Mutiny on the Bounty (1935)

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Released 16-Mar-2004

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Adventure Main Menu Audio
Featurette-Pitcairn Island Today
Featurette-Academy Award Newsreel
Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated G
Year Of Production 1935
Running Time 127:13
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (69:21) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4,5 Directed By Frank Lloyd
Studio
Distributor

Warner Home Video
Starring Charles Laughton
Clark Gable
Franchot Tone
Herbert Mundin
Eddie Quillan
Dudley Digges
Donald Crisp
Henry Stephenson
Francis Lister
Spring Byington
Movita
Mamo Clark
Byron Russell
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $19.95 Music Herbert Stothart
Walter Jurmann
Bronislau Kaper


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 1.0 (192Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 1.0 (192Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 1.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.37:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
French
Italian
German
Dutch
Arabic
English for the Hearing Impaired
Italian for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    This film won the Academy Award for Outstanding Production of 1935, and deservedly so.

    Based on the novel by Charles Nordhoff and James Norman Hall, this picture tells the familiar story of the Bounty and its fateful voyage to Tahiti in the late 1780s. Under the captaincy of the harsh disciplinarian William Bligh, the crew mutinied and set Bligh adrift. The film picks up the story just before the Bounty set sail from England. Fletcher Christian and a press gang gather some "recruits" for the ship, while at the same time Sir Joseph Banks charges Roger Byam with the task of gathering material for a Tahitian dictionary.

    The first two-thirds of the film deals with the events leading up to the mutiny. The last third concentrates on Bligh's remarkable voyage in an open boat nearly 4,000 miles to Timor, the subsequent capture of some of the mutineers, and their trial in England.

    This is a rousing adventure film and very entertaining for its entire length. The direction by Frank Lloyd is exemplary, and the sets are convincing and shown to advantage. The special effects are mostly convincing as well.

    The three central performances are the core of the film. Charles Laughton plays the dictatorial Bligh as a cruel, sadistic criminal, but also as the outstanding seaman that he was. While he is a hissable villain in the first two-thirds of the film, you also feel sympathy and admiration for him in guiding a group of men on a small boat to safety. The character of Fletcher Christian does not have a great deal of depth, and Clark Gable plays him straight, though with an American accent. His sincerity in the role convinces. Franchot Tone plays the fictional Roger Byam with the same sincerity, but slightly more nuance than Gable.

    All three actors were nominated for the Best Actor award, and none of them won. This probably contributed to the creation of the Supporting Actor categories the following year.

    There is a raft (no pun intended) of familiar character players in supporting roles, from Herbert Mundin as the comedy relief cook to Dudley Digges as the drunken Doctor Bacchus. Notable are Donald Crisp and Eddie Quillan as two of the mutineers, and Ian Wolfe as the informer Maggs.

    This is a great film and highly recommendable, despite the problems with the transfer.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    This transfer could have been so much better.

    The film is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, close to the original aspect ratio of 1.37:1.

    The film is sharp throughout. The print used looks to be in good condition as far as retaining the original look of the film goes, with good shadow detail, nice contrast and some nice looking cinematography.

    The major problem with the transfer is the high level of grain throughout. White or bright portions of the film look like they have small dark blotches moving over them. This is worse than you would expect to see in a print, so it must have been created in the digital transfer. It is very disappointing that no attempt seems to have been made to reduce the levels of grain, as it is quite distracting.

    Apart from that, there is some minor aliasing at times in the ship's rigging. Film artefacts are relatively minor, limited to some white flecks, some dirt and occasional white scratches, though it is hard to tell due to the grain.

    Subtitles are provided in six languages, plus English and Italian for the Hearing Impaired. The English subtitles are generally accurate to the spoken word and, while a little small, can be read without difficulty.

    The film is presented on an RSDL-formatted disc with the layer change occurring at 69:21. This occurs during a fade to black between scenes and is not distracting.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The default audio stream is an English Dolby Digital 1.0 mono affair, which accurately reflects the format on original release. There are also alternative French and Italian mono tracks.

    Dialogue is clear at all times. The sound is a little thin with some minor distortion and noticeable hiss, but it is still listenable.

    The music score is by Herbert Stothart and is pretty good. He weaves Rule Britannia into the score with some skill. The music sounds thin and tinny like the rest of the soundtrack.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Main Menu Audio

    Music from the film is played over the main menu. For some reason, the menu is 16x9 enhanced.

Featurette-Pitcairn Island Today (9:39)

    This is billed as "MGM Presents An Oddity" and it certainly is. It is a documentary made in 1935 about the inhabitants of Pitcairn Island, most of whom have the surname Christian. It holds some interest in that you get to see what life was like on the remote island in the 1930s, though the commentary by Carey Wilson is a little patronising at times. Footage of the wreck of the Bounty filmed from above water is included.

Featurette-Academy Award Newsreel Theatrical Trailer (1:00)

    This is a very short newsreel, which shows Frank Capra presenting the Outstanding Feature award to Irving G. Thalberg, who makes a short acceptance speech. I suspect that this was staged for the camera.

Theatrical Trailer (3:05)

    An original trailer for the film, in about the same condition as the film itself.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The major difference between this and the Region 1 release is that the latter is in NTSC format, so there is no reason not to prefer the Region 4. The Region 1 does not include the Italian language track but does include a trailer for the inferior 1962 remake.

Summary

    The outstanding American film of 1935, with a transfer that is less than outstanding. It looks better than VHS but the excessive grain spoils the pleasure somewhat. Recommended with reservations.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Philip Sawyer (Bio available.)
Sunday, March 21, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-S733A, using Component output
DisplaySony 86CM Trinitron Wega KVHR36M31. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD player, Dolby Digital, dts and DVD-Audio. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationYamaha RX-V596 for surround channels; Yamaha AX-590 as power amp for mains
SpeakersMain: Tannoy Revolution R3; Centre: Richter Harlequin; Rear: Pioneer S-R9; Subwoofer: JBL SUB175

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