Friday, January 14, 2011

No. 86: Mutiny On The Bounty

Right now, I’m sitting at home with a mug of steaming tea, watching the wonderful Fred and Ginger flick Swing Time(1936). I have a nasty cold, and it’s not very fun. On the bright side: my mom has a cold, too! We’re hunkered down for the day (with the sleeping dog) watching classics. I could get used to this.

I kept putting off watching AFI #86, Mutiny On The Bounty. Why? Maybe I thought it wasn’t a fun movie, or it wasn’t interesting. Whatever I may have originally thought, I’m glad to say I was completely wrong.

In the late 1700’s, über-crazy Captain Bligh (Laughton) embarks on a journey to Tahiti with his first mate, Fletcher Christian (Gable) and a naive midshipman, Roger Byum (Tone). The Captain’s harsh and abusive treatment of his crew eventually causes Fletcher to lead a mutiny, leaving Bligh stranded in a longboat at sea. Fletcher and the crew flee, first living in Polynesian paradise, but ultimately forced into hiding on remote Pitcairn Island for the rest of their lives. Somehow, Bligh makes it back to England; the few crew members that supported him [including Byum] also get home, but are accused of mutiny and are sentenced to hang. Using his wealth and connections, Byum manages to escape the noose - but the rest of the crew isn’t so lucky. Bligh stays crazy as ever, and Fletcher and the mutineers live a lonely life on their island. An almost-happy ending? It was good. Anti-climactic, but good.

There’s a lot to love about Mutiny On The Bounty. My mom thinks Clark Gable looks best wearing a suit and fedora (or being Rhett Butler). Me? I think he looks just dandy in a sailor’s outfit. Charles Laughton is absolutely perfect as insane Captain Bligh - he creates a character so sadistic, it’s painful to watch. The stellar supporting cast adds humor and depth to the story, especially Henry Stephenson, Donald Crisp, and the wonderful Spring Byington. The dizzying camera shots of the ship are simply gorgeous, and the director made the most of South Pacific location shooting, bringing the colorful atmosphere of Tahiti through black-and-white film.

I honestly can’t think of anything I dislike about this film. The ending is a little unsatisfying; the movie is so grim that it just feels wrong to have a semi-happy ending. Other then that, it’s perfecto.

So, if you like:

* Sets that seem to have inspired Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean

* Caricatured seamen (bottles of rum and all)

* The craziest sea-captain you’ll ever meet – puffy-lipped Charles Laughton at his scene-stealing best

* Clark Gable in a fantastic sailor outfit. ‘Nuff said.

* Camera shots of the ship that make you seasick

..then you’ll love Mutiny On The Bounty.

Next up, No. 85, Duck Soup (1933) – the fantastic Marx Brothers classic. I love this movie. So, so, so, so, so much. I’m excited. Stick around and read about it!


  1. I loved the post, mainly because i love this movie. The thing that irks me is the remake should have been amazing, it had an all star cast exactly like this one, and it paled next to the original. Looking forward to Duck Soup, hilarious movie, also, unnecessary umlat!!!

  2. Agreed on all: Charles Laughton's freakish Captain, great action, gorgeous camera work. Still, Gable is just not Gable in 18th-century sailor garb. LOOKING GOOD, but not my Gable.

    And yes Killian, unnecessary umlaut.

  3. Out of content post: I just reposted your entry at Jax's Movie List. Will let you know how many hits you get ... :)