Moby DickDirector: John Huston,
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.
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Cast & Crew
|Gregory Peck||Capt. Ahab|
|Orson Welles||Father Mapple|
|Noel Purcell||Ship's Carpenter|
|Francis de Wolff||Capt. Gardner|
|James Robertson Justice||Capt. Boomer|
|Joseph Tomelty||Peter Coffin|
|Ralph W. Brinton||Art Director|
|Vaughan N. Dean||Producer|
|Stephen B. Grimes||Art Director|
|Elizabeth Haffenden||Costumes/Costume Designer|
|Louis Levy||Musical Direction/Supervision|
|Jack Martin||Asst. Director|
|John W. Mitchell||Sound/Sound Designer|
|Philip Stainton||Score Composer|
|Herman Melville||Source Author|
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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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.
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.
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.