If you research the movie “Mutiny on the Bounty,” you will find two blockbuster movies out there, this 1935 Best Picture winner with Clark Gable and a 1965 version starring Marlon Brando. Both films feature heavyweights as the leads, but today I will focus on the 1935 version, one of only Best Picture winners to only win one statue the year of their crowning.
Mutiny on the Bounty was a fun adventure with way too much drama and unnecessary death. Of course, all the tension and dramatics are the whole point of the story. Captain William Bligh (Charles Laughton) has to be the worse character ever to star in a movie and lead a ship. He’s the type of guy who steals from himself and blames everyone else. When others try to have fun without his consent, he’s more than happy to accompany their adventures with lashings and death.
Fletcher Christian (Gable) organizes a mutiny with about 95% of the ship’s crew, who overthrow the captain and send him adrift in the middle of the ocean with nothing to survive. Unlucky for the crew who took the Bounty, Bligh makes it back to sea and seeks his revenge, which makes for a fun cat and mouse game on the uncharted open seas.
Gable is great in this role, and with such a booming voice, when he speaks, people stop what they are doing and listen. He’s got a lot of appealing qualities that make him the ideal leader of a revolt. I loved how down to earth he was and how natural he was interacting with Tahiti’s people. It is hard to avoid someone with his charm, so of course, he falls in love with an island girl.
Bligh was a jerk the entire time he was on screen. His ego got the best of him and led to his downfall; however, he manages to escape all punishment, including lying at his men’s trial. He was so well written that the things he does, says, or commands just make your blood boil. When someone can get under your skin, you know you got a great villain.
I had no expectations going into this film, except I was worried the film wouldn’t click with me because it is so dated. I may never get around watching the version with Brando, but I enjoyed this telling of the classic tale. If you can handle the fact the film is in black and white, and the special effects are as good as it gets for the mid-1930s, you may enjoy the adventure on the seas too. 7/10