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Morituri [DVD]

3.4 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Actors: Marlon Brando, Yul Brynner, Janet Margolin, Trevor Howard, Wally Cox
  • Directors: Bernhard Wicki
  • Format: PAL
  • Subtitles For The Hearing Impaired: English
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: 12
  • Studio: Twentieth Century Fox
  • DVD Release Date: 20 Feb. 2006
  • Run Time: 123 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000CFX5K0
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 52,157 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Product Description

Product Description

Marlon Brando stars in this adaptation of Werner Jeorg Kosa's novel. Set during World War II, an anti-Nazi pacifist on a German freighter (who is seemingly working for the British) turns out to be a double agent who is working for a German spy.

Customer Reviews

3.4 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
I count this seemingly very promising 1965 war film as one of my most disappointing viewings EVER. Below, more of my impressions, with some limited SPOILERS.

1. Historical background

This is I believe the only war film that was ever made which action takes place on board of a WWII German blockade-runner. Such ships really existed - most of them were large, fast and modern cargo ships which travelled initially from Germany itself and later from occupied France to Japan or Japanese occupied territories in the Pacific. Most were German but there were also some very succesful Italian blockade runners. Between 1939 and 1943 they would bring to Japanese greatly needed plane engines, high tech tools, electronics and optic instruments (like targeting devices for bombers) and then return with a cargo of materials precious to Germans such as rubber, tungsten, tin, vegetal oils, silk, opium and quinine. Many of those ships were intercepted and were either sunk by allied ships or scuttled by their crews, but many others went through the blockade. With allied navies and air forces growing in numbers and using a better technology, blockade runners had to stop their missions in spring 1944 - before that however they contributed a lot to the war effort of both Germany and Japan.

2. The film

"Morituri" was directed by Bernhard Wicki, a German actor and director who previously made the very famous German war drama "Bridge" as well as a highly praised Hollywoodian drama "The visit" starring Anthony Quinn and Ingrid Bergman - he also turned German sequences in "The Longest Day". Wicki was also a communist in his youth and for that reason spend some "quality time" in a Nazi concentration camp during WWII - therefore his hatred of Nazis was very personal...
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
A mid-60s World War II yarn that pits Yul Brynner and Marlon Brando against the Nazis on a claustrophobic ship trip. Too much talk, not enough action, but worth seeing for one of those almost nearly forgotten films of the 1960s. Brynner is fine, but not one of Brando's best. Still worth watching as a piece of cinema history.
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Format: DVD
That Morituri didn't exactly set the box-office alight in 1965 can be gauged from the fact that it's known under at least three titles (Saboteur and The Saboteur - Codename: "Morituri" - which isn't actually the anti-hero's codename!). Taking its title from the famed gladiator's address `We who are about to die salute you,' it's a surprising seabound reunion of veterans of the 1962 version of Mutiny on the Bounty who you'd think would know better and certainly wouldn't even want to see each other again, let alone board another ship after that famously nightmarish shoot. While Trevor Howard had the good sense to remain on dry land in a lengthy cameo, Brando soon resorted to type, demanding rewrites, refusing to memorise his lines or hit his marks and generally making producer Aaron Rosenberg and director Bernhard Wicki's life hell as the film drifted increasingly over budget and over schedule before slowly sinking with all hands at the box-office.

Brando's Crain/Kyle is a peace-loving, somewhat Bohemian German exile living under an assumed identity in India who finds himself blackmailed into going undercover as a Nazi by Trevor Howard's ruthless British intelligence officer ("You're a cold b*****d," snipes Brando: "I was born on a chilly island," replies Howard in the film's best exchange). His mission isn't to sabotage and sink a German freighter with a vital cargo of rubber but to prevent it from being scuttled so the Allies can claim the cargo for their own war effort.
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Format: VHS Tape
"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.
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