Mutiny on the Bounty is a 1935 American drama movie directed by Frank Lloyd and starring Charles Laughton and Clark Gable, based on the Charles Nordhoff and James Norman Hall novel of the same name. The movie was one of the biggest hits of its time. Although its historical accuracy has been questioned, film critics consider this adaption to be the best cinematic work inspired by the mutiny. Take a look below for 27 more interesting and fascinating facts about the Mutiny on the Bounty.
1. Mutiny on the Bounty is the only movie to receive three nominations for the Academy Award for Best Actor: Clark Gable, Charles Laughton, and Franchot Tone. Because of this, the Academy introduced a Best Supporting Actor Oscar shortly afterward to ensure that this situation wouldn’t happen again. They all lost to Victor McLaglen for The Informer.
2. Mutiny on the Bounty was the last winner of the Best Picture Oscar that won no other Oscars.
3. Wallace Beery turned down the role of Captain Bligh because he didn’t like Clark Gable and didn’t want to be stuck on a long location shoot with him.
4. Clark Gable had to shave off his trademark mustache for this movie for historical accuracy. Mustaches were not allowed in the Royal Navy during the time the story takes place.
5. Charles Laughton, playing William Bligh, who performed one of the world’s greatest feats of navigation after having been cast adrift at sea by the bounty mutineers, was in reality terrified of the ocean and was violently seasick throughout most of the filming.
6. Clark Gable initially felt that he was badly miscast as an English naval lieutenant in an historical epic. However, he later said he believed that this was the best movie he had starred in.
7. Second unit assistant cameraman Glenn Strong died when a barge with 55 crewmen and staff members capsized while shooting exterior scenes.
8. David Niven had a non-speaking bit part as one of the sailors.
9. MGM wanted Cary Grant to play Byam, and he wanted to do it, but he was under contract to Paramount Pictures, which refused to release him.
10. During filming, Clark Gable and Franchot Tone were said to have become romantically involved with Mamo Clark and Movita, who played their girlfriends in the movie.
11. When Frank Lloyd and his crew returned to Hollywood, they found that most of their location footage had been destroyed because of poor storage conditions. They had to sail back to Tahiti and re-shoot almost everything.
12. In order to break the ice before shooting, Clark Gable, apparently unaware of co-star Charles Laughton’s homosexuality, took him to a brothel. Laughton’s wife Elsa Lanchester always said that Laughton was nevertheless “flattered” by his gesture.
13. The movie was MGM’s most expensive production at the time, costing around $2 million.
14. Charles Laughton wore the actual hat and clothing measurements of Captain William Bligh.
15. The “Pacific Queen” shown in the movie is actually a 19th century ship, originally called the “Balclutha.” This ship can now be found at the Hyde Street Pier in San Francisco as part of the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park.
16. Two years after the mutiny, the frigate Pandora arrived in Tahiti and all 14 crew members on the island were rounded up. They were imprisoned on deck in a makeshift cell, derisively called “Pandora’s Box.”
17. MGM hired 2,500 Tahitian natives to serve as extras. The canoes which the natives used to paddle out to greet the Bounty’s crew were all shipped to Tahiti from Hollywood.
18. An additional tragedy nearly occurred during filming when an 18 foot replica of the Bounty with two crewmen aboard separated from its tow and was adrift for two days before being found by a search party.
19. Clark Gable disliked wearing knee-breeches, because he found them effeminate.
20. Ships of the Royal Navy were not called “HMS” until some years after the Bounty mutiny. The ship was actually referred to as, “His Majesty’s Armed Vessel Bounty.”
21. Movita’s second husband, Marlon Brando, later played Fletcher Christian in the 1962 version of Mutiny on the Bounty.
22. Franchot Tone’s role was originally meant for Robert Montgomery.
23. The character of Dr. Bacchus, who was a highly functioning alcoholic, shares his name with the ancient Roman god of wine.
24. The sterns of the larger ships in the harbor at the beginning of the movie are first rate ships of the line that are similar to the HMS Victory. The producers tried to make these scenes as accurate as possible and it shows.
25. The cast and crew lived on Catalina Island for four months during location shooting.
26. The MGM art department built a Tahitian village on the shores of Catalina Island and planted specially imported coconut trees and tropical grass. They also drew on period art to create a detailed duplicate of England’s Portsmouth, from which the Bounty set sail.
27. To save time during location shooting, lunch was delivered on a special launch sailed out to the ship, even though there was nowhere to sit on the ship.