In 1787, British ship Bounty leaves Portsmouth to bring a cargo of bread-fruit from Tahiti but the savage on-board conditions imposed by Captain Bligh trigger a mutiny led by officer Fletcher Christian.
Midshipman Roger Byam joins Captain Bligh and Fletcher Christian aboard HMS Bounty for a voyage to Tahiti. Bligh proves to be a brutal tyrant and, after six pleasant months on Tahiti, Christian leads the crew to mutiny on the homeward voyage. Even though Byam takes no part in the mutiny, he must defend himself against charges that he supported Christian.Written by
Eric Sorensen <Eric_Sorensen@fc.mcps.k12.md.us>
According to a 1940 "New York Times" news item, Frank Lloyd announced his intention to film a follow-up, called "Captain Bligh", which he planned to produce on an independent basis at Universal following his work on The Howards of Virginia (1940). Lloyd's sequel, which was never made, was to cover Bligh's career as governor of the Australian penal colony, with Charles Laughton recreating his role. According to 1945 and 1946 HR news items, Charles Nordhoff wrote a novel-length sequel to the Fletcher Christian story, which was to be produced by Carey Wilson and have Clark Gable reprise his role. The sequel, which was never produced, was to take Christian back to England and to South America. See more »
Bligh and Christian express animosity toward each other at the beginning of the voyage. In actuality, not only were the two men close friends prior to the mutiny, their families had also been close for years. See more »
Lavish, Interesting, & Memorable (Whether Historical Or Not)
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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