In a few days this list will gain a new movie (I’d love a film like Birdman to gain the title… but I guess we will just have to wait and see on that one), but for now I am going back 80 years into cinematic history to look at Mutiny On The Bounty.
This has two rather interesting honours when it comes to Academy Awards. Firstly, it is the last film to only have won for Best Picture and nothing else (everything else, pretty much, being scooped up by The Informer) which puts it in rather dubious company alongside Broadway Melody and Grand Hotel. More positively, it found a way to split the vote by being the only film to ever have three nominations in the Best Actor category. The latter of these really speaks to the performances in the film by the lead actors, something that carried the film as it began to limp along in the final act.
The story of the mutiny on the Bounty has been adapted a number of times over the years with the likes of Mel Gibson, Marlon Brando and Anthony Hopkins all being drawn to the main roles. However, having seen the 1935 film, it will now be very hard to see another pair as strong as Charles Laughton and (the strangely moustache-free) Clark Gable. In fact, scratch that, since I am talking about two rather immortal actors giving one of their best performances it is impossible for them to be eclipsed.
The first two thirds of this movie are brilliant. The way that the tension ramps up between the captain and his crew through his, essentially, being an absolute bastard. However, after the actual mutiny occurs then… the film just loses a lot of what was making it great. The mutiny happened, it was bloodless and now you see the aftermath. Maybe I am just a bit of a sucker for period-based brutality but, there we are.
Also, in the back of my mind, I had what I already knew about the mutiny playing around. Other than the recent child abuse trials on the Pitcairn Islands (a number of those involved being the ancestors of the mutineers) it’s fairly common knowledge that the settling of the island was pretty doom-laden with rape and murder being common. Still, this is a movie under the Hayes Code and with box office draw Gable in a leading role… it had to end on some sort of hopeful not.