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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dam the Defiant - a classic period film
This apparently little known film and seldom seen film of a British Frigate during the Napoleonic Wars, is packed with action, as well as illustrating the problems of command and the intrigues of patronage by influential people. The presence of a 1st Lieutenant with strong masochistic and self opinionated tendencies does nothing to ease the tension and bitterness of the...
Published on 25 July 2010 by Dougy

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Worth Watching
A good solid watchable film with good acting from the main characters.
Possibly dated for today's audience as it can not compete with the computer graphics for battle/action scenes of today - however the same will probably be said in 37 years time of today's films!
Well worth having in your collection for occasional viewing
Published on 28 Oct 2009 by E. Brooker


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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dam the Defiant - a classic period film, 25 July 2010
This review is from: HMS Defiant [DVD] [2002] (DVD)
This apparently little known film and seldom seen film of a British Frigate during the Napoleonic Wars, is packed with action, as well as illustrating the problems of command and the intrigues of patronage by influential people. The presence of a 1st Lieutenant with strong masochistic and self opinionated tendencies does nothing to ease the tension and bitterness of the ship. The arrival of the Captains son as a Midshipman merely adds to the Captains problems. Add the inevitable mutiny, French fire ships and a Captain (Alec Guinness) whose integrity devotion to duty and decency rise above these trials and tribulations and you have one hell of good yarn .
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars British naval warfare, with cruelty, mutiny and patriotism In 1797, 15 July 2007
By 
C. O. DeRiemer (San Antonio, Texas, USA) - See all my reviews
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Anyone who likes iron men fighting in wooden ships against the French, with the roar of cannon and splinters flying everywhere, will enjoy the last half of Damn the Defiant!. Whether you enjoy the first half depends on how well you appreciate the almost psychopathic cruelty and condescension of First Lieutenant Scott-Padget (Dirk Bogarde).

It's 1797, Napoleon threatens Britain, and only the Royal Navy ensures Britain's freedom. Captain Crawford (Alec Guinness) takes command of H.M.S. Defiant, a single-gun-deck frigate. Also joining the ship is Scott-Padget, an officer with friends in high places, a talent for seamanship, and a taste for flogging. While Crawford is determined to keep an open mind about his first lieutenant, it becomes quickly apparent that Scott-Padget is an arrogant sadist who is fully capable of undermining Crawford's authority if that's what it takes to get his way. He doesn't hesitate to brutalize the captain's 12-year-old son, brought on board as a midshipman, in subtle ways that keep Crawford from intervening. Added to this seething mix is the crew itself, brutalized not just by Scott-Padget but by the terrible living conditions sailors of the Royal Navy had to endure. One crewman, Vizard (Anthony Quayle), is the leader in putting together what he thinks will be a non-violent petition for redress. Every officer, however, will consider it a mutiny.

The first half of the movie is two stories. There is the struggle between Crawford and Scott-Padget, with Scott-Padget eventually getting the upper-hand. And there is the story of the men on a wooden ship of war and what their lives are like as they're beaten and trained to be seamen, subsist on a diet of rotten meat and weevily hardtack, and can receive 50 lashes at the whim of a first lieutenant.

The second half, however, is a rouser of the old school. A vital message must be delivered to the fleet, Captain Crawford finally is able to assert himself and the French break out of a blockade determined to attack an unaware British squadron in the fog. Ship-to-ship battles are fought where the victor will be determined by which ship can get alongside the other and throw iron faster at near point-blank range. And the seamen of Defiant must decide if their loyalty to Britain will override their knowledge that, if they are accused of being mutineers, each man will most likely be hanged.

The movie's strong points, for me, are the production values, the recreation of how brutal ship-to-ship fighting was, the look at the lives of men at sea in a fighting ship, and the appeal to patriotism over self interest, which was handled effectively because it was treated matter-of-factly. The weak points, for me, centered on the two leads. Guinness as Captain Crawford seemed too sluggish in coming to grips with his first lieutenant. He needed in my view more fire. Guinness was an actor who excelled in ambiguous and thoughtful roles, but he had it in him to play men with iron and passion; just look at him as Major Jock Sinclair in Tunes of Glory. Dirk Bogarde, however, plays Scott-Padget without an ounce of any quality than condescending sadism. Scott-Padget may be a talented sea officer and a brave man, but every time he's on screen you know exactly how he will behave. For those who like the smaller roles, keep an eye out for Tom Bell, who plays a resentful, violent seaman. Nearly thirty years later he was DS Bill Otley...a man Jane Tennison quickly learned not to trust in Prime Suspect 1 but who surprised her in Prime Suspect 3.

The DVD picture looks just fine, with anamorphic wide-screen on one side and full screen on the other. There are three or four extras which aren't significant.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic Navy Classic Guinness, 4 July 2010
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Ms. C. C. Dobson "Claire in Lndn" (England Britian) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: HMS Defiant [DVD] [2002] (DVD)
I love these films: the sets are so obviously sets and the actors really divert one from that, the characterisation in their acting craft tells the story. These people are real.

Yet even with sets the atomosphere is thick with seafaring 18th C. The lighting and camera work knocks the socks of the sfx/big budgets of today.

Guinness, Bogarde and Quayle aaah - what actors ... where are the same today? So many actors today remain the actor-in-charcter not the character in the story. Love these films - the story is all - and the speech at the end - the moral of the story. Based on true story.
Great! Job done ... the characters told their story not the actors!

Too many of todays films just leave you with emotion but no door out.

This is a must for film buffs the true meaning of "Classic Film and yes classic actors.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A stirring historical action film that stands the test of time., 10 May 2013
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This review is from: HMS Defiant [DVD] [2002] (DVD)
HMS DEFIANT - DVD 2002

I remember very well going to see this film when it was released in 1962 and was so impressed that I immediately started a search for the book on which the movie was adapted; Frank Tilsley's novel Mutiny. Later when I seriously started to collect films, I was disappointed to discover that it was never released in the UK as either 8 mm. RTR or VHS cassette and for many years had to make do with a NTSC cassette until the PAL DVD was released in 2002. The film was re-titled DAMN THE DEFIANT! For the US market.

The film was directed by Lewis Gilbert, now mostly remembered for his contributions to the James Bond series of movies but who also directed a host of classic British films between 1944 and 1995. The cast is a roll call of British film actors of the period, Alec Guinness, Dirk Bogarde, Nigel Stock and Anthony Quayle lead a strong supporting cast many of who became household names in the theatre and film.

The film follows the exploits of the Royal Navy frigate HMS Defiant, her captain, officers and men during 1797 the years of the mutinies at the Spithead and Nore and the conflicts that ensue between the captain and crew. Précis of the plot has been given in detail elsewhere and so I will not repeat the storyline again, except to say the as with most British costume dramas the uniforms, weapons and close-up shorts of the warship were mostly historically accurate.

The acting is superb as you would expect from the quality cast and the action scenes are well filmed and directed even without the benefit of modern computer generated effects.

It remains a firm favourite of mine and is a classic of the genre.

The DVD is generally very good although there a couple of small sections where picture and sound quality fade a little, but is very much better than the chopped and spliced version that I watched on television quite recently.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Spithead Mutiny Avast., 24 Aug 2011
By 
Spike Owen "John Rouse Merriott Chard" (Birmingham, England.) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: HMS Defiant [DVD] [2002] (DVD)
It is the Napoleonic Wars, and Captain Crawford takes command of the HMS Defiant and sets off with his orders to Corsica. His second in command is Lt. Scott-Paget, a vindictive and bullying man who has moved thru the ranks on account of his connections. The two men don't see eye to eye from the off, which only compounds the many problems that are reaching boiling point aboard the ship. Mutiny is afoot and the French forces are closing in.

Lewis Gilbert may just be one of Britain's most undervalued versatile directors. Here's a man that has directed Educating Rita/The Admirable Crichton {comedy}, The Good Die Young {crime}, Cast a Dark Shadow {Noir}, Reach for the Sky {biography}, Alfie/Shirley Valentine {romance}, James Bond x 3 {multi genre} and sea faring adventures such as Sink the Bismarck! and this fine Napoleonic historical piece, H.M.S. Defiant.

Adapted from Frank Tilsley's novel Mutiny, this is a film built around a true story about what became known as the "Spithead" and "Nore" mutinies in 1797. Where sailors and press ganged inlander's were fed up with working conditions, rates of pay and the all round treatment from the officers in charge. Also into the mix is a fascinating battle of wills between the two leaders of the Defiant, both men, in the midst of their power struggle, are oblivious to the rumblings and plotting of the crew. I mean you would think that with the French warships possibly around the corner, that they would be unified in creating a rock solid front? That they don't gives the film an extra dimension. Thus when the battle sequences do come, and the turn of events perk the piece up, it has a two fold impact that makes all the waters lead to a terrific foggy bound climax.

The cast are notable names from a roll call of British performers. Alec Guinness as Captain Crawford plays it spot on. An honourable man adhering to his code of ethics, it's thru a plot strand involving his own son being on board that Crawford gets torturous and conflicted by his emotions. Who better than Guinness to layer such a role? Dirk Bogarde steps up to play weasel duties as Lieut. Scott-Padget, suitably handsome in uniform but playing the devils tricks, it begs the question on why Bogarde didn't in fact play more villains because here he is excellent at it. Leading the mutiny is the looming presence of Anthony Quayle, who along with Nigel Stock, leaves a favourable mark in the support cast.

Comparisons with other notable genre entries are inevitable, the likes of Mutiny On the Bounty, Captain Horatio Hornblower R.N. and the more modern offering that is Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World. If you like any of those films then the chances are you are bound to get much from this British film. It lacks quality location work, and the sound mix needs some modern tweaking {at the time of writing there is a DVD release but I've not witnessed the transfer yet}. But this is a fine genre entry as it stirs the blood, tells a great multi stranded story and is acted quite superbly by the cast. 8/10
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars DATED BUT EXCELLENT ACTING:, 1 Dec 2013
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This review is from: HMS Defiant [DVD] [2002] (DVD)
Calix Imperium, Roma Victrix Pewter wine beaker
It has to be said this good film is somewhat dated, in regard to special effects/production values, however with Alec Guinness heading an all star cast it is still a very compelling Drama. Recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A very romanticised view of Spithead and Nore mutinies - but with great performances of Alec Guiness and Dirk Bogarde, 6 Sep 2013
By 
Maciej "Darth Maciek" (Darth Maciek is out there...) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: HMS Defiant [DVD] [2002] (DVD)
This is an interesting "oldie but goldie", aged 51 but still alive, kicking and very watchable. Below, more of my impressions, with some SPOILERS.

Although there were as many as twelve Royal Navy ships named HMS "Defiance", there never was one called HMS "Defiant" - the heavy British frigate pictured in this film is therefore fictitious. The story happens in 1797 and begins with Navy press gangs catching unsuspecting men in taverns and on streets of British port to impress them in service. Some end on board of the frigate HMS "Defiant", which is scheduled to sail to the Mediterranean under the orders of a new commanding officer, Captain Crawford (Alec Guiness). The new skipper is also taking on board a new young midshipman - his only son, Harvey. However, unknown to him, some sailors and Royal Marines serving on the "Defiant" are preparing a mutiny - a task greatly helped by the extreme unpopularity of HMS "Defiant" second-in-command, First-Lieutenant Scott-Padget (Dirk Bogarde), a genuine sadist with an oversized ego. All this covers the first minutes - and then HMS "Defiant" sails and the film begins for real.

This story is partly based on the real events - the largely followed Spithead and Nore mutinies, which indeed occurred in 1797. However, some of the events described in this film fit more with another, much more sinister mutiny - the one which occurred the same year on board of the frigate HMS "Hermione"... But what happens on the HMS "Defiant" is something different than all those real revolts. I will say no more about it.

This film is worth seeing mostly for the performance of two main actors. Sir Obi-wan Kenobi of course was unable of offering a bad performance - here he is great as a humane, but certainly not weak "master and commander". But it is the vilain who is the best character and the main attraction of this film. Sir Dirk Bogarde portrayed the First-Lieutenant Scott-Padget as a really REALLY heinous baddie: sadistic, cold, calculating, merciless, vicious - and also so well connected that he is in fact MORE powerful than his commanding officer... Also, the scenario avoids the mistake of overdoing the "baddie" and therefore Scott-Padget has also some qualities - he is very competent, well educated, perfectly organised and absolutely fearless in fight - but somehow it makes him even scarier.

The one thing that is a little bit weak is the ending. The last two-three minutes of this film disappointed me a little and for that reason I simply cannot give this movie five stars. But still, I liked it and I will keep the DVD for a possible another viewing. Enjoy!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars good in the genre, 9 Nov 2010
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This review is from: HMS Defiant [DVD] [2002] (DVD)
An easy film to watch, which is technically better made than many of its contemporaries. There is less Pinewood wobbling sets and balsa models than were the norm, so you can actually believe that most of the action is at sea. Alec Guinness gives a great portrayal of a humane captain faced with a particularly nasty Dirk Bogaarde trying to undermine his authority. By the time he gets his "come-uppance" you have learnt to thoroughly hate him. Altogether a pretty good yarn if relatively lightweight; held together by excellent acting by the stars, even if the supporting cast are a bit lame.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Worth Watching, 28 Oct 2009
By 
E. Brooker "nostalgia" (essex england) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: HMS Defiant [DVD] [2002] (DVD)
A good solid watchable film with good acting from the main characters.
Possibly dated for today's audience as it can not compete with the computer graphics for battle/action scenes of today - however the same will probably be said in 37 years time of today's films!
Well worth having in your collection for occasional viewing
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars H.M.S. Defiant - or - Damn the Defiant!, 5 July 2007
This is a film worth seeing; it is a very interesting story about leadership, good men, and bad men.

The story is set during the Napoleonic Wars, that time when the French ruled Europe, and the British ruled the waves. However, the main conflict in the film is not between the French and the English; it is between the Captain and the first mate aboard an English frigate, the Defiant. The Captain is a good sea-officer and commander; not a soft man, but a just and merciful one. His first mate is a talented young officer, who is however not only too hard and unrelenting, but unmerciful and truly cruel to the hands. A conflict naturally arises between them, but as the first mate has powerful friends in the government, the Captain has to be careful about procuring his enmity. Things are made more complex by a fact of which both of them are unaware: in all vessels of the British fleet a bloodless revolt is being planned, as a demand for better conditions of life for the hands aboard the ships. But it is extremely important that there is no officer killed in any of the ships; and the heads of the revolt aboard the Defiant start to have trouble to restrain some men who hate the first mate. These three conflicts provide a highly interesting story.

Of course, an interesting story is not all that matters; but in other respects the film is good too. Firstly, the main character is a good and noble man; and that is something one does not find in all stories. Then, it is not a violent film: it does have some violence, but not in an "unrealistically realistic" degree; it is not one of those films in which we see blood spurting from a man's wound as if out of a garden hose. And last, but very important: the leading roles are played by very good actors.

A few years ago a film was made similar to this one: it was also set during the Napoleonic Wars, aboard an English vessel sent on a mission against the French. The plot was fairly good, though the movie was unnecessarily violent. However, the main point against it is that the leading role was played very poorly. The actor who played the captain was not at all convincing, although the character should have been that of an outstanding commander. In "Damn the Defiant!" we have a good character played by a very good actor, and the result is that the Captain stands out, as an aristocratic and stately man we truly admire. In the other movie, "Master and Commander", we see no nobility and no dignity in the main character; we cannot admire him, and this spoils the whole film. In one case, a good story was spoiled by the choice of the wrong man; and in the other, one character well acted turned an interesting -- but in no way exceptional -- story, into a very good film.
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