Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Mutiny on the Bounty (1935) Film Review

Watched this last night on Turner Classic Movies channel.

Plot Summary - Classic tale, based on a true story, of the HMS Bounty, helmed by perhaps the cruelest, hard-hearted captain ever to sail the sea, Captain Bligh (Charles Laughton), on a late 18th century voyage from England to Tahiti to pick up breadfruit trees. Men are shanghaied from taverns for the two-year voyage, others choose sailing over jail, then there's the handsome first mate, Fletcher Christian (Clark Gable), and midshipman Byam (Franchot Tone), a young officer and gentleman on his first voyage. Watch out for Bligh - the slightest wrong word or look and a man will be keelhauled, or made to go up top of the ship to the crow's nest in a huge storm - or given a hundred lashes even after death. Bligh accuses men of stealing bananas even after it's noted they were brought to his house, he later accuses Mr. Christian of stealing coconuts. The men are under-fed and brutalized and finally Mr. Christian and most of the other men (or "rabble" as Bligh calls them) finally get fed up and start a mutiny, taking over the ship and putting Bligh out on an open boat along with his few loyal men to find their way on the sea, or die trying.

Review - This one is amongst my favorite films from the thirties, I've seen it many times. Charles Laughton gives a mesmerizing performance in this, one of the great character portrayals in the history of film - every time he's on screen it's hard to look at anything else, he owns every scene. But, I was noticing how great Clark Gable is in this too, very powerful as Mr. Christian. Of course, my personal favorite thirties heartthrob, Franchot Tone, is wonderful and cute to boot here. Okay, I do seem to enjoy a good tale at sea, especially when there's a wicked captain you love to hate. And this film includes plenty of eye candy of the male variety, for those interested - Clark Gable and Franchot Tone spend quite a few minutes in this film roaming about shirtless. While in Tahiti the two of them meet two extremely beautiful, sweet-natured young island gals who romp about in sarongs and speak no English, but fall for our fellows anyway - and the men are, obviously, smitten immediately. This is a film not to be missed. Rating - 10/10 stars

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