Mutiny on the Bounty (1935)

Genres - Adventure  |   Sub-Genres - Adventure Drama, Sea Adventure  |   Run Time - 132 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Richard Gilliam

Mutiny on the Bounty represents the height of MGM filmmaking during the Irving Thalberg era. Filming on location in Tahiti, the studio spent $2 million in production costs, an astounding sum for 1935. Thalberg's boss, Louis B. Mayer, opposed the film, but the production chief prevailed, insisting that the public was fascinated by cruelty. Indeed, Charles Laughton's Captain Bligh is among the screen's most despicable villains, never mind that the historic Captain Bligh was a substantially more complex person, and the heroic Fletcher Christian (Clark Gable) of the film is hardly the Fletcher Christian of history who kidnapped Tahitian natives and forced them to work as slaves for his mutineers. Mutiny on the Bounty holds up well as a grand tale of adventure, beautifully filmed, with charismatic lead performances and the quality of production that made Thalberg's work legendary. It is a rarity in Academy Awards history: a Best Picture winner that won only that one Oscar. The bigger winner for the night was John Ford's The Informer, which took four Oscars, all at Bounty's expense. Yet, as is common in Academy history, Bounty, a bigger box-office blockbuster, won the top award.