"Caine Mutiny" question: Lt. Greenwald vs. "Meatball"

In the movie * The Caine Mutiny,* during the court-martial of Maryk and Keith, the prosecutor (E. G. Marshall) is questioning a sailor named “Meatball” (Lee Marvin) about his impression of Captain Queeg; Meatball said he thought Queeg was “strange.”
CHALLEE: Was it strange he cleaned up the Caine?
MEATBALL: No, sir.

CHALLEE: Evidently what you though “strange” were his attempts to make good sailors out of his crew.
Then Lt. Greenwald (Jose Ferrer) has one question for Meatball:
GREENWALD: What do those campaign stars [Meatball’s ribbons and decorations] represent?
GREENWALD: What do they represent?
MEATBALL: Well, this silver star is Guadalcanal, the Coral Sea, Tulagi…
GREENWALD: That’s all. (end of cross-examination.)
What I’ve always wanted to know is: Whay did Barney ask this question of Meatball? Was it supposed to mean Meatball was in battles as a “good sailor” when DeVries was the CO?

I think the question was meant to illustrate that Meatball was a seasoned sailor whose opinion should be taken seriously.

It’s also a response to the suggestion that Queeg was only trying to “to make good sailors out of his crew.” If Meatball was a typical example, they were already good sailors.

Your points are well taken. :slight_smile: Obviously the Navy needed and needs more basic and vital things than spit-and-polish, dignity and decorum. And. hey: Suppose the helmsman on duty when the Caine steamed over the towline, had testified about what Capt. Queeg said to him (“One more word and you’re on report!”)
Oh well… Queeg’s wild rant on the stand probably said it all–he may have had to go to a psychiatric hospital anyhow…

The novel has a lot more. Maryk(Van Johnson), though acquitted, is punished for his ‘mutiny’ by being reposted to the command of an LCI (Landing Craft, Infantry). Keith serves until the end of the war under Keefer (Fred MacMurray). During this time Keith develops into a seasoned
officer who saves the ship after it’s hit by a kamikaze.
Finally, before the ship heads home, Keefer is transferred
elsewhere and Keith assumes command as the last captain of the Caine. If the film had included some of this stuff
it would have left the audience with a better impression of
Keith, who, as it is, never seems to outgrow his pouty
childish persona. But I guess the producers thought the film was already long enough.

Your point is well taken. I think the ultimate irony is that actor Robert Francis, who played Ensign Keith in the movie, was killed about two years after the movie was made, in an automobile collision. :frowning: (He may have been the most cast member to die before Humphrey Bogart did.)

Didja know that the role of Queeg was originally to be played by Richard Widmark?

No disrespect meant for Bogart or the excellent job he did but…MIGOD, wouldn’t Widmark have been just about perfect?

I have to plead ignorance here, Ike. The only thing I know about Richard Widmark is that he is Sandy Koufax’ father-in-law.
In TV Guide, Herman Wouk wrote that Bogart was cast against type–but he filled the role of the “neurotic, timorous” Captain Queeg just fine.

Oh, man…you gotta go out RIGHT NOW and rent the film noir KISS OF DEATH (1947), Richard Widmark’s debut.

He plays Tommy Udo, a genuinely scary little psychopath of a gangster with a terrifying giggle, who likes to shoot people in the belly so they can roll around for a while and think about it. About halfway through the flick, he pushes a little old lady in a wheelchair down a flight of stairs. The film, ahem, made Widmark a household name.

For the record, he also played good guys very well…see PANIC IN THE STREETS, 1950, another film noir in which Widmark played a Naval doctor trying to save New Orleans from a cholera epidemic inadvertantly being spread by criminals Jack Palance and Zero Mostel (!).

“He plays Tommy Udo, a genuinely scary little psychopath of a gangster with a terrifying giggle, who likes to shoot people in the belly so they can roll around for a while and think about it.”

Sounds a lot like Neville Brand’s character in “DOA.”

Yeah, I loved that character, too. “Soft in the belly,” he’d say, just as he sucker-punched Edmund O’Brien in the gut. That’s GOTTA hurt, when you’ve got a tummyful of luminous poison.

I think Udo made enough of an impression that you started seeing a LOT of giggling psychos in films noir.

And absolutely, go and rent the movie “Roadhouse” (the 1949
version, not the Pactrick Swayze movie). A superb vehicle for Widmark, centered around a roadhouse/bowling alley (need I say more?)