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Lewis Milestone
Marlon Brando, Trevor Howard, Richard Harris, Hugh Griffith, Richard Haydn, Tarita, Percy Herbert, Duncan Lamont, Gordon Jackson
Writing Credits:
Charles Nordhoff (novel), James Norman Hall (novel), Charles Lederer

When justice is blind, it knows no fear.

Mutiny On The Bounty, based on Nordhoff and Hall's factual narrative of the infamous mutiny in 1789, stars Marlon Brando as First Mate Fletcher Christian. Sailing from Portsmouth in 1787, under the tyrannical rule of Captain William Bligh (Trevor Howard), the H.M.S. Bounty begins an ill-timed voyage around Cape Horn in search of the South Pacific plant, the breadfruit. As the months wear on, Bligh's backbreaking discipline, including flogging and keelhauling as punishment for minor offenses, starts to create a powerful sense of ill-will among the crew. Eventually even Christian's aristocratic foppery begins to fade as he sympathizes with the crew's suffering. Despite the brutal winter storms that threaten to tear the ship apart, the Bounty and its battered crew manage to reach Tahiti, where they enjoy the warm sun and friendly native women while waiting for the plants to be harvested. When Bligh orders the ship home, and cuts off the crew's water ration to save the plants, Christian rebels and leads the men in a mutiny, with tragic results.

Box Office:
$19 million.

Rated NR

Widescreen 2.76:1/16X9
English Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1

Runtime: 185 min.
Price: $26.98
Release Date: 11/7/2006

Disc One
• Prologue
• Epilogue
• “1964 New York World’s Fair Promo”
• “Story of the HMS Bounty” Featurette
Disc Two
• “After the Cameras Stopped Rolling: The Journey of the Bounty” Featurette
• “Tour of the Bounty” Featurette
• “Voyage of the Bounty to St. Petersburg” Featurette


Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.


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Mutiny On The Bounty: Special Edition (1962)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (January 9, 2007)

One of those properties destined to be retold time and again, 1962’s Mutiny on the Bounty offers the second cinematic exploration of the tale. An adaptation of the novel by Charles Nordhoff and James Norman Hall, Bounty tells the tale of the eponymous ship. Starting 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 (Trevor Howard), and his first mate, Fletcher Christian (Marlon Brando).

Obsessed with discipline, Bligh subjects his men to severe punishments for seemingly minor offenses. Christian warns Bligh to treat the men more gently, but 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, a trend that continues when they reach Tahiti. Christian becomes smitten by Chief Hitihiti’s (Matahiarii Tama) daughter Maimiti (Tarita), and the others enjoy their stay in paradise.

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.

Most takes on the 1962 Bounty seem less than complimentary, so I feared the worst. The fact I wasn’t wild about the Oscar-winning 1935 version didn’t inspire much confidence in me either. In fact, my lukewarm attitude toward the original flick made me rather wary of the 1962 edition. I thought the 1935 version was too slow-paced. Since the 1962 take runs more than 50 minutes longer than its predecessor, boredom appeared unavoidable.

Despite those qualms, I must say I think the 1962 Bounty provides a pretty satisfying take on the tale. Despite – or perhaps because of – the movie’s length, it balances all its elements well. The trip to Tahiti takes up the first act, and then we spend about half an hour on the island itself. The rest of the movie addresses the mutiny and its extended aftermath.

To my surprise, none of those elements ever overstays its welcome. I feared that some parts would bore me, especially during the long trek to Tahiti. That was the segment that dragged the most in the 1935 version, and an hour on board the Bounty felt like it might be too much to take.

This never occurs, largely due to the subdued acting from the leads. During the 1935 edition, the catalog of Bligh’s abuses becomes overkill. We see his viciousness and we comprehend it quickly; we don’t need instance after instance to deliver us to Christian’s side.

In the 1962 Bounty, however, Bligh’s arc develops more naturally and doesn’t bore us with repetition. Indeed, at the film’s start, we’re more likely to develop an allegiance to the captain than to Christian. Fletcher seems like a preening fop, while Bligh comes across as steady and dedicated. Only slowly do the two characters start to show their true selves, elements that allow us to switch opinions.

The lead performances add a lot to those depictions. Both Howard and Brando approach their characters in a low-key manner. While I liked Charles Laughton’s take on Bligh in the 1935 flick, no one could ever describe his performance as restrained or naturalistic; indeed, his cartoony approach was part of what made him so much fun. Clark Gable’s Christian also had more swashbuckler to him than true seaman. All of that worked fine for the movie they wanted to make, but it didn’t support a realistic view of the material.

You’ll find no scenery chewing or excessive dramatics in the 1962 Bounty. Brando presents a nicely laid-back turn in which he conveys his disdain with acid looks and snippy quips rather than grand bravado. It’s an intelligent and three-dimensional performance that concisely shows the conflicts within the man. We find no snarling or snapping from Howard either. Bligh becomes a quietly obsessed man who does what he thinks is right and doesn’t turn into a cartoon villain.

Maybe I enjoyed Mutiny on the Bounty simply because I expected little from it. Whatever the case may be, I think the film works. It gives us a rich view of its subject and benefits from terrific acting. I don’t think the film deserves its negative reputation, as I’ll take it over its Oscar-winning predecessor.

The DVD Grades: Picture A/ Audio B+/ Bonus C+

Mutiny on the Bounty appears in an aspect ratio of 2.76:1 on these single-sided, double-layered DVDs; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Yes, those dimensions are correct; this sucker’s wiiiiiiiiide! It’s both the best movie and the worst movie to use in attempts to convert “black bar” hating friends and relatives. On one hand, the pan and scan rendition offers the visual equivalent of gibberish; more than half of the original image is lost. However, since some people freak out when mild bars appear for 1.85:1 films, I can’t imagine how they’d react to this!

Sharpness seemed quite strong. Despite the many wide shots and the relatively-minuscule nature of lots of onscreen objects, the picture appeared very crisp and well-defined at all times. Even the smallest items came across as clear and detailed. Shockingly, I detected virtually no signs of jagged edges or moiré effects. Given the complexity of the image, I expected to see at least a little shimmering, but those problems seemed almost totally absent. Even when objects that tend to “strobe” appeared, they maintained a solid and tight appearance; this was a very stable picture.

Colors looked consistently vivid and well-saturated. Skin tones occasionally took on a slightly brownish appearance, but for the most part they seemed acceptably natural and accurate, while other hues were wonderfully portrayed. Reds appeared especially bright and rich. Black levels came across as deep and dense, while shadow detail looked appropriately heavy but never excessively thick; low-light situations were easily discernible at all times.

Virtually no source defects appeared. I noticed maybe a handful of small specks at most. Otherwise the movie came free from flaws. Put bluntly, this was an outstanding transfer that looked exceedingly strong from start to finish.

Mutiny on the Bounty also sounded quite good via the movie’s Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. The film featured a surprisingly involving soundfield that helped make the program more compelling. The forward channels displayed a nicely broad mix during much of the movie. Music showed solid stereo separation, and quite a few directional effects came from the sides. These also moved across the speakers and blended together fairly well; the imaging could be a little awkward at times, but given the vintage of the material, the transitions worked well. A lot of dialogue also came from the side speakers, and this usually worked well. Some awkward localization occasionally emerged, but most of the lines appeared accurately placed.

Surround usage worked well, especially given the age of the film. The rear channels nicely bolstered the score, as they added a strong dimension of reinforcement to the music. During some of the louder scenes, the back speakers also contributed fairly engulfing atmospheric effects. For example, thunder enveloped me, and the general sense of waves and the seas came across in a positive manner. Ultimately, the track provided a relatively positive soundfield.

Audio quality seemed fairly good. Dialogue came across as a little stiff and brittle at times, but the lines consistently sounded intelligible and they usually displayed good warmth. Effects generally sounded clean and realistic, and they sometimes offered pretty solid dynamics; for example, the thunderclaps were nicely deep and rich, and most of the ambient audio seemed crisp.

Music appeared quite bright and vivid. Highs usually sounded clear and crisp, and the score boasted some surprisingly well-defined and deep bass at times. A few scenes featured music that seemed a bit rough, but I usually thought the score was surprisingly dynamic. All in all, I thought the audio fared very well.

A smattering of extras fill out the package. On DVD One, we get both a Prologue (4:10) and an Epilogue (3:20). As a text screen relates, these were originally supposed to appear in the flick but they were “deleted from the final release prints before the film’s Roadshow premiere engagements in 1962. They were added back to the film for its initial television premiere on ABC in 1967 but have not been seen since that time.” These take us to the “future” of 1814 to show a British ship that discovers Pitcairn Island. They set up Brown as the narrator but doesn’t add in any other way. In fact, they simplify the tale too much.

For a historical featurette, we find 1964 New York World’s Fair Promo. This six-minute and 35-second clip essentially acts as a long trailer for Bounty - or for the Fair attraction, at least. It shows us many shots of the recreated ship and offers much hyperbole about it. Despite a few interesting glimpses of the elements, this is a pretty dull short.

A longer program created in the Sixties comes next. The Story of the HMS Bounty runs 28 minutes, 35 seconds as it tells us more about the creation of the movie’s ship. In addition to narration and footage of the Bounty, we hear from 2nd unit director James Havens, sailmaker Charlie Hebb, seamen Jim Johnson and Hugh Boyd, and Captain Ellsworth Coggins. We follow the boat’s building as well as its trip from Nova Scotia to the movie set. While the subject matter’s more intriguing than “World’s Fair”, the show’s length makes it drag. If you’re really interested in the rebuilt Bounty, give it a look. I couldn’t get into it, though.

The first platter finishes with a collection of Brando Trailers. In addition to the promo for Bounty, we get ads for Julius Caesar, Reflections in a Golden Eye and The Formula.

Shifting to DVD Two, we find three more featurettes. After the Cameras Stopped Rolling: The Journey of the Bounty goes for 24 minutes, 15 seconds, and includes comments from marine manager of Scotia Trawler Alan Altass, shipwright Paul Garnett, Bounty’s owner Robert Hansen, Bounty’s captain Robin Walbridge, seaman Arnold Tinter, and Current Restoration manager Joe Jackimovicz.

As with the preceding programs, “Journey” focuses on the exploits of the ship built for the film. It recaps many elements from “Story” and looks at what’s happened to the faux Bounty since the early Sixties. The modern remarks from those involved with the ship are fairly useful, but I gotta admit this: I just don’t care a whole lot about the movie boat! I wish the DVD got into the flick’s creation and didn’t focus so heavily on the ship.

Tour of the Bounty lasts seven minutes, 53 seconds. The newsreel shows a promotional tour the recreated ship took to various territories. Note that we don’t take a tour of the Bounty; we just watch the crowds as they gather for the promotional stops. I suppose this is a good piece to have for archival reasons, but as I’ve already mentioned, I’m just not very interested in the life of the rebuilt Bounty, and this program doesn’t make me more enchanted.

Finally, Voyage of the Bounty to St. Petersburg occupies 24 minutes, 55 seconds. Another “vintage” piece, this one follows the recreated ship’s journey from the New York World’s Fair to a permanent resting spot in St. Petersburg FL. Yes, I’m tired of watching the rebuilt Bounty. No, this show didn’t entertain me.

1962’s Mutiny on the Bounty manages to combine an epic scope with strong personal drama. Even with the grand landscapes and sea vistas, the terrific lead performances are what make it intrigue us for more than three hours. The DVD presents excellent picture, very good audio, and a collection of fairly mediocre extras. The supplements disappoint, but everything else about this release is very good.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4.4545 Stars Number of Votes: 11
3 3:
View Averages for all rated titles.

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