Mutiny on the Bounty
Directed by Frank Lloyd
#89 of 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die
In 1787, the HMS Bounty departs Portsmouth for Tahiti, carrying a crew largely composed of impressed sailors. The ship is helmed by Captain William Bligh (Charles Laughton). His second in command is Fletcher Christian (Clark Gable) . Christian befriends a first-voyage midshipman Roger Byam (Franchot Tone). Bligh’s idea of enforcing discipline is with the lash and he also keeps his men on tight rations to line his own pockets. When Christian takes Bligh to task for this, Bligh plots revenge. Bligh’s cruelty only increases on the return journey from Tahiti. Christian then takes matters into his own hands and casts Bligh and the men loyal to him adrift in a launch, but Bligh refuses to admit defeat.
As soon as I heard Herbert Stothart’s rousing score coming up under the credits of this big-budget MGM production, I had that comforting feeling that this movie would be, if nothing else, entertaining and I was right. The script moves along at a good pace and the production values are first-rate. We are even treated to location shots in French Polynesia. Kudos must go to Charles Laughton for one of his very best performances. I always enjoy his work but usually feel like I am watching an actor wink at the audience. Here, he plays it very straight and is excellent. Highly enjoyable.