Mutiny on the bounty (1962)

30 Apr

Synopsis: Based on a true story in 1787 the HMS Bounty set sail for Tahiti under the leadership of tyrannical Captain William Bligh played by Trevor Howard. The mission is to bring back breadfruit trees to Jamaica two provide a cheap source of food to feed the slaves their. The film directed by Lewis Milestone took one year to complete and was nominated for seven academy awards including best picture.

Review: This technicolor film version of the Bounty was different than its 1935 predecessor in many respects. Trevor Howard’s Bligh was more dignified and less verbally bombastic as Charles Laughton’s Bligh. Howard’s Bligh seems to quietly relish each punishment as he redeems his inner demons by the other officers follow his tyrannical demands. He doesn’t hide his contempt for his second in command the young rich, snobbish, Lieutenant Fletcher Christian played by Marlon Brando.

Brando’s Christian starts out as a playboy and a snob and we watch his catharsis as he tries so desperately to ignore Bligh’s ongoing punishment of the crew. As a young officer he wrestles with Bligh’s insidiousness as he sorts out his allegiances to the Admiralty, Bligh and his fellow crew members. During the filming Brando’s method acting antics became legendary as he would be constantly late to the set, ill prepared and rewriting crucial scenes to his liking. Trevor Howard vowed never to work with him again and publicly called Brando the most unprofessional actor he ever worked with. After the film shoot Brando sent a letter Howard apologizing for his behavior on the shoot. Howard and Brando became friends after that and both appeared together in the first Superman Movie with Christopher Reed.

Some of the notable differences between Brando’s Christian and Gable’s come from different public views of each actor, Gable plays the womanizing, rough and tumble savior of the crew the kind of character that audiences love him to play. Brando‘s Christian is brooding, intelligent and gives deep thought to every decision he must make starting out superficial and smarmy and ending up being brooding and disillusioned. I suspect the change in his character is due to Brando having complete control over his character’s actions, motivation and search for truth. As a method actor, Brando’s   performance is nuanced and layered much to the chagrin and disdain of his fellow performers.

The movie ends differently than the 1935 version but is equally as poignant as the former.

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