Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, August 28, 2014


Marlon Brando
MUTINY ON THE BOUNTY (1962). Director: Lewis Milestone.

Sailing to Tahiti in 1787 to get breadfruit, the crew of the Bounty eventually rebel against what they see as the heartless tyranny of their captain. This second film version [of three] of the famous story is also based on the novel whose fictionalized events have sometimes replaced the true story in the mind of the public. For some reason, Marlon Brando chose to portray Fletcher Christian as an affected fop, possibly the only way he could keep up the British accent -- other than that, his performance isn't bad, although it is not as good as Trevor Howard's as the notorious Captain Bligh or Richard Harris' as a sailor named Mills. Hugh Griffith, Richard Hadyn [The Lost World], Percy Herbert and Tim Seely as young midshipman Ned, are also notable, among others. The movie is long and bloated and follows the mutineers onto Pitcairn Island, where they settled, but a framing sequence that takes place on the island with Haydn and Torin Thatcher was excised from the film and can be seen on the DVD. As Maimiti, the king's daughter, who falls for Christian, Tarita strikes the right note [as she obviously did with Brando, who married her]; Frank Silvera is convincing as her father. One problem with the movie is that at times it has a very fortyish tone, becoming awfully "cute." However Milestone keeps things moving and Bronislau Kaper's score is very effective.  Originally shown in ultra-Panavision 70. Ultimately, this is not a bad picture, although it's no better than the other versions, the original Mutiny on the Bounty and The Bounty.

Verdict: If you can't get enough of Christian and Bligh. ***.


angelman66 said...

Hi William - I actually like this film quite a bit; it is to me the most visually stunning version, and Brando's quirky characterization really works for me. (I imagine this would be the off-center way Johnny Depp would approach this role.) I agree Trevor Howard gives the best performance, though...he is scary good. I also like the Clark Gable and Mel Gibson versions, but this one really has an epic sweep that I really enjoy. I have to see this again!

William said...

I've been reading a bio of Brando and was not aware that this movie was actually a major critical and financial bomb in its day, and Brando was basically excoriated, as was the movie. Strange, not only do I not think it's that bad, I thought it was pretty good and entertaining. It's reputation may slowly be changing. Not a masterpiece, but not a stink bomb by any means.

Pekkala said...

I guess much of the criticism Brando got for this film had a lot to do with his Prima Donna antics which caused a lot of delay and budget issues. I agree Trevor Howard gives the best performance here. But then again, it's not easy to outshine Mr. Howard.

William said...

On that I certainly agree with you!