Hollywood and American history crossed paths as Hurricane Sandy pounded the Eastern Seaboard. One of the casualties of this weather event was the HMS Bounty, a replica used in the filming of Mutiny of the Bounty in 1961. The ship was built for MGM, and it appeared in several feature-length movies, and dozens of television shows and documentaries. Recently, the Bounty was used in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest starring Johnny Depp.
Mutiny on the Bounty starred Marlon Brando and Trevor Howard, and was based on the novel by Charles Nordhoff and James Norman Hall. The film retells the 1789 real-life mutiny aboard the Bounty, led by master’s mate Fletcher Christian against the ship’s captain, William Bligh. This was a big-budget remake, the first one produced in 1935. The original epic was directed by Lewis Milestone, and starred Clark Gable, Charles Laughton, and Franchot Tone.
After filming and a worldwide promotional tour, MGM berthed the ship in St. Petersburg as a permanent tourist attraction – where she stayed until the mid-1980s. In 1986, Ted Turner acquired the MGM film library, and the Bounty with it. He used it to promote his enterprises, and he loaned it to the production company that filmed Treasure Island with Charlton Heston in 1989. Turner donated the vessel in 1993 to the Fall River Chamber Foundation, which established the Tall Ship Bounty Foundation to operate the ship as an educational venture. In February of 2001, it was purchased from the Foundation by HMS Bounty Organization LLC, which was dedicated to keeping the craft sailing, and using her as a vehicle for teaching the nearly lost arts of square rigged sailing and seamanship.
The HMS Bounty sank in the high seas off the coast of North Carolina on Monday morning. The Coast Guard reports 14 crew members were air lifted from the sailing facility. The search for the ship’s captain continues, and one person died, Claudene Christian; no relation to the legendary Fletcher Christian. The 180-foot schooner now lies at the bottom of the Atlantic. It’s a ghastly conclusion to a mighty structure with a historic pedigree.
In other news, the birthplace of Frank Sinatra, and the childhood home of Grace Kelly (Hoboken, New Jersey) has experienced total devastation with widespread flooding. Elia Kazan’s 1954 film On the Waterfront was shot in this beachfront community. Normalcy isn’t realistically expected to occur in the area until next Spring.
Thoughts and prayers go out to the Christian family, and the spouse of the captain, who tried his best to sail out of harm’s way of Hurricane Sandy. It will be remembered as a 2012 perfect storm.
Until next time> “never forget”