Cinema: The Survivor

  • Share
  • Read Later

(4 of 8)

Bottled Scream. This uneasy alliance between corseted but concupiscent industry and one of its most irascible critics is, perhaps, more aptly illustrated in The Caine Mutiny, which Columbia Pictures will release this summer. Bogart was Producer Stanley Kramer's instant choice for the role of Captain Queeg when he bought Herman Wouk's novel back in 1951—and remained the choice through the 15 months which passed before Naval objections to the tale were overcome and Naval cooperation was forthcoming. (The Navy finally made impressive sections of the U.S. fleet available to Columbia and converted two modern destroyer minesweepers, the U.S.S. Doyle and the U.S.S. Thompson, into reasonable facsimiles of that peripatetic rustbucket, the minesweeper Caine.)

Actor Bogart, a blustering, secretive figure in Navy suntans, justifies Producer Kramer's hopes. He brings the hollow, driven, tyrannical character of Captain Queeg to full and invidious life, yet seldom fails to maintain a bond of sympathy with his audience. He deliberately gives Queeg the mannerisms and appearance of an officer of sternness and decision, and then gradually discloses him as a man who is bottling up a scream.

Queeg, the audience discovers, is a man who never meets another's eyes. When issuing his fantastic orders for the roundup of every ship's key (in an effort to solve the nocturnal loss of a quart of strawberries), Bogart speaks in a normal, matter-of-fact voice, but betrays Queeg's agitated state of mind by lovingly buttering and rebuttering a piece of toast.* In the courtroom scene, Bogart's Queeg seems unaware that he has reached into his pocket and brought forth the two steel ball bearings which he habitually fumbles in times of stress, and remains oblivious of his own mounting hysteria.

Then, suddenly, he knows he is undone; he stops and stares stricken at the court, during second after ticking second of dramatic and damning silence.

As Queeg, Bogart is likely to achieve a measure of secondhand immortality.* The captain of the Caine has become almost as memorable a figure of World War II as Admiral Halsey, and legions seeing the movie are bound to remember him in years to come as at least part Humphrey Bogart. This gloss of Queegishness seems like a fitting varnish for the patina, formed by rumor, favorite scenes, old headlines, and the memories of a hundred noisy Hollywood parties, which has collected on Bogie during the years of his ascendancy as a film star.

Original Baby. Beneath the well-known Bogart exterior reposes the residue of a nice boy of good family who grew up surrounded by Irish servants in a big brownstone house just off New York's West End Avenue. The Bogarts were wealthy: young Humphrey's grandfather had invented a process of lithographing on tin. His father was a physician with a fashionable practice who knocked off for several months a year to hunt, sail and enjoy life at the family's summer home on New York's Lake Canandaigua. His mother, Maud Humphrey, a woman of queenly mien and iron will, was a watercolorist and commercial illustrator of national repute. Cuddly Infant Humphrey, one of many children painted by mother, was known publicly as the "original Maud Humphrey baby."

  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4
  5. 5
  6. 6
  7. 7
  8. 8