Good though overlong wartime drama with nice acting , splendid cinematography and powerful musical score
This is a remake from a German film, it was made seventeen years prior to this movie, and it was the first German film made after the war which was about the Second World War. This enjoyable WWII film has a brilliant script , original, precise, forceful , with intensity difficult to perceive . The title "Morituri" is Latin which can be translated as "we who are about to die", from the traditional salute of Roman gladiators in the arena, "Morituri Te Salutamus" , We, who are about to die, salute you! . World War II, espionage, adventure and human lives have never before been combined so explosively . It deals with a German called Rober Crain (Marlon Brando) living in India during World War II is blackmailed by the English (Trevor Howard along with Brando appeared in Mutiny on the Bounty in 1962 and were to appear again years later in Superman) to impersonate an SS officer , he aboard a freighter captained by Mueller (Yul Brynner) with a dangerous assignment . His mission is to locate and disarm the scuttling charges in order to prevent Mueller from scuttling the gunboat and its cargo upon interception by the British fleet . As the allied spy attempts to persuade German boat captain to surrender his vessel .
It's not the ordinary World War II spy movie , has an interesting as well as gripping screenplay without mannerisms , though is sometimes slow-moving and overlong . The improvisations throughout history , traps the writer to throw , the short dialogues and surprises rise the action . Sensational interpretations , where all the characters are equally evil in their intentions . Brando plays a Nazi soldier in this film as he had done so in the earlier ¨The young lions¨(1958) for 20th Century Fox, both movies being filmed in black-and-white and both being for made for the same studio. Yul Brynner -is no surprise- magnificent , the film's marketing boasted the surname alliteration of Brando and Brynner . A very support cast such as gorgeous Janet Margolin as Jewish Esther , Trevor Howard as Colonel Statter , Martin Benrath as Kruse , Hans Christian Blech as Donkeyman and William Redfield as Baldwin and Wally Cox as Dr. Ambach
Atmospheric cinematography in black and white by Conrad Hall ("Road to Perdition" 2002, "In Cold Blood" 1967,) . Evocative as well thrilling musical score by the great Jerry Goldsmith (Planet of apes , Patton) , full of nuances and details make a lovely movie. The motion picture was professionally directed by Berhard Wicki . He was a notorious stage actor , producer , filmmaker and secondary player . Wicki, who was clown before he became a soldier, stole food for and entertained his French prisoners while they waited to find out if they would be executed. He imprisoned for ten months at the Sachsenhausen concentration camp because of his earlier affiliation with the communist party. Started directing films from 1958 . Best known for his anti-war film ¨The Bridge¨ (1959) and subsequently ¨ Morituri¨. This movie bombed at the box-office upon initial release , it is believe that the film's title was not understood by the public . As such, when re-released, the film was re-named "Saboteur: Code Name Morituri"
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SO long as Marlon Brando has to play a straight melodramatic role (and that seems to be about the only sort the Hollywood people can now turn up for him), we couldn't ask to see him in one much more congenial to his style than the one he plays in the film which now goes by the turgid title of "The Saboteur: Code Name—Morituri."
In this elaborate seaborne drama, which came to Loew's State and the Murray Hill yesterday, Mr. Brando plays an anti-Nazi German who is recruited in the Far East by British Intelligence in 1942 to sail aboard a Nazi blockade runner going from Tokyo to France and, in the guise of an SS officer, try to deliver the ship to the Allies en route. Failing that, he is to make an endeavor to blow up the richly laden ship.
It is a role that calls for Mr. Brando to play a slyly deceptive game, conning the suspicious ship's officers into trusting him while he sneaks around defusing the explosive charges, and then to risk his neck in several ways while he secretly musters a gang of prisoners and dissatisfied crewmen to take control of the ship.
And he plays it with evident enjoyment, milking the moments of suspense with all his beautiful skill at holding pauses and letting tense thought churn behind his bland eyes. Again he speaks with a juicy German accent, as he did in "The Young Lions," and affects the elegant air of a fellow who packs an iron first in a silken glove.
But, alas, the melodrama is as turgid as that title they have given the film, and anxiety over the fate of Mr. Brando is dissipated in a vastly cluttered plot.
Long before his trickery is discovered and he has started the mutiny, which is almost as brazen and bloody as that one he started on the Bounty a few years back, you are likely to find yourself exhausted or generally confused from following a succession of hassles with and among the officers.
The screenplay of Daniel Taradash takes up tedious time placing Yul Brynner as a ship's captain with a strange independent streak and a disposition to alcoholism that really do little for the plot, and it makes the first mate of Martin Benrath an unnecessarily complex sort. By the time these two men have finished squabbling and Mr. Brando has finished sparring with them, the fate of the ship and all in it is beyond much interest and concern.
Likewise the director, Bernhard Wicki, who did that excellent German war film, "The Bridge," has helped to confuse the situation by some densely shadowed, angular camera work that leaves one feeling as though trapped in a giant computer instead of merely being in a ship. Some stunning shots from a helicopter partly compensate, but not enough to wash out a dark sense of claustrophobia.
As an American Jewish girl who is picked up among the prisoners, Janet Margolin, the girl in "David and Lisa," plays a hackneyed role touchingly, and several others perform intensely as people in the ship. But the whole thing has pretty well foundered long before the explosions are touched off.
THE SABOTEUR: CODE NAME—MORITURI, screenplay by Daniel Taradash, based on the novel "Morituri" by Werner Joerg Luedecke; directed by Bernhard Wicki; produced by Aaron Rosenberg. Released by Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation. At Loew's State Theater, 45th Street and Broadway, and the Murray Hill Theater, 34th Street west of Third Avenue. Running time: 123 minutes.
Robert Crain . . . . . Marlon Brando
Captain Mueller . . . . . Yul Brynner
Esther . . . . . Janet Margolin
Colonel Statter . . . . . Trevor Howard
Kruse . . . . . Martin Benrath
Donkeyman . . . . . Hans Christian Blech
Dr. Ambach . . . . . Wally Cox
Branner . . . . . Max Haufler
Milkereit . . . . . Rainer Penkert
Baldwin . . . . . William Redfield