I love the Academy Awards and last year I realized how few of the “Best Picture” winners I’d actually seen. So I made it a goal to see all 83 winners and blog my thoughts about them along the way.

Why did it win? Should another movie have won instead? Has it become a beloved classic or do many of you not even recognize the title? I invite you, my friends and guests, to comment along with me. Do you agree/disagree? I should be fair and place a SPOLIER ALERT on this blog since I’ll be writing about various parts of the movie. So read at your own risk…

I have often told people that I have movie amnesia… I can see a movie and forget all about it years later. So for that reason, I am re-watching the 27 I’ve seen before. That said, if no one visits or reads my blog and I basically perform the online equivalent of talking to a brick wall, that’s fine; if for nothing else, it’ll be my own reminder. Enjoy!

And the Oscar goes to…

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Mutiny on the Bounty, 1935

Not Rated

I set my DVR to record a number of these older Best Picture winners back in February when the Turner Classic Movie channel was gearing up for the Oscar season by playing past winners. Last month, I sat down to watch this one and watched the entire 3 hour movie before I discovered I was supposed to have watched the version from 1935… I watched the one made in 1962. After banging my head against the wall, I am now trying to make lemonade from lemons:  I can adequately compare the two versions of the film. Yay. (But will someone please pour me some Bacardi to go with my lemonade…?)

This film is based on the true story of the HMS Bounty, a British ship under the command of the sadistic Captain Bligh in 1787, which undergoes a mutiny led by Fletcher Christian. I discovered this was actually the first remake to win Best Picture. There was one even before this (in 1933)! And geez Louise, there was another remake done in 1984 with Mel Gibson, Anthony Hopkins, Laurence Olivier, Daniel Day-Lewis, and Liam Neeson, which is apparently the most accurate. (People need to stop making newer versions of this movie. We got it.)

Captain Bligh believes that fear is the best weapon and has no problem inflicting physical pain as punishment for any issue, big or small, aboard his vessel. He is the archetypal villain and you can’t wait for what the title of the movie promises. (For both films, the beginning is pretty slow-moving.) The ship’s mission is to sail to Tahiti where they will pick up the breadfruit plant and transport it back to England. Fletcher Christian (whose last name is truly poetic) is second-in-command and takes his post seriously, but on their way back home, he finally has enough of Bligh’s treatment of his men, and organizes a mutiny.

In this version, Mr. Christian is played by Clark Gable (sans ‘stache). This was my third Gable film, and I’m realizing that he pretty much acts the same in all his roles; which is ok- he’s still charming to me. He’s a very fast talker too.

In the later version, Marlon Brando plays Fletcher Christian and he reminded me of Billy Zane in “Titanic”. Both Clark and Marlon played the role well.

There were so many little (and big) differences in the storylines of both versions that I’m wondering which was more true… or was the real-life story kind of vague so Hollywood padded it with more drama or suspense? The bigger differences came at the end. In the winning film, Bligh and his followers are cast off in a small boat to fend for themselves. After having run out of food on an impossible 40+ day journey at sea, we later see him on a huge ship (like the Bounty) demanding to find Fletcher. Whaaat? In both films, Fletcher and his mutinous crew decide to head back to Tahiti than face their deaths in England. In this version, Fletcher marries his fling (from their brief stay on the island) and they have children. In the 1962 version, the Bounty is set ablaze by Fletcher’s crew after they hear he wants to return to England. Fletcher dies from burns trying to save it. Bligh makes it back to England and receives a slap on the wrist for his treatment of his crew in the second film, and a minor congratulation for his impressive sailing in the first. And in the real-life version, Bligh was later promoted in the British Navy!! Appalling.

Although it had eight nominations, “Mutiny on the Bounty” only received the Best Picture award which is very unusual. This film beat out the following films for the coveted award: “Alice Adams”, “The Broadway Melody of 1936” (I’m confused because it’s only 1935….??), “Captain Blood”, “David Copperfield”, “The Informer”, “The Lives of a Bengal Lancer”, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, “Les Miserables”, “Naughty Marietta”, “Ruggles of Red Gap”, and “Top Hat”. I have seen none of those films, but I know that some of these nominees have become classics. Clark Gable lost the Best Actor award which is a little ironic considering he won it the year before for the low-budget light-hearted romantic comedy “It Happened One Night” (which I recommend).

A bit of trivia for ya: this was the first year that the gold statuettes were named “Oscars”. (I honestly didn’t know that name went back that far…)


I’m sorry, I don’t have a favorite scene in this film… but there was one shot in particular that caught my eye:

It immediately reminded me of the part of Pirates of the Caribbean (the ride at Disneyland) where the boat you’re seated in comes through a misty tunnel and you spot the pirate ship in the water for the first time. (Wish I could’ve found a picture of that online.)


Stand up against violence. Granted, Christian let it go on longer than I could have stomached, he did eventually throw the rules overboard (pun intended) and put a stop to the unnecessary cruelty, risking his career and life.

I would not survive one day aboard a ship like that. What with the nauseating back and forth motion of the water, the claustrophobia below decks, the stale food and restricted rations, the back-breaking manual labor in order to make the ship sail, and nowhere to hide from the weather, I’d be shark bait for sure.

1 comment:

  1. Although I found "THE INFORMER" impressive, I thought Frank Lloyd should have won Best Director.

    You should also compare the 1935 and 1962 versions of "MUTINY ON THE BOUNTY" with the 1984 film, "THE BOUNTY".