By Edwin Jahiel

MUTINY ON THE BOUNTY (1935). Directed by Frank Lloyd. With Charles Laughton as a remarkable Captain Bligh and Clark Gable as Fletcher Christian (they disliked each other off the set), and Franchot Tone.
Received a slew of Oscar nominations, including all three of its protagonists (Gable, Laughton, Tone) for Best Actor,a unique happening! Also nominations for Picture, Director, Screenplay, Music score, Editing.

The three stars all lost to Victor McLaglen in "The Informer" but the film received the Best Picture award. It deserves another prize today for flashing all its credits on the screen in 50 seconds flat.

The other actors are good. The story, a true one, begins in 1787 and develops into a long voyage from home, climaxing in an uprising against Captain Bligh. Of the several films made from two Nordhoff and Hall books, this lavish MGM production is still the best, though it tends to be more choppy, more simplistic ( with its Good vs. Evil contrasts ) and has less historical veracity than the remakes. These (1962, with Marlon Brando and Trevor Howard; 1983, with Anthony Hopkins and Mel Gibson) are interesting variants. Both have their distinct character and mode of production. Both are good but both were underrated by the critics, even put down nastily and unfairly. Warning: this is a colorized print, which a simple control can restore to black and white. (Edwin Jahiel)

[Published 26 May 1989)

True sea-story begins in 1787, develops into a long voyage from home, climaxes in uprising against cruel, martinet Captain Bligh. Filmed before in 1935 with Charles Laughton as a remarkable Bligh and Clark Gable as lead mutineer Fletcher Christian . In the 1962 version these characters are played by Trevor Howard and Marlon Brando, and in the 1985 re-remake, by Anthony Hopkins and Mel Gibson. All three films differ, have their idiosyncrasies and stresses. Each successive version is increasingly more accurate historically. All three are good, with the Oscar-winning 1935 film getting the highest rating. It may deserve it, but then the others have been underrated.

The Howard-Brando movie was even put down nastily and unfairly by critics, partly because of Brando's mannerisms, his temperamental behavior during the filming and the movie's 3-hour length. Yet except for one's initial discomfort with Brando's artificial, foppily patrician British accent (one gets used to it), this film is much better than its reputation, fairly complex, lavishly produced, and well worth watching as drama and as superbly produced spectacle, including some sexy and provocative (Hollywoodized) Tahitian dances where you sense the desperate efforts to hide frontal nudity of the indigenous beauties. (No such scruples in version 3, THE BOUNTY). Also Hollywoodian is the collection of unusually beautiful faces and figures. Note how Brando's gorgeous Tahitian lady-love Tabita (the chief's daughter, Mameetee or Mayameetee) bears an uncanny resemblance to Cybill Shepherd. (Edwin Jahiel )

[Published 2 January 1992]

Notes: From England to Tahiti The Bounty covered 29,000 miles. It attempted first Cape Horn in S America (the shortcut), failed, crossed over to Africa's Cape of Good Hope. Trip was from Hell to Tahitian Paradise. Bligh, set adrift on small boat, set out for Timor and accomplished the feat of reaching it...3,600 miles away! At the British inquest he was exonerated yet reprimanded as per the film. True or Hollywood revisionist fiction? He was Lt. William Bligh, a commoner, for which he suffered complexes. The music is good, traditional sweeping type, yet works well years later. Bligh is cruel, runs on fear principle, says so. The great sea-storm-ship scenes are very well integrated. MGM widescreen, criminally reduced on TV.