Moby Dick

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Overview

John Huston's Moby Dick is about as fine a film as the director ever made, and the most watchable, thoroughly cinematic treatment of a 19th century novel ever made. It was a good laserdisc from MGM/UA and has become an even better DVD, though it could have been treated better still without a lot more effort. The film-to-video transfer is sharp and beautifully detailed, and the film has a nicely muted color scheme (it is close to being a black-and-white film shot in color) which is captured perfectly here; it is ...
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Overview

John Huston's Moby Dick is about as fine a film as the director ever made, and the most watchable, thoroughly cinematic treatment of a 19th century novel ever made. It was a good laserdisc from MGM/UA and has become an even better DVD, though it could have been treated better still without a lot more effort. The film-to-video transfer is sharp and beautifully detailed, and the film has a nicely muted color scheme (it is close to being a black-and-white film shot in color) which is captured perfectly here; it is presented full-frame, which is a puzzlement, since MGM usually letterboxes even its non-CinemaScope, post-1953 movies. The audio is also not as robust as one might hope, though it pumps up well enough through speakers. The movie is better than the $20-list "Vintage Classics" series into which it has been placed; that is, the price is right, but there's a lot more that could have been done and would have been justified. As it is, the only extra is the original trailer. One wishes that Gregory Peck and screenwriter Ray Bradbury could have been approached about doing an audio commentary track, and the disc should, at least, have come with a booklet going into the production and its history. The 20 chapters are more than adequate, though an insert with the chapters listed would have been helpful. The disc opens automatically to the menu, which is simple to use as far as it goes. As a representation of the movie itself, this disc is as good as anything seen since 1956, but it still manages to insult the movie in all kinds of little ways.
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Special Features

Original theatrical trailer; English: mono; French: mono; Spanish: mono; French & Spanish subtitles
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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.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 6/19/2001
  • UPC: 027616862945
  • Original Release: 1956
  • Rating:

  • Source: Mgm (Video & Dvd)
  • Region Code: 1
  • Aspect Ratio: Pre-1954 Standard (1.33.1)
  • Presentation: Pan & Scan / Dolby 5.1 / Mono
  • Sound: Dolby Digital, monaural
  • Language: English, Français, Español
  • Time: 1:55:00
  • Format: DVD

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
Joan Plowright
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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Scene Index

Side #1 --
0. Scene Selection
1. Logo/Title/Credits [1:48]
2. A Whale Of A Tale [8:45]
3. Jonah's Lesson [6:54]
4. Picking The Pequod [5:52]
5. All, Save One [6:09]
6. The Crew [3:24]
7. Capt. Ahab's Mission [6:48]
8. The First Kill [5:57]
9. Starbuck's Opposition [7:35]
10. God's And Ahab's Law [5:14]
11. Queequeg's Vision [7:28]
12. "He's Very Near!" [13:27]
13. Ahab's Blood Oath [2:52]
14. St. Elmo's Fires [6:29]
15. Foretold Doom [7:41]
16. Moby's Fury [6:29]
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Menu

Side #1 --
   Play Movie
   Theatrical Trailer
   Languages
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 6 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(4)

4 Star

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3 Star

(1)

2 Star

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Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 1, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    The greatest adaptation of an American Classic!

    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.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    The ending has action like nothing made today

    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.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Stands Up to Time

    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.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 6, 2010

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 19, 2010

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 12, 2010

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