- Directors: Edward Dmytryk
- Producers: Stanley Kramer
- Writers: Herman Wouk, Stanley Roberts, Michael Blankfort
- Genres: Drama, Romance, War
- Actors: Humphrey Bogart, Van Johnson, Fred MacMurray
Callow Ensign Willis Seward “Willie” Keith (Robert Francis, in his film debut) reports for duty aboard the Caine, his first assignment out of officer candidate school. He is disappointed to find the Caine to be a small, battle-scarred destroyer-minesweeper. Its captain, Commander DeVriess (Tom Tully), has discarded spit-and-polish discipline, and the crew of the Caine has become slovenly and superficially undisciplined â€“ although their performance of their duties is, in fact, excellent. Keith has already met the executive officer, Lieutenant Stephen Maryk (Van Johnson), and is introduced to the cynical communications officer, novelist Lt. Thomas Keefer (Fred MacMurray).
DeVriess thinks Keith has attempted to duck duty aboard the Caine by using family influence, and rides him hard. But DeVriess is soon replaced by Lieutenant Commander Phillip Francis Queeg (Humphrey Bogart), a no-nonsense veteran officer, who has seen years of continuous duty. He quickly attempts to re-instill discipline into the crew, warning: “[T]here are four ways of doing things: the right way, the wrong way, the Navy way, and my way. If they do things my way, we’ll get along.”
The next day, the Caine is assigned to tow a target for gunnery practice. Afterwards, Queeg berates both Keith and Keefer over a crewman’s appearance and, while distracted, cuts off the helmsman’s warning; as a result, the Caine runs over and cuts the towline to the target. Queeg refuses to accept responsibility for the accident and tries to cover it up. Other incidents serve to undermine Queeg’s authority. When the remains of a quart of strawberries is stolen from the officers’ mess, the captain goes to absurd lengths to try to find the culprit. More seriously, in combat, Queeg breaks off escorting a group of landing craft during an amphibious assault long before they reach the fiercely-defended shore, dropping a yellow marker in the water instead and leaving them unsupported. Afterwards, Queeg makes a speech to his officers, not explicitly apologizing for his behavior, but bending enough to ask for their support. His disgruntled subordinates do not respond.
A few days later, Keith reports to his new ship and is surprised to find himself once again serving under Commander DeVriess. However, his new commanding officer lets Keith know that he will start with a clean slate.