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>
MGM hired 2,500 Tahitian natives to serve as extras. The canoes which the natives used to paddle out to greet the Bounty's crew were all shipped to Tahiti from Hollywood. See more »
When Bligh questions one of the crewmen towards the beginning of the film, mention is made of Dartmoor Prison, which was built in 1809, twenty years after this time. See more »
Captain William Bligh:
[in the boat]
Casting me adrift 3,500 miles from a port of call. You're sending me to my doom, eh? Well, you're wrong, Christian! I'll take this boat as she floats to England, if I must! I'll live to see you, all of you, hanging from the highest yardarm in the British Fleet!
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Also available in a computer colorized version. See more »
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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