The director William Friedkin died on Monday at age 87, leaving behind a filmography that included hits like “The Exorcist” and “The French Connection.”
But Friedkin had also completed one last project, “The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial.” Made for Paramount and Showtime, it is set to premiere in a few weeks at the Venice Film Festival, where in 2013 he won a lifetime achievement prize.
Adapted from the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Herman Wouk, “The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial” follows the trial of a naval officer (played by Jake Lacy) who is accused of leading a mutiny against his unstable commander (Kiefer Sutherland). The story was first adapted for the 1954 film “The Caine Mutiny,” which was nominated for seven Oscars including best picture. Though that film and Wouk’s novel take place during World War II, Friedkin contemporized the story and relocated the action to the Persian Gulf.
“The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial” is Friedkin’s 20th narrative film and his first since 2011’s “Killer Joe,” which starred Matthew McConaughey. In the interim, Friedkin directed a documentary, “The Devil and Father Amorth,” about a purported real-life exorcism.
“I’ve looked at a lot of scripts in the last 10 years, and I haven’t seen anything I really wanted to do,” Friedkin said in an interview last year while announcing the project. “But I think about it a lot, and it occurred to me that could be a very timely and important piece, as well as being great drama. ‘The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial’ is one of the best court-martial dramas ever written.”
The Venice Film Festival runs Aug. 30 to Sept. 9, though organizers have not yet announced a premiere date for Friedkin’s film. Unlike high-profile Venice films like Bradley Cooper’s “Maestro” and Sofia Coppola’s “Priscilla,” this posthumous effort will play out of competition, as per Friedkin’s wishes: In an expletive-laden scene from the documentary “Friedkin Uncut,” the director ranted against the idea of festival competitions manned by “a bunch of schmucks who call themselves judges.”