Mutiny on the Bounty
Directed by Lewis Milestone
Written by Charles Lederer from the novel by Charles Norhoff and James Norman Hall
First viewing/Netflix rental
Give me the Clark Gable-Charles Laughton version any day.
The story should be familiar to most of my readers. The HMS Bounty sets sail for Tahiti to collect breadfruit plants for cultivation as a food staple in the Caribbean colonies under the sadistic Captain Bligh (Trevor Howard). His second in command is the (in this version) effete Mr. Fletcher Christian (Marlon Brando). At first, Christian turns a blind eye to the Bligh’s cruel treatment and brutal punishment of the crew.
After a horrible voyage, including near sinking when Bligh tries to round Cape Horn, officers and crew spend an idyllic couple of months in Tahiti while collecting breadfruit plants. Christian has a love affair with the daughter of the chief.
On the return voyage, Bligh decides to ration water to the breadfruit rather than the men and the crew is moved to mutiny. Christian finally is spurred to action. He spares Bligh, who vows vengeance as he departs with some loyal crew on a long boat. The rest of the film covers the mutineers’ careers as international fugitives from justice. With Richard Harris as the most vocal of the mutineers.
This movie is over three hours long and I watched it in two parts over consecutive days. It dragged badly for me. I though it could have been improved by losing over half an hour of its running time. The second problem for me was Marlon Brando’s performance. Christian is supposed to be the hero and Brando’s prissy take on his character made him quite unappealing. Give me back my Clark Gable! Trevor Howard is very good and even less likeable than Charles Laughton in the same role.
Mutiny on the Bounty was nominated for Academy Awards in the categories of Best Picture; Best Cinematography, Color; Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Color; Best Film Editing; Best Effects, Special Effects; Best Music, Original Song (“Love Song from Mutiny on the Bounty” (Follow Me)); and Best Music, Score – Substantially Original.