Tag Archives: Clark Gable

April 28th

On this day in 1789 things got a bit out of hand on a ship called The Bounty and the next thing you know there’s a big old mutiny.

Best Christian (sans moustache) and Bligh

You may have seen one or several of the films about this event – although probably not all of them, as I’m guessing most, if not all of us, have failed to see the 1916 Australian film of the story – but the films are mostly very, very wrong about what happened. Here is a rough outline of what went down.

Captain Bligh was sent off on an expedition to collect breadfruit from Tahiti. The reason for getting this breadfruit was to take it to the West Indies and use it as cheap food for the slaves out there. We’ll come back to that towards the end of this mini narrative. So, off they sailed, had huge problems around Cape Horn, they gave it up as a bad job after a month and headed to the Cape of Good Hope instead where they finally managed to get around and into the Indian ocean. They got to their destination after ten months at sea and had a lovely reception on the island. The Tahitians were happy to see them, gave them a warm welcome and the crew spent five months living on the island. This had not been the initial plan, but they needed to stay longer so that the breadfruit were at the right period of their growth cycle to transport back on the long journey. It’s at this point that things went a bit tits up. Before this, tough as the voyage had been, the captain and crew got along well. There was tight discipline, but not floggings and things

Second best C & B. I had a thing with a bloke who looked like Brando (before Brando was fat) *sigh*

were no worse than on any other Royal Navy ship. Relations started to deteriorate in Tahiti. This was mostly down to the crew living it large, marrying or getting it on with women of the island, enjoying the laid-back life style and getting a bit lax on their Royal Navy duties. Floggings became more commonplace and things started to fall apart a little. Still, on 5th April, when they finally set sail from the island, things were just about okay. However, just over three weeks later, in the middle of the night, the mutiny happened. Christian and others went into Bligh’s cabin and forced him to the deck. He was put in the Bounty’s launch and along with 18 crew members, who remained loyal to him, he was set adrift. Now, generally when you hear about the mutiny you get the idea that everyone hated Bligh and no one wanted anything to do with him. Not so. There were 44 men on board. Excluding Bligh and Christian, 22 remained loyal to Bligh, 18 supported Christian and two were a bit “yeah, I dunno” about it. There was not enough room for all those loyal to Bligh on the launch, so four had to remain with the mutineers.

Next up, Bligh managed to get to Timor in the Dutch East Indies, which was a pretty epic voyage. From there he got back to England and reported the mutiny. The mutineers went back to Tahiti. Most of them stayed there, but Christian and others loaded up some provisions, livestock  and Tahitians and set sail for another island, eventually settling on Pitcairn which was incorrectly placed on Royal Navy maps, thus lessening their chance of detection. Some of the mutineers were captured and taken home, the Pitcairn Islanders remained free, but after lots of trouble on the island, the majority of them, including Christian (well probably at least) were killed in 1793. And that, dear friends, is what went down.

Dog: please let him put on some pants. I do not want to see that arse again. Please.

Of the three best known films about the events, The Bounty, starring Mel “sugartits” Gibson and Anthony Hopkins is deemed the one that plays least fast and loose with actual events. That said, it’s Gibson and Hopkins who are both hugely annoying. Hopkins is all ham and Gibson is all “oh look at me all lovely looking and I can show you my arse too, yeah, I have an arse” and so, it is the film I like least. The 1962 version with Trevor Howard as Bligh and Marlon Brando as Christian is the least accurate, but Brando is still well handsome and so, on any level that really matters – bar historical accuracy – it is better than anything with Mel Gibson in it. My favourite is the 1935 version starring Charles Laughton as Bligh and – be still my beating heart – Clark Gable as Christian. It’s an unusual performance from Gable, lacking as it does his moustache, but it is a wonderful film and the best of all of them as far as I’m concerned which, given my exquisite taste, is more important than any other critical assessment. If you want to see any of these films, watch Laughton and Gable. Do not watch Gibson and Hopkins; it only encourages them. Just be aware, that whichever film you watch, it will mostly be a pile of awful tosh. Not a one of them gets Bligh anywhere near right, not least because he was 34 years old at the time of the voyage and not a knackered old thing like he is in much of the films. And that, my loves, is that.

Oh! I said I’d tell you about the breadfruit. Well, obviously the Bounty failed to bring any back, what with being stolen by the mutineers (and eventually scuttled off Pitcairn), but another ship went and got a load and it got transported off to the West Indies and fed to the slaves. The slaves said it was “fucking minging, I ain’t eating this shit!” and, er, didn’t. So the whole thing was one great big waste of time anyway. It’s a funny old world.

Today is the birthday of Take That member, Howard Donald. Donald was born in 1968 and is, to date, the only wookiee to find pop stardom. His vocal cord limitations have not stopped him from giving a fine approximation of singing and most of his hirsuteness has been tackled with a mixture of waxing, electrolysis and judicious use of Bic razors.

During the Take that Hiatus from 1996-2005, Howard took up DJ-ing and became popular in Germany. Such was his acceptance there

Howard takes a break during recording

that he felt able to grow back a lot of his hair and kick back and chill with his German pals. In 2007, while being a bit gymnastic on stage – the group were touring, Howard wasn’t just showing off – one of is lungs collapsed and he had to go to hospital to have it blown up again.

He still DJs when he’s not touring with the band, but he’s less hairy again as the British and international audiences find his wookiee nature slightly off-putting, which just goes to show that prejudice is alive and well and ruining the lives of non-human bipeds the world over. Personally, I like wookiees. They’re really nice, once you start to understand their language (apparently it is called Shyriiwook, which given it’s just glorified howling seems like a bit of a fancy name to me) and very gentle and loyal. Yes, they’re strong and could pull your arm out of its socket without breaking sweat, but mostly they don’t do that sort of thing.

So happy birthday, Howard. I hope that your inability to speak hasn’t hampered your ability to read and that you can appreciate this genuine greeting from the heart.

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February 22nd

On this day in 1934 the first film to win all five major Oscars (Best Director, Picture, Actor, Actress and Screenplay) opened in the United States. That film was It Happened One Night, directed by Frank Capra and starring Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert. Not that important an event, you may argue and certainly very light in political relevance. True, maybe, but this film became the template for many a screw ball romantic comedy and went on to have some interesting social influences, as we shall see.

Gable went topless in the days before the six-pack had been invented

The first thing to know is that this is a really great movie. It’s nearly 80 years old, but the dialogue, the pace, the humour, everything about it is as fresh today as it was when it opened in Radio City Music Hall seventy-seven years ago. It wasn’t Capra’s first film, far from it, but it was definitely the first of the films that came to define his style. It’s funny and feel-good, it has  message, but it’s not rammed home, you just pick it up as you go along. What is the message? Well, to me it’s that when in doubt, have all of the sex with Clark Gable for he are hot and stuff, but it’s more along the lines of an honest hard-working man is better than some dandified playboy and being spoilt is for losers (Paris Hilton, et al, please note).

The studio it was made at, Columbia, was pretty much a poverty row studio. Capra was their top director and until this film, he was hardly considered the crème de la crème of Hollywood. Gable and Colbert were not his first, second or even third choice stars. Who they were is of scant consequence, as it’s unlikely you’ll have heard of most of them – Robert Montgomery, Miriam Hopkins, anybody? Thought not. Colbert remained unhappy about being cast throughout filming, but cheered up when she won an Oscar. Gable had a rare old time and by golly it shows! And now for the social significance bit. Legend has it that in the famous “Walls of Jericho” scene, when Gable took off his shirt and revealed he was vestless, sales of vests plummeted in the US. Thankfully, the only other two films to win the big five Oscars did not have a similar impact on the public. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest did not lead to a rise in elective lobotomies and human liver with fava beans and Chianti did not become a gourmet favourite after The Silence of the Lambs.

These are a lot of words about a small film made  a long time ago, but films are very important. They have helped us to understand our world, taught us that in moments of dramatic crisis it’s nice to have some accompanying music or to sing a little song and have  a dance, and brought us the realisation that in times of impending doom, Will Smith or Bruce Willis are pretty handy and Morgan Freeman would make a great president. If that’s not deep, meaningful and a little bit sublime, I shall stick feathers in my derrière and fly to the moon!

Today was the birthday of Robert Baden-Powell who famously founded the Boy Scouts and along with his wife, Olave Baden-Powell and his sister Agnes, the Girl Guides.

Baden-Powell also wrote a book called Scouting for Boys, which made him a lot of money, not least because many paedophiles

Not a pedalo's handbook

thought it was a reference book and were too embarrassed to go and get their money back when they realised their error.  He liked wearing a uniform, being in charge and saying “dib dib dib, dob, dob, dob” a lot, so scouting was perfect for him.

In order to mark his birthday and that of his wife – Baden-Powell refused to marry until he found a half-decent woman who had the same birthday as him, he had previously turned down a Nubian giantess (he feared giants) and a Scandinavian albino (he worried about losing her in the snow) before marrying Olave – the Girl Guides  hold an annual Thinking Day, each year to commemorate the birthdays of their founders.  The Girl Guides were founded in the days when medical science held the thesis that if a young girl thought too many thoughts in the course of her life, her cervix would detach and her womb would fall out of her lady parts. In order to prevent the de-feminisation of their charges, Robert and Olave decreed that their girls would only think on one day of the year and spend the rest of their time relying on instinct and animal cunning, as was right and proper. To this day, February 22nd is a time for Girl Guides the world over to have deep and special thoughts, generally about the inner workings of the combustion engine, how many syllabubs are too many and “Space is big: discuss”.

So, happy birthday Robert and Olave and thank you both for bringing the joy of thinking and slightly pervy uniforms to the women of this world!

Your esteemed author would like to thank her good friend Eleanor Kliffen for introducing her to the idea of the Thinking Day, although as Eleanor did not know that it was introduced to preserve wombs or to celebrate the birthdays of the Baden-Powells, your author does not feel she should give Ms Kliffen too much credit.

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