Mutiny on the Bounty (1935)
Tagline – A Thousand Miles of Hell for One Moment of Love
Starring – Charles Laughton (Captain Bligh), Clark Gable (Fletcher Christian), Franchot Tone (Roger Byam), Herbert Mundin (Smith), Eddie Quillan (Ellison).
Released – November, 1935
Directed By – Frank Lloyd
Produced By – Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Distributed By – Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Description – Clark Gable, as the daring mutineer, in the screen’s most exciting adventure story!
Although having several historical inaccuracies, this version of the real-life mutiny aboard the HMS Bounty is the most popular.
Midshipman Roger Byam has joined the crew of the HMS Bounty on a voyage to Tahiti to obtain a cargo of breadfruit plants. While Byam signed on willingly, many were “strong-armed” into becoming part of the ships crew. It can be quite difficult putting together the men necessary to complete a ships crew when the captain of the ship is known to be a brutal tyrant.
Captain Bligh’s reputation has been earned, but on this trip his command will be stripped from his hands. His barbaric acts on this particular journey, including flogging, and cutting of rations, always disguised as discipline, will lead to his first-mate Fletcher Christian and most of the other ships officers to mutiny.
The mutiny occurs on the return portion of the trip and is easily accomplished. Captain Bligh and his supporters are set adrift in a small boat while the mutineers return to the beauty and peacefull island of Tahiti. Midshipman Byam, who did not participate in the mutiny, chooses to stay on the island.
The mutineers never expected Bligh to survive being set adrift, but he has. The small ship has made it back to England. Almost immediately, Captain Bligh obtains another ship, sets sail for Tahiti, and vows revenge on those who participated in the mutiny. There will soon be a great deal of trouble in paradise.
NOTABLE: Mutiny on the Bounty won the Best Picture Oscar and was also nominated for Best Actor in a Leading Role (Clark Gable), Best Actor in a Leading Role (Charles Laughton), Best Actor in a Leading Role (Franchot Tone), Best Director (Frank Lloyd), Best Film Editing, Best Music, Score, and Best Writing, Screenplay.
MGM had hoped to have Cary Grant play the role of Roger Byam, but Grant was under contract to Paramount Pictures, who refused to allow him to take the role.
Clark Gable had to shave his trademark mustache for the picture as they were not allowed by the Royal Navy during the time of the film.
While sailing his boat off Catalina Island, California, actor James Cagney came across the area where the film was being shot. Cagney called director, and old friend, Frank Lloyd telling him he had a little free time and would like to earn a few bucks. Lloyd put Cagney in a sailor uniform where he spent the remainder of the day as an extra in the film.
Actor Wallace Beery turned down the role of Captain Bligh because he didn’t like Clark Gable and couldn’t bear the thought of being stuck on a long location shoot with Gable.
Mutiny on the Bounty was the only film in Oscar history to have three Best Actor in a Leading Role nominations. Because of, and shortly after this, the Academy created the Best Supporting Actor Oscar.
Clark Gable did not initially approve of actor Franchot Tone being cast as Roger Byam. It seems the two had been bitter rivals for the affection of actress Joan Crawford. However, as filming progressed the two became friends. It seemed that they had two important things in common…alcohol and women.
In a later conversation with playwright George S. Kaufman, Charles Laughton attributed his fine performance in the film because he had come from a long line of seafarers. Kaufman, reminding Laughton of his equally impressive performance in The Hunchback of Notre Dame commented, “I assume, then, that you also came from a long line of hunchbacks”?
Personal Note: This is the best known and most engrossing adaptation of the famous mutiny. Charles Laughton is superb and unforgettable as the merciless Captain Bligh. His work is supported by Clark Gable’s fine performance as Fletcher Christian.
Every bit as enjoyable today as it was in 1935.