Mutiny on the Bounty (1935)

Bowers Museum

The 1935 version of Mutiny On the Bounty offered plenty of cameos of Southern California. (James Cagney got in the movie simply by sailing along at an opportune moment.) Certain tropical scenes were filmed at or around Two Harbors on Catalina Island, where star Clark Gable (mutineer Fletcher Christian) and chipper Franchot Tone (Ensign Byam) reportedly bonded over liquor and local ladies. Although you can spot Catalina’s distinctive backbone on film—and still see the palm trees MGM planted—most of the debauchery stayed offscreen. Bounty’s reputation today hinges on the performances, and Charles Laughton’s Captain Bligh is regarded as one of old Hollywood’s great villains. (“I am your captain, your judge and your jury!”) The documentary aspects of Bounty haven’t fared as well, though the film falls somewhere between the inadvisably supercharged 1962 version and the more diligent 1984 Hopkins-Gibson version as far as thrilling sensationalism. Then again, nobody watches King Kong to learn about primate sociality. Introduction and discussion will be led by screenwriter and film expert Michael Berlin, Ph.D.
Thu., March 18, 1:30 p.m., 2010

 
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