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|Index||112 reviews in total|
This has always been a favorite movie of mine but I have never understood the aspect ratio used. In 1956 wide-screen lenses were commonly in use. Just think what this movie could have looked like with a wide-angle lense! I have looked carefully but never found any indication as to why Huston chose 1.33:1. The DVD package indicates that the film has been modified from its original format. However, I have never seen any other copy that hints of a wide camera. MGM may not have allowed it. Some directors dislike the wide angle but Huston did use it in later films ("Heaven Knows Mr. Allison" for one.). Given the scope of this film it is a shame if it was overlooked. Beyond this shortcoming I am a big fan of the story and this adaptation.
Seen today for the first time, wanted to see it since long time ago but
never had the chance to do it. Beginning with an applause to the novel,
mix of allegoric hints of Shakespearean, Greek tragicomedy and
mythology of almost any religion or culture, I think this film is at
the same time an amazing exposition of a very hard worked script,
understandable and captivating for any kind of audience either being
young (the adventures story of a group of sailors with spectacular
images of the ship Pequod) or mature and old people (the desperation
and frustration of a solitary man utterly obsessed with a symbol -the
whale- that leads to compare him with the man who reveals against what
could be taken as an omnipresent and infinitely powerful God, after
being challenged by him in a life or death duel) ending with the
magnificent (to me again, since not many people agree with that)
performance of G.Peck and the classic J.Huston's direction.
As a resume, a deathless masterpiece of the classic period of Hollywood.
For all my fellow movie buffs , especially those who loved this movie a trip
to Mystic Ct is a must. I went there as a child and long remembered the
claustrophobic feeling aboard an actual whaler that was probably the size of
the Pequod. The Charles Morgan , which is berthed there is a "six-boat"
whaler typically manned by a crew of 35-36 men. The bunks for the crew are 6
feet long and about 18 inches high and jammed together
The movie which I first saw in a "drive in " when I was five years old still affects me and all everyone in Mystic talks about is the accuracy of the 1956 film. My girlfriend , who has not seen the movie, will be forced to watch this movie after being regaled with unending stories about this movie. The many comments about this movie all contribute to to give a good overall view and I really don't have much to add but I did really like this movie. Hopkins as Ahab would be good or Oldman. DeNiro , who I love , I fear would give a repeat of his horrifyingly bad performance in Frankenstein and the amazingly bad remake of Cape Fear. The former smacks of John Wayne's unforgettable performance as Ghengis Khan. Robert Mitchum is unapproachable in the role of Max Cady in the original Cape Fear. Well anyway, watch this movie. Dream about a remake. I will not comment on the Patrick Stewart version which I believe was filmed in my neighbors round above ground pool over the summer a few years ago.
Watching Moby Dick if you've read the book is really quite satisfying -a
things are switched around but it's still the ol' whalin' tale of the
Of course, it doesnt have all of Melville's subplots and connotations you
study in school, and thankfully, none of Ishmael's technical rants. You
know, about the size and color of whale's livers. What I was really
anticipating, though, was Ahab - Would he be crazy enough? How do you
capture the pure insanity of the character? I concluded that Gregory Peck
did as good a job as is humanly possible. The previous comment was right,
did look like Abe Lincoln.
I was obsessed with whaling and whales when I was a kid and read every book in our public library on the subject. Way too young to comprehend it, I fought my way through Melville's Moby Dick and luckily went back to it when i was older and it is still one of my favorite novels. Agreed, it is almost impossible to "adapt" such a massive, insightful, rambling, too much detail-ridden book and even though there have been many versions, Huston's still shines. Sure, it is flawed but so much of it really works. I'm glad to see mostly praise for Peck's work here because I have always been fond of his performance as Ahab. In fact, you put his Atticus Finch and then his Ahab together and this is one fine film actor (not to mention the underrated yet brilliant Gunfighter). Most of the whale effects are stunning and in many ways, still better than the ill-fated recent USA Cable attempt. This film does get better with age. It's powerful, potent and passionate. Check it out.
I saw this movie frequently growing up. All these years later I'm still struck by how genuinely good it is. I think the cast is one of the best ever assembled. I think the soundtrack composer Phillip Sainton wrote a beutiful score (which can now be obtained on CD!!!), John Huston chose excellent locations, and, in an age of Hollywood glamour, all of the actors went for a 19th Century look. The result is a movie of striking historical accuracy and resonance. This should be recognized because Hollywood, especially in these days, treated historical accuracy as a trivial matter (just watch any John Ford movie of the period). Gregory Peck was not considered the best man for the role of Ahab. This is a criticism that still has followers to this day. I for one, disagree. I thought Gregory Peck was wonderful. He had the necessary mannerisms of a domineering guru capable of using this dark charisma to enlist disciples. Patrick Stewart (whom I love) played Ahab as simply a giddy, peevish, little madman. Appropriate perhaps for the role of Renfield in a Dracula film, but not Ahab who is one of the most complex characters ever created in American Literature. I will applaud Stewart who said that Ahab was the greatest Shakespearean charater that Shakespeare never wrote. True true!!!! Queequeg might say. Richard Basehart was a good Ishmael but I think the real treat is his narration throughout. This is a movie filled with little treats. Peter Coffin, owner of the Spouter Inn, The encounter with Elijha, The Quaker owners of the Pequod, The ships sombre departure from New Bedford, and of course Orson Welles as Father Mapple. I should also mention that in the post-Matrix age of digital animation, where just about every fantastic concept can be brought convincingly to the screen, John huston and his mechanical rubber whale made a believer out of me. Ironically the computer animated whale from the 1998 TV version was highly unconvincing. The only thing I did like about the latter version was it's inclusion of Fedallah. He's a rather important character in Melville's book and represents Ahab's dark alter ego. He is the perfect manifestation of Ahab's obsession and serves to effectivly counteract Starbuck, who is what Ahab might have been had he not been consumed by......dare I say it....the dark side. I forgive Huston's omission.
Of course, I read Melville's novel many years ago (voluntarily, not on assignment) but didn't care that much for it. The vast majority of it seemed to be a college course on 19th century whaling. Huston's version here is masterful. Gregory Peck pulled off Ahab masterfully. If this were made now, I'd have to nominate DeNiro for Ahab. Grade: A
A few points of clarification for some of the last few comments. The film was indeed shot in Technicolor but with a special process developed by cinematographer Oswald Morris involving a desaturation of the color to resemble hand-tinted steel engravings of the 19th century - like the artwork plates that accompany the opening titles. The MGM/UA laser disc has restored the color well. If the sky looks almost grey (and not green or even magenta, as in faded prints) it is correct. The dialog is part Melville but mostly Bradbury and Huston trying to sound like Melville: "That bed is a coffin and those are winding sheets, I do not sleep Mr. Starbuck, I die..." is not Melville, but it's great... This is still the best adaptation of Moby Dick, the recent USA network version not withstanding. Patrick Stewart is not scary enough to be Ahab. If another version is made I would recommend Anthony Hopkins or Gary Oldman for the role (just dreaming...) and I would spare the audience nothing with regard to Melville's language - his words are as beautiful as Shakespeare's and should be treated with the same respect.
Is Gregory Peck capable of making less than a great movie!?!?!? If he is, I've NEVER seen it, and MOBY DICK sure isn't it! If I don't watch this movie 3 or 4 times a year, I go into Classic film withdrawl; it is GREAT! Everyone in it is so darn good that this film is one of the few I can think of that entertain me from second one untill the last - it CONSTANTLY keeps my attention. I cannot recommend this film enough-you MUST see it every year!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Everyone has heard of Moby Dick, even people who never open books. How
many have actually read Melville's opus? I suppose some have, but not
that many. Some reviewer writes that Ray Bradbury hadn't read it.
Difficult to believe. Nevertheless, there's something missing in this
film, and it's not easy to say what. In spite of a lot of merit it does
not seem to truly deliver the goods, and several reviews suggest what's
wrong. Basehart is not exactly bad, but he is quite definitely too old.
This part should have gone to someone like Billy Budd. A lot of
reviewers rave about Peck's performance, but for me he just didn't nail
it. He was far too civilized, a gentleman. He might have gone
melancholy insane, but not viciously and self-destructively
carpet-chewing bananas. A good part for a Hitler clone.
The whale effects were surprisingly good. I remember a friend of mine coming back from seeing "Jaws", and ridiculing that "ludicrous rubber shark". Here, however, the whale was rather convincing, and I kept asking myself how these scenes had been achieved.
It was also rather enjoyable seeing all those well-known British actors: Harry Andrews, Bernard Miles, Noel Purcell, James R Justice, Mervyn Johns, Leo Genn, Arthur Mullard for goodness sake! Joan Plowright --- Lady Olivier for crying out loud! What was going on here with that cast list? Queequeg had great presence.
Still, I really don't think it all came together satisfactorily in the end. Six out of ten stars. This rating system no longer seems to be working.
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