Black SplatMutiny on the Bounty (1935)
   

"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."

Mutiny on the Bounty - Clark Gable as Fletcher Christian and Charles Laughton as Captain Bligh face off on the deck of the HMS Bounty

Description: Clark Gable as 1st Mate Fletcher Christian critiques Captain William Bligh (Charles Laughlin) in the motion picture Mutiny on the Bounty (1935).

In the year, 1787, Fletcher Christian signs on board the British vessel the HMS Bounty to sails for Tahiti by way of Cape Horn. His superior is Captain Bligh, a strict diciplinarian and veteran navy man, He runs a tight ship and exacts liberal punishment to his crew, including food rationing, flogging and the occassional keelhauling.

Over time Fletcher Christian reaches a boiling point and can no longer wtolerate the Captain's cruelty. With fist raised to heaven, he shouts , "Murdering butcher. I've had enough of this bloodshed. He's not the master of life and and death on the quarter deck of the angels. I'm sick of blood. Bloodybacks, bloody faces. Bligh you've given your last command on this ship. We'll be men again if we hang for it."

Rallying the crew members who wanted a change in command, Fletcher takes control of the ship and places Captain Bligh and his supporter into a longboat. But Bligh refuses to admit defeat and addresses Christian and fellow mutineers as his boat bounces up and down in the choppy waters of the Pacific:

Mutiny on the Bounty - Captain Bligh vows revenge

“Casting me adrift, not even five hundred 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 you hanging from the highest yardarm in the British Fleet!”

Good to his word Bligh reaches England and the British Empire hunts down the mutineers. At their trial, the now triumphant Bligh is taken down a notch by captured Ensign Roger Byam (Francoise Tone) who had nothing to do with the mutiny, but was arrested on Bligh's suspicion that he had participated in the event.


Lord Hood: Have you anything to say before the sentence of this court is passed upon you?
Byam:

Milord, much as I desire to live, I'm not afraid to die. Since I first sailed on the Bounty over four years ago, I've know how men can be made to suffer worse things than death, cruelly, beyond duty, beyond necessity.

Captain Bligh, you've told your story of mutiny on the Bounty, how men plotted against you, seized your ship, cast you adrift in an open boat, a great venture in science brought to nothing, two British ships lost. But there's another story, Captain Bligh, of ten cocoanuts and two cheeses. A story of a man who robbed his seamen, cursed them, flogged them, not to punish but to break their spirit. A story of greed and tyranny, and of anger against it, of what it cost.

Captain Bligh, you've told your story of mutiny on the Bounty, how men plotted against you, seized your ship, cast you adrift in an open boat, a great venture in science brought to nothing, two British ships lost. But there's another story, Captain Bligh, of ten cocoanuts and two cheeses. A story of a man who robbed his seamen, cursed them, flogged them, not to punish but to break their spirit. A story of greed and tyranny, and of anger against it, of what it cost.

One man, milord, would not endure such tyranny. That's why you hounded him. That's why you hate him, hate his friends. And that's why you're beaten. Fletcher Christian's still free.

Christian lost, too, milord. God knows he's judged himself more harshly than you could judge him. I say to his father, "He was my friend. No finer man ever lived."

I don't try to justify his crime, his mutiny, but I condemn the tyranny that drove 'im to it. I don't speak here for myself alone or for these men you condemn. I speak in their names, in Fletcher Christian's name, for all men at sea. These men don't ask for comfort. They don't ask for safety. If they could speak to you they'd say, "Let us choose to do our duty willingly, not the choice of a slave, but the choice of free Englishmen." They ask only the freedom that England expects for every man. If one man among you believe 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.

For his courage, and convincing testmony, Ensign Byam is pardoned and subsequently returns to sea. Back in the South Seas, Fletcher Christian grounds the HMS Bounty on the rocky shores of Pitcairn Island and then burns the ship, thus destroying all evidence of his life in the service of His Majesty's Navy.

Earlier in the film, Bligh tells Ensign Byam, “Can you understand this, Mr. Byam? Discipline is the thing.A seaman’s a seaman. A captain’s a captain. And a shipman is the lowest form of animal in the British Navy.”

Note: A remake of Mutiny on the Bounty (1962) starred Marlon Brando as 1st Lt. Fletcher Christian and Trevor Howard as Captain William Bligh. Some memorable quotes from the movie:

  • Fletcher Christian : "Yes, only with this observation, which I will report to the Admiralty in any case: in my years of service I have never met an officer who inflicted punishment upon men with such incredible relish. Sickening."
  • Fletcher Christian: You remarkable pig. You can thank whatever pig god you pray to that you haven't turned me into a murderer.
  • Captain Bligh: I'm not leaving you Mr Christian, not ever. Go to the dirtiest little corner of the world I'll be there, right behind you, with a rope in my hand. The king's navy will not rest until every mutineer is captured and executed. Wherever you go, wherever you hide a thousand ships will search you out.

Mutiny on the Bounty - Movie Poster (1935)

Mutiny on the Bounty - Movie Poster (1960)


 
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