Damn the Defiant! is an 18th-century seafaring drama from director Lewis Gilbert. Alec Guinness plays the stern but compassionate captain of a British warship, engaged in the Napoleonic wars. Guinness is popular with his men, which is more than can be said for his new second-in-command Dirk Bogarde. When Guinness tries to modify Bogarde's sadistic adherence to discipline, Bogarde responds by mistreating Guinness' cabin-boy son, knowing that the captain cannot intervene under the edicts of British maritime law. During an incipient mutiny, Bogarde is accidently killed, and Guinness knows that the crewmen responsible must hang once they reach shore. But after these same men perform courageously in battle, Guinness suffers a crisis of conscience: How can he condemn these fearlessly patriotic men to death, as he knows he must? Based on the novel Mutiny by Frank Tilsley.
by Hal Erickson synopsis