The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial is a 2023 American legal drama film adapted and directed by William Friedkin from Herman Wouk’s 1953 play of the same name, itself based on the 1952 novel The Caine Mutiny, also by Wouk. Additionally, Guillermo del Toro served as a back-up director due to Friedkin’s age. It stars Kiefer Sutherland, Jason Clarke, Jake Lacy, Monica Raymund and Lance Reddick. The film was completed prior to Friedkin’s death on August 7, and also marked a posthumous release for Wouk and actor Reddick, who died in 2019 and 2023 respectively.
The film premiered on September 3, 2023 at the 80th Venice International Film Festival and is scheduled to be released in the United States on October 6, 2023 on Paramount+ with Showtime by Republic Pictures through Paramount Global Content Distribution.
When a U.S. Naval captain shows signs of mental instability that jeopardizes the safety of his ship, the first officer relieves him of command and faces court-martial for mutiny. Greenwald, a skeptic lawyer, reluctantly defends Maryk, an officer of the navy who took control of the vessel from its dominant captain Queeg whilst caught in a violent sea storm. Greenwald becomes increasingly concerned as the court martial proceeds and questions if the Caine were a true mutiny or simply the courageous acts of a group of sailors that could not trust their unstable leader.
- Kiefer Sutherland as Lieutenant Commander Phillip Queeg
- Jason Clarke as Lieutenant Barney Greenwald, defense attorney
- Jake Lacy as Lieutenant Stephen Maryk
- Monica Raymund as Commander Katherine Challee, lead prosecutor
- Lance Reddick as Captain Luther Blakely, head judge
- Lewis Pullman as Lieutenant Thomas Keefer
- Elizabeth Anweis as Captain Joan Lundeen MD
- Tom Riley as Lieutenant Willis Keith
- Francois Battiste as Captain Randolph Southard
- Gabe Kessler as QM3 Junius Urban
- Jay Duplass as Lieutenant Allen Bird MD
- Gina Garcia-Sharp as Stenographer
- Stephanie Erb as Rear Admiral Lucille Stutz
- Dale Dye as Vice Admiral R.T. Dewey
- Denzel Johnson as Prosecution Paralegal J.P Simmons
- Mariah Justice as Lieutenant Emily
The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial is a film that I have long awaited to make, originally written by one of the masters of his time, Herman Wouk. I knew that I wanted to create a highly tense, pressurized scenario which would move rapidly along like a bat out of hell. I intentionally chose to keep the issue of right and wrong as ambiguous as possible. I was consistently impressed with the level of expertise that our actors brought to their roles and I believe that these are some of the best performances I have ever seen.
—William Friedkin, speaking about the film
In September 2021, William Friedkin announced plans to develop an adaptation of The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial and that he was beginning the process of casting the film. The following year, in August, Deadline Hollywood officially reported that a new adaptation of Herman Wouk’s novel The Caine Mutiny directed by Friedkin was in the works for Paramount Global Content Distribution and Showtime Networks. Kiefer Sutherland was announced to star, with Friedkin having altered Wouk’s script himself to reflect a more modern timeline, setting it in the Persian Gulf, as opposed to the original’s World War II setting. Principal photography began presumably in January 2023 and was completed sometime before star Lance Reddick’s death in March. In the wake of his death, filmmaker Guillermo del Toro posted a tweet, praising the actor’s performance in the film.
Del Toro himself served as back-up director on the film for liability reasons, due to Friedkin’s age, and had sat beside him every day during the shoot. Since the production had been operating on a tight schedule, Friedkin expected that everyone come to the set prepared so as to avoid doing any retakes. According to del Toro, rather than scold a particular actor who stumbled over a crucial line several times, Friedkin instead asked, “You wanna do it in an hour or so? Or we pick it up tomorrow?”:
“The gesture was healing, soothing and put the entire set back in control. I had seen, at the ripe age of 58, that of th[e] many tools in Billy’s arsenal, kindness was one of the most effective ones.”
In March 2023, Paramount Global revived Republic Pictures, with The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial announced as one of its first acquisitions. The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial had its world premiere on September 3, 2023 at the 80th Venice International Film Festival where it screened out of competition. Upon its release, Paramount+ announced it will premiere the film in all international markets where the service is available. The film is scheduled to be released on October 6, 2023 on Paramount+ with Showtime followed by a linear release on Showtime on October 8.
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