This Week in the Box: Mutiny on the Bounty


Note: This Week in the Box is a year-long series where Sam works through the entire Warner Brothers 50 Film Collection box set. To find reviews of the other films in the series and see the complete list, click here.

1935’s Mutiny on the Bounty was directed by Frank Lloyd and stars Clark Gable, Charles Laughton, and Charles Laughton’s eyebrows. It was based on the 1932 historical novel of the same name by Charles Nordhoff and James Norman Hall.

The facts of the actual mutiny are comparatively unclear; while the ship’s captain wrote a lengthy account of the events, his version is inherently untrustworthy considering he was the one mutinied against. Perhaps it is not in his best interest to present the facts exactly as they were, considering that others allege that it was his extreme cruelty and lack of compassion that led the mutiny. The captain, for the record, attributes the mutiny to the men being swayed by the idyllic life in Tahiti and wanting to return there. Being a film adaptation of a fictionalized novel based on the actual mutiny, the events in this film are at a third-degree remove from any kind of reality. That gives the screenwriters more than enough artist license to do away with any gray area and write exactly the straightforward story they want to.

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