[box cover]

Damn the Defiant!

A seafaring adventure that highlights the acting chops of Alec Guiness, Dirk Bogarde, and Anthony Qualye, 1962's Damn the Defiant! manages to come up with some great dramatic sequences but never achieves narrative coherence. Guinness stars as Capt. Crawford of the H.M.S. Defiant, a warship tasked with defending Britain's naval and economic interests in Europe during the Napoleonic Wars, when a chance encounter with a French warship meant certain battle. Crawford is a sailor from the old school who worked his way up through the ranks to earn his own command, but he soon discovers his authority could be threatened by his new executive officer, Lt. Scott-Padget (Bogarde), who has earned promotion largely from political influence. Almost instantly the two officers butt heads, with the elder Crawford insisting that his ship be run by the book, while the less-experienced Scott-Padget prefers creative decision-making over the Admiralty's orders. Scott-Padget also has a difficult time accepting direct orders from Crawford, and when his talking back lands him in hot water, Scott-Padget wonders if he can use his political influence in London to derail Crawford's naval career. Meanwhile, members of the crew, lead by midshipman Vizard (Quayle) plan to stage a mutiny, drawing up a petition demanding a redress of grievances. Fans of classic British drama or naval adventures will likely enjoy Damn the Defiant!, and along with the legendary Guinness (who comes up with a nuanced performance as the humane captain), there are a couple of impressive battle sequences. But the two plots — the conflict between the officers and the sailors' planned revolt — never really mesh with each other, only finding some kind of unity towards the very end. Unsatisfying as a whole, this one's worth a look just to see the three leads in the better dramatic moments. Good anamorphic transfer (2.35:1) from an acceptable source print that is showing some damage and color fading, with audio in the original mono (DD 2.0). Gallery of posters and lobby cards, cast notes, trailers for Damn the Defiant!, Das Boot, The Caine Mutiny, and The Guns of Navarone. Keep-case.
—JJB



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