Part of our Film 100
The American Film Institute Essentials
One of MGM's greatest classics, Mutiny on the Bounty (1935) is the rousing adventure story of the sailing of the H. M. S. Bounty in 1787 and was adapted from the first two volumes of the Charles Nordhoff-James Norman Hall 1932 best seller.
Bligh's contempt for his crew and officers is immediate and permeates most scenes. He lectures the seamen: "The ship's company will remember that I am your captain, your judge, and your jury. You do your duty and we may get along. Whatever happens, you'll do your duty."
At one point, Bligh orders a flogging of a dead man, to punish the infraction to the letter of the law. The incident that triggers the famous mutiny on board is Bligh's insistence that the sick, elderly ship's Dr. Bacchus (Dudley Digges) come topside to witness the flogging of five crew members caught attempting to desert the ship and return to Tahiti.
When the deathly-ill, alcoholic doctor dies struggling to the deck, Fletcher breaks. He calls for mutiny, and the mutineers tie the Captain to the mast and taunt him.
Christian saves Bligh from certain death at the hands of the mutineers, but refuses to give up the mutiny, charging Bligh with murder.
Gable, Laughton and co-star Franchot Tone were all nominated for Academy Awards for their stellar work, and the film won the Oscar for Best Picture.