Mutiny on the Bounty (1962 film)
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|Mutiny on the Bounty|
Original film poster by Reynold Brown
|Directed by||Lewis Milestone|
|Produced by||Aaron Rosenberg (uncredited)|
|Written by||Charles Lederer|
|Based on||Mutiny on the Bounty by Charles Nordhoff and James Norman Hall|
|Music by||Bronislau Kaper|
|Cinematography||Robert L. Surtees|
|Edited by||John McSweeney, Jr.|
|November 8, 1962|
The film retells the 1789 real-life mutiny aboard HMAV Bounty led by Fletcher Christian against the ship's captain, William Bligh. It is the second American film to be made from the novel, the first being Mutiny on the Bounty (1935). It was directed by Lewis Milestone, who replaced Carol Reed early in the production schedule.
Mutiny on the Bounty was filmed in the Ultra Panavision 70 widescreen process, the first motion picture so credited. It was partly shot on location in the South Pacific. Behind the scenes, Marlon Brando effectively took over directing duties himself and caused it to become far behind schedule and over budget — resulting in director Carol Reed pulling out of the project and being replaced by Lewis Milestone who is credited as director of the picture. The film was heavily panned, and was considered a box office bomb, having lost over $6 million.
In the year 1787, the Bounty sets sail from England for Tahiti under the command of captain William Bligh (Trevor Howard). Her mission is to transport breadfruit to Jamaica, where hopefully it will thrive and provide a cheap source of food for the slaves.
The difficult voyage gets off to a difficult start with the discovery that some cheese is missing. Bligh, the true pilferer, is accused of the theft by seaman John Mills (Richard Harris), and Bligh has Mills brutally flogged for showing contempt to his superior officer, to the disgust of his patrician second-in-command, 1st Lieutenant Fletcher Christian (Marlon Brando). The tone for the months to come is summarized by Bligh's ominous pronouncement that "cruelty with a purpose is not cruelty, it is efficiency." Aristocrat Christian is deeply offended by his ambitious captain.
Bligh attempts to reach Tahiti sooner by attempting the shorter westbound route around Cape Horn, a navigational nightmare. The strategy fails and the Bounty backtracks east, costing the mission much time. Singleminded Bligh attempts to make up the lost time by pushing the crew harder and cutting their rations.
When the Bounty reaches her destination, the crew revels in the easygoing life of the tropical paradise — and in the free-love philosophies of the Tahitian women. Christian himself is smitten with Maimiti (Tarita Teriipaia), daughter of the Tahitian king. Bligh's agitation is further fueled by a dormancy period of the breadfruit: more months of delay until the plants can be transplanted. As departure day nears, three men, including seaman Mills, attempt to desert but are caught by Christian and clapped in irons by Bligh.
On the return voyage, Bligh attempts to bring back twice the number of breadfruit plants to atone for his tardiness, and must reduce the water rations of the crew to water the extra plants. One member of the crew falls from the rigging to his death while attempting to retrieve the drinking ladle. Another assaults Bligh over conditions on the ship and is fatally keelhauled. Mills taunts Christian after each death, trying to egg him on to challenge Bligh. When a crewman becomes gravely ill from drinking seawater, Christian attempts to give him fresh water in violation of the Captain's orders. Bligh strikes Christian when he ignores his second order to stop. In response, Christian strikes Bligh. Bligh informs Christian that he will hang for his action when they reach port. With nothing left to lose, Christian takes command of the ship and sets Bligh and the loyalist members of the crew adrift in the longboat with navigational equipment, telling them to make for a local island. Bligh decides instead to cross much of the Pacific in order to reach British authorities sooner and arrives back in England with remarkable speed.
The military court exonerates Bligh of misdeed and recommends an expedition to arrest the mutineers and put them on trial, but also comes to the conclusion that the appointment of Bligh as captain of The Bounty was wrong. In the meantime, Christian sails back to Tahiti to pick up supplies and the girlfriends of the crew, then on to remote and wrongly charted Pitcairn Island to hide from the wrath of the Royal Navy. Once on Pitcairn, Christian decides that it is their duty to return to England and testify to Bligh's wrongdoing and asks his men to sail with him. To prevent this possibility they set the ship on fire and Christian is fatally burned while trying to save it.
- Marlon Brando as 1st Lt. Fletcher Christian
- Trevor Howard as Capt. William Bligh
- Richard Harris as Seaman John Mills
- Hugh Griffith as Seaman Alexander Smith
- Richard Haydn as Horticulturalist William Brown
- Tarita Teriipaia as Princess Maimiti
- Matahiarii Tama as Chief Hitihiti
- Percy Herbert as Seaman Matthew Quintal
- Duncan Lamont as John Williams
- Gordon Jackson as Seaman Edward Birkett
- Chips Rafferty as Seaman Michael Byrne
- Noel Purcell as Helmsman William McCoy
- Ashley Cowan as Samuel Mack
- Eddie Byrne as John Fryer (Sailing Master)
- Tim Seely: Edward 'Ned' Young (Midshipman)
- Frank Silvera as Minarii
- Henry Daniell as British chief court-martial admiral (uncredited)
- Torin Thatcher (uncredited)
The film garnered largely negative reviews. Many attacked Brando's performance, particularly his change of appearance and mannerisms, including the British accent. He was blamed for de-railing the entire picture.
Given its enormously inflated budget of $19 million, the film was a box office flop, despite being the 6th highest-grossing film of 1962. It grossed only $13,680,000 domestically, earning $9.8 million in US theatrical rentals.
- Academy Award for Best Picture – Aaron Rosenberg
- Academy Award for Best Art Direction – Set Decoration, Color – George W. Davis, Henry Grace, Hugh Hunt and J. McMillan Johnson
- Best Cinematography, Color – Robert Surtees
- Best Effects, Special Effects – A. Arnold Gillespie (visual) and Milo B. Lory (audible)
- Best Film Editing – John McSweeney Jr.
- Best Music, Score – Substantially Original – Bronislaw Kaper
- Best Music, Song – Bronisław Kaper (music) and Paul Francis Webster (lyrics) – for the song "Love Song from Mutiny on the Bounty (Follow Me)"
The film is recognized by American Film Institute in these lists:
- Box Office Information for Mutiny on the Bounty. The Numbers. Retrieved June 13, 2013.
- "Full cast and crew for Mutiny on the Bounty". IMDB. Retrieved 2011-03-29.
- Trivia for Mutiny on the Bounty. IMDb. Retrieved June 13, 2013.
- "Top Rental Films of 1963", Variety, 8 January 1964 pg 37.
- "NY Times: Mutiny on the Bounty". NY Times. Retrieved 2008-12-25.
- "AFI's 100 Years of Film Scores Nominees" (PDF). Retrieved 2016-08-06.
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