Tony Mastroianni Review Collection
Sea-Spy Film, "Morituri" Combines Action, Yawns
Cleveland Press August 5, 1965
In "Morituri" Marlon Brando portrays a wealthy German army officer who has defected at the out break of World War II and is living in India.
The English are on to him, blackmail him into boarding a German merchant ship carrying a valuable load of rubber from Japan to occupied France. It's either work for the English or get sent back to Germany in exchange for one of their prisoners.
The ship is equipped with explosive charges at key points so that it can be scuttled if there is danger of its falling into Allied hands. Brando's job is to dismantle the charges before the American Navy intercepts the ship.
YUL BRYNNER is the ship's captain, and is convincing as a man of the sea more concerned about doing his job than he is of duty to his fatherland.
You are not likely to recognize Wally Cox as the dope-ridden ship's doctor. It's a combination of good makeup and good acting.
Martin Benrath is stiff and sinister as the loyal Nazi who is second in command. Janet Margolin appears briefly and is effective as Jewish girl who has been in a concentration camp.
Brando is tough to figure. His characterization is consistent but there is a question as to whether it is the right one.
THE DIALOG is in English but we understand that these are all Germans. But with only one other exception, Brando is virtually alone in using a German accent. If he were a German speaking English an accent would be expected, even needed. In his native tongue there should be none.
This seems like a minor and often meaningless point, but one gets the uncomfortable feeling that Brando is forever going it alone. His timing, lengthy pauses, could indicate that he is setting his own pace and ignoring the director.
The action of the story, the introducing of one crisis after another all help to build suspense, but the length of the film does make it bog down now and then. One sordid episode in the story keeps the movie in the adult class.