Mutiny on the Bounty (1935)

Mutiny on the Bounty (1935), directed by Frank Lloyd.

The famous Gable vs Laughton contest. We're supposed to hate Bligh, but even in this version we have to admire his command of "the most remarkable open-boat voyage in maritime history", 3000 miles with no charts and little food. Bligh is at his best, and closest to his men, in a survival situation.

In the ship's interior scenes they rock the camera a bit and swing the lanterns, but I don't for a moment believe they are actually at sea. Master and Commander has spoiled me.

This is supposed to be an account of actual incidents, so we don't have the swashbuckling of adventure films like Captain Blood (1935) or The Sea Hawk (1940), even though the ships and gear are much the same. We do have an ethical dilemma: years of privation on a ship, or the easy life of a tropical paradise? What would you do? Gosh, but the women are pretty. But you'll hang if they catch you. In the real history it didn't go well for the mutineers on Pitcairn.

George Macdonald Fraser, in The Hollywood History of the World, says that the actual history of the mutiny (see the wikipedia article) outstrips fiction and contains material for better movies than have yet been made. In the existing film versions, "history, truth and fair play took a frightful beating." The 1935 movie is "a libel on a flawed hero, a travesty of truth -- and a splendid film." First rate cast, script and images.

The Blu-ray is a decent upgrade over the DVD. Netflix doesn't have it; my rental was from ClassicFlix.