Mutiny on the Bounty (1935)

Mutiny on the BountyMutiny-on-the-Bounty Poster
Directed by Frank Lloyd
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM)

Repeat viewing
#89 of 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die


Captain William Bligh: I’ll live to see you – all of you – hanging from the highest yardarm in the British fleet.

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.

mutiny-on-the-bounty 1

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.



10 thoughts on “Mutiny on the Bounty (1935)

  1. I love this film…..everybody is perfectly cast, even Franchot Tone who is not one of my favorites. Laughton stands above the rest in his greatest role. This film made me curious about Pitcairn Island and went to their web site (yes, they have a web site). I thought it would be a great place to visit but you can’t get there from here or anywhere else. A very difficult journey to reach the island and would probably make you have to take out a huge loan just to pay for it. But, oooooh, wouldn’t it be fun to tread on that famous place where the descendants of the mutineers still live?

    • I’d be on the boat with you, Jill! The film exceeded my expectations. I hadn’t seen it before. Just one of those stellar studio productions of the golden age of Hollywood cinema.

  2. Indeed a great and big film. I will be rewieving it in a few weeks and I so look forward to seeing it again. I had actually forgotten that Clark Gable is Fletcher Christian. Laughton so steals the picture.

    • I was curious so I looked up the Oscars. Laughton, Gable, and Tone were all nominated for Best Actor but lost out to Victor McLaglen in The Informer. McLaglen is excellent but I still think Laughton was robbed. He may have been a victim of vote-splitting.

  3. Laughton should have won but since he had just won in 1933 for The Private Life of Henry VIII, it may have influenced the voters. I’ll grant you that Victor McGlaglen was great in The Informer,but he was a lot like John Wayne……he always played himself. But he had the role of a lifetime and made the best of it. “Your mother forgives me, Frankie” was one of the great scenes in film history.
    I think I just got off topic…….sorry.

    • You may get off topic any time! I’m looking forward to seeing The Informer again after many years. You made me realize it was not on my list because it’s not available from Netflix. I can watch it streaming from Amazon though so I’m OK. The Informer actually won a lot more Oscars than Mutiny on the Bounty. I think Bounty’s only Oscar was for Best Picture.

  4. You do need to watch The Informer again, Bea. I had forgotten how powerful it was until I saw it again a few months ago. I have always been interested in the Irish “Troubles” and the IRA and it fills the bill. McGlaglen (am I spelling that correctly?….it doesn’t look right) was made for the role of Gypo Nolan or maybe it was the other way around.. I always thought he was a rather limited actor although I like him; but he was perfection here as the rather stupid drunk who sold out his friends for a few pieces of silver. I still think Laughton deserved the Oscar for Bounty but I would call it a very close race.

    • I spoke too soon when I said Netflix didn’t have it. It should be here later this week. I’m looking forward to it. It was also John Ford’s first Oscar and I will be interested to refresh myself on how this one works.

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