released a year before the `Caine'. Both, of course, dealt with similar subject matter; life on a small naval ship in combat during World War II and the trials and considerable tribulations of the officers and crew. And both feature very strong central performances from the actors playing the ships' captains; Humphrey Bogart, in the case of the Caine, and Jack Hawkins, in the case of Compass Rose in the Cruel Sea.
But to focus on the Caine, although it is through the eyes of young Ensign Willie Keith that we witness the gradual disintegration of the ship's captain, it is the performance of Fred McMurray playing communications officer, Lieutenant Tom Keefer, which really catches the eye in this film and is central to all the action that subsequently unfolds aboard the ill-fated USS Caine. It is Keefer who first gives voice to the suspicions that the officers and crew are beginning to have about the increasingly bizarre behaviour of their captain and it is Keefer, who, expert in the role of agent provocateur, and ever so subtly at first, incites executive officer Lieutenant Maryck (Van Johnson) to forcibly assume the role of ship's captain over the objections of the officially appointed skipper, Lieutenant Commander Queeg (Bogart), when the latter seems certain to sink the ship in a typhoon when he `freezes' under severe stress.
The only literally discordant note in the entire production is, unfortunately, the dreadfully inappropriate triumphalist score by Max Steiner!