William Friedkin made me want to be in film

The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial star Kiefer Sutherland praised the late William Friedkin and The French Connection.


The passing of William Friedkin last August put a cloud over what ended up being his final film, The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial. At the same time, it predsented an opportunity to celebrate the legendary director, whether it’s from his fans or those he has worked with. Now, the star of the film, Keifer Sutherland, remembers just how special it was for him to collaborate with Friedkin.

Speaking at a recent panel, Keifer Sutherland spoke highly of the late William Friedkin, saying that seeing 1971’s The French Connection on the big screen as a teen had a tremendous influence on his appreciation for cinema and the craft of acting. “William Freakin was responsible for me…I was working as a theater actor – I was only 15, 16 years old in Toronto, Canada. My mother was a great theater actor. It’s the community I grew up in and I was very dedicated to. That was the actor that I wanted to be. And I went and saw The French Connection when I was 15. I didn’t know anything about the film, and my response to it was so visceral and the film was so honest and aggressive. And then obviously the performances of Roy Scheider and Gene Hackman would have affected any young actor…I left that theater that day knowing that I wanted to make films, and I wanted to make films like that…and it had a profound change in my life.”

Sutherland also recalled getting a phone call from Friedkin, but hung up on the director thinking it was a prank from his friends. Realizing they wouldn’t pull off such a joke, Sutherland quickly dialed back, ultimately leading to being cast and certainly one of the highlights of his career

Not only was The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial William Friedkin’s final film, it was also his first in more than a decade. As such, it was definitely near the top of must-see movies from last year, premiering at the Venice Film Festival and hitting Paramount+ in October. It would go on to be one of the best-reviewed films of William Friedkin’s career, with our own Chris Bumbray giving it a 7/10 and calling it “well-assembled and expertly acted.”

The movie’s ultimate source, Herman Wouk’s novel, has been adapted a handful of times for the screen, notably the Humphrey Bogart-starring The Caine Mutiny (1954).

What did you think of The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial? Where would you place it in the works of William Friedkin? Let us know below!