57 of 63 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It's naval, not navels...
Charles Laughton gives the standout performance in this classic retelling of the Bounty mutiny. Gable appears properly confounded and gives a believable and sympathetic rendering of Fletcher Christian. The movie holds up remarkably well despite some awkward editing and gaps in the story line. Still, at 133 minutes it is a relatively long film but it never drags. In...
Published on January 30, 2000 by Riley Wells
14 of 19 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars We Came To See The Sea
You'll noticed most of the early Oscar winners were films that were heavy-handed. They appeared as if they wanted to be seen as important. Watch "Wings", "All Quite On The Western Front", "Cimarron", "The Life of Emile Zola", and director Frank Lloyd's other Oscar winner "Cavalcade". All of these films seem as if they are...
Published on November 30, 2003 by Alex Udvary
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57 of 63 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It's naval, not navels...,
Charles Laughton gives the standout performance in this classic retelling of the Bounty mutiny. Gable appears properly confounded and gives a believable and sympathetic rendering of Fletcher Christian. The movie holds up remarkably well despite some awkward editing and gaps in the story line. Still, at 133 minutes it is a relatively long film but it never drags. In spite of allegations made in other reviews there are no "white girls in blackface" or "boats in a bathtub" scenes. True, navels are concealed but the two female leads are obviously and revealingly topless in several scenes. As for "toy boats in a bathtub" there is only one sequence that obviously utilizes a model and it isn't all that obvious. Laughton is the luminary here and his Bligh stays with you. In fact it has stayed with the culture for sixty-five years. His performance is without fault and repeated watchings bear this out. A couple of sequences bear a closer look: The mutiny montage is startlingly effective and intense. It is a realistic portrayal of sudden violence; short, confusing, and graphic. The Sunday morning prayers on deck sequence is poetic and approaches the sublime. The ship's sails gleam translucent in the sun, the Union Jack floats majestically in the breeze, sunlight reflects brightly on faces as the Captain invokes God's blessings on the voyage. The extreme contrast of light and dark in the black and white print and the metaphorical contrast of good against Bligh, the epitome of evil, is subtle yet effective. It is a beautiful few moments. In every way but gloss this film is superior to the 1962 version. The 1984 "Bounty" with Mel Gibson is a fine film but it fades in the memory. This version lingers in the subconsious.
23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Legendary, Memorable--and Somewhat Problematic,
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 hinderance 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.
The DVD package is slight and less informative than simply entertaining, including trailers, a scrap of newsreel footage, and (most interesting) a short documentary on Pitcairn Island as it existed about the time MUTINY ON THE BOUNTY was made. Although the picture and sound have not been restored per se, both are best-possible-quality short of digital restoration. Recommended to fans of classic 1930s Hollywood.
GFT, Amazon Reviewer
19 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What's the fuss about?,
This film doesn't seem to meet the criteria of what we call a great movie: it won't lift your spirit and soul, it doesn't really give us any lasting food for thought, it probably won't make you laugh hysterically( although I thought the swinging lantern bit was pretty funny), it probably won't really make you weep. So why is this such a respected movie?
It is a rolicking adventure of the sea. Everyone knows there were enough of those made in the old days. So why does this one stand out?
It's the acting. The rich man's son is extremely well portrayed and his speech at the end is well rendered. The entire cast is outstanding, making even the nobodys of the ship endearing and enduring. Clark Gable(no mustache?!! Horrors!) gives a deep introspective portrait of Fletcher Christian as a man that has been pushed and pushed and pushed again.
Laughton gives a Bligh that is truly one of the best villians ever to grace the screen. Gable and Laughton play off each other marvelously. As Gable reacts to Laughton's brutality, making the audience wonder what exactly will push him over the edge.
In short, what made this adventure movie so lasting? What made it a classic? I'll tell you. It's the deep introspective character development seen here. Highly recommended.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A CLASSIC FROM THE GOLDEN AGE OF AMERICAN FILM,
This review is from: Mutiny on the Bounty [Blu-ray Book] (Blu-ray)
This epic naval adventure from 1935 is the jewel in the crown of Louis B. Mayer's MGM from the Thalberg years. Clark Gable is heroic Master's Mate Fletcher Christian and the great Charles Laughton is tyrannical Captain Bligh.
Both actors are at the peak of their considerable screen charisma and dramatic powers.
A Best Picture Oscar© winner for 1935, the lavish production is based on the true historic trilogy as told in the book of the same name by U.S. Army Air Service pilots and writers Charles Nordhoff and James Norman Hall. The film was written and directed by Frank Lloyd on locations as diverse as Tahiti and Catalina.
The story is set in 1787. The 90 foot H.M.S. Bounty sails from Portsmouth for the South Seas in search of Breadfruit trees so slave colonies can have a cheap source of food. Bligh's harsh discipline ordered on his men for minor and perceived infractions finally led to a full mutiny after they land in Tahiti.
Bligh and a few men loyal to him are set loose in the open sea. But Bligh is rescued and Fletcher along with the surviving mutineers fear eventual arrest and take the Bounty and their Tahitian wives and flee to remote, uninhabited Pitcairn Island where they salvage the Bounty, burn the remains and set up life. Their descendents live there to this day; it is a strict, religious, inbred, colony with serious issues of abuse. Sadly, it is not an Edenic paradise.
Some trivia: There's a persistent rumor that producer Thalberg specifically cast Gable and Laughton because he believed they would truly despise one another off and on screen since Laughton was gay and Thalberg assumed Gable was a homophobe. In the film, Laughton appears to briefly glance almost adoringly at Gable, which adds to the perverse tension, almost as if a sadist is looking for a masochist to love. But I see this as part of Laughton's brilliant acting choices and nothing more. Sadly, ace cameraman Glenn Strong drowned when a boat capsized during filming in the rough South Pacific. James Cagney and David Niven both claim to have been extras. Maybe you can spot them on the sharp BD transfer?
There were two earlier cinematic version of this oft-told tale: a silent Australian film from 1916 and In The Wake of the Bounty starring Errol Flynn from 1933. Lloyd's film was remade in 1962 with Marlon Brando as Christian. Brando ended up marrying Movita, who was the beautiful, young, Tahitian love interest in the 1935 MGM film! 1984's The Bounty, starring Mel Gibson, was derived from a different account but essentially told the same story.
The great looking and sounding Blu-ray 1935 edition comes with no extras beyond a trailer and a vintage, short featurette on Pitcairn Island as it was in 1939.
When I was a boy, I met Fletcher Christian 1V(?) who was visiting the U.S. seeking support for his fellow islanders. He was an old man, but he looked just like engravings of his famous ancestor. At his urging, I became a pen-pal of a young Pitcairn girl also named Robin. As I recall, her description of island life was not idyllic or appealing.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars BEST PICTURE OSCAR FOR 1935,
Gable is impressively right as Fletcher Christian (although his speech sounds more Ohio than English!) Laughton gives an unforgettable performance as the sadistic weakling you love to hate, Captain Bligh, while Franchot Tone is amusing in his role as Roger. The cost of the production (which took nearly 2 years to make) was a whopping (for 1935) 2 million dollars and there were 2500 extras employed for the Polynesian scenes. Gable's and Movita's scenes together have a special quality and this adaptation of the Nordoff-Hall classic (which contains aspects of truth) is storytelling at its best.
33 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining, but not historically accurate,
OK, while miles ahead of the 1960s remake, ruined by an over-the-top performance by a very miscast Marlon Brando, this version still does not tell the true story of the HMS Bounty and its ill-fated voyage. (See James A. Michener's "Rascals in Paradise" for a historically accurate, but brief, picture of Bligh and the mutiny.) The movie stays close to the novel by Hall & Nordhoff and uses a fictious midshipman, Roger Byam, as the main character and we see both Christian and Bligh mostly through his eyes.
The acting by Gable and Laughton are, of course, excellent and the film shows the money spent by M-G-M wasn't wasted. The Bounty, itself, was a beautiful replica and the filming at sea--especially during storms--is hair-raising. In short, if you are after historically accurate drama--then this isn't your film, but if you want an entertaining, thrilling sea adventure from Hollywood's golden age--then by all means take a chance with this great picture.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars THRILLING SEA EPIC IN VERY NICE LOOKING TRANSFER,
"Mutiny On The Bounty" is a classic sea epic about the crew of a British tall ship who revolt after their captain (Charles Laughton) becomes tyrannical on the high seas. Clark Gable cuts a handsome swashbuckling figure as Fletcher Christian - king of the mutineers. His ability to insight revolt leads to a disastrous outcome for all concerned. Franchot Tone give a poignant performance as one of the wronged sea men, put on trial but eventually exonerated from the charge of mutiny. For adventure on the high seas there's none to touch this harrowing classic!
Warner Brothers? transfer is a mixed blessing. Though much of the footage shot on indoor stages seems to have held up well over time the exterior and location photography is riddled with age related artifacts, slightly out of focus image quality and glaring film grain, dirt and grit. The gray scale sometimes has a well balanced look to it. At other times it appears to be suffering from low contrast levels. Blacks are never solid or deep. There are no digital anomalies. Fine details are never realized. The audio is mono but very nicely cleaned up. Extras include a couple of featurettes and a trailer. Ho-hum...the pirates life for me!
12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of MGM's very best.,
This film has never escaped my top ten favorites list. The only film in history to have 3 leading men nominated for best actor. While Gable is perfect as Fletcher Christian and Franchot Tone gives a superb performance as a midshipman, it's Charles Laughton's Captain Bligh that sets this film apart. You'll want to mutiny too. The ensemble cast is also memorable (unlike later films), each playing off Bligh's totally disgusting presence. Stolen cheeses, rancid rations and repeated lashings drive a crew collected by press-gangs to solicit 1st mate Christian to end their misery. And he does, casting Bligh adrift and taking the Bounty to Tahiti where half-naked island girls and a perfect tranquil life compare to Bligh like heaven to hell. I shed a tear every viewing during Tone's 'lift their hearts' speech at the end. This is a must see classic in every sense. Highest recommendation (for all but the youngest children)
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful movie, great acting, historically inaccurate!,
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Bligh's name has entered the English language as a synonym for cruelty. In reality he flogged his men less than did most of the British captains in the South Pacific in the 1800's. Bligh served under Captain Cook and continued Cook's humane reforms for the sailors (better food and sanitation, etc). For a more balanced view of Bligh and Fletcher Christian, read MR. BLIGH'S BAD LANGUAGE. In the meantime, myth outlives history. I still love this movie!
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Witches can float, and so could Bligh,
You know, one of the old wives' tales that they used to use to determine if someone were a witch was to toss them into a lake. If they floated, Bingo! a witch, at which time they were promptly hauled out and hanged. Well, the famous mutineers of the HMS Bounty did what amounted to the same thing with overthrown Captain Bligh and his supporters, setting them afloat in a lifeboat in the Pacific Ocean over a thousand miles from land, with only a compass. That should've been the end of him, they figured. Imagine what they felt when, all that time later, an English ship came looking for them at Tahiti, captained by none other than Bligh himself. He might have been a reprehensible man, but he sure was one heck of a navigator, successfully directing that rowboat to port.
Truth is stranger than fiction, and probably that real-life fact about Bligh's rounding up his own mutineers is what has given such juice to this story for two hundred years, at one point inspiring this MGM movie.
Here, we have Charles Laughton doing the role of his career, causing him even to be immortalized in a Bugs Bunny cartoon--how more recognizable can you get? His Bligh is nasty alright, even ordering that a dead guy be flogged, to finish out his punishment. Clark Gable is first mate/mutineer ringleader Fletcher Christian. He starts out impressing men into service, but after being afloat with Bligh for a couple of months, even he can't take it anymore and goes over to the men's side in the argument over why breadfruit trees are more entitled to water than thirsty seamen.
I had long looked forward to renting this movie, as it has such a legendary status among films. However, sorry to say that I thought it a bit draggy here and there, which impeded my being able to enjoy it to the fullest, and hence the four star rating.
That being said, though, I suppose words cannot convey how great Laughton is, and how interesting to see Gable do a morph from gray hat to white hat.
Grab your canteen and clamber on board to check out this classic.
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Mutiny on the Bounty [Blu-ray Book] by Frank Lloyd (Blu-ray - 2010)