Morituri - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Morituri Reviews

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November 6, 2016
Morituri is an amazing film. It is about a war pacifist is blackmailed to pose as an SS officer. Marlon Brando and Yul Brynner give excellent performances. The screenplay is well written. Bernhard Wicki did a great job directing this movie. I enjoyed watching this motion picture because of the action and drama. Morituri is a must see.
½ September 21, 2016
The tension gets tighter and tighter finally in the nobody wins. Janet Margolin gives a fine performance. Hatred toward the Nazis and sacrificing everything I was devastated at her death scene
August 22, 2016
Two German citizens on different sides of the war effort find themselves at the center of a clandestine cargo-grab in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. Marlon Brando plays the first, a pacifist expat who's arm-twisted into aiding British intelligence as a counter agent, while Yul Brynner takes charge as a disillusioned sea captain in charge of a precious Nazi payload. Though they're constantly at-odds, for reasons both above the surface and beneath, the two men have much more in common than either would like to admit. This makes for an interesting conflict, as both attempt to conceal a secret that would otherwise serve to potentially unite them. Commendable for the constant churn of its plot, which changes shape by the minute and drives its players to scramble in response, it deserves special marks for exploring the deep humanity of the cast. With but one exception, a first mate who's as dedicated to the Reich as Hitler himself, this vessel is awash in shades of grey, and that's a refreshing change of pace. Level-headed and even-handed, it keeps us guessing and even serves to shock on one jagged, violent occasion. A complex, intense, strangely overlooked WW2 classic.
½ August 18, 2016
The film is well-crafted and riveting, especially Brando's and Brynner's performances, but the sentimental overtly theatrical Jewess' element stains an overall impression about the movie.
June 10, 2016
I can take any of your consequences.

A German officer escapes the war and has been in hiding for many years; unfortunately, when an almost impossible mission arises, the SS tracks him down and puts him in charge to execute the mission. He convinces a captured Jewish woman to help him execute the plan and hopefully get them both out of their predicament alive.

"I'd like to make this outfit a little more attractive for the concentration camp."

Bernhard Wicki, director of The Visit, Spider's Web, The Bridge, The Miracle of Father Malachia, and The Conquest of the Citadel, delivers Morituri. The storyline for this picture is interesting with a few clever twists and turns. The acting and characters are worth following. The cast delivers solid performances and includes Marlon Brando, Yul Brynner, Janet Margolin, Trevor Howard, and Wally Cox.

"I'm afraid the success of the mission is your only hope."

I've been wanting to see this for some time, and it's been on and off Netflix online a couple times. I finally got around to seeing this and it was a pleasure to watch Brando in his prime in this picture. This was far from his best film, but wasn't a waste of time either. I do recommend seeing this for fans of the classics, I just wouldn't add it to the collection.

"We haven't had any need for you until now."

Grade: C+/B-
jjnxn
Super Reviewer
November 11, 2014
With that cast this should have been more involving but after a decent start if drags to its conclusion.
Cameron W. Johnson
Super Reviewer
September 27, 2014
Marlon Brando is sabotaging yet another ocean voyage in "Mutiny on the Nazi Merchant Ship"! Actually, the familiarity doesn't end there, because the title makes reference to Suetonius', "Ave Imperator, morituri te salutant", quote to a Roman Caesar ("Julius Caesar"), and the film features Brando as a German during WWII, like "The Young Lions", so it would appear as though Brando's career through the late '50s and early '60s was leading up to this point. I'd say it's a real shame that it was a serious financial disappointment, but that makes it even more fitting as a follow-up to "The Young Lions" and "Mutiny on the Bounty". Those films and this film are pretty darn good, but they didn't exactly make Brando's star power, so much so that in a desperate attempt to make this film seem more commercial, they reissued it as "Saboteur: Code Name Morituri". That's too much to remember, so I don't know how exactly it made the film more marketable, unless, of course, they reissued this film in the late '80s and wanted to trick nerds into thinking that it is the film adaptation of "Strikeforce: Morituri". I'm not especially familiar with that comic, but I have heard about the premise, and it's even more convoluted than the title "Saboteur: Code Name Morituri" (I'm telling you, they should have gone with "Mutiny on the Nazi Merchant Ship"), so I can see where people would get confused for a different reasons. Hardly anyone wanted to see this film in the '60s, and no one wanted to see it in the '80s... or whenever it was re-released, which is bogus, because, again, it's pretty good, in spite of its flaws.

An intimate, humanly charged thriller, this drama thrives on subtlety, and that just makes it all the more glaring when the storytellers lapse into some sort of artificiality, in characterization, set piece designs, and dramatics. Contrivances are actually not that big of an issue, but when they do come into play, they typically fall over key moments in dramatic progression, their laziness stressed both in contrast with the gripping subtleties, and by the conventions that plague important areas throughout the course of this film. The character types are also familiar, and quite frankly, they stand to be more so, because even though expository shortcomings aren't glaring, to where you fail to get an adequate sense of background to the characters, the motivations in certain character actions feel rather hollow, being unconvincing and not quite enlightening to the layers of characters in this drama about the dark depths of humanity. These brief, but distinct missteps in characterization defuse the dramatic tension of this thriller, superficializing the consequence and importance of the subject matter, whose sense of urgency which ought to compensate for setbacks in emotional investment go challenged by a certain safeness of the time that the script sometimes does a good job of transcending through graphicness, and, of course, by the film's length. All of these contrivances, conventions, expository lapses, and hiccups in tension are recurrent, but somewhat meager issues that pale in comparison to the film's biggest problem: pacing, which is retarded by long lapses in material and progression that grow repetitious, further chilled out by cold spells in direction. The film is adequately entertaining pretty often, and when it isn't, its thoughtfulness either cuts deep, and falls over aimlessness and only exacerbates the blandness, which in turn exacerbates a sense of urgency in this undercooked and conventional thriller. The final product all but sputters out short of rewarding, but it compels pretty thoroughly more often than not, maintaining your investment sufficiently, and doing sufficient justice to promising subject matter.

It's the storytelling that's lacking in teeth, that is, from time to time, because the story itself, while rather familiar, it all around weighty, with a chilling sabotage tale, backed by thought-provoking themes regarding the dark depths in most everyone, especially during war. Daniel Taradash's script can do only so much to draw upon the edge of this subject matter, what with its being for a film of the 1960s, but he always delivers on wit to hold your attention adequately, and when he does challenge superficialities of the time, through graphic dialogue and somewhat artificial, but nonetheless audacious elements, his inspiration cuts like a knife. Taradash has ambitions, and can back it up with sharp highlights in writing, joined by direction by Bernhard Wicki that is just as inspired, particularly in style, accompanying Conrad L. Hall's black-and-white, sparsely lit, and largely silhouetted cinematography with airtight framing that draws you into bleak settings. The visual style of the film carries an immersion value that, amidst the thickening of the plot, becomes a fitting sense of claustrophobia, backed by thoughtful atmospherics that punctuate a couple dramatic contrivances, and are bland when material lapses, - as it often does - but prove penetrating under the right circumstances. Wicki's directorial inspiration is sound, endearing you through all of the shortcomings, until effectiveness proves to be gripping, with tension that provides a sense of consequence, while a sense of humanity goes defined by a solid cast full of talents (I have to address Wally Cox's presence as a German, just so I can say "Unterdog"!). Standouts from this cast include the incredibly beautiful Janet Margolin (She's badly miscast, though, because that nose is too blasted cute to be Jewish) as a disturbed Jew who is more bitter than fearful of her fate, and the intimidatingly intense Yul Brynner, whose engagingly convincing portrayal of an aggressive and dubious Nazi ship captain is worthy as the antagonistic answer to Marlon Brando's protagonistic performance, which is very Marlon Brando, with a convincing German accent, sure, but is nonetheless nuanced in its subtlety, within charisma, fear and vulnerability which convey a sense of unraveling in morality within a pacifist forced into a dangerous scenario that will shine an unsettling light in how he sees people. Every performance sells, being more consistent than the gutsy writing and direction in transcending superficialities of the time and overpowering this film's respective shortcomings, enough so to compel through and through, and reward those with the patience to take on this sometimes questionably drawn, but ultimately biting thriller.

When it comes time to salute... and hopefully not die right after, there is the occasional contrivance and a number of conventions, and they slow down dramatic momentum and a sense of urgency which are further diluted by periodically thin character motivations and by an excessive length, backed by a slow pace that just about blands the final product shy of rewarding, challenged by worthwhile subject matter whose being done a great deal of justice within intelligent and audacious writing, visually captivating and bitingly thoughtful direction, and inspired acting - especially by Janet Margolin, Yul Brynner and Marlon Brando - secure Bernhard Wicki's "Morituri" as a generally gripping and ultimately thought-provoking thriller.

3/5 - Good
September 14, 2014
A film worth adding to your collection.
½ March 14, 2014
good WWII drama post WWII
½ February 17, 2014
Certainly a very entertaining movie -- I don't believe it's been shown often if at ALL on normal network channels. Maybe too controversial with its dialogue about the Holocaust and some graphic dialogue about rape (although it could hardly be as graphic as what is shown on the Military Channel in its documentaries about the Holocaust). This movie fits in with Brando's interest in portraying characters grappling with moral dilemmas. I don't like his German accent although he pulls it off. I also felt this movie was a bit melodramatic at times, with Brynner really acting up. In the end no major characters in this movie come out unsullied. I think the director was trying to convey that all humans are capable of immoral acts, as shown both by the statements made by the Jewish girl, and by her treatment at the hands of the American capitves. I find that scene artificial because I believe that the last thing on those prisoner's minds (after being confined to a hot cargo hold for a couple of days) would be doing what they did.
So, the directors view is that all men can become beasts. True, of course. Men are men, and are far from perfect but we know that. It does not change the reality that the Allies rescued Europe from the sociopathic Nazis and as such, the Americans deserve some credit -- not to be potrayed as they were. Which might be why the movie has not gained more popularity.
June 15, 2013
Much more interesting than the guns-and-glory '40s movies about WWII! Brando & Brynner are awesome, and I'm really impressed this film was so frank about the plight of the female prisoner.
May 1, 2013
Marlon Brando always gives a great performance, so that was no surprise. Yul Brenner was very good in this too. The plot was very poorly handled, and the film had no real ending. It was a complete shambles, but the good acting made it tolerable.
Super Reviewer
April 22, 2013
Worth seeing for the actors, especially Brando, Brynner, Howard, and Cox. Weak story with some glaring moments that strain credulity.
November 1, 2012
Fantastic and thrilling WWII film.
September 2, 2012
Gripping WWII film, very cool acting in tense situations--Bleak, fascinating war epic!!
½ May 8, 2012
This a very good war time espionage drama held amid the Atlantic ocean. Yule Brunner and Marlon Brandon are superfluous in their roles. Brunner as the dutiful ships Captain and Brandon as the coerced British spy posing as an SS officer.

There are some cracking scenes and one tracking shot in particular to rival Goodfellas. Not to be missed
April 22, 2012
A suspenseful and thrilling ww2 film with Brando playing a German fighting reluctantly for the British.
½ December 24, 2011
Quite liked this war movie...different from the usual...a daring plan with a good cast...makes it quite an exciting watch
½ December 11, 2011
Absolutely amazing. War movie centered on character development and refined espionage plot, executed with great dialogue and legendary acting.
November 9, 2011
Great suspense film with thrilling subtext and twists. Interesting camera work such as when Brando (Kyle) starts in the foreground early in a shot and arrives in the background of the same shot to show the passage of time. A very worthy actor's duel between Marlon Brando and Yul Brynner!
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