A bounty for viewers. Few adventures can approach MUTINY ON THE BOUNTY for its action-filled dramatization of good vs. evil. 1935's top grosser, the film confirmed Gable as Hollywood's biggest male star and gave Laughton the most famous role of his career. The film's basis in fact only adds
sweep to this bracing saga of a 1788 ship mutiny.
The film opens as the Bounty gracefully sets sail from Portsmouth, England to Tahiti to gather breadfruit trees. Shipboard life, though, soon hits rough seas as conflicts arise between the vicious, bullying Capt. Bligh (Laughton) and his courageous first mate, Fletcher Christian (Gable), with
idealistic midshipman Roger Byam (Tone) caught in the middle. The stay in Tahiti proves to be a momentary respite, even though Bligh seethes over Christian's romance with the island chief's daughter (Movita Castaneda). On the homeward voyage, Bligh becomes even more barbaric, and it's only a
matter of time before Christian takes action.
Expertly crafted and brilliantly acted, MUTINY ON THE BOUNTY is one of the most durable and engrossing adventure films ever made. For the first and only time in motion-picture history, three actors from the same film--Gable, Laughton, and Tone--were nominated for Oscars in the Best Actor division.
Lloyd's rich direction captures the exotic South Sea island of Tahiti and the rigors of the hardscrabble voyage and gives the cast its full head (Digges is especially good). Gable, in splendid form, was originally afraid of wearing breeches and a small ponytail, and he also thought his American
accent would stand out too much. (If anything, it works by contributing to a certain xenophobia in his struggles against the unhandsome and genuinely British Laughton.) His Christian is full of integrity and courage, and is even surprisingly tender in the oddly bisexual edge of the film's Tahiti
scenes. The superb Laughton, meanwhile, relishing his self-righteous villainy, gave impersonators a lifetime of work uttering "Mr. Christian, come here!". Tone, an underrated actor, is also sturdy, and gets to strut his stuff in the courtroom finale. Although the production of the film was dogged
by backstage sniping, scripting problems, expensive location footage ruined by tropical humidity, and the loss of $50K worth of equipment, you'd never know it to look at the result.
The film was remade under the same title in 1962. Trevor Howard was a compelling Bligh, but Marlon Brando's weird attempt to turn Christian into an effeminate fop could have made the film a camp classic if only he weren't so serious about it. As it is, his grand experiment entirely sabotages the
film. 1984, meanwhile, brought us THE BOUNTY. Anthony Hopkins aimed for a more complex Bligh, but Mel Gibson was extremely bland and the undertaking entirely lacked the epic scope that made the 1935 version so bracing.
Cast & Details See all »
- Rating: NR
- Review: A bounty for viewers. Few adventures can approach MUTINY ON THE BOUNTY for its action-filled dramatization of good vs. evil. 1935's top grosser, the film confirmed Gable as Hollywood's biggest male star and gave Laughton the most famous role of his career.… (more)