Mutiny on the Bounty movie cover Movie Locations Guide

Where was Mutiny on the Bounty filmed?

1935

About Mutiny on the Bounty

There are few maritime stories that capture the imagination quite like the mutiny on the HMS Bounty. The British naval ship was of course the site of a famous crew-led mutiny in 1789 and has since spawned several Hollywood re-creations.

Perhaps the best of those silver-screen adaptations is the 1935 Frank Lloyd-directed and produced classic Mutiny on the Bounty. Starring Charles Laughton and Clark Gable, this Best Picture Oscar-winner is a brilliantly acted tale of sadism, brutality, revolt, and adventure on the high seas.

The film tells the story of the Bounty’s two-year voyage across the Pacific, leaving England in 1787. The ship and its crew, many of whom were forced into sailing against their will, are bound for Tahiti. It’s an idyllic destination, but there’s one very big problem: the ship’s captain, William Bligh (Laughton) is a sadistic tyrant.

Bligh is a harsh taskmaster who won’t tolerate any insubordination or even the slightest of mistakes from his crew. If anyone steps even an inch out of line, Bligh doesn’t hesitate to dish out cruel punishment.

All of this leads to a punishing, dreadful voyage for the crew, and it’s only a matter of time before they snap. The ship’s lieutenant, Fletcher Christian (Gable), repeatedly stands up to the cruel captain, and the two men have a shared animosity for one another.

The ship eventually arrives in Tahiti and the crew’s time on the South Pacific archipelago is a blissful escape from the rigors of naval life. So, when they’re forced to leave the island paradise behind and set sail again under Bligh’s brutal tyranny, the crew’s anger reaches boiling point.

Christian and many of the crew seize control of the ship, setting Bligh and the men loyal to him adrift. The mutineers then head to Tahiti to establish their own version of utopia — but whether or not they can escape punishment for the crime of mutiny remains to be seen.

City Locations

Santa Catalina Island, California; Tahiti

Location Types

NatureScapes, Clubs/Bars, Ship Docks

Location Styles

Beachfront, Boat Style, Exotic/Tropical, Sail, Shipping Yard/Dock

Mutiny on the Bounty Locations

Mutiny on the Bounty Locations

Want to find out more about the filming location of Mutiny on the Bounty? This Hollywood classic was filmed in part at a handful of sites in California, while location shooting also took place in Tahiti.

Director Frank Lloyd and the crew took some 100 tons of equipment to Tahiti to begin filming in 1935. However, as main stars like Gable and Laughton didn’t make the journey to Tahiti, a lot of the footage shot in Tahiti was used as a background for many film scenes.

Closer to home, scenes for Mutiny on the Bounty were filmed at spots like Santa Catalina Island, Monterey Bay, and San Francisco’s South Beach Harbor. Catalina Island was the main filming site, where the film crew set up camp at the island’s isthmus. Shots of the Tahitian harbor and Portsmouth Harbour in England were filmed here, along with the storm scene.

If you’d like to visit some of the most memorable Mutiny on the Bounty locations, you can! We’ve gathered together the details and locations of where some of the best scenes in Mutiny on the Bounty were filmed (spoiler alert!). Keep reading to find out where they are and how to find them.

Fun fact:

Legendary actor James Cagney was sailing his boat near Catalina Island where Mutiny on the Bounty was filming. Director Frank Lloyd was an old friend of Cagney’s, so Cagney asked if there was any work available. Cagney was then dressed in a sailor’s uniform and used as an extra in multiple scenes.

First look at the Bounty scene in Mutiny on the Bounty

Santa Catalina Island, CA

Roger Byam (Franchot Tone), midshipman on the Bounty, has a naive and optimistic view of what life at sea will be like. He’s about to discover that serving in the navy under Captain Bligh’s command is certainly no picnic.

Early in the film, Byam heads to Portsmouth Harbor, where the ship is being prepared for its voyage to Tahiti. The harbor is a bustling hive of activity, and Byam points out a ship moored in the harbor and asks another man if it’s the Bounty. But the man informs him that he’s actually looking at the flagship of the fleet, and then points out the “pint pot” Bounty.

“That’s the Bounty for Tahiti? She isn’t very big, is she?” Byam says, disappointedly.

The Portsmouth Harbor scenes in Mutiny on the Bounty were filmed on the western side of the Catalina Island isthmus. Over on the eastern side was chosen as the film shoot location for the Tahitian harbor.

It’s also worth noting that one of the ships seen in the background in Portsmouth Harbor, a square rigger then known as the Pacific Queen and later as Balclutha, is on display at the San Francisco Maritime Museum.

Christmas in Tahiti scene in Mutiny on the Bounty

Two Harbors, Catalina Island, CA

The mutineers are enjoying an idyllic life in paradise. As they laze on white sandy beaches, soak up the tropical weather, and enjoy the hospitality of the friendly locals, the brutal realities of life on board the Bounty seem an entire world away. But the peace in their beautiful island paradise is about to be shattered.

At first, the men are all smiles and laughter as they celebrate Christmas in Christian’s Island hut. “A Merry Christmas to you all,” says a contented Christian to his men, before inviting them into his hut. There, we see his bride, Maimiti, who has recently given birth to Christian’s child.

But just when it seems like Christian’s Tahitian paradise couldn’t be any more perfect, the HMS Pandora is spotted off the coast. It seems the sins of the past are about to come back to haunt the mutineers.

The setting for Christian’s Tahitian hut was Two Harbors on Catalina Island, close to where the harbor scenes for the film were shot.

Christian farewells his crewmates scene in Mutiny on the Bounty

Shark Harbor, Catalina Island, CA

With a British ship spotted approaching Tahiti, Christian and many of his men prepare to board the Bounty and flee with their wives and children. But not everyone wants to join him, as some decide to go it alone and others are desperate to get back to England.

Roger Byam is one of those who decides not to board the Bounty with Christian. Along with a number of other crew members, Byam, who didn’t participate in the mutiny, decides to wait behind in Tahiti so the ship can take him back to England.

Standing on a sandy beach, the Bounty being loaded in the background, Christian and Byam bid each other farewell. “From now on they’ll spell mutiny with my name. I regret that. But not the taking of the ship,” Christian says. He and Byam then part ways — Byam preparing to face the music in England, and Christian ready to explore the uncharted islands of the Pacific.

This farewell scene on the beach was filmed at Shark Harbor on Catalina Island. This pretty spot is found on the western side of the island, a little over six miles south of Two Harbors and the isthmus.

Conclusion

It may not be too far off its 100th birthday, but Mutiny on the Bounty is still a seriously watchable film. With Clark Gable a magnetic presence on-screen and Charles Laughton creating one of the most memorable movie villains of all time, this epic tale is a classic of 1930s cinema.

What’s even better is that you don’t have to go all the way to Tahiti to check out a host of Mutiny on the Bounty locations for yourself. With several shooting sites found within easy reach in California, checking out these iconic locations in person is a breeze.