In my experience, film memories are sharper than book memories. The Caine Mutiny is an exception. I remembered the novel very well, and I was astonished that the film version, which I saw last night and must have seen in 1954 or thereabouts, had almost completely evaporated from my increasingly porous mind. I remembered something in black-and-white, but this film is in very bright colors.
Perhaps my memory faded because the movie can't hold a candle to the novel. Some (of my many) reservations: a) the actors are just too darn old. The novel is about young men, dislocated in early maturity, coming to terms with a harsh new experience. But the sailors who are supposed to be in their early twenties were played by Van Johnson (38), Fred MacMurray (46), and Jose Ferrer (45). Captain Queeg, who should be about thirty years old, was Humphrey Bogart, who was 55 and looked it, and who had, in fact, been wounded in the previous war. The casting completely skews the story and turns naive into conspiratorial. Robert Francis, who played Willis Seward Keith, was in fact twenty-four; because he's so much younger than his shipmates, he looks more like their mascot than their contemporary. b) the romance between Keith and May Wynn (Marie Minotti in the novel) is decorative rather than intrinsic, dilutes the tension, and occupies far too much time. c) the ship model that’s used in the typhoon scene was ludicrously inadequate. d) the ethnic tensions that are a source of complexity in the novel are elided: May Wynn is no longer an Italian Catholic, so it’s impossible to understand exactly why Keith vacillates about marrying her; Barney Greenwald (the defense lawyer) is no longer Jewish. Simpler, in this case, is not better.
It seems that the U. S. Navy wouldn’t cooperate with the project until the writers made certain changes in the script. It would be fascinating to learn how much of the film was censored, and for what reasons.