"Morituri" didn't do well on its release. This is both a shame and not suprising. The main problem is that the initial idea for the film, an intriguing and distinctly different riff on the sabotage idea, peters out halfway through, leaving the film's makers to cobble together an ending that clearly doesen't match up with the first half.
The plot, briefly, is this: Lotus-eating, beachcombing, pacifist German Robert Craine (Brando) is living in India during the war and trying to stay out of it (the war, that is, not India). He is blackmailed by a British intelligence officer (Trevor Howard) into boarding a German freighter and stopping it being sabotaged by someone already aboard so that it, and its precious cargo, can be captured by the British. This constitutes the first half of the film, and is quite gripping. "Morituri" was made after Brando started getting "difficult", and apparently he hated this film. But to my eye he is as professional as one could hope for, and shows what a great actor he could be when he tried. He holds his own on screen against Trevor Howard, no mean feat in itself, and plays his part with utter sincerity, conviction and believability. While on board the ship he manages to defuse the bombs that are sprinkled about, all the while avoiding discovery by the would-be saboteur, and managing to conceal his true identity from everyone else. However, as time goes on his cover wears increasingly thin, and eventuallly he is revealed to be an impostor.
But - shock horror! - we are only halfway through the running time. The writers of the plot simply couldn't sustain the story any longer. So a second story is attached - a lifeboat, filled with a motley assortment of survivors from a ship sunk by the Japanese, is picked up by the freighter. One of the survivors is A WOMAN, and not just any old woman, but a European Jewess. Quite how she came to be there is never really explained. Suffice it to say that, once the survivors are aboard, the new mix of people on the freighter causes dissension and, eventually, chaos. All order breaks down and everyone ends up shooting at everyone else - the pro-nazi crew-members are hostile to the survivors, the survivors and non-nazi crew are hostile to the nazis, and some people are simply anti-everyone and hostile to everybody. Add to this the sizeable constituency of men from every faction that are intent on having their way with the woman, and you end up with a situation in which almost everyone but Brando is dead and the ship is left drifting derelict - and that's how the film ends. Very 1960's.
What a shame they couldn't sustain the original plot. Imagine what would have happened if the identity of the assassin in "The Day of the Jackal" had been established halfway through its running-time; what would they have done then? Dragged a woman into it? Have the French and British secret services falling out and shooting at each other? Got a Chinese agent to smuggle a nuclear bomb into the Sacre Couer (if only)? Oh well, at least the first half was good. Worth watching for that alone. And for seeing Brando at the height of his powers, before he became... Brando.