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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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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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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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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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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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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The best version by far
HotToastyRag20 February 2018
If you've never seen one of the three major film versions of the famous mutiny-and therefore have no knowledge of the plot-the opening credits of the 1935 film will give you a pretty fair warning of what is about to happen. I've seen all three versions, 1935, 1962, and 1984, and this version has quickly become my favorite.

Charles Laughton, the famously strict Captain Bligh, leads a two-year voyage from England to Tahiti to procure breadfruit plants and bring them back. His second-in-command, Fletcher Christian, is played by an un-mustached Clark Gable. At first, Gable supports his captain and tries to get the crew to behave and obey their commanding officer to avoid his horrible punishments. But when Laughton repeatedly brutalizes his men for small or nonexistent infractions, Gable leads a mutiny and takes over the ship.

I know Clark Gable was called "The King", but he really wasn't a good actor. Please, nobody throw anything at me, and hear me out. He was very handsome, made girls swoon by taking his shirt off in most of his movies, and had a powerfully confident presence onscreen. But his acting consisted of shouting or smirking, with exception to The Misfits. When you watch Mutiny on the Bounty, it's as if you're watching Rhett Butler on a boat. He's exactly the same.

My criticisms of Clark Gable aside, the rest of the movie is very good! The character of Captain Bligh has to be so much more than just strict and unreasonable. He's obviously a mass of problems, otherwise he wouldn't act the way he does, and in Charles Laughton's interpretation, those problems are written on his brow. He broods, wants to be better than he is, and craves order and respect for deep reasons, and it's obvious without being melodramatic. But it's Franchot Tone who steals the show in his performance. He's the most likable character, and he delivers so much passion into his lines, whether he's interacting with Tahitians and creating a dictionary, falling in love, or finding a balance between loyalty to his captain and to his friend. I like him anyway, but I've never seen him pour so much of himself into a role as in this film.

All three leads were nominated for Best Actor for 1935, and the only nominee who wasn't in Mutiny on the Bounty took home the gold that year. As for the Hot Toasty Rag Awards of 1935, the film swept Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actor for Franchot Tone. This epic was remarkably made in 1935, and it still stands the test of time today.

If you can, keep an eye out for James Cagney, David Niven, and Dick Haymes, as one of the dozens of extras in the film. I never found them, but you can give it a shot. This is very much a man's movie, but I enjoyed it immensely. The characters and production values kept me riveted even past the end!
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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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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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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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Among period piece costume dramas this one really stands out...
AlsExGal24 October 2018
... but that doesn't mean that I think it was the best picture of 1935. I'd probably give that nod to Top Hat. But 1935 was the first full year that the motion picture production code was in force, and so there were many adjustments being made. One was that the studios turned heavily to period pieces to pacify the censors, because they could argue that with all of those ruffles, top jackets, and petticoats in the way, there was no possibility any of the characters could be having sex!

But this is a fine production in spite of the reason it was probably made. MGM movies made in the era of Irving Thalberg were generally top notch in attention to detail. Of course, the acting is really the best part of the film. And I have to give special kudos to Franchot Tone. Never the star at MGM that Gable was, and never the legend that Laughton was, he gives a very nuanced performance of a man conflicted. His character has his loyalty to the British navy steeped into his being, probably due to family background, and thus wants no part of a mutiny, yet he sees the cruelty of Captain Bligh's treatment of the men and is fast friends with Fletcher Christian (Gable).

Laughton always gives a fine performance, but his performance as Captain Bligh is a bit one note here, threatening to chew scenery but ultimately resisting the urge. At no point did I ever see him as anything but two dimensionally cruel, and we have nothing to tell us WHY he behaves this way.

Gable has star quality as Fletcher Christian in probably the best role MGM ever gave him. How many people would remember him if not for the two roles he had at other studios in "It Happened One Night" and "Gone With the Wind"? The fact that all three main actors here were nominated for Best Actor of 1935 probably weakened all of their chances, but then Victor McLaglin would have probably won anyways, since he was that good - essentially a one man show in John Ford's "The Informer".

My rating is for how much I personally enjoyed the film. If you realize that period pieces adapted from literature are generally not my thing, and yet I enjoyed it and yet it held my interest throughout, I'd say a 7/10 is pretty good coming from me.
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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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This film leaves an impression on you.
cricketbat31 October 2018
The reason that Mutiny on the Bounty works is Charles Laughton. Captain Bligh is such a despicable character in this movie that you want the crew to start a mutiny. However, (no spoilers here, since it's in the title) once the mutiny does occur, the plot then becomes a "be careful what you wish for" scenario. Plus, the actual historical accounts add another layer of to this story. This film leaves an impression on you.
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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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"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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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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Despite being not historically accurate and containing several flaws, brilliant film
basford8 February 2006
Despite my issues with Hollywood, Mutiny on the Bounty is my favourite film. I first saw the slightly poor version with Marlon Brando and Trevor Howard and wasn't very impressed. I then bought this on DVD and loved it. The story (based on a true historical incident) is about the tyrannical Capt William Bligh bullying and abusing his crew until he drives them to mutiny, lead by Lt Fletcher Christian. While this version is not historically accurate and has some un-impressive casting, it is very well filmed and has a very good script. The film stared Clark Gable as Fletcher Christian and he is my biggest issue with the film, he was not acting, he was just being Clark Gable. No attempt at an English accent, no real emotions showed, just reading his lines. The only reason he wasn't panned for this film was because the character of Fletcher Christian fitted his on-screen persona. He weakest in this film, there were so many other better actors in Hollywood at the time that would have been better for the role, Ronald Colman could have played him and the one I would have loved to see play him would have been Laurence Olivier . The other star was Franchot Tone as the idealistic Midshipman Roger Byam, again, no attempt at an English accent but he was acting a bit more than Clark Gable and he JUST about fitted the role OK. But the only person who owns the film is the legendary British actor Charles Laughton as the sadistic bullying Capt Bligh. He was absolutely fantastic and acted everyone off the screen, if it wasn't for him, I doubt I would enjoy this film. Other supporting roles are a bit better than the leading American stars. Donald Crisp as Thomas Burkitt, Eddie Quillan as Thomas Ellison, Dudley Digges as the surgeon Dr Bacchus (adding the right amount of humour to the film), Henry Stephenson as Sir Joseph Banks, Ian Wolfe as the slimy Mr Maggs and Bill Bambridge as Hitihiti.

This film is grandly filmed with perfect sets and costumes for the period and the special effects for 1935 are VERY VERY good. It is one of the ultimate high sea adventure stories and I highly recommend it for classical film buffs.

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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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When you're back in England with the fleet again, you'll hear the hue and cry against me. From now on they'll spell mutiny with my name.
hitchcockthelegend20 June 2020
A tyrannical ships captain takes his reluctant crew on a two-year voyage that will change British maritime law forever...

Directed by Frank Lloyd and starring Charles Laughton, Clark Gable and Franchot Tone, this 1935 version of the often filmed tale of the "Mutiny on the Bounty" (book by Charles Nordhoff and James Norman Hall) is the template by which other adaptations would come to be judged.

We are in safe hands from the off due to the casting of Laughton as the strutting evil peacock that is Captain Bligh, and Gable as Fletcher Christian, the handsome hero who decides enough of tyranny and raises a sailor army to usurp the tyrannical Bligh. The pic positively thrives on the characterisations, instead of giving over to fanciful sea faring shenanigans, it's more concerned with the principal players and the conflicts that said characters partake in.

Based upon an actual real life instance, there's a realism factor on show as the sailors of The Bounty deal with the harsh realities of sea voyage in the 1700's, this before their captain thinks nothing of flogging an already dead shipmate!. We witness the best and worst of men at sea, this be a time where loyalty and harsh discipline were in turn expected and meted out as a course of nature.

It's a tragic tale, though it's a little let down in the mid-section when the ship gets to Tahiti and it's all jolification and frivolity, which belies the harsh nature of the core beast. Yet once Laughton and Gable square up against each other, we are in the presence of greatness, mortal enemies are born and they take us to a finale that asks us the audience if it is indeed justified? 9/10
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Never a dull moment
saraccan16 July 2019
It's a great adventure epic with really good story, acting and interesting characters. I watched the remake first and was a fan of it so I was curious to see the original which did not disappoint. It has all the ups and downs of an epic movie that keeps you entertained throughout he whole movie.

It's about a British ship named "Bounty" that's on a mission to Tahiti with a vicious captain.
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Gable was awful
JamesCartwright30 October 2018
Although this version is still highly entertaining - despite being made more than eighty years ago - it is definitely marred by the complete miscasting of Clark Gable as Fletcher Christian. He was not even remotely believable as an officer in the Royal Navy. Charles Laughton dominates the entire film in a career-defining performance as Lieutenant William Bligh.
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