I hadn't watched this film for many years, but recently bought and watched the DVD version. This movie is just as great now as it was when it came out in 1954.
This film packs a tremendous amount into about 125 minutes--a crisis of leadership, the testing of loyalty, and courtroom drama--all done superlatively well. This is the tale of ordinary men who are tested in wartime by the fact that they are serving a captain who is a spectacularly bad leader. As almost everyone knows, this is the story of the events surrounding what amounts to a kind of mutiny aboard a US Navy destroyer during World War 2 in the Pacific. The events leading up to this, and the aftermath, are a great story that ranks with "Mutiny on the Bounty" as a naval classic. The story moves at a fast pace, never drags, features excellent acting, and the script is a wonderful adaptation of Herman Wouk's novel of the same name.
The movie merited seven Academy Award nominations, and the book a Pulitzer Prize, all for a very good and simple reason: this is a great story about ordinary men who are placed in a difficult and all-too-possible situation. It is difficult to say whether the aboard-ship portion of the movie, or the segment dealing with the trial, is the better. Both are superb. Jose Ferrer was absolutely magnificent as Barney Greenwald, and of course Humphrey Bogart was peerless as Captain Queeg. Van Johnson does well as the uncomplicated but competent Meryk. The rest of the cast turn in fine performances as well.
Every movie afficianado will want to own this DVD and will enjoy this classic many times.