Monday, November 10, 2014

Mutiny on the Bounty (1935)

Could this be the crowning achievement of the Hollywood studio system? It's certainly a perfect example of what that system, and especially MGM -- the mightiest of studios -- was capable of producing at its peak. It holds up as a phenomenally entertaining and exceptionally well-mounted production, one that never grows dull even after multiple repeat viewings. Frank Lloyd had purchased the rights to the novel by James Norman Hall and Charles Nordhoff, based on the events of the 1787 mutiny on board HMS Bounty, and in turn sold the rights to MGM on condition he could direct. Lloyd and Irving Thalberg produced the film for MGM, pouring the studio's full resources into the production as their big blockbuster film of the year, and the results are nothing less than spectacular. Charles Laughton gives one of his finest performances -- in a career full of fine performances -- as the brutal and sadistic Captain Bligh. Clark Gable's noble, heroic Fletcher Christian rivals his performance as Rhett Butler in GONE WITH THE WIND as his best work. The 132 minute running time flies by -- thanks to the excellent script and editing, there isn't a wasted moment in any of it. Every scene, indeed every shot, achieves its maximum potential. A truly masterful combination of art and entertainment.

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