Blu-ray Review: Mutiny on the Bounty (1935)

Now Available to Own

Despite the fact that dreamy leading man Clark Gable was forced to shave his trademark mustache to adhere to the demands of historical accuracy in two-time Oscar winning director Frank Lloyd's seafaring blockbuster, Mutiny on the Bounty, Gable's coolness under the pressure of filming an epic helped solidify his status in the '30s as the press dubbed “King of Hollywood.”

One of a handful of features starring Gable that garnered Academy Awards for Best Picture, Mutiny on the Bounty showcased Gable's growing range as an actor, equally capable of tackling comedy in It Happened One Night as well as period productions like Gone With the Wind.

And throughout the slightly meandering 130 minute running time of Lloyd's historical classic, Gable was matched scene for scene by the terrifically terrifying Charles Laughton whose turn as the domineering British Royal Naval Captain William Bligh has gone down in history as one of the best villainous portrayals captured in cinema as noted by the American Film Institute.

One of Hollywood's highest grossing and most influential historical epics of the 1930s, Lloyd's rousing adventure was based on Charles Nordhoff and James Norman Hall's fictionalized account of the legendary mutiny that took place aboard the vessel Bounty.

Although there are varying accounts of just what exactly happened on the eighteenth century voyage and the alleged motives of those involved in the conflict keep growing hazier when put under the historical microscope, the movie manages to deliver a clear tale of good conquering evil while still allowing us some room to gauge our own opinions regarding what transpired.

As chronicled onscreen, after the shipmates returned to The Bounty following a months long stop to pick up Tahitian breadfruit cargo, a mutiny was initiated, organized and carried out by the crusading, courageous and fair-minded Fletcher Christian (Gable) in order to put an end to the egomaniacal Bligh's brutal treatment of the crew whose lives he routinely jeopardized.

Restored to unparalleled quality in a pristine high definition Blu-ray transfer executed upon the discovery of previously displaced original nitrate negatives, the stunning clarity of Warner Brothers' newly remastered Blu-ray book is particularly rewarding for devotees considering the fact that it ties in to the film's 75th anniversary.

Although it's hard to argue that the film is dated and the final act feels both a bit overwrought and lacking in the same intensity that made the earlier events on the ship so unbelievably gripping, impressively Bounty still keeps us invested thanks to the fiery dynamic shared by our two leads.

Likewise, it's well worth pursuing from both a storytelling and cinematic standpoint. Bounty perfectly captures Lloyd's knack for directing action on a number of levels to guarantee that we're as intellectually invested in the story as the characters are. Similarly, action filmmakers of today could learn a thing or two as Lloyd routinely ensures that stunts never overwhelm but rather always compliment the drama of the legendary tale.

Of course, the '80s adaptation The Bounty may be much more authentic and there's no doubting that the Marlon Brando remake of Lloyd's original appealed to the method actor generation. Yet for sheer excitement from start to finish, there's no beating 1935's oceanic odyssey as the most critically acclaimed and audience loved adaptation of the who, what, where, when and why surrounding Christian's mutiny over Bligh's Bounty.

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FTC Disclosure: Per standard professional practice, I received a review copy of this title in order to evaluate it for my readers, which had no impact whatsoever on whether or not it received a favorable or unfavorable critique.