Mutiny on the Bounty (1935) Poster

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A Movie Worth Seeing!
robmeister19 January 2006
Few stories have stirred the imagination as much as the infamous mutiny aboard the HMS Bounty, in 1789, and this movie captures the spirit of that historic event very well.

Clark Gable stars without his trademark mustache (and British accent) as Fletcher Christian, the officer in charge of the mutiny. Fortunately, his performance as Christian was strong enough so that the average viewer would overlook that particular flaw (unlike Kevin Costner's turn as Robin Hood in 1991's "Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves").

Franchot Tone's portrayal of Midshipman Roger Byam was sympathetic, as he appeared to be more of a witness to the events than a participant. Byam's plea for reforms in the British Navy at the end of his court martial put a cap on a memorable performance. It should be noted that one of the factors in creating the Best Supporting Actor/Actress categories at the Oscars undoubtedly came about as a direct result of this movie, with three men nominated for Best Actor. If Best Supporting Actor had existed, Tone would have been up for (and likely received) Best Supporting Actor.

And then there's Charles Laughton. As Captain Bligh, Laughton made the most of his scenery-chewing role. Fortunately for him, the open-boat sequence added depth to his character, avoiding the cliché of Bligh being a cruel and inhuman sea captain. Unfortunately for him, his likeness graced cartoons and magazines for decades as a depiction of controlling and maniacal leaders.

While watching this movie, I began to notice a few plot points that Herman Wouk must have used for his novel "The Caine Mutiny". For example, Byam sees a tall ship and asks if it's the Bounty, but the Bounty is a smaller ship behind it; likewise, Ensign Keith spots a proud new vessel and asks if it's the Caine, but the Caine sits beyond, a small minesweeper full of rust. Captain Bligh obsesses over two wheels of missing cheese; Captain Queeg turns his ship upside-down over a few pounds of strawberries. And both Bligh and Queeg believe the whole crew of their respective ships are against them, even going so far as to conjecture a conspiracy theory based upon half-heard (and innocent) conversations. By the way, I am not trying to discredit "The Caine Mutiny" in any way; both the novel and the 1954 movie (starring Humphrey Bogart) are classics in their own right, and I recommend both reading the book and seeing the movie.

"Mutiny On the Bounty" is a well-made movie, with one of the best musical scores I have heard. When I heard the violins sweeping into the theme music at the opening titles, I knew right away I was in for a good time. Strong performances, great camera work, a well-written script, and an astounding musical score. All in all, this is a movie worth seeing!
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The sentimental favorite version.
yenlo28 September 1999
When watching this great motion picture keep in mind that it is now over sixty (60)years old! Even through the passage of time it provides for entertaining viewing. Charles Laughtons performance as William Bligh captain of the Bounty basically set the standard as how Bligh is pictured and thought of when his name is mentioned. Other actors have portrayed Bligh but it is Laughtons portrayal that is remembered most. The 1984 version with Anthony Hopkins and Mel Gibson is probably a more historical version of actual events but this 1935 classic will most likely always be the sentimental favorite.
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Strong Best Picture Winner of 1935.
tfrizzell6 May 2002
Clark Gable and Franchot Tone received Oscar nominations in this excellent early Best Picture winner. But it is Charles Laughton (also Oscar-nominated) who gives his greatest performance as the captain who is harsh, strict and unforgiving. However, his true skills are shown when he is thrown off the ship, but never gives up and returns to safety in a small boat with limited men and supplies. The primary actors are solid and the shooting locales are breath-taking. Frank Lloyd's direction lifts a somewhat questionable screenplay to safer waters and the film turns into a Hollywood classic by its final act. 5 stars out of 5.
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Our Favorite "Mutiny": April 28, 1789
theowinthrop26 September 2005
Although the versions with Marlon Brando and Trevor Howard, and with Mel Gibson and Anthony Hopkins, are fairer in presenting William Bligh than the 1935 version did, it is the 1935 version that remains the best American version of the story of Bligh, Christian, and the "Bounty". It is the most literary version (based on the novels of Nordhoff and Hall - there are actually three novels), and it did give Charles Laughton his most famous ogre (which he repeated later as Captain William Kidd twice), but somehow the story was properly told in this version. Somehow making a case for Bligh weakens the story of men rebelling when they can't stand anymore.

If one wants to see the story from Bligh's side, read his very readable account THE MUTINY ABOARD H.M.S. BOUNTY, but keep in mind that it is his account of his side of the story. Christian never did get a chance to produce his side of it. Peter Heyward, the real life version of Byams (Franchot Tone) had the family connections and money to publish his anti-Bligh account, but Bligh's book became a best seller.

Historically most people feel that Bligh was more bark than bite. Unfortunately for his reputation he would be involved (in later years) in two other mutinies: that of the entire British fleet (the "Great Mutiny of 1797), where his ship "H.M.S. Director" was the last ship to take down it's flag of mutiny); and the New South Wales mutiny of 1805, where he was the Governor of the colony and his measures led to a mutiny of the local New South Wales Corp. But the Great Mutiny was actually caused by government corruption and neglect of it's seamen. As for the 1805 mutiny, Bligh was trying to control the New South Wales Corps which was not only corrupt but bullying the civilians. In the end his reports led to the recall of the corp. to fight against Napoleon on the Iberian Peninsula. But Nordhoff and Hall presented Bligh as the villain there too.

The film also has more to it than the ranting of Bligh at "MR. Christian!" There are moments of comedy. Laughton's temper and anger are punctured a few times when the new cook (Herbert Mundin) keeps bungling things. When Laughton is angrily confronting a dissatisfied sailor, he happens to be staring directly at the sailor and Mundin. He orders the sailor to step forward, but Mundin does, causing Laughton to sputter. Also Mundin manages to toss garbage over the side so that it ends up hitting Laughton in the face. One wishes there had been more than this, or (better than that) an attempt to bring the two actors together in a comedy. Add to this Mr. Bacchus (Dudley Digges) whose leg (depending on when he is talking about it) was lost in a sea battle with the French, by a shark (who six months later turned up dead, with the leg still inside him), and shot off by a pirate off Madagascar (or something like that). His death in the film is a signal for the collapse of the one spot of humanity linking Christian's faction with Bligh's.

It is now generally accepted that Bligh was one of the greatest navigators in history, and the open boat voyage after being thrown off the Bounty remains an incredible achievement (he lost only two men). The film's best moments for Laughton is in this section, as he suddenly becomes far more wiser and humane trying to keep his crew healthy and able to continue to sail to safety. But when in charge of a full ship Bligh could not, or would not control his temper and his tongue. It was sufficient to get him into trouble. However, it was also his ticket to fame. Seaman remember the great navigator and the cartographer - the man who sailed with Captain Cook and who fought (at Copenhagen in 1801) next to Horatio Nelson. But the public will always remember the ill-tempered martinet, fairly or not, whose tongue made nautical history.
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MartinHafer1 August 2009
Wow. I haven't seen this movie for many years and it turned out to be even better than I'd remembered it. I really have to admire this film, as the acting and entire production are top-notch. I rarely give 10s, but this one comes very close--oh, heck...the more I think about it, the more I realize it does deserve it.

As far as the historical accuracy of the film goes, while it isn't perfect (after all, Bligh's exact role in starting the mutiny is tough to determine), it did get most of the points of this true tale correct--showing a rare reverence for the source material. All too often, history takes a back seat to making a marketable film. The only major thing the film got seriously wrong were the mutineers themselves. However, this is because only recent excavations have shown that the men who mutinied in effect killed each other off--as they apparently WERE scum after all. But, based on material available at the time, it was pretty good. As to Bligh's temperament, the British admiralty found Bligh completely blameless. However, later as governor of Australia, Bligh alienated everyone and was, by most accounts, a real jerk. So, the essence of the film appears to be true. Hmm...for once I have no serious complaints about the accuracy of a historical film--that's pretty rare.

The best part of the film, however, is that the actors were absolutely on top of their game. Charles Laughton, though prone to overacting by all accounts, was exceptional here. Clark Gable was in his element--and simply one of his best film roles. The same can also be said of Franchot Tone--here, he has a much deeper and meatier role than usual. In fact, the three came off so well that all three were nominated for Best Actor--necessitating the creation of Best Supporting Actor and Actress categories. The rest of the cast, the supporting journeymen actors, were great--with Donald Crisp (with hair!!) excellent as a troublemaker, Dudley Diggs as a very sympathetic drunkard and many others in top form.

The direction by Frank Lloyd, the cinematography, music, sets and location shooting were also wonderful. So why, if this film was so perfect, would they try remaking it?! This is a great example of a film whose remakes definitely pale by comparison. A perfect or at least near-perfect film in every way.

By the way, if you are curious about the real life Bligh, after both this mutiny and the rebellion in Australia (that he appeared to instigate), he was rewarded with the rank of Rear Admiral! Who says life has to be fair?
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"Music at sea"
Steffi_P26 June 2011
By 1935 the worst years of the depression were over, the pitfalls of the early talkies had been overcome, and Hollywood was starting to regain its confidence. For the first time in several years pictures were being made as big and bold as they had been in the late silent era. And like the flagship of this new era comes this highly fictionalised account of the Bounty mutineers.

Although this is very much a Hollywood production, it may seem a little strange to see that all-American lead idol Clark Gable playing an Englishman. This being the days before such things really mattered, and Gable not really being one to shift his persona too much, he makes no attempt whatsoever at an English accent. And yet he fits in very well. Gable always carried with him a touch of the theatre where he cut his teeth, and proves himself a powerful counterpoint to the blustering Charles Laughton. With his barrel chest, wavy hair and easygoing swagger he does have the makings of a swashbuckling hero, and this is the role Fletcher Christian takes in this adventuresome adaptation. Gable is, in a way, Hollywood's ambassador in the story – just about convincing as an 18th century naval officer, but familiar enough to give US audiences a lead into the movie.

Opposite Gable is a mix of American faces and the British actors who had started to migrate stateside. Charles Laughton's performance as Captain Bligh is integral to the movie. You realise here that Laughton was rather a short man, and he plays on this, making Bligh a jumped-up, Napoleon-complexed bully; all sharp, jabbing motions, an arrogant stance and a face like a dead fish. Alongside Gable and Laughton, the third Best Actor nominee was Franchot Tone, although he is not really exceptional, merely worthy. There is a typically strong turn from Donald Crisp, and Eddie Quillan is surprisingly decent if a little overwrought. The only wrong note is perhaps Herbert Mundin, or at least his character. The bumbling little comedy performer was always good to see in Errol Flynn adventures and the like but he is wrong for this more serious affair. Note how he seems to disappear from the story when the mutiny takes place, which is fair enough – one couldn't really imagine that sweet little chap joining the mutineers or cast adrift and dying by inches.

The director is one of the masters of old Hollywood, multiple Oscar-winner Frank Lloyd. Lloyd's smooth, confident set-ups bring a tense, fractious feel to life on board ship, while never using too much obvious technique as to make it seem artificial. A lot of shots, such as the early one of Gable leading the press gang, show men facing each other in profile, aggressive, combative. In almost every shot we are made to feel the motion of the ship, and even below decks we have the swinging of hammocks. By contrast the scenes on dry land are palpably solid, emphasising the change to a more peaceful life on Tahiti. Lloyd is also one for composing tableaux that are memorable and iconic. There's an odd-looking but very effective shot shortly before the flogging scene, with punishment-doler Morrison staring coldly ahead on the left-hand edge of the frame, that has seared itself into my memory.

And ultimately it is just such a grand, iconic feel that characterises Mutiny on the Bounty. The Herbert Stothart score is a bombastic medley of nautical themes and emotional underscoring. The forceful, rhythmic editing of Margaret Booth provides us with some striking montages. And of course there is the fact that nothing is faked. Full-size replica ships were built and location filming was carried out in Polynesia, with none of the ugly back projection shooting that mars many pictures before and after. Such a mighty production demonstrates why you need such larger-than-life stars as Gable and Laughton. Here is a movie that does everything it can to announce that big Hollywood is back in all its glory.
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The Grandest Sea Saga of Them All
bkoganbing24 September 2005
At that most prestigious of all film studios, MGM, they produced the greatest and grandest sea saga of them all. In 1935 it was considered quite daring to have an over two hour film. But Mutiny on the Bounty holds your interest through out.

All three leads Clark Gable, Charles Laughton, and Franchot Tone were nominated for Best Actor that year and they managed to cancel each other out. Victor McLaglen took home the statue for The Informer with the fifth nominee being Paul Muni for Black Fury.

Clark Gable wisely did not attempt a British accent and yet there was no criticism of his performance as Fletcher Christian. Christian was first mate of the HMS Bounty and a man of conscience. It tears him up inside to see the sadism and cruelty of Captain Bligh on this voyage. The men aren't king and country volunteers as he tells the captain. But the captain has his own ideas.

Normally Charles Laughton played a whole lot of twisted and/or tortured souls for the screen. His Captain Bligh is a man with a deep inferiority complex. The key to him is in the dinner scene on board the Bounty. Watching him, you can see the envy and jealousy he has of the confident and self assured Gable, the callow youth Franchot Tone brimming with idealism and even the surgeon Dudley Digges who despite his drunkeness and crudity is a professional man with some education. It's so much like James Cagney's captain in Mister Roberts and worse because at that time the British Navy gave him the authority of God on that ship.

The conflict between Gable and Laughton is obviously the main plot of the film. Yet there is a subplot that's rarely talked about, the conflict between Gable and Franchot Tone. Tone who was also American, but was stage trained and could fit into a British setting easily, plays Roger Byam one of the young midshipmen on board and who Gable befriends. The key to his character is right at the beginning of the film when he's being sent off to sea by Henry Stephenson playing Sir Joseph Banks. Seven generations of Byam's family have been part of the glorious naval tradition of Great Britain and none have failed in their duty. That should be uppermost in your mind.

Gable and Tone have different ideas of duty and it tests their friendship. Each chooses a different path, yet Tone ends up defending Gable against Laughton. Franchot Tone's finest screen moment for me has always been at his court martial where he makes a stirring speech in defense of the rights of the ordinary British seaman.

As always though the mark of a really great film is the impact those small character roles leave. The men on the Bounty include Donald Crisp, Stanley Fields, Eddie Quillan, Herbert Mundin. My favorite though is Dudley Digges as the ship's surgeon Mr. Bacchus. At the drop of a shilling he'll tell you how he's lost his leg. Outrageous, humorous, and a kindly man who softens the blows of Laughton's harsh discipline, had there been the Supporting player categories then, Mr. Digges would have been my choice for 1935 as Best Supporting Actor.

Even in black and white, made in the studio back lot, Mutiny on the Bounty still holds up well today. Despite two subsequent versions of the story, this version has stood the test of time.
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Lavish, Interesting, & Memorable (Whether Historical Or Not)
Snow Leopard12 August 2004
With three fine leading performances, lavish settings and scenery, and an engrossing story, the 1935 version of "Mutiny on the Bounty" is certainly the best cinema version of the familiar story, whether or not it is historically accurate. The 1962 version had some quality aspects, but it seemed to suffer from some odd casting and from over-extending itself. The revisionist 80's version made claims to being more historically accurate than the others, which may or may not be the case, and it was interesting for Anthony Hopkins's distinctive portrayal of Captain Bligh, but it was otherwise an unremarkable and not especially creative film.

The trio of Charles Laughton, Clark Gable, and Franchot Tone set a standard that none of the rest could come close to equaling. Laughton is perfect as Bligh, or at least as the kind of captain that Bligh is/was commonly assumed to have been. Gable does very well in adapting Fletcher Christian just enough to fit his own strengths - Gable is not quite what you expect of a British naval officer, but if he had tried to force himself into that mold, it probably would have been rather unconvincing. In themselves, Gable's charisma, decisiveness, and energetic personality seem just right for Christian. Tone also fits smoothly into the role of Byam, giving it the right combination of earnestness and restraint.

Their performances are set off nicely by the carefully detailed and interesting settings, and by a supporting cast that gets its share of good moments. The historical truths of the Bounty incident can be fairly debated, since it's unlikely that anyone now knows the inside story. But setting aside those questions, and purely as a movie, it would be hard to argue the virtues of this version of the story.
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Quite Possibly The Best Movie Of The 1930's
sddavis631 October 2002
In a decade that saw some spectacular movies in a variety of genres (from "All Quiet On The Western Front" in 1930 to "Gone With The Wind" and "The Wizard Of Oz" in 1939) "Mutiny On The Bounty" is in every way at least equal to and in my opinion better than any of the others. It is a classic example of movie-making at its finest.

Technically the film is superb. Well filmed and with realistic sets, the viewer feels as if he really is on an 18th century British Navy vessel. I remember as a teenager coming across this movie halfway through and not really knowing what it was about but being captured by the vividly realistic portrayal of life at sea. That feeling has never gone away when I watch it. The performances are breath-taking. Clark Gable as Fletcher Christian and Franchot Tone as Roger Byam are excellent, but it is Charles Laughton as Bligh who steals the show. Everything about Laughton in this film screams "Captain Bligh," and his is almost certainly the face that comes to mind when one contemplates the historical figure of Bligh. All three were nominated for Oscars, as was director Frank Lloyd (and inexplicably failed to win, although the film itself was named 1935's Best Picture.) The film mixes adventure, gripping drama and even humour into about two and a quarter hours of sheer enjoyment.

You can quibble about a few things. Apparently history suggests that Bligh might not have been quite this sadistic nor Christian quite so noble. There's a strange shot of the Bounty being run aground by Christian at Pitcairn Island, and as the ship is about to crash into the island the film inexplicably reverses and the end of the shot is clearly going backward for about 2 seconds. I admit that it was passing strange that both Fletcher Christian and Roger Byam speak with American accents, making one wonder how these guys were in the British Navy (but for the sake of Gable's and Tone's performances that can be overlooked) and at the end the movie gets a bit preachy (particularly Byam's speech to his court-martial.) But these are minor and do not detract from one's enjoyment of the film.

Watch this if you never have. Watch it again if you have, and watch it over and over if you can. It is a masterpiece. 9/10
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Classic Adventure Movie
noneabve194729 July 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Probably the greatest "adventure" movie ever made! The casting was perfect. I just bought it to add to my collection, mostly to see if they got it wrong. They did, but having been to Tahiti at least they did right by Polynesia....even the words were Tahitian!! Hard to imagine that in a 1935 film.

What was wrong was the reasons for the mutiny and the portrayal of William Bligh. I have nothing but praise for every role Laughton has done. SUPERB!!! But the real Bligh was the exact opposite. Too gentle, I think and didn't see this all coming.

Put yourself in the crew. Almost a year at sea, eating rotten salt pork, then months in a tropical paradise with sexy girls....would you look forward to that return voyage???
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Legendary, Memorable--But Somewhat Problematic
gftbiloxi28 March 2005
Based on the then-popular novel by Charles Nordhoff and James Norman Hall, the 1935 MUTINY ON THE BOUNTY is among a series of legendary films of the 1930s that have been repeatedly celebrated for cinematic achievement. And small wonder: the film has a host of powerful assets.

The single most obvious among these is the star power involved: led by two Oscar-winning stars, the critically formidable Charles Laughton and the incredibly popular Clark Gable, the cast reads like a Who's Who of mid-1930s male actors ranging from leading man Franchot Tone to the memorable character actor Donald Crisp. In a visual sense, the film is also a knockout: filmed on location in a full-size replica of the Bounty, it set a new standard for capturing the sea on film. And the story itself is powerful, the tale of the battle between the cruel and autocratic Bligh and the humane and populist Fletcher Christian. Taken together, it makes for a powerful ride.

Still, some viewers may not find MUTINY ON THE BOUNTY all it is cracked to be. Then as now, Hollywood was less interested in getting the facts right than in telling a good story--and from a factual point of view the film is perhaps twenty percent accurate and eighty percent nothing more nor less than historical tarradiddle. That is no real hindrance per se; after all, we're not watching a documentary. But seen from a modern standpoint the cast now feels somewhat problematic.

Charles Laughton was so critically well regarded that he received star billing over Clark Gable for the film, and seen today his performance is easily the single most powerful in the entire film. Autocratic, brilliant, and immediately and increasingly unlikable, he drives the film from start to finish--and it is here, really, in which most of the film's historical accuracy resides. The rest of the cast, however, is extremely Hollywood. Clark Gable, Franchot Tone and all the rest give an excellent show, full of power and drive--but you never for a moment forget that they are indeed Hollywood stars and not members of the British Navy.

This is very much a "big" film in the MGM tradition, often brilliant, often memorable, and often setting new standards for the motion picture industry. And when regarded from that point of view it is extremely, extremely entertaining. But it may also be a film whose power has slightly faded with the passing of time.

Gary F. Taylor, aka GFT, Amazon Reviewer
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An epic voyage
Koundinya30 May 2012
Warning: Spoilers
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios' Best Picture till date.

HMS Bounty is all set to sail from Portsmouth to Tahiti lead by Captain Bligh. The ship is need for a few workers and everyone is intimidated when they get to know the ship will sail under the command of Captain William Bligh. Captain Bligh, played by Charles Laughton, is a ruthless man who doesn't share a camaraderie with the crew as Captain Fletcher, played by Clark Gable, does. The conflict starts when Captain Bligh punishes a man to get on top of the ship despite the inclement weather in the sea. The captain-crew relation further strains when the workers are ill-treated by the Captain and those loyal to him. The mutineers, lead by Captain Fletcher, jettison Captain Bligh and those loyal to him and they carry on their voyage to Tahiti. Captain Bligh and his acolytes venture the sea, and after more than a month of starvation with nothing but water in the vicinity, the emaciated men reach shore. Captain Fletcher and his men reach Tahiti, trade with the local people, make settlements and even marry the women of the country. In the meanwhile, Captain Bligh and his men get aboard another ship and are on a pursuit to incarcerate Captain Fletcher and the mutineers and bring them to the book in England. Captain Fletcher and his men spot the ship when it's a more than a day's sail away and flee from Tahiti. Captain Byam and a few men who are neutral on the mutiny wish to stay back only to be taken to England for prosecution. The men are sentenced to Capital punishment. Captain Byam is proved not guilty and is promoted in rank. Fletcher and his men inhabit a deserted island.

Charles Laughton portrays Captain Bligh as a tyrant, care-for-nothing, petulant captain who expects to be revered and feared by his crew. Never does he grin nor smile and carries a straight-face throughout the movie. Charles Laughton has made Captain Bligh one of the greatest on-screen villains with ease. Clark Gable and Franchot Tone have performed really well.

A true epic that is far ahead of its times by several "nautical miles".
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A Rare Masterpiece
tahmeedkc30 April 2014
Mutiny on the bounty is one of the finest films I have ever seen, and a rare beast of a film at that. It succeeds in everything a film should, with an interesting story, idyllic and realistic acting, and a wonderful feeling. The leading performances of Charles Laughton, Clarke Gable and Franchot Tone are the ones of legend. The fact that the 3 of them canceled each other both in the film and in the Oscar for Best Actor is a common fact. Laughton's scenes as the ruthless Captain Bligh succeed not only in making me believe he was a British Naval Officer of the late 18th century, but also made me loather him. Rarely do we see actors throwing themselves into their roles like this. Gable's Fletcher Christian is perhaps some of the more daring characters I have seen on the screen, with Gable wisely not trying his hand at a British accent and shaving that iconic mustache. Gable's performance is among his career's best, and he seemed to fit naturally within the plot and his talented co-stars. The scenes when he finally loses his temper and lets go of his bottled emotions are awe-striking. Franchot Tone, in one of his first film roles, steals the show with his earnest, wise and passionate turn as Roger Byam. His speech in the final moments of the film is the greatest monologue I have heard in a film, especially due to his criticism of brutality at the seas, and that of Captain Bligh. If the Academy even saw that scene, they should have given the thing to him. One of the best movies Ever.
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"From now on, they'll spell mutiny with my name."
classicsoncall29 May 2011
Warning: Spoilers
When you go as far back as the mid-Thirties, the movie landscape is cluttered with a vast variety of B programmers - mysteries, Westerns, crime films, exploitation flicks and a whole lot more. The rare standout is a picture like "Mutiny on the Bounty", produced on an epic scale with an almost unheard of run time of two hours. Even rarer is an intelligent story line moving from a starting point to a finale that builds drama and excitement while developing the main characters.

The story is a well known one, even if one has only a passing familiarity with the various screen versions. A tyrannical ship's captain rules his crew with an iron fist, while his first mate gradually begins to question the brutal methods used to instill fear and loyalty. As Captain Bligh, Charles Laughton seems fairly at home in a role that he reprised in various incarnations on the big screen, particularly as the haughty squire Sir Humphrey Pengallan in 1939's "Jamaica Inn", and later as the title character in 1945's "Captain Kidd". To look at him, Laughton seems to have all the characteristics needed for a pirate of the high seas, except perhaps for an eye-patch and a hook for an arm. Laughton's treatment of his role here as an exalted British naval commander gives one pause to consider his methods, made memorable by frequent whippings to keep the crew in line, even if they're already dead.

As first mate Fletcher Christian, Clark Gable is forced to balance his opinion of Bligh, maintaining loyalty to command while favoring more civil methods to win the respect and loyalty of the men on board the Bounty. The turning point in the story occurs with the death of ship's surgeon Bacchus (Dudley Digges), a position of no return when Christian casts Bligh and his supporters adrift - "I'll take my chance against the law, you'll take yours against the sea".

What's probably most remarkable about the historical facts behind the story is Bligh's miraculous journey back to dry land over a distance of some thirty five hundred miles. For those who stood trial for mutiny once recovered from the island of Tahiti, a gallant soliloquy is delivered by seaman Roger Byam (Franchot Tone) on behalf of the crew who remained loyal to Bligh. Of the three principal characters, it's Byam who was the most conflicted, renouncing Christian's friendship while maintaining some of his own sympathetic feelings for the men who suffered the Captains' wrath.

With occasional interludes on the island of Tahiti to relieve some of the shipboard tension, "Mutiny on the Bounty" delivers a nice blend of action, adventure, intrigue, romance and the occasional humor supplied by Herbert Mundin's unique casting as a reluctant seaman. The more exotic locales of the picture often cry out for a color treatment, and though that's addressed in the 1950 and 1962 remakes, there's something about the original that makes it endure as first among equals, even if historical accuracy is a frequent victim. True cinema fans will want to view all three to make up their own mind.
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The definitive expression of the myths of the adventure film
briantaves6 September 2005
Warning: Spoilers
The historical incident of the mutiny aboard the H.M.S. Bounty has been chronicled in a number of films, including THE MUTINY ON THE BOUNTY (Australia, 1915), IN THE WAKE OF THE BOUNTY (Australia, 1933), MUTINY ON THE BOUNTY (MGM, 1935), MUTINY ON THE BOUNTY (MGM, 1962), and THE BOUNTY (Orion, 1984). A number of other adventure films are directly imitative, from relatively obvious cases such as TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST (Paramount, 1946) to less probable derivations, such as ADVENTURE IN SAHARA (Columbia, 1938).

The 1935 version is by far the best remembered of all of these, although the 1962 and 1984 remakes benefited from south seas locations, and the early Australian productions had a regional proximity, with one of them starring Errol Flynn. While none of the versions are historically accurate, the 1935 film most closely follows the original bestselling trilogy of novels by Charles Nordhoff and James Norman Hall, which also formed the basis for the 1962 version. The 1935 film was produced and directed by Frank Lloyd, who had spent some of his early years at sea himself and also directed such other notable historical sea adventures as THE SEA HAWK (1924), THE EAGLE OF THE SEA (1926), THE DIVINE LADY (1929), and RULERS OF THE SEA (1939).

MUTINY ON THE BOUNTY has an extraordinary cast in Charles Laughton as Captain William Bligh and Clark Gable as Fletcher Christian, with Franchot Tone in the pivotal role of Roger Byam, a fictional addition to a story whose other primary characters are all actual historical figures. At the beginning the voyage is without a hero, becoming an odyssey that takes the protagonists far from their usual existence. MUTINY ON THE BOUNTY opens as Christian raids a tavern to "impress" a crew, including a young man who must leave behind a pregnant wife, while on board Bligh has a man flogged who is already dead from punishment. Bligh has lost all grasp of humanity, treating his men so barbarically so as to ultimately obviate any loyalty due his position. Christian is cynical but considerate, initially unquestioning of the status quo and obeying the captain, although never sharing his malevolent streak. However, tormented by his duties, Christian transforms as the voyage progresses, with Bligh's excesses forcing Christian to discover the need for ideals. The narrative seeks to unify these sides of Fletcher Christian's character and live up to his surname, which finally causes the need for radical action--mutiny--although this alternative will make the crew permanent outlaws and exiles. When Christian has Bligh and his followers set adrift in a small boat, Bligh's subsequent achievement in steering his loyal men to safety is negated by his motivation, to avenge himself on the mutineers. Roger Byam became a victim of Bligh's vindictiveness, but unlike Bligh, the navy as an institution is redeemed when a royal pardon is forthcoming for him. Christian had been an avuncular, mentoring figure for the inexperienced Byam, a junior officer whose ultimate conversion to the rightness of the mutineer's cause symbolizes a change in attitudes toward life at sea.

In the sea adventure, the ocean-going vessel is the kingdom in which the captain reigns, where a small-scale allegory of revolution occurs, espousing the right of a people to free themselves from oppression. I would suggest that this is the key element that has made this film so memorable, and which is lacking in the other versions. The emphasis on the struggle for human dignity against a despot has a resonance beyond its direct context as the reenactment of an episode in naval history. MUTINY ON THE BOUNTY celebrates a myth central to the American experience, of a downtrodden people who rebel against a cruel "king" and replace him with a leader of their own choosing. In the process, their heritage as Englishmen and their ties to the mother country are left behind in favor of a new land and a fresh identity (in the film, on the mutineer's refuge on Pitcairn's Island). In celebrating the self-determination of a necessary revolution, MUTINY ON THE BOUNTY, by analogy, parallels the reasons, methods, and outcome of the creation of the United States.
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Award Winning Hollywood-Style History
mbuchwal21 August 2008
In 1935, "Mutiny on the Bounty" won the Oscar for best picture against very strong competition that included the delightful Fred Astaire/Ginger Rogers romantic musical comedy, "Top Hat." MGM's big budget blockbuster was bursting at the seams with talent. Charles Laughton, as Captain Bligh, the abusive and tyrannical ship's master, and Clark Gable, as Fletcher Christian, the brave leader of the mutineers, turned in such gripping performances that both were nominated by the motion picture academy for the best actor award, as was Franchot Tone for his first rate performance as the harshly mistreated midshipman, Roger Byam. This is the one and only time in the history of the Oscars that a single film's cast received three nominations for the best actor award.

The plot-line of "Mutiny" is based on a true story. In 1787, the HMS Bounty set sail from England to the island paradise of Tahiti in the south seas on an ill-fated mission to gather breadfruit plants for slave plantations in the West Indies. The voyage out was a long and hazardous one made worse by the many hardships faced by seamen of the British fleet in the eighteenth century: deadly dangerous weather, and especially the cruel discipline and torture that were characteristic of the imperial naval service at that time. By contrast, the five months' stay on the lush tropical island of Tahiti was idyllic, with the ship's crew lazing about in the sun and making love to the beautiful native maidens. It was only on the voyage back to England that the talk of mutiny began, finally erupting into a full-fledged rebellion.

Even today, there is considerable historical debate about "Mutiny on the Bounty" and the best-selling novel upon which it is based. Some critics believe that the punishments inflicted on the Bounty's crew could not have justified a mutiny and that the movie unfairly takes the side of the mutineers. But they forget that the shipboard rebellion, which caught fire at almost the precise moment as the French Revolution, was entirely in keeping with the radical spirit of those politically turbulent times. Because of such tragic events, flogging would eventually be abolished completely in the American navy and later in the British navy as well. Today, all forms of cruel and unusual punishment are outlawed upon the high seas, thanks in part to the sacrifices of the brave men on board the Bounty. The legend lives on in the movie and is a rallying cry to the downtrodden victims of oppression all over the world.

What finally happened to Fletcher Christian and his men? Did they survive their escape or have later misadventures in the South Seas? No one is sure exactly what became of them. What is certain is that many descendants of both Christian and his followers to this day continue to live on Pitcairn Island, the mutineers' final stopping place.

If any one star can be credited with the success of Hollywood in the "Golden Age," it must be Bounty star, Clark Gable. He was the most popular movie actor who ever lived, in role after role playing the sexually irresistible macho foil to tinsel town's sultriest leading ladies. Ironically, because he had to compete with his own co-stars, he didn't win the best actor Oscar for "Bounty," but he already had won the prize the year before for the romantic comedy, "It Happened One Night," starring as a gossip hungry reporter opposite Claudette Colbert as a spoiled rich girl. Most fans will remember him best though for his unforgettable role as the roguish southern gentleman, Rhett Butler in "Gone With the Wind," the movie with the largest audience in history. If Clark Gable nearly always played the romantic idol, co-star Charles Laughton had one of the most colorful careers of any Hollywood star, being cast in the kinds of unusual character roles that many a typecast leading man would fear to play, such as Henry the Eighth, the Hunchback of Notre Dame and Dr. Moreau in "Island of Lost Souls." By the way, the actors in "Bounty" weren't the only ones nominated by the academy for awards. Other nominations were for best screenplay, best film editing, best musical score and best director, which went to Frank Lloyd, who had already earned the Oscar in 1933 for "Cavalcade." A terrific job all the way around!
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MGM epic has lost little lustre over time.
st-shot5 July 2008
Hollywood's lavish 1935 high seas adventure Mutiny on the Bounty is a prime example of big budget epic film making during the reign of the legendary producer Irving Thalberg at MGM. Leaving studio and sound stage behind, this costly gamble has a pristine veneer from ship to shore with the magnificently rigged Bounty defiantly battling sea, storm and mutiny to reach it's exotic paradise destination. Amid this backdrop you have the titanic struggle for maintaining order between the sadistic Captain Bligh and his first mate Mr.Christian. It makes for a suspenseful, rousing ocean voyage.

Cinematographer Albert Edison's camera work more than captures the vast surroundings and trappings of the ship to give the film it's epic feel but it is the powerful turn by Charles Laughton as Bligh that puts the wind in Bounty's sail. A by the book officer with a taste for administering the lash he brooks no dissent and remains defiant even when the tables are turned. Laughton like no other English speaking actor of his period had the tools of nuance and inflection to sustain a lead performance as he does with Bligh. Clark Gable as the dashing Christian is a perfect counterpoint in looks and decency to Bligh and matches up well in scene after scene with the magnificent Laughton. Overshadowed by this superstar tandem Franchot Tone gives a notable performance, especially at the film's end where he delivers a powerful speech to a naval court.

Mutiny on the Bounty has been filmed more than once and probably will be again but until that day this remains the best. As far as finding a better Bligh than Laughton, good luck.
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One of the most famous naval mutiny!
elvircorhodzic15 April 2016
Mutiny on the Bounty is one sumptuous, serious and very realistic movie. The story is based on a novel, which is based on the true story. The historical accuracy is questionable. I'm not one of those people who believe that film story should blindly follow the facts offense which is inspired. This is one of the reasons why this movie I think one great sea adventure.

Set design, atmosphere, authenticity and acting are top notch. One of the few high-budget films that did not take studio in ruin. In the thirties of the last century it was an amazing success.

I felt American tone in the British environment. It sounds intimidating, but I am of the opinion that the director did it for a reason. In one interesting story covered various topics. I think this is a movie in which everyone can find a segment that he'll like that. The heart of the story is a constant complication that gets climax as sailor rebellion. In the center of the plot are the two main characters so that the excellent acting contributed to a better effect.

Charles Laughton as Captain Bligh is described as a brutal sadist. In several scenes we witness the brutality: when sailors put in chains or when ordering the flogging a dead man. The man who wants to destroy the human spirit, and at the same time calling for certain disciplinary view. But in one part of the film he shows the qualities great sailor, a spiritual leader, a motivator, a wise and capable captain. The desire for revenge and extreme conditions to change human personality. Laughton had to impose in addition to Gable. I enjoyed a brilliant performance by one of the major villains in the history of cinema. This is worthy of an Oscar.

Clark Gable as Fletcher Christian without his famous mustache is the complete opposite of Captain Bligh. Exemplary and intelligent master's mate becomes the leader of the rebellion. Just a man who appreciates true values. Gable is perfect in the role.

Franchot Tone (Byam) is a character with which everything begins and ends. I am convinced that the director wanted to induce the audience to perceive the essence of the story from the Byam perspective. I think that at the end of Byam maybe a little exaggerated his role. All in all not bad.

Small roles are also spice up the story. Sam (Herbert Mundin) and Bacchus Dudley Diggins) are my favorite.

A brutal, horrible, bold, exciting, dramatic and romantic story.

This movie, I could not call epic, but certainly excellent.
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Mutiny on the Bounty
Jackson Booth-Millard23 October 2013
Warning: Spoilers
I had seen a few clips of this original film, I knew there was a version with Marlon Brando, I found out about another with Mel Gibson, and I was keen to see the original because of the leading villain character, and this was in the book 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die. Basically, set in 1787, the HMS Bounty is on a two year voyage from Great Britain, sailing the Pacific Ocean, to Tahiti to collect a supply of breadfruit plants to be transported to Jamaica. The ship is under the command of greedy and brutal tyrant Captain William Bligh (Oscar nominated Charles Laughton), second in command is first mate Fletcher Christian (Oscar nominated Clark Gable) who along with the men is finding his harsh leadership unpleasant and questionable. Arriving in Tahiti the men all take leave for a short time while the plants are placed in cargo, Christian is initially refused to take leave by Bligh, but he persuades him, and there, with midshipman friend Roger Byam (Oscar nominated Franchot Tone) they form close bonds with island women Tehanni (Movita) and Maimiti (Mamo Clark), before being forced to leave. Following the departure from paradise Christian and the crew have had too much of the harsh treatment from the Captain, and they band together in mutiny to overthrow Bligh, and set him and his supporters adrift in a boat, while the Bounty returns to Tahiti. The men in the boat assume that with the little food and drink they have that they will not last very long, but Bligh urges them to keep going, and they do manage to find land and salvation, and meanwhile Christian has married Maimiti and all of the mutineers are living the tropical life to the fullest. They are surprised when the ship Pandora from Britain comes into view, and being taken aboard they are even more surprised to see Bligh alive and well, he is taking them back to England to face the charges of mutiny, and despite the court hearings and imprisonments, everything seems to settle in the end, Christian returns to another tropical island, and the Bounty is burned down. Also starring Herbert Mundin as Smith, Eddie Quillan as Ellison, Dudley Digges as Bacchus, Donald Crisp as Burkitt, Henry Stephenson as Sir Joseph Banks, Francis Lister as Captain Nelson, Spring Byington as Mrs. Byam, and apparently James Cagney and David Niven are extras somewhere. Laughton is a great character actor and plays villain Bligh very well, and Gable as the good looking hero is likable, and he was apparently uncomfortable in his first costume movie, the story has some great scenes on the high seas and in tropical palm tree and beach paradise, and the sweeping swashbuckler sequences with cutlasses and costume are worthwhile, a terrific classic historical adventure. It won the Oscar for Best Picture, and it was nominated for Best Director for Frank Lloyd, Best Writing, Screenplay, Best Film Editing and Best Music for Nat W. Finston (head of department) and Herbert Stothart. Captain Bligh was number 19 on 100 Years, 100 Heroes & Villains, Charles Laughton was number 45 on The 50 Greatest British Actors, and he was number 37 on The World's Greatest Actor, and the film was number 86 on 100 Years, 100 Movies. Very good!
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Superb Mutiny- Mutiny on the Bounty ****
edwagreen4 August 2012
Warning: Spoilers
No wonder this won the Oscar for best picture of 1935. This was a far superior version than the remake of 1962.

This version produced 3 actors being nominated for best actor. Charles Laughton stole the film with his venomous performance as Captain Bligh. He was truly the embodiment of evil. He really gave cruelty a new meaning as well as interpretation here. As his assistant, who would ultimately lead the mutiny, Clark Gable was most impressive here. Despite his one scene, why was Franchot Tone nominated for best actor? Of course, in 1935, they didn't have the supporting categories.

This terrific film shows what men will do to fight tyranny, no matter where it is. It is really an indictment of military life in the 1700s.
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Often imitated...NEVER duplicated !!
tmpj14 June 2010
One need not possess all of the intimate knowledge of cinema to know when a film is great and when it is sub-par. This version of Mutiny on the Bounty still stands on its own legs some seventy years after theatrical release. It is one of the signature performances of Charles Laughton, and he was always identified with it, the same as Robert Newton will eternally be identified with Long John Silver...because of what the actors brought to the roles which lifted the entire project up and away from the ordinary, and put it inside the realm of the indelible classic. I have seen most of the other versions of the film. Though they claim a new or revisionist measure of accuracy, they fail to capture the imagination of the audience in the same way. Some histories read that all of the mutineers were of a criminal element and perished on Pitcairn as a result of their criminality...with Fletcher Christian being among that number. Other historians attempt to tone down the alleged cruelty of Captain Bligh which provoked the mutiny. We may never know the full truth. But the film as it is is a captivating, engaging piece of cinema and of cinematic history, and I cannot recommend it highly enough.
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Absolutely wonderful!
TheLittleSongbird1 May 2010
I honestly loved Mutiny on the Bounty, and I will say I am one of those people who prefers this version over the 1962 film. Some people might say that the screenplay is questionable, but personally I had no problem with it. Mutiny on the Bounty is a lavish and stirring adventure on the high seas, that is thoroughly entertaining and exciting. The location shooting, sets, costumes and cinematography are fabulous, and the music score is suitably rousing and bombastic. Add some clever direction, secure pacing(I personally found this a problem in the 1962 version), a strong story and some nice scripting and you have a strong film. That just leaves the acting, while Clark Gable, Donald Crisp and Franchot Tone give wonderful performances, it is Charles Laughton as complex Captain Bligh who steals the show. It is easily one of Laughton's best performances, and this is giving honourable mention to the 1939 film The Hunchback of Notre Dame, where he played a grotesque yet poignant Quasimodo. Overall, wonderful, exciting film. 10/10 Bethany Cox
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The Editor Delivers the Breadfruit
tedg14 July 2006
This is a marvelous movie in a couple respects.

One is the thrill of the ship, a thrill that is more effective in its way than anything modern. Compare this to "Master and Commander," in which the ship existed only as an assembly of parts which we knew would noisily disassemble.

I suppose may would celebrate the performances. Well, yeah, I suppose. Or the location shots which are honest but oddly out of place.

What gives me a thrill is how well assembled this was from the editor's point of view. These were days when the job was really nasty work, huge rooms, hanging films, tedious looping and physical taping. It was an unappreciated creative task, and because the studio system had restrictive philosophies in how it was done, it was essentially a task for clerks.

The editor in Hollywood wouldn't be appreciated until the late sixties when "Easy Rider" spawned the independent movement. Here's a tremendous example of the value of the editor.

In this case its Margaret Booth, who sorta followed a secretarial path to head the editing department at the studio, then the center of film-making for the world, moneywise. For the most part she followed the rules. But here for some reason she did something quite different than usual.

Consider. The challenges of this story are significant. There's a long, very long first segment of the voyage out where we are shown the reason for the complaints. Because the nature of shipyard life and the complications of the conflict are pretty complex, this cannot be shorter.

Then there's a segment in Tahiti where some love happens. This is as short as possible, but because it has to balance the weight of confinement and at the same time justify (for us) the location shooting, its still long.

Then a segment of the mutiny itself. Then the longish voyage of Bligh. The chase, the escape, the trail, the coda. Now that's an awful lot. Too much by double, even compared to "Gone with the Wind."

I'd like to direct your attention to "Gladiator," and Ridley Scott's technique of shaping each scene so that it is open at the end, not closed. Its open in a way that anticipates the next. In a regular movie, each scene is dispensed as a discrete, readable segment that opens and closes. It is the job of the story and associated elements to keep us engaged.

In Gladiator, the story is too diffuse, so Scott shapes the scenes (and Crowe) so that each scene has its center of gravity in the next. We tip into the future. Its a joy to watch even if the thing itself is a bit inelegant.

Watch that, then see what Maggie has done here, apparently without the help or even knowledge of the directors. She's assembled the footage in a way that's open at the end, anticipatory. It isn't — alas — a simple matter of cutting scenes short, or overlapping sound (which would come later). Its a matter of tuning into the very subtle rhythms of a setup, then ending it at a midbeat. Without the patterning of jazz from the period, we wouldn't have been able to read the subliminal syncopation.

But here it is, as a sort of micromutiny. Thanks, Ms Booth.

Oh, the story? They forgot to include the cabinboy. Funny how the British navy conveniently forgets the institutional buggery.

Ted's Evaluation -- 3 of 3: Worth watching.
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Great adventure on the sea
blanche-224 June 2008
Charles Laughton, Clark Gable and Franchot Tone star in "Mutiny on the Bounty," a 1935 Oscar-winning film featuring Donald Crisp, Dudley Diggs, Henry Stephenson, Eddie Quillan and Movita. Laughton plays Captain Bligh, commander of the Bounty, and Clark Gable is first mate Fletcher Christian. Also on board is Franchot Tone as midshipman Roger Byam, who is en route to Tahiti with the ship in order to write a dictionary of the Tahitian language. The Bounty is to sail to Tahiti in order to pick up breadfruit trees, which would provide a cheap source of food. Men have been commandeered in bars, prisons, anywhere possible for a the voyage, which will last about two years. Bligh is an inhumane captain, preferring to starve his men and whip them rather than inspiring them and keeping them fed so that they are able to work.

Once they arrive in Tahiti, both Byam and Christian become enamored of the lifestyle as well as the women but have to leave them for the voyage home. Christian finds it difficult to readjust to Bligh's tyranny; after seeing men brutalized in the hold, he decides to take over the ship. He and a group of men do so, and Bligh and anyone who wants to accompany him are given a small boat and supplies. Byam and some others want to leave, but there is no room for them. The Bounty returns to Tahiti. When a British ship arrives a year later, Byam and several others leave to report for duty. Christian and the ones who stay board the bounty with their families to escape arrest; they intend to find another island and settle there permanently. For Byam and the rest, the captain of the arriving British ship turns out to be Bligh, who survived the harrowing boat trip. The men are arrested. Even though he was not a mutineer, Byam finds himself on trial.

The film is based on a true story and as such is highly inaccurate since the script comes from not one but two fictionalized accounts. So "Mutiny on the Bounty" has to be judged on its own merits, and it's a marvelous movie. Hard to believe that it was filmed on a back lot. The atmosphere definitely captures England, the sea and Tahiti beautifully, right down to the natives.

Stupendous effects and strong acting contribute to really make "Mutiny" a must-see. Laughton is excellent as as Bligh (who in real life was not the evil man portrayed in the film) - he doesn't go overboard with the histrionics and has a commanding presence. Clark Gable is without his mustache, and he's gorgeous! What a hunk. He gives a strong performance as Christian. Franchot Tone looks fabulous as well, and here his theatrical training really shows, particularly in the last moments of the film. The characters of Christian and Byam are very different. Byam comes from generations of seaman, and the concept of turning on one's captain is deplorable; yet, he and Christian remain friends. The difference in class between the two is obvious in the film, with Tone's character being the more erudite and refined.

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Superb performance by Charles Laughton
swami_can15 August 2005
A fantastic movie despite small goof ups and major historical blunders. Charles Laughton is excellent as Capt. Bligh as is the fictional character Byam though I am personally disappointed with Clarke Gable. Fletcher Christian at times smiles while he should be seething in rage (When Bligh commands him to just follow his instructions).

Historical inaccuracies

1. Bligh never commandeered the Pandora but it

was Edward Edwards. 2. Fletcher Christian lost his father while still a child. How come he

presents himself in the mutineers trial. 3. During the trial of the mutineers Bligh was already on his second

voyage to collect Bread fruit plants from Tahiti 4. Historically Bligh landed on the savage islands during the open

boat voyage in the first week of May (Mutiny occurred on April 28).

While retreating from the Island one of the members (Norton,

according to historical facts) is killed by the natives. But Norton

is shown on the boat on the 37th day of the open boat voyage

(according to Bligh's log)

There are other historical blunders.

Other goof ups

Ships clerk Samuel looks different within matter minutes during the conversation about the stolen cheese.

Samuel gets stabbed in the left palm during the mutiny but shows no signs of the injury during the open boat voyage
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