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Mutiny on the Bounty cost MGM a whopping 2 million dollars for the 88 day shoot that filmed on location on Catalina Island and in the South Pacific.
The big budget picture proved to be a box office smash, and it walked away with 1936’s Academy Award for Best Picture as well as several other nominations, including for Best Actor for Clark Gable, Charles Laughton, and Franchot Tone.
1. Gable turned it down at first.
The role required Gable to wear long hair in a ponytail and shave his signature mustache. The actor refused the part, even though doing so could have meant that he’d be suspended without pay per his contract. Eventually, producer Irving Thalberg convinced him the movie would be worth the effort.
2. Bad weather ruined some of the footage.
A full-scale replica of the Bounty was created for the film, and the crew sailed the it to Tahiti and back in order to capture the ship with real, natural backgrounds. Unfortunately, the footage wasn’t properly stored, and none of it was usable. They had to redo the trip in order to get the shots again.
3. Laughton and Gable didn’t get along.
Just like their characters, the two actors didn’t hit it off. Off-camera they avoided each other, and on-camera, Laughton made avoided eye contact. The conflict eventually came to a shouting match with the director, and producer Irving Thalberg had to instruct both of the actors to make due with each other.
4. Laughton’s eyebrows had significance.
Director Frank Lloyd purchased the rights to the book with the intention that he was going to direct and star. However, he was able to be talked out of the latter, and Charles Laughton took his place. Still, Lloyd made Laughton wear bushy eyebrows as a nod to the director so others knew he had the part first. Laughton also took it upon himself to track down the tailoring firm that actually made Captain Bligh’s actual uniforms, so replicas could be made for him to wear. Wallace Beery was also considered for the role, but he was deemed "too American".
5. A crew member died.
Filming could be dangerous, and some of the actors actually broke bones slipping on the deck while filming during storms. In another instance, a storm upset a camera boat, and a cameraman drowned. At first, the news was misreported to Elsa Lancaster, Laughton’s wife, that her husband and Clark Gable had drowned.
6. Gable needed a police escort to a premiere.
Women adored Clark Gable, and a mob of fans (numbering approximately one thousand) followed the actor as he made his way to a premiere. He was only able to get inside thanks to a hundred police officers who cut their way through the crowd. After the movie, the theater attempted to convince him to go out the back, but Gable didn’t want to disappoint the fans. “This power that I’m supposed to have over women was never noticed when I was a stage actor on Broadway. I don’t know when I got it,” he once said.