Captain Ahab's descent into madness destroys everyone around him. This powerful character drew John Barrymore, Orson Wells and John Huston. This film has been called the best, most authentic version of Herman Melville's MOBY DICK.
In this extremely loose adaptation of Melville's classic novel, Ahab is revealed initially not as a bitter and vengeful madman, but as a bit of a lovable scamp. Ashore in New Bedford, he ... See full summary »
This classic story by Herman Melville revolves around Captain Ahab and his obsession with a huge whale, Moby Dick. The whale caused the loss of Ahab's leg years before, leaving Ahab to stomp the boards of his ship on a peg leg. Ahab is so crazed by his desire to kill the whale, that he is prepared to sacrifice everything, including his life, the lives of his crew members, and even his ship to find and destroy his nemesis, Moby Dick. Written by
E.W. DesMarais <firstname.lastname@example.org>
When Starbuck enters the captain's cabin and tells Ahab that he should get some sleep, Ahab replies that his berth is a coffin. This was quite literally the truth. Officers would sleep in a box. If he died on the voyage, his bunk became his coffin. Similarly, the non-officers slept in hammocks. Those hammocks would become their burial shrouds if they died during the cruise. See more »
Scenes shot on the deck of the ship have a background painted to look like the sky. Joints in the painted plywood sheets or canvas can be quite clearly seen. See more »
Some critics panned this pic when it came out - Peck too wooden, the script too cliched, etc, etc. Don't believe a word of it. I saw this one when I was 8 or 9, and for years I watched it every time it came on TV - even in B&W! Peck isn't wooden, he's intense and fascinating (my favorite scene: in his cabin, saying to Starbuck, "That bed is a coffin"). The language may sound stilted, but it's MELVILLE'S, and the cast sink into it with conviction.
Some critic (I don't know which) has said that Moby Dick (the book) is an "uncomfortable masterpiece" - or something like that - meaning that it's a hard pill to swallow. The movie is bound to be a hard pill for many viewers as well. But that's their loss. Huston's movie is a great big powerful thing
you believe in Peck's crazy passion, in Starbuck's gentleness, in Ishmael
and Quequeg's bond, in the evil of the whale, even.
Another favorite sequence: the Pequot becalmed, the crew lying about under the intense sun, slowly going crazy. The climactic chase is superb and thrilling, of course; what it all adds up to is a film about the elements, and our relationship to them. The whale is just the biggest of a whole slew that constantly threaten to destroy us. Nature, our natures - all the things we fight against with our intelligence, that threaten to engulf us.
Beautiful film, one of Huston's best. I find the analogy with Hitler/Nazis in an earlier comment very interesting. Another would be with an earlier Huston film, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre - another film about people taking terrible chances for reasons that don't stand up to a lot of examination, whose biggest obstacle turns out to be themselves. By the way, will someone please rerelease Moby Dick in a restored version so we can get a really good look at all that glorious Technicolor?
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