Production Company: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM)
Distributor: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM)
Top Billed Actors: Charles Laughton, Clark Gable, Franchot Tone
Won 1 Oscar:
Nominated for 2 more:
Best Director - Frank Lloyd
Best Actor - Clark Gable
Best Actor - Charles Laughton
Best Actor - Franchot Tone
Best Writing (Adapted) - Jules Furthman, Talbot Jennings, Carey Wilson
Best Film Editing - Margaret Booth
Best Original Score - Nat W. Finston (Score by Herbert Stothart)
Plot: A ruthless captain eats cheese and coconuts and blames the more handsome Clark Gable for stealing them.
Does the movie merit this praise? To a certain extent it does. First and foremost, Charles Laughton delivers an extremely memorable performance. I haven't seen this movie for eight or so years, but the moment he comes on screen, I was instantly transported to when I first saw it. He plays the villain role so well, not only in how he talks but how he conducts himself. Before he yells, he takes a moment to glare upon an insubordinate crew-member before ripping into them. Out of the three Best Actor nominees here, Laughton is clearly the best. The ship is also a site to behold. Frank Lloyd does an excellent job framing the ship during the initial launch out of the port and likewise when there is a violent storm. It's almost majestic in its quaintness as its not the biggest ship, but it's still very impressive. The set design on the whole is mostly epic in scale and executed admirably. This includes the costumes. If the Best Costume Oscar existed for 1935, it would undoubtedly have been awarded to the many outfits that Laughton, Gable, and company had to wear. Uniforms signal rank, which does the job of informing the viewer who stood where in the hierarchy of the ship.
A few flaws pierces through Laughton's performance, the brilliant ship=sailing sequences, and the exquisite costumes. The most major offense this movie commits is its lack of focus in the narrative when the ship arrives at Tahiti. All of a sudden, Gable and Franchot Tone go into full romantic mode. The first two women they see, they are all over them. It pulls me out of the story and reminds me that some producer had to push for more romantic scenes. I only cared about the interactions of the crew and Laughton and how the mutiny would take place. I never cared for the shallow and uninteresting romantic subplot of Gable and his Tahitian girlfriend, so these parts of the film drag on and on. The mutiny scene itself is also poorly shot. The action edits are almost laughable and there isn't much satisfaction when Laughton finally gets sent out on the boat. I know Gable is supposed to take the high road and not physically harm Laughton, but that doesn't mean one of the shipmates could have sneaked a quick sock to the jaw. And speaking of the people on the crew of the Bounty, none of them really stand out except for the drunkard with the peg leg. There are a lot of characters that blend together so its hard to root for them when they take over the ship.
Overall, this is worth seeing for Laughton's performance alone. He should certainly be on any list of classic movie villains. The scope is often mesmerizing but the forced romance and boring supporting cast takes a little bit of the wind out of its sails.
My Score: 7/10