Clark Gable two times in a row!
Mutiny on the Bounty is a 1935 adventure drama film starring Charles Laughton and Clark Gable and is directed by Frank Lloyd. Another film of the same name starring Marlon Brando was released in 1962, but was a failure, both critically and at the box office. As of 2015, it is the last Best Picture winner to not win in any other category.
The film is a telling of the novel, Mutiny on the Bounty, written by Charles Nordhoff and James Norman Hall, that tells the story of the 1789 mutiny against William Bligh, a brutal and heartless navy captain who abuses, both verbally and physically, those working on his ship, the HMS Bounty. Leading the mutiny is Fletcher Christian, who shows compassion towards the mistreated men on board.
As I continue to go along every Best Picture winner, you will come to know that the Academy is pretty biased toward biographical and historical, period piece films. Mutiny on the Bounty is one example of a Best Picture winner to fall into one of these two categories. However, let us not assume that every film in these two categories is boring and/or melodramatic. Mutiny on the Bounty is a historical film that has a love story: Gable and another one of the other crew members falling in love with Tahiti women on an island, but it also has a heated rivalry. Unlike any of the previous winners so far, a rivalry takes center stage. Instead of the tale of a man and a woman in the luminous spotlight, a man and another man, and their growing disdain for one another, is what we've come to see. Like All Quiet on the Western Front, Mutiny on the Bounty is commanded by its male stars, but instead of watching men become downtrodden and demoralized through wide open war battles, we watch men express their masculinity through conversation and more confined violence.
- Charles Laughton as Captain Bligh. I am not exaggerating when I say Captain Bligh is one of the most underrated movie villains ever. A villain is praised when we find him/her diabolical enough or observe that he/she has a personality trait that makes them all the more intimidating and, potentially, evil. Captain Bligh is no cannibal, and doesn't have a split personality between himself and his mother; he is simply cruel and controlling. Bligh is merciless, and never expresses happiness or gratitude to anyone. He cares about no one but himself. Laughton nails this role, never smiling once and taking command of nearly every scene when he is in view; using dynamic vocals and a steady walk that would have even the bravest of men indecisive about standing up to him. Quite an accomplishment considering his enemy is "The King" Clark Gable.
- After the mutiny takes place, Christian and those on the ship with him are hardly seen again. We witness Bligh and his loyalists traverse the open sea with little chance of surviving. We then see a manhunt for Christian and the Bounty. The movie spends its first half making you despise Bligh and his horrific ways, but then the second half wants you to partially forgive him. He leads his men to safety and refuses to let prisoners drown when a ship he later takes over begins to sink. I guess the mutiny gave Bligh a change of heart. While I support the idea of enhancing Bligh's character, it took a little too much away from focusing on Fletcher Christian and his crew, as well as what they might go through while searching for a new home.
Two fine performances from Charles Laughton and Clark Gable, as well as a riveting display of adventure on the ocean waters, are the anchors that keep Mutiny on the Bounty firmly upright. It goes off in a slightly different direction after the mutiny takes place, but overall, it keeps you engaged. If only the Academy picked Clark Gable films to win every year back then...
Recommend? Yes. It still holds up today
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