Tuesday, February 2, 2010

89. Mutiny on the Bounty (1935)

Running Time: 132 minutes
Directed By: Frank Lloyd
Written By: Talbot Jennings, Jules Furthman, from book by Charles Nordhoff & James Hall
Main Cast: Charles Laughton, Clark Gable, Franchot Tone


So this movie takes home the Oscar statuette for Best Picture of the Year back at the 1936 ceremony, and while I haven't seen all of the nominees from that particular year, I did see "Captain Blood" yesterday and that film alone beats this one by a mile, for Best Picture of 1935.

"Mutiny on the Bounty" tells the tale of the HMS Bounty, a British naval ship set sail for the island of Tahiti. It's mission: To bring back breadfruit trees for preservation in England. The film starts out with a ship full of able bodied men, including Fletcher Christian (Gable), Midshipman Roger Byam and Captain Bligh, the slave driving, mean mannerd Captain of the Bounty. Captain Bligh believes in very stiff punishment for his men, including the carrying out of forty lashes to a dead man. Captain Bligh has no sympathy for any man aboard the Bounty and cannot stand when excuses are made, when work isn't finished or any and all insubordination. However, Bligh gets along well enough with first mate Fletcher Christian, that is until Christian tries to speak up for his fellow crew members, after rations are cut and no man onboard has gone without being flogged under Captain Bligh's orders.

The Bounty eventually lands on the island of Tahiti and there they stay for a period of six months, with Roger Byam creating a dictionary of the Tahitian language and the rest of the crew loading up the Bounty with the breadfruit trees. One of the few favorite scenes of mine from "Mutiny On the Bounty" comes when Captain Bligh is forced to humble himself to the leader of the island of Tahiti. On the way back to England, Christian is accused by Bligh of thieving ten coconuts from the cargo and keeping secret that he was given a gift of pearls by the islanders. On top of the accusations, Bligh forces one of the eldest members of the crew on deck when he is ill, and it leads to the death of the old man. With all of these events put together, it doesn't take Fletcher Christian long to scream "MUTINY!!"

I must admit that I was bored to tears while watching this movie. I really can't say why, other than the fact that the subject matter was not up my alley and there were long periods of film time that easily could've been clipped, to give the movie a little bit better flow and a shorter length. Upon finishing "Mutiny On the Bounty" I looked up it's Wikipedia entry and was pleasantly surprised to see that the AFI named Captain Bligh #17 on the "50 Greatest Villains in Film History" list. Charles Laughton's portrayl of the flat out mean Captain Bligh was one of the good things about "Mutiny on the Bounty" and I remember thinking to myself, as I watched this movie, that he had to be on top of a list of the greatest heels in cinema history. However, as good as Laughton was, I couldn't even get into Gable's performance, and as much as I loved him in "It Happened One Night", his performance did nothing for me here. Not sure why all three of the lead actors got Oscar nods some seventy-four years ago, as Laughton is the clear actor winner of "Mutiny on the Bounty".

RATING: 3/10 I gave it a few points for a handful of interesting and good scenes and for Laughton's performance, other than that, give this one a pass.

NEXT UP: A Night at the Opera...More Marx Brothers!! This along with possibly a few others should be ready for review tomorrow.

February 2, 2010 4:12pm


  1. Fletcher Christian is a local lad.. he was born about 3 miles from where I live. Several pubs named after him, or the Bounty...
    .. And (I hope) we all know the traditional story is a travesty and a grave injustice to Bligh. I totaly agree with you that it is Gable who lets this down. However I wouldn't punish the whole film as much as you do for that.. and Charle, oh surely his performanc (historical travesty accepted) drags it up to at least 7 or8..

  2. Unfortunately I just couldn't go that high. I'll give Laughton his due, but the rest of the film really bored me. I wish I had some of the personal connections that you do to this one, as maybe I could have enjoyed it more.


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