The vibrant, razor-sharp image quality of the 1962 Mutiny on the Bounty has never been properly captured for home viewing — not really.
The 2006 DVD claimed to be a “new digital transfer from restored 65mm elements,” but I was told back then that it was actually harvested from 35mm elements that reflected (but didn’t actually constitute) the 65mm version. The 2011 Bluray looks fairly crisp and robust, but at the same time it looked to me as if the 2006 harvest was simply uprezzed to 1080p. The cost of harvesting from the original 70mm elements may have been too costly, or perhaps the elements had become so degraded that a restoration wasn’t worth the candle.
All to say that in a perfect world this flawed but interesting epic would probably look even better with a nice 4K re-do. For streaming, at least, if the cost of producing and marketing a new 4K disc isn’t feasible. Even in this death-of-physical-media age, I continue to hope for 4K versions of the major large-format films of the ’50s and ’60s. A 4K Ben-Hur, drawn from an 8k scan of the original 65mm camera negative, would be a must-own.
I’ve said two or three times that the lure isn’t Mutiny on the Bounty itself (although many portions are quite good) as much as how luscious it could look if given a proper blue-chip restoration. This mostly-good, partly-problematic sea epic was shot in Ultra Panavision 70.
I can’t even find the link to an August 2006 piece about the DVD version, but here’s a portion:
“Say what you will about the ’62 Bounty — historical inaccuracies and inventions, Marlon Brando‘s affected performance as Fletcher Christian, the foundering final act. The fact remains that this viscerally enjoyable, critically-dissed costumer is one of the the most handsome, lavishly-produced and beautifully scored films made during Hollywood’s fabled 70mm era, which lasted from the mid ’50s to late ’60s.
“Roger Donaldson‘s The Bounty (’84) is probably a better Bounty flick (certainly in terms of presenting the historical facts), but the ’62 version has more dash and swagger. It has a flamboyant ‘look at all the money we’re pissing away’ quality that’s half-overbaked and half-absorbing. It’s pushing a kind of toney, big-studio vulgarity that insists upon your attention.
“And the ’62 Bounty definitely has first-rate dialogue and editing, and three or four scenes that absolutely get the pulse going (leaving Portsmouth, rounding Cape Horn, the mutiny, the burning ship). And Bronislau Kaper‘s score delivers vigor and majesty. (A critic in ’62 wrote that his music “saws away intrusively at times,” but the intrusions are agreeable.)
“You could argue that this Bounty is only nominally about what happened in 1789 aboard a British cargo ship in the South Seas. It’s more about early ’60s Hollywood than anything written by Nordhoff & Hall.
“The ’62 Bounty is mainly a portrait of colliding egos and mentalities — a couple of big-dick producers (Aaron Rosenberg was one), several screenwriters, at least two directors (Lewis Milestone, Carol Reed) and one full-of-himself movie star (Marlon Brando) — trying to serve the Bounty tale in ’60, ’61 and ’62, and throwing all kinds of money and time and conflicting ideas at it, and half-failing and half-succeeding.
“Seen in this context, I think it’s a trip.”
In 2011 HE commenter “Manitoba” wrote that he found “a great account of the replacement of director Sir Carol Reed in Trevor Howard‘s authorized biography “A Gentleman And A Player” by Vivienne Knight.
“British members of the cast were so outraged by the firing of Reed that they demanded a meeting with MGM studio chief Sol C. Siegel. Led by Howard, they marched into his office. He rose to greet them. ‘Gentlemen, before you say anything, I want you to understand one thing,’ Siegel said. ‘The only expendable commodity in a great movie, is a good director.’
“The book claims that replacement Lewis Milestone soon realized the film was actually being made by a committee of three — Brando, producer Aaron Rosenberg and writer Charles Lederer, who was trying to catch up while ‘bedevilled by Brando’. Milestone realized that the wisest policy was to ‘let it ride.'”
Portions of the above are lifted from a post that appeared on 11.2.11.