Metro's 1962 version of Mutiny on the Bounty, after some two years of gestation and strenuous labor pains, emerges a physically superlative entertainment. It may be somewhat short of genuine dramatic greatness, but it is often overwhelmingly spectacular in Technicolor and Ultra Panavision 70. The new $8 million edition is generally superior to Metro's 1935 Academy Award winner.
Metro’s 1962 version of Mutiny on the Bounty, after some two years of gestation and strenuous labor pains, emerges a physically superlative entertainment. It may be somewhat short of genuine dramatic greatness, but it is often overwhelmingly spectacular in Technicolor and Ultra Panavision 70. The new $8 million edition is generally superior to Metro’s 1935 Academy Award winner.
Marlon Brando as Fletcher Christian and Trevor Howard as Capt Bligh etch their own brilliant entries in the Bounty’s log. Brando in many ways gives the finest performance of his career. While Howard is always hot on his heels, the Britisher does not have the same range of character growth.
Brando boards as a foppish aristocrat, with more arrogance than true gentlemanly breeding, but underneath the veneer there is the steel of a Royal Navy officer. The struggle within Christian as he suffers humiliation by his captain before the crew is brilliantly suggested as well as projected.
Director Lewis Milestone has come up with some terrific scenes, from opening a man’s back by laying on the whip to fighting wind, cold, snow, rain, towering seas and a murderous, runaway cask in the hold. This is a superb blending of direction, photography and special effects artistry.
Milestone, who often shot as Charles Lederer turned out pages of script [from the novel by Charles Nordhoff and James Norman Hall], time and again had to reshoot scenes for one reason or another. Milestone also experienced long lapses in filming and continuity but can take some pride in a job well done.
Intermission comes after the visit to Tahiti, where the native gals frolic and generously entertain their fairskinned, if not always handsome, visitors. Tarita (Taritatumi Teriipaia) is a 19-year-old native who plays the island chieftan’s daughter. She is adequate to the demands of the role.
The mutiny on the homeward voyage gets the film off to a rousing second start. However, the climatic sequences on Pitcairn, where Christian determines to return home and attempt to justify seizure of Bligh’s command before injuries aboard the blazing Bounty end his life, having a diminishing dramatic effect.
The Bounty’s crew includes some fine actors, notably Richard Harris as a seaman accused of stealing a head of cheese. Richard Haydn also has some good moments as the botanist in search of the breadfruit plant.
1962: Nominations: Best Picture, Color Cinematography, Color Art Direction, Editing, Original Music Score, Song (‘Follow Me’), Special Effects