MUTINY ON THE BOUNTY. 1962. BASED ON THE BOOK BY CHARLES NORDHOFF AND JAMES NORMAN HALL. DIRECTED BY LEWIS MILESTONE. STARRING MARLON BRANDO, TREVOR HOWARD, RICHARD HARRIS, GORDON JACKSON, TIM SEELY AND HENRY DANIELL. REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©
According to Wikipedia, this film garnered mainly negative reviews and Marlon Brando was slated for his performance in it, but I can’t for the life of me understand why. This is one of my favourite curled-up-on-the-couch-on-a-Saturday-afternoon films of all time, and I think that Marlon Brando, one of the handsomest actors who ever lived, is bloody stupendous in it. So take that, all you negative nellies who caused Wikipedia to have to say something so gosh-diddly-darned uncomplimentary…!
The film is, of course, based on true events. Most people have probably heard of the lash-happy Captain Bligh of the English ship THE BOUNTY and the aristocratic second-in-command, Fletcher Christian, who wrested Bligh’s command from him when Bligh’s dictatorial ways threatened the safety and well-being of every man under him.
There’s another excellent film version of the story starring the formidable Charles Laughton as Captain Bligh, and I’m pretty sure I’ve even seen another version in which a pony-tailed Mel Gibson tackles the role of Fletcher Christian. Has anyone else seen that one? From what I remember, Mad Max did a decent enough job.
Marlon Brando plays the Fletcher Christian role, and I think he’s superb in every respect. He’s handsome, popular with the ladies, sartorially light years ahead of everyone around him and his posh English accent is spot-on.
Captain Bligh naturally hates the privileged popinjay who’s been born with a silver spoon protruding from every orifice and who only joined the Navy because ‘there’s something dusty about the army and affairs of state are so dashed boring,’ or words to that effect.
The pair clash at every turn. Fletcher hates the excessive cruelty with which Bligh, brilliantly played by Trevor BRIEF ENCOUNTER Howard, treats the sailors under his command. Poor old Richard DUMBLEDORE Harris, whom genealogical studies recently revealed to be a distant relative of mine (I’m not kidding!), is brutally whipped for giving Bligh a bit of lip. It sickens the men to their stomachs, especially Christian. But orders from the captain must be obeyed, so what can he do about it but try to keep a stiff upper lip and get through the dangerous and difficult voyage as best he can…?
The ship is sailing from England to Tahiti, by the way, to collect specimens of the plant known as ‘breadfruit’ which is meant to be capable of feeding large numbers of people cheaply enough. It could change the English economy for the better, so Captain Bligh basically treats the plants better than he does the men, which to him are less than the shite on his shoe. The men are treated appallingly under his command. How much of Bligh’s deliberate cruelty and near insanity will Fletcher be able to endure before he cracks? And when he does, will there be any way back…?
The storms at sea are magnificent to watch and the portrayal of life-at-sea seems perfectly authentic, coming from someone who’s never been to sea, mind! The five months on the idyllic island of Tahiti are hilarious to watch. The sailors are basically invited to ‘get it on’ with any or as many women as they like and boy!!! do they like…! Even the, um, shall we say, plug-ugly sailors are considered ‘beautiful’ by the native Sheilas because of their light skin. Lucky for them…!
The funniest scene in the whole film is when Fletcher is reluctantly ordered to ‘make love to the King’s daughter’ by Bligh because to refuse the beautiful young woman would offend the king and jeopardise the breadfruit mission. Then we see Fletcher, who is more than happy to oblige the young lady in question, sailing off to the island to do the captain’s ‘bidding’ while RULE BRITTANIA plays loudly in the background. Well, as Fletch might have said himself: It’s a dirty job but someone’s gotta do it…! For King and Country, eh…?
Apart from Brando, Howard and my distant relative Richard Harris (honest to God, I’m not joking!), there are terrific performances from other quarters too. Special mention goes to: Noel Purcell, my fellow countryman who also acted in that other great seafaring movie, MOBY DICK; Richard Haydn who plays the ship’s botanist or, as Captain Bligh himself puts it, ‘the most important man on the ship’; Gordon Jackson, who played the butler Mr. Hudson in much-loved, long-running drama series UPSTAIRS, DOWNSTAIRS; Hugh Griffith as Smith and Percy Herbert as the ship’s ‘whipper,’ Quintal; lovely old stern-faced Henry Daniell who played Moriarty to Basil Rathbone’s Sherlock Holmes in THE WOMAN IN GREEN and, last but not least, Tim Seely as Ned.
This film is amazing. I won’t hear a word said against it. I guess that’s what makes me such a good movie reviewer, haha, my ability to carefully and impartially weigh up both sides of the story. You can make up your own minds, though.
I normally watch this film after Christmas along with other such cinematic blockbusters as TITANIC, GONE WITH THE WIND, THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE and THE TOWERING INFERNO. Good choices, eh? Add MUTINY ON THE BOUNTY to your festive to-watch list and you won’t go far wrong. Would I ever steer you wrong? Well, maybe, but not about films. Never about films. Films are different. They’re special.
AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.
Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based performance poet, novelist, film blogger, sex blogger and short story writer. She has given more than 200 performances of her comedy sex-and-relationship poems in different venues around Dublin, including The Irish Writers’ Centre, The International Bar, Toners’ Pub (Ireland’s Most Literary Pub), the Ha’penny Inn, Le Dernier Paradis at the Trinity Inn and The Strokestown Poetry Festival.
Her articles, short stories and poems have appeared in The Metro-Herald newspaper, Ireland’s Big Issues magazine, The Irish Daily Star, The Irish Daily Sun and The Boyne Berries literary journal. In August 2014, she won the ONE LOVELY BLOG award for her (lovely!) horror film review blog. She is addicted to buying books and has been known to bring home rain-washed tomes she finds on the street and give them a home.
She is the proud possessor of a pair of unfeasibly large bosoms. They have given her- and the people around her- infinite pleasure over the years. She adores the horror genre in all its forms and will swap you anything you like for Hammer Horror or JAWS memorabilia. She would also be a great person to chat to about the differences between the Director’s Cut and the Theatrical Cut of The Wicker Man. You can contact her at:
1) ‘… BY A WOMAN WALKING HER DOG…’
2) A WRITER’S JOURNEY
3) ANNA MEETS COUNT DRACULA
4) ANOTHER FIFTY REALLY RANDOM HORROR FILM REVIEWS TO DIE FOR…
5) CANCER BALLS
6) CATCH OF THE DAY
7) FIFTY FILTHY-DIRTY SEX-POEMS YOU MUST READ BEFORE I DIE.
8) FIFTY REALLY RANDOM HORROR FILM REVIEWS TO DIE FOR…
9) THE DEVIANTS
10) VISITING DAY