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4.6 out of 5 stars40
4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 25 July 2004
A true classic. If you need to convince anyone that films aren't as good as they used to be, this is the one to show them. Gorgeous photography, brought vividly to life in this impeccable transfer, a rattling good story, wonderful performances, and no expense spared on sets and locations.
This version is a fictionalised account, based on Nordhoff and Hall's novel rather than the true history. (For a more accurate retelling, check out the 1984 version, 'The Bounty'.) In terms of events it's broadly correct but of course, in keeping with a good adventure story, it presents Bligh as a sour-faced sadist rather that the complex, troubled character he really was. As such, Charles Laughton turns in a performance to relish, perhaps the greatest of his career.
If you can accept Clark Gable as a Cumbrian, this is a good old adventure movie of the very best kind, and a terrific film by any standards.
A fascinating bonus on this disc is the short documentary 'Pitcairn Today', showing life on the island as it was in the 1930s.
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The Gable-Laughton version of Mutiny on the Bounty bears about as much relation to history as Michelle Pfeiffer does to Idi Amin and in some ways it's a rather under-ambitious and repetitive bit of work for all the splendor of its staging. Much of the first half is just a catalog of brutalities completely at odds with the facts (the unlucky Bligh was a much more lenient captain than was good for him and the loss of the Bounty was cited by many contemporaries as proof that then-recent reforms of conditions were a disastrous mistake) and more in keeping with Victorian melodrama. Laughton's performance certainly takes the hint and delivers an unsubtle but entertaining essay in bluster and volume, although his unfortunate statement that "I have a way of my own with seamen" is an unintentional double-entendre worthy of Smithers from The Simpsons.

Gable's Fletcher Christian is rather one-dimensional here and knows it, calling on as much star power as he can muster to make a watered-down part the heroic focus of the film, while Franchot Tone backs him up with naïve enthusiasm to make him look more manly by comparison. Herbert Mundin's comic relief is a tad irritating and William Bambridge's King Hitihiti looks more like a Mexican villager that Tahitian royalty: you keep on expecting him to say that "In the end, only the farmers win."

But it's more than entertaining enough, and it's the only one of the Bounty films to include the British Navy's pursuit of the mutineers and the Wreck of the Pandora, so earns extra points for that.

Warner Home Video's DVD offers a nice transfer but is a bit light on extras - a vintage short film Pitcairn Island Today, which would be very different if made today, a newsreel extract from the Academy Award newsreel extract and the original theatrical trailer. The US region-free Blu-ray also includes a trailer for the 1962 Marlon Brando version with the initial copies in a handsome hardback digibook presentation.
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on 3 March 2011
Don't let the antiquity discourage you. This Charles Laughton/Clark Gable pairing is a cracker, and still my personal favourite. It's a movie of its time, simplifying and romancing the legendary conflict into one of good versus wickedness, with a hint of swashbuckling bravado. Laughton excels as the tyrant captain with power of life and death over his hapless press-ganged crew. Gable is a competent foil of good will, tempering discipline with humanity. There's friction evident before anchors aweigh. Franchot Tone also gives a stirring perfomance as lead midshipman, whilst humour is provided by the cook and the doctor, the latter having a fresh explanation for the loss of his leg with each telling.

Filming is on a sumptuous scale, and is long enough for the story to progress without undue haste. There are great moments of conflict. Bligh's relentless cruelty and petty spites are nicely played, timing is excellent. Perhaps it's not surprising that the obdurate captain constantly checks the coconuts on a vessel called Bounty. But neither does the movie gloss-over his tremendous feat of open-boat navigation, during which even he, compelled to intimacy, demonstrates a more engaging leadership, keeping order when space, food and water are at a premium. Though revenge drives him more eagerly than the wind.

This is top drama. It won the Oscar for Best Picture in 1935 - 76 years ago!

I did not purchase my DVD through Amazon, but the illustrations on the advertised case look identical. Sound and vision on mine are quite satisfactory considering the movie's age, with only a slight `hiss' from time to time that does not impair listening pleasure.

Give it a whizz and find out why increasing numbers of mature film fans are turning away from modern CGI shoot-em-ups in preference for the back catalogue.
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on 7 May 2002
This true story, with, admittedly, plenty of liberties taken with that truth, has gone down in popular consciousness as a true folk tale that everyone is familiar with. It has even been filmed three times. Captain Bligh has gone down in history as the epitome of tyranny and Fletcher Christian has become a symbol of man’s struggle against tyranny. Good against evil. Tyranny against freedom. A David verses Goliath story, if you will, or a George Washington verses George III. If you want to know why this myth has become so enduring – and it is a myth. The true story is no-where near as black and white, as the 1980s remake hints at - then watch this film.
Clark Gable is utterly convincing as the hero who can take no more of Captain Bligh’s tyrannical leadership and leads the men to mutiny against him. His performance knocks both Marlon Brando and Mel Gibson’s later feeble efforts into a three-cornered hat. Best of all is Charles Laughton’s portrayal of Captain Bligh. Bligh is tyranny personified. His very presence on screen oozes menace. His eyes glare malevolently at his crew. Every word that comes out of his mouth drips with contempt. Never has an actor portrayed evil so convincingly and so thoroughly. Most actors would overplay it. Laughton, the master that he is, gets it exactly right. Loathsome though Bligh is, he never becomes a caricature. He is a man as well as a monster. (Tim Roth and Alan Rickman should eat their hearts out.) It is one of the best performances in 20th Century cinema.
This film works at every level: the brisk pacing, the characterisation of the ships crew, the sets scenes on board ship and on the Island of Tahiti, and the cinematography. It is a wonderful film to watch and one that has ingrained itself into our collective memories thanks, mainly, to Charles Laughton.
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on 3 April 2013
This old film is as great today as it always was.....both Charles Laughton and Clark Gable
give stunning performances, as does Franchot Tone.......I honestly think this will still be
enjoyed by cinema buffs in another 100 years!!!
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on 27 August 2011
Charles Laughton is a very good actor with a screen presence and provided a lasting impression in his portrayal of Bligh. While later revelations tell us his portrayal was not entirely correct, this is not his fault. He deserved an oscar for his performance. This film has more characters within the story and in my view rates higher in the way it portrays the voyage and events, than the 1962 version.
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on 25 February 2014
Even if this is an 80 year old production, it is remarkably well done: as to content, I think it's more interesting that the later 1962 film with Marlon Brando and Trevor Howard, despite the technical superiority of the latter. The sound is pretty good thanks to the excellent diction of the actors. The lt. Bligh portayal of Charles Laughton is even more unsympathetic than Howard's but on the other hand the older film makes clear the stamina of the man and his ability in adversity : in fairness it should be added that this is entirely due to the producer's approach: in the 1962 film we are only shown a description of the journey back from Bligh's notes, while in the older film we see the day-to-day fight for survival of the castaways. Marlon Brando's Christian is a more compex portayal than Clark Gable's, the latter being the more idealistic character. Worth seeing.
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on 31 August 2014
It's still a very watchable film for about three key reasons, I'd suggest. 1. Charles Laughton; when he's off screen it does become less interesting. 2. The excitement of the first hour's build-up to mutiny with the convincing storm scenes and the wonderful opening scenes introducing the key players and the unfurling of the pristine white sails against the sky with a montage of faces and action which promises great things. 3. Story is efficiently told and many of the minor characters well-played. Against this, the problem is the storyline. After Bligh's heroic voyage of recovery and the implications that he was a misguided yet potentially brilliant leader, the ends have to be tied-up with less stirring stuff. Gable is good but he does need his moustache!
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on 20 March 2016
I've just watched this movie for I think the third time.
Charles Laughton is terrific. A more menacing character is hard to imagine.
Clark Gable adds the Hollywood touch, he is far better in 'Gone with the wind'.
Why only 3 stars? It's just for me a bit sloppy in places.
The Tahitian chief just doesn't come over very well.
The let's fall in love with the natives is unbelievable (even though we know it really happened).
Some of the midshipmen characters are weak.
But it still holds out as a very watchable movie thanks mostly to the inimitable Charles Laughton.
Let's face it I've watched it 3 times over the years there must be something good about it.
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on 23 January 2013
No major reasons to dislike the film. It's just dated. We had a Mutiny on the Bounty party so bought the three films for ideas on costumes etc. All three films tell the story in a slightly different way.
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