The Caine Mutiny – a Plot Summary

Caine Mutiny pic

Caine Mutiny

A graduate of the University of California Berkeley School of Law, Boalt Hall, Paul Seeman served for four years as a judge of the Alameda County Superior Court in Oakland, California. A former judge, Paul Seeman’s first impressions of the practice of law came at a young age when he watched the 1954 drama The Caine Mutiny.

Directed by Edward Dmytryk, The Caine Mutiny is a movie set in 1944 on a dilapidated U.S. Navy ship named the U.S.S. Caine. Ensign Willie Keith joins the Caine as part of its crew after graduating from officer training, and is put under the command of Captain DeVriess. After a brief period DeVriess is transferred and a new officer, Captain Francis Philip Queeg, replaces him.

Queeg strikes the crew as particularly unpredictable. On a mission to escort assault teams, Queeg is alarmed by enemy fire and orders the crew to drop the Caine’s landing zone marker and retreat to open sea. In another incident, Queeg summons the whole crew for an investigation into the disappearance of his gallon of strawberries. Some of the crew members, including Lt. Tom Keefer and Lt. Steve Maryk, suspect the captain is mentally unfit.

On another mission, Queeg orders the Caine’s crew to maintain course despite a heavy storm that could capsize the ship. It is at this point that Maryk uses the Navy Code to relieve Queeg of his command. Maryk is supported by Keith.

When the ship returns to the mainland, Maryk and Keith are brought before a court-martial. They are represented by Lt. Barney Greenwald. During examination, Barney takes Queeg through a series of open-ended questions that throw him into a defensive tantrum, revealing his mental instability and paranoia, and Maryk and Keith are acquitted.