1 August 2009 | MartinHafer
Wow. I haven't seen this movie for many years and it turned out to be even better than I'd remembered it. I really have to admire this film, as the acting and entire production are top-notch. I rarely give 10s, but this one comes very close--oh, heck...the more I think about it, the more I realize it does deserve it.
As far as the historical accuracy of the film goes, while it isn't perfect (after all, Bligh's exact role in starting the mutiny is tough to determine), it did get most of the points of this true tale correct--showing a rare reverence for the source material. All too often, history takes a back seat to making a marketable film. The only major thing the film got seriously wrong were the mutineers themselves. However, this is because only recent excavations have shown that the men who mutinied in effect killed each other off--as they apparently WERE scum after all. But, based on material available at the time, it was pretty good. As to Bligh's temperament, the British admiralty found Bligh completely blameless. However, later as governor of Australia, Bligh alienated everyone and was, by most accounts, a real jerk. So, the essence of the film appears to be true. Hmm...for once I have no serious complaints about the accuracy of a historical film--that's pretty rare.
The best part of the film, however, is that the actors were absolutely on top of their game. Charles Laughton, though prone to overacting by all accounts, was exceptional here. Clark Gable was in his element--and simply one of his best film roles. The same can also be said of Franchot Tone--here, he has a much deeper and meatier role than usual. In fact, the three came off so well that all three were nominated for Best Actor--necessitating the creation of Best Supporting Actor and Actress categories. The rest of the cast, the supporting journeymen actors, were great--with Donald Crisp (with hair!!) excellent as a troublemaker, Dudley Diggs as a very sympathetic drunkard and many others in top form.
The direction by Frank Lloyd, the cinematography, music, sets and location shooting were also wonderful. So why, if this film was so perfect, would they try remaking it?! This is a great example of a film whose remakes definitely pale by comparison. A perfect or at least near-perfect film in every way.
By the way, if you are curious about the real life Bligh, after both this mutiny and the rebellion in Australia (that he appeared to instigate), he was rewarded with the rank of Rear Admiral! Who says life has to be fair?