Damn the Defiant! - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Damn the Defiant! Reviews

Page 1 of 2
December 20, 2014
The battle scenes are fantastic for a film over fifty years old.
April 1, 2014
Not my usual type of film, but the cast make this typical mutiny film very watchable indeed
July 13, 2013
What's not to like about a Captain Crawford being a naval stud?
½ March 25, 2013
Loosely based on the Famed Mutiny on the Bounty, Damn the Defiant is a strong Napoleonic era period piece, and also an above average naval drama. But above all it is a study of two very different men and their contest of wills. Alec Guinness's Captain Crawford is a humane, fair officer who knows the value of discipline and efficiency but also understands the importance of a crew's morale and well being. His opposite in nearly every matter is first lieutenant Scott-Padget (Dirk Bogarde). Bright, ambitious, needlessly harsh and often insubordinate, Scott-Padget is a firm believer in the lash who cares only for his own advancement and is used to getting his way. A dangerous combination, and one that drives the Defiant over the edge.
Both leads put on very good performances. Guinness brings Captain Crawford's empathy and resoluteness fully to life. Although he would loathe the comparison, at times he does seem rather like a certain desert hermit in his kindly, aged wisdom. And for his part Bogarde is the epitome of a jerk. With his displays of anger, pettiness, and entitlement he makes himself very easy to hate. The production values are good, with fairly authentic costumes, sets, and other period touches. The naval battles are also quite rousing impressive, with good swordplay and effects that have stood up well considering their age.
The film's main shortcoming is that it never treats the mutiny with any serious depth. It's true that a great deal of time is dedicated to the conditions on the Defiant, and to the build-up of discontent that lead to the mutiny. It's also clear that the men have very real grievances, mostly relating to Lieutenant Scott-Padget. But no time is taken to dwell on whether their actions were justified in a time of war, or any soul searching by the men themselves. The ending leaves me inclined to agree with Captain Crawford's lenient position, yet it stills feels like too easy an answer. But perhaps I'm asking too much from what's intended as a fun war movie.
All in all, Damn the Defiant may not equal the classic Billy Bud or some of the better adaptations of Horatio Hornblower, but with good acting and good action it's a worthwhile voyage for all ages.
February 13, 2011
Decent film, but they wasted the potential of the story i think. The relationship between Guinness and Bogarde could have been much more fiery and dominant. in stead they downplayed it, which i believe to be a mistake. But it is still a fine film.
December 19, 2010
Perfectly enjoyable bit of high-seas adventure that suffers through some cheesy dialogue but offers enough intrigue and emotion to keep well afloat. Guinness is highly convincing as the honorable, fair, and wordly captain who must vie for control of his ship and crew against a sadistic first mate and massive discontent amongst seamen pressed unwillingly into service. Other central players like Bogarde and Quayle give believable performances as well.

I was surprised by the depth and maturity of this and what it was trying to do. Instead of the anticipated Captain-Guinness-against-the-disgruntled-mutinous-hordes I was instead treated to a tale of personal drama, military politicking, and the grace found in honor amongst men. Also some stuff about patriotism. And some fun period detail. And damn the French. It's not Hugo, but for those willing to keep up with the little details and appreciate some subtle nuance, there are many layers to this one. 'Good' and 'right' float about a murky grey area, giving the whole thing some legitimacy and real character.

It loses some of its luster whenever it gets to the obligatory long-winded naval battles which can't help but age the film, and that turn attention away from the real meat of the story. Coupled with the overbearing dialogue, its enough to hold the film back from greatness but not so much that the things it has to offer are totally lost in the noise.

If you're into nautical history and military drama and have exhausted the bigger maritime war classics - this is an entirely viable place to turn.
October 25, 2010
Alec Guinness' dignified performance as the humanitarian captain keeps this one above water.
May 2, 2010
Engrossing movie with good acting.
Super Reviewer
½ April 11, 2010
Okay nautical drama blessed with two acting greats in Guinness and Bogarde. Beautiful photgraphy and attention to detail help but it loses it way towards the end and is never as rousing as it wants to be. Dirk is one sadistic and malevolent jerk.
April 5, 2010
Guinness is in typically good form and Bogarde plays the soft-spoken bastard exceptionally well. Good support too from reliable British character actors like Anthony Quayle and Nigel Stock.
January 27, 2010
Started off well but lost steam no pun intended.
Super Reviewer
October 8, 2009
Alec Guiness was born to be a captain...great seafaring romp.
May 18, 2009
Mutiny in 1797 on the H.M.S. Defiant, starring Alec Guinness (as excellent as usual) and Dirk Bogarde.
February 14, 2009
My style & he doesn't mind that he gets killed at the end good cast as well
September 7, 2008
Excellent Napoleonic era naval movie. See Obi-Wan Kenobi as a much younger man!
August 21, 2008
Excellent naval drama with two excellent leads in the fair-minded Guinness and the hissable Bogarde (never seen him play anything so dispicable before and he's bloody good). Lots of familiar faces in small roles too - seek out this little-known gem!
½ April 11, 2008
Underrated British naval drama with an outstanding cast. A must for fans of Hornblower and Master and Commander.
March 8, 2008
An alternative Bounty but with plenty of merit by itself. The leads do a good job in making the story interesting.
Super Reviewer
November 14, 2007
it's a story about the power struggle between a badly treated crew, a good captain, a nasty piece of work of a 2nd in command and alliegences of the heart to the homeland (wow, i sound german). yeh, i'll conform and put 3 stars just like everybody else. okay.. the shizay is... as usual alec guinness is great. dirk bogarde played the prime bully (mr always have to be right). they both played their parts very well. you gotta hand it to bogarde. by the end i wanted to beat the shit outta him too, so he obviously played the baddie well enough! haha... you always get people like that everywhere you go. it's like some social disease. anyway, back to the film... very solid effort. i also agree with someone else who reviewed this on here. much better than dull and boring master & commander. sometimes the oldies are the best!
Page 1 of 2