Greatest Film Scenes
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Mutiny On The Bounty (1935)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Mutiny On the Bounty (1935)

In Frank Lloyd's Best Picture-winning historical seafaring drama based on the Charles Nordhoff-James Norman Hall 1932 best selling novel The Bounty Trilogy, the first (and best) of the filmic versions of the familiar tale:

  • the opening foreward (title screen): "In December, 1787, H.M.S. Bounty lay in Portsmouth harbour on the eve of departure for Tahiti in the uncharted waters of the Great South Sea. The Bounty's mission was to procure breadfruit trees for transplanting to the West Indies as cheap food for slaves. Neither ship nor breadfruit reached the West Indies. Mutiny prevented it - mutiny against the abuse of harsh eighteenth century sea law. But this mutiny, famous in history and legend, helped bring about a new discipline, based upon mutual respect between officers and men, by which Britain's sea power is maintained as security for all who pass upon the seas"
  • idealistic midshipman Roger Byam (Best Actor-nominated Franchot Tone), on his first cruise as a midshipman, gave a toast before a two-year voyage of the Bounty to the South Pacific: "To the voyage of the Bounty. Still waters of the great golden sea. Flying fish like streaks of silver, and mermaids that sing in the night. The Southern Cross and all the stars on the other side of the world"
  • the revelation of the character of brutal and tyrannical Captain William Bligh (Best Actor-nominated Charles Laughton), commander of the H.M.S. Bounty; early on, he demonstrated his cruelty by ordering the flogging of a dead man, to punish an infraction to the letter of the law; later, he told his second in command, lieutenant Fletcher Christian (Best Actor-nominated Clark Gable), about how he ruled over his seamen: "They respect but one law - the law of fear...I expect you to carry out whatever orders I give, whenever I give them"
  • the scenes of Bligh's continual reign of terror - ordering further floggings, keelhaulings and other cruel disciplines; he lectured his crew: "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"
  • Bligh's oft-repeated call to his lieutenant Fletcher Christian: "Mr. Christian! Come here "
  • there were rumblings of revolt against Bligh's ruthlessness, expressed by Fletcher Christian to Roger Byam: "I've never known a better seaman, but as a man, he's a snake. He doesn't punish for discipline. He likes to see men crawl. Sometimes, I'd like to push his poison down his own throat"
  • there was a joyous arrival scene in Tahiti - greeted by the islanders and the chieftain
Arrival in Tahiti - Friendly Islanders
  • in Tahiti, Fletcher Christian engaged in a growing love affair with the island chieftain Hitihiti's granddaughter Maimiti (Mamo Clark) - including their love scene in the jungle
  • in a famous confrontational mutiny scene, Christian finally had enough when the ship's deathly-ill, alcoholic doctor Dr. Bacchus (Dudley Digges) was forced topside to witness the flogging of five crew members caught attempting to desert the ship and return to Tahiti; the doctor died while struggling in his effort to get up to the deck
  • Fletcher Christian decided to rebel after seeing crew members in chains - he raised his fist and challenged Bligh: "Now you've given your last command on this ship. We'll be men again if we hang for it"
  • Captain Bligh was forced into a small boat with limited supplies, as Christian spoke: "I'll take my chance against the law. You'll take yours against the sea"
  • Bligh threatened revenge against the mutineers: ("Casting me adrift 3,500 miles from a port of call. You're sending me to my doom, eh? Well, you're wrong, Christian! I'll take this boat as she floats to England, if I must! I'll live to see you - all of ya - hanging from the highest yardarm in the British fleet")
Fletcher Christian: "Now you've given your last command on this ship. We'll be men again if we hang for it."
Captain Bligh Set Adrift
Bligh: "I'll live to see you - all of ya - hanging from the highest yardarm in the British fleet"
  • the conclusion: the vengeful Bligh returned to Tahiti on the H.M.S. Pandora and took Roger Byam prisoner with several other crew members, while Fletcher Christian and his followers left to find refuge elsewhere (on nearby uninhabited Pitcairn Island) after deliberately crashing the Bounty into the rocks and setting it on fire
  • in the final sequence, Roger Byam delivered a stirring speech at his court-martial trial in England before he was pardoned, taking into account the dehumanizing treatment of the men by Bligh: ("These men don't ask for comfort. They don't ask for safety...They ask only (for) the freedom that England expects for every man. If one man among you believed that - one man! - he could command the fleets of England. He could sweep the seas for England if he called his men to their duty, not by flaying their backs but by lifting their hearts - their... that's all")

Midshipman Roger Byam's Toast to the Voyage of The Bounty

Captain Bligh (Charles Laughton)

Captain Bligh with Lt. Fletcher Christian: "I expect you to carry out whatever orders I give..."

Bligh's Lecture to His Crew: "I am your captain, your judge, and your jury"

Fletcher Christian's Early Feelings About Bligh: "He's a snake"

Fletcher Christian's Love Affair with Maimiti

Roger Byam's Court-Martial Trial Speech

Last View of Fletcher Christian with Wife (and baby) on Pitcairn Island


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