Mutiny on the Bounty

Critics Consensus

The historical inaccuracies in this high-seas adventure are more than offset by its timeless themes, larger-than-life performances from Clark Gable and Charles Laughton, and Frank Lloyd's superb direction.



Reviews Counted: 34

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Audience Score

User Ratings: 8,023


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Reviews Count: 0
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Average Rating: 3.7/5

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Movie Info

The 1932 publication of Charles Nordhoff and James Norton Hall's Mutiny on the Bounty sparked a revival of interest in the titular 1789 ship mutiny, and this 1935 MGM movie version won the Oscar for Best Picture. Clark Gable stars as Fletcher Christian, first mate of the infamous HMS Bounty, skippered by Captain William Bligh (Charles Laughton), the cruelest taskmaster on the Seven Seas. Bligh's villainy knows no bounds: he is even willing to flog a dead man if it will strengthen his hold over the crew. Christian despises Bligh and is sailing on the Bounty under protest. During the journey back to England, Bligh's cruelties become more than Christian can bear; and after the captain indirectly causes the death of the ship's doctor, the crew stages a mutiny, with Christian in charge. Bligh and a handful of officers loyal to him are set adrift in an open boat. Through sheer force of will, he guides the tiny vessel on a 49-day, 4000-mile journey to the Dutch East Indies without losing a man. Historians differ on whether Captain Bligh was truly such a monster or Christian such a paragon of virtue (some believe that the mutiny was largely inspired by Christian's lust for the Tahitian girls). The movie struck gold at the box office, and, in addition to the Best Picture Oscar, Gable, Laughton, and Franchot Tone as one of the Bounty's crew were all nominated for Best Actor (they all lost to Victor McLaglan in The Informer). The film was remade in 1962 and adapted into the "revisionist" 1984 feature The Bounty with Mel Gibson as Fletcher Christian and Anthony Hopkins as Captain Bligh. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

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Critic Reviews for Mutiny on the Bounty

All Critics (34) | Top Critics (8)

The case of the crew against the insane cruelty and avariciousness of Capt. Bligh is so powerfully presented that the injustice done to the men gets under one's skin to stir up a variety of emotion.

Feb 17, 2015 | Full Review…

Despite the efforts of Producer Irving Thalberg, Director Frank Lloyd, three scenarists and $2,000,000 to give it balance, polish and direction, the picture lacks all three.

Feb 17, 2009 | Full Review…

There's nothing to stand in the way of Mutiny qualifying for box office dynamite rating.

Feb 19, 2008 | Full Review…
Top Critic

The story is spellbinding, the acting lusty and the spectacle everything you could expect from a Golden Age MGM production -- though sometimes it's a bit too much on the monumental side.

Dec 13, 2006 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…

It's tainted by a fair amount of middlebrow stuffiness, but it's a fleet piece of storytelling and serves to enshrine one of the great ham performances of all time, Charles Laughton's Captain Bligh.

Dec 12, 2006 | Full Review…

An exotic and gripping piece of Hollywood mythology, made with all the technical skill and gloss one associates with Irving Thalberg's MGM.

Feb 9, 2006 | Full Review…
Time Out
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Mutiny on the Bounty


A first officer, popular with the sailors, challenges an imperious captain. If you were to choose an actor to play an imperious, severe, and often malicious character, you could find no one better than the legendary Charles Laughton. He steals every scene. His protruding lower lip, his hard eyes, and his posture, which makes him look like a spent slug, all convey an immobility and hard-heartedness that make this film a work of art. All this is from the man who could also convey the breadth of human misery in the face of Quasimodo in The Hunchback of Notre Dame. The plot is rendered ably enough by director Frank Lloyd, and Clark Gable, while nowhere near Laughton's equal, delivers a strong performance, going toe to toe with Laughton and fairly holding his own. The film is remarkable for its special effects, its acting, and its story, which though rendered many time before, still feels fresh and interesting. Overall, Laughton makes this good film great.

Jim Hunter
Jim Hunter

Super Reviewer

"Mutiny on the Bounty," winner of 1935's Best Picture Oscar, is an adventurous delight. Charles Laughton owns the role of Captain Bligh, playing him with resolute, forceful evil. But Clark Gable and Franchot Tone really own the movie, playing close friends who go up against Bligh each in his own way. The at-sea photography is extraordinary, with expert direction from Frank Lloyd. Also beautiful is the photography on what was supposed to be Tahiti, but which was probably Hawaii. The pristine restored print that was pressed on DVD (and which is available from Netflix) gives you the chance to see this top-notch production in all its glory. It feels as if it could have been directed last year -- it isn't dated in the slightest. It's as crisp, taut and emotionally engaging as it was back in '35.

William Dunmyer
William Dunmyer

Super Reviewer


Old Hollywood sure knew how to do epics, and this film is no exception. Despite a number of inaccuracies and liberties with the story (mostly for the purpose of dramatic effect), this is a very well done take on the classic story with the central issue of fun/freedom versus hardwork and accomplishment (that comes at the cost of suffering tyranny). The performances from Laughton and Gable are awesome. Gable looks weird clean shaven, but that's actually something the film gets historically accurate. The rest of the cast isn't too shabby either, even though the time period kept more "authentic" people getting cast as islanders. This must have really been something of a spectacle when it came out. It's impact isn't quite as grand as it once was, but it still packs a punch, reminding modern viewers of how to make a compelling epic the old fashioned way. Give this one a shot. It isn't perfect, but it has a reputation for being one of the better film versions of the story, and I can see why.

Chris Weber
Chris Weber

Super Reviewer


actually the movie is a metaphor of american revolution against england centuries ago. clark gable represents the testicular american who stands up against the unjust tyranny of english authority, charles laughton. gable's character exiles himself in dahiti and marries a local beauty after revolting laughton's evil captain. to escape the captain's paranoiac man-hunt, he leads his crew man in search of a brand-new island which no man has found in the world as a land of freedom of his own where no man could enslave any other man, and man does his work driven by the holy sense of duty. sounds familiar, huh? no doubt, it's a man's picture (guy flick, for sure).. maybe the fun to watch this movie for me is the envy of men's world. their conflicts are grandly embodied on the stage with straight-arrow bomb-fire, direct physical collisions, passion exploded like dynamites in straight-forward ACTIONS!!! they conquer the spaces by the belief of themselves in the open sea. you want something, you reach out your hand to rob it and call it your own! in blood and sweat! even you just die for it, so what! okay, the reality behind it might just be a bunch of BS, a system of lies they invent to justify their own sins and vices. i had this dvd for quite some time without watching it, because i know what it will be about: one-sided self-indulgent myth on manhood and brotherhood. but sometimes in life, you're so overflown with abjections that you just escape somewhere in which you cannot find a trace of yourself, your gender and your social group! i haven't seen the sea for quite some time, and a poor subsitute is better than nothing!

Veronique Kwak
Veronique Kwak

Super Reviewer

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