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Frank Lloyd
Charles Laughton, Clark Gable, Franchot Tone, Herbert Mundin, Eddie Quillan, Dudley Digges, Donald Crisp, Henry Stephenson, Francis Lister
Writing Credits:
Charles Nordhoff (novel), James Norman Hall (novel), Talbot Jennings, Jules Furthman, Carey Wilson

A Thousand Hours of Hell For One Moment of Love!

First officer Clark Gable and tyrannical captain Charles Laughton powerfully clash in this vigorous retelling of a true historic incident about a British ship commandeered from its brutal master. Franchot Tone also stars in 1935's Best Picture Academy Award choice.

Box Office:
$1.950 million.

Rated NR

Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
English Monaural
French Monaural
Spanish Monaural
German Monaural
Castilian Spanish Monaural
Portuguese Monaural
Castilian Spanish
Brazilian Portuguese
Supplements Subtitles:
Castilian Spanish

Runtime: 132 min.
Price: $34.98
Release Date: 11/16/2010

• “Pitcairn Island Today” Documentary
• Academy Award Newsreel
• Trailers
• Hardcover Book


Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


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Mutiny On The Bounty [Blu-Ray] (1935)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (November 8, 2010)

An adaptation of the novel by Charles Nordhoff and James Norman Hall, 1935’s Bounty tells the tale of the eponymous ship. Set in late 1787, the story follows a journey from Britain to Tahiti to obtain breadfruit trees. The action focuses on the boat’s leader, Captain Bligh (Charles Laughton), and his first mate, Fletcher Christian (Clark Gable). We watch as Christian forces civilians to join the crew, and also observe as wealthy young Roger Byam (Franchot Tone) eagerly hops on the voyage to help develop a Tahitian dictionary, among other duties.

When Bligh appears on the scene, we quickly gather the nature of his character. Obsessed with discipline, he insists that a sailor undergo his punishment of two-dozen lashes although the man already died. Christian soon warns Bligh to treat the men more gently, as they’ll be stuck together for two years. The captain ignores this advice and insists that fear is the best way to get what he wants.

As the voyage progresses, Bligh continues to treat the crew harshly and without any mercy. This creates greater levels of antagonism from the men as well as more and more disdain from Christian. Push comes to shove when Fletcher refuses to sign a false inventory authored by Bligh. This almost leads to Christian’s court martial, but the ship arrives at Tahiti, which disrupts the conflict briefly.

Byam earns the favor of Chief Hitihiti (William Bambridge) and stays in his home. He meets and falls for lovely native girl Tehani (Movita). The men aspire to party but Bligh makes sure they work the vast majority of the time. Christian also becomes smitten by Hitihiti’s granddaughter Maimiti (Mamo).

After that brief escape from misery, the ship heads home. Unfortunately, matters don’t improve, as Bligh remains brutal as ever. The remainder of the movie follows the unpleasantness that leads to the titular uprising.

Bounty provides a moderately intriguing experience, but it doesn’t stand as one of the better Best Picture winners. Part of the problem stems from the slow build-up to the inevitable. Given the film’s title, we know that the crew will eventually revolt. Unfortunately, the movie takes forever to get to that point. It’s been a long time since I read the novel on which the movie was based, so I can’t recall how faithful this pacing is. However, it seems slow here and plods at times.

If the film used the time to richly develop the characters, it would be well spent. However, that doesn’t really occur. Some may argue that we need the slow pacing to get a feeling for how desperate the men became due to Bligh’s maltreatment. In a way, that’s correct, as we wouldn’t want to see them turn tables with only small provocation.

However, the film uses lots of time to build the arguments against Bligh. Eventually they simply seem redundant. We quickly get the idea that he treats his crew terribly, so the ad infinitum repetitions of this concept simply belabor the point. It doesn’t help that the other characters seem similarly one-dimensional. In particular, Christian and Byam come across as relentlessly noble and without flaws. That makes them cartoony heroes without much depth.

At least the actors handle the roles well. Laughton seems especially strong as Bligh. He takes on the part with a grim, scowling demeanor that don’t seem particularly true to life, but he makes Bligh entertainingly nasty. Laughton avoids any temptation to elicit sympathy for the character, which again leads him to feel somewhat artificial but seems like a laudable attempt to stay true to the film’s tone.

Bounty also presents a suitably epic feel. Clearly a lot of the movie was shot in the studio with the use of process shots, but we still get a good impression of the high seas. Even though I recognized the techniques used, they still managed to work nicely and created a tone of reality.

Mutiny on the Bounty presents a good story and it works acceptably well as a whole. The film picks up considerably during its third act, as the drama accelerates. Nonetheless, it remains a flawed flick that meanders too frequently and that pursues too many of the same points over and over.

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture A/ Audio B/ Bonus C-

Mutiny on the Bounty appears in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Although the image wasn’t totally flawless, it came pretty close, especially given the movie’s advanced age.

Sharpness almost always came across well. Mostly due to various effects shots, some images periodically were a little fuzzy and soft. However, the majority of the flick was concise and well defined. No problems with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, and I discerned no signs of edge enhancement.

For a 75-year-old film, I expected concerns with print flaws, but these remained surprisingly modest. On a few short occasions, I noticed some thin vertical lines, and a few small streaks materialized. These were really minor and rare, so they shouldn’t be viewed as a problem. The vast majority of the movie looked clean.

Black levels consistently seemed fine. Contrast was usually clean and distinctive, and low-light shots demonstrated good definition. Shadows appeared fairly smooth and easily discernible; a few “day for night” elements looked a smidgen dense, but those were brief and inconsequential. Really, I felt exceedingly pleased with this stunning transfer, as it looked absolutely amazing for a flick from 1935.

Bounty presented a monaural soundtrack that seemed fine for its era. Dialogue remained intelligible and without edginess, and the lines appeared reasonably natural. Speech occasionally seemed a little thin, but usually the lines were relatively positive.

Effects came across well. Those elements didn’t boast much heft, but they showed good clarity and lacked notable distortion or concerns. Music was also fairly concise, though also with much punch. That wasn’t a concern, though, as one wouldn’t expect audio from 1935 to show great range. Moderate levels of background noise showed up through the movie; these didn’t create many distractions, however. Overall, Bounty presented good audio for its age.

How did the picture and sound of this Blu-Ray compare with those of the DVD from 2004? Both showed growth, especially in terms of the visuals. I thought the old DVD looked pretty good, but it couldn’t compare to the dazzling transfer on display here. I don’t expect much from mid-1930s or earlier movies, so the crisp, clear visuals stunned; I seriously doubt the film’s looked this good since 1935, and it might not even have been this impressive back then.

I thought the Blu-ray’s audio was a bit stronger than the DVD’s. Overall, I thought the quality was generally superior. The Blu-ray’s mix seemed a little more natural and pleasing, as I thought the DVD sounded harsher and tinnier. The Blu-ray didn’t offer a day and night difference, but I felt it provided the superior audio.

This disc includes a few supplements, most of which appeared on the earlier DVD. Pitcairn Island Today presents a featurette created back in 1935. The nine-minute and 39-second piece recaps the story of the Bounty and follows with a look at then-present day Pitcairn. Despite its condescending tone, it’s an interesting glimpse of the reality behind the tale, especially when we meet descendants of the mutineers.

In addition to trailers for the 1935 and 1962 editions of Bounty, we find a newsreel. Entitled “Mutiny on the Bounty Wins 1935 Award”, this 60-second clip shows the presentation of the Oscar.

We also get a hardcover book. This comes as part of the package; open up the disc’s casing and the book appears on the left half. It features a mix of components. We discover some production notes, cast and crew bios, ads and photos.

A watchable but less than stellar film, Mutiny on the Bounty presents a decent sea-going epic. The movie enjoys some nice performances and a strong third act, but it moves too slowly to get to that point and probably would have benefited from some judicious editing. The Blu-ray presents stunning picture quality with good audio and a minor set of supplements. While I can’t say the movie itself does much for me, I feel quite pleased with its presentation on this Blu-ray; accounting for the film’s age, this may be the best catalog transfer of 2010.

To rate this film, visit the original review of MUTINY ON THE BOUNTY

Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main