Book vs. Movie: “The Caine Mutiny”

January 28, 2010 at 9:20 am | Posted in Classics, Fiction | 1 Comment

The book is always better than the movie.  We say this, even though it’s not strictly true, as you must agree if you’ve both read and seen The Notebook.  It’s rare, though, for both a book and a movie to have exalted reputations.  My man Rocket Scientist absolutely loves the film of The Caine Mutiny; he’d never read the book and I’d never seen the movie, so he paced restlessly around until I had finished reading so we could watch it together.

The movie was indeed pretty great.  Humphrey Bogart plays Captain Queeg.  You’ve got uniforms and shipboard life and naval battles and storms and the whole works.  The script is probably 90% faithful to the novel.  It’s a classic drama packed with tension and lightened with moments of humor and romance.

Ahh, but.  You can only pack so much into two hours.  While the movie of The Caine Mutiny includes some very memorable scenes, in my mind it left out most of the best ones.  I didn’t think the film built a case effectively.  Space issues caused the first and final sections of the book to be left out entirely, and the main romantic backstory was scarcely recognizable.  If you’ve seen the movie and found it impressive, you’ll definitely get more out of Herman Wouk’s legendary Pulitzer-winning novel.

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