Clark Gable was at his most virile and Charles Laughton at almost his most vicious and sneering in director Frank Lloyd's vigorous adaptation, the first and best screen version of the Bounty story. [22 March 1998, p.52]
The weird and wonderful history of H. M. S. Bounty is magnificently transferred to the screen in Mutiny on the Bounty, which opened at the Capitol Theatre yesterday. Grim, brutal, sturdily romantic, made out of horror and desperate courage, it is as savagely exciting and rousingly dramatic a photoplay as has come out of Hollywood in recent years.
For Lloyd, Thalberg, and the writers, the point of the film was to tell a compelling story and, like the Bounty’s inebriated physician creating various tall tales to explain his wooden leg, facts and meanings ultimately just got in their way of crafting a great entertainment.
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. There are intervals when the two hours which it lasts seem as interminable as Bligh's voyage in the open boat must have seemed to its occupants. The narrative, which skips the saga of Pitcairn's Island entirely for Tahiti love interest, still contains enough material for at least three films. These faults are indigenous to the historic material used. The picture has few others.