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Moby Dick
     

Moby Dick

4.1 6
Director: John Huston,

Cast: Gregory Peck, Richard Basehart, Leo Genn

 

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Previous film versions of Moby Dick insisted upon including such imbecilities as romantic subplots and happy endings. John Huston's 1956 Moby Dick remains admirably faithful to its source. "Call me Ishmael" declares itinerant whaler Richard Basehart as the opening credits fade. Though slightly intimidated by the sermon delivered by Father Mapple (Orson

Overview

Previous film versions of Moby Dick insisted upon including such imbecilities as romantic subplots and happy endings. John Huston's 1956 Moby Dick remains admirably faithful to its source. "Call me Ishmael" declares itinerant whaler Richard Basehart as the opening credits fade. Though slightly intimidated by the sermon delivered by Father Mapple (Orson Welles in a brilliant one-take cameo), who warns that those who challenge the sea are in danger of losing their souls, Ishmael nonetheless signs on to the Pequod, a whaling ship captained by the brooding, one-legged Ahab (Gregory Peck). For lo these many years, Ahab has been engaged in an obsessive pursuit of Moby Dick, the great white whale to whom he lost his leg. Ahab's dementia spreads throughout the crew members, who maniacally join their captain in his final, fatal attack upon the elusive, enigmatic Moby Dick. Screenwriter Ray Bradbury masterfully captures the allegorical elements in the Herman Melville original without sacrificing any of the film's entertainment value (Bradbury suffered his own "great white whale" in the form of director Huston, who sadistically ran roughshod over the sensitive author throughout the film).Cinematographer Oswald Morris' washed-out color scheme brilliantly underlines the foredoomed bleakness of the story. Moby Dick's one major shortcoming is its obviously artificial whale-but try telling a real whale to stay within camera range and hit its marks.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide
Adapting Herman Melville's extravagant and enigmatic novel was a daunting challenge, but director John Huston acquitted himself well with this 1956 attempt. Huston had experience translating literary works to the screen (The Maltese Falcon, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, Red Badge of Courage), and Moby Dick was well-suited to his usual themes of human weakness and obsession. The muted colors of cinematographers Freddie Francis and Oswald Morris give the film an original, washed-out look, perfectly suited to the story's era. Equally impressive is the old boat that Huston hand-selected for the Pequod and his recreation of a mid-1800s rustic fishing village. The screenplay by Huston and Ray Bradbury is more than adequate, as is Gregory Peck's stoic Captain Ahab. Orson Welles, who had always wanted to film the novel himself, has a brief cameo.

Product Details

Release Date:
09/15/2015
UPC:
0738329163525
Original Release:
1956
Rating:
NR
Source:
Kl Studio Classics
Sales rank:
1,273

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Gregory Peck Capt. Ahab
Richard Basehart Ishmael
Leo Genn Starbuck
Harry Andrews Stubb
Seamus Kelly Flask
Orson Welles Father Mapple
Mervyn Johns Peleg
Bernard Miles Manxman
Tom Clegg Tashtego
Noel Purcell Ship's Carpenter
Edric Connor Daggoo
Philip Stainton Bildad
Francis de Wolff Capt. Gardner
Royal Dano Elijah
Frederick Ledebur Queequeg
Christopher Lee Actor
Joan Plowright Actor
James Robertson Justice Capt. Boomer
Joseph Tomelty Peter Coffin

Technical Credits
John Huston Director,Producer,Screenwriter
Ray Bradbury Screenwriter
Ralph W. Brinton Art Director
Robert Clarke Consultant/advisor
Vaughan N. Dean Producer
Freddie Francis Cinematographer
Stephen B. Grimes Art Director
Elizabeth Haffenden Costumes/Costume Designer
Louis Levy Musical Direction/Supervision
Russell Lloyd Editor
Jack Martin Asst. Director
John W. Mitchell Sound/Sound Designer
Oswald Morris Cinematographer
Charles Parker Makeup
Charles Parks Makeup
Philip Stainton Score Composer
Herman Melville Source Author

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Moby Dick 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
We all know the basic story. Captain Ahab blames a whale for his failures and seeks to kill the whale. Ahab wastes his life along with the lives of the crew who should have thrown him overboard. The sinking of the ship by Moby Dick is based on a real incident. The whaling ship Essex was sunk when an enraged sperm whale rammed it. Surviving crew members, already in launched whale hunting boats had to make for land in their small boats, a terrible ordeal. A book was written and a movie made about this incident. Gregory Peck is great as Ahab. Notice he speaks in iambic pantameter like Shakespeare's play. Melville did this deliverately. The motorized rubber whale used in the movie looks like a real whale. You cannot tell from the movie it's not real. To make this happen, the producers allow sea spray to get in the view's way exactly as the scene would appear to the men in the whaleboats. The result is true authenticity. The scene is chaos incarnate and that is what we see. Modern computer generated scenes just wouldn't do the job as well. The action in the movie's ending is riveting because it is such an authentic exhibit of raw danger. This is not a boring James Bond film with gadgets, car, plane and boat chases. This is not men shooting at each other from a distance. In Moby Dick, men are completely unprotected and throwing little harpoons a few feet from an enraged monster too huge to kill. Melville's action scene beats anything contrived today. As a ten year old boy I saw this movie in a theater. I liked it so much I went back to see it again two more times. If you saw the 1998 made for TV movie starring Patrick Stewart as Ahab, try to forget it. It was terrible. Everybody turns thumbs down at it. Get the original 1958 Gregory Peck version, and watch your kids' eyes open wide.
Wade1000 More than 1 year ago
Moby Dick is the ultimate novel and the best account of 19th century whaling and maritime adventure. Many critics have attempted to explain the essence of the book more than any other American author. Gregory Peck should have been given the award for Best Actor and the film should have won Best Picture. Schools need to have students view this exciting tale. Moby Dick is vital to any collection celebrating the wonders of the ocean.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I first saw this movie in 1956 when I was nine years old. I was mesmerized by the dramatic performances of the actors and over the years, I never miss a chance to catch this movie when it shows on TV.
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