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Billy Budd (1962)

Approved | | Adventure, Drama, War | 12 November 1962 (USA)
Billy is an innocent, naive seaman in the British Navy in 1797. When the ship's sadistic master-at-arms is murdered, Billy is accused and tried.

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(based upon the play: "Billy Budd"), (based upon the play: "Billy Budd") | 3 more credits »
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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 2 wins & 7 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Julian Radcliffe - Second Lieutenant
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Steven Wyatt - Gunnery Officer
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Lee Montague ...
Squeak - Assistant to Mr. Claggart
Thomas Heathcote ...
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William O'Daniel - Maintopman (as Ray McAnnally)
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Arnold Talbot - Maintopman
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Neil Kincaid - Maintopman
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Alfred Hallam - Captain of Marines
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Victor Brooks ...
Amos Leonard - First Mate, Rights of Man
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Storyline

H.M.S. Avenger is headed into battle against the French fleet during the Napoleonic Wars, and the dark shadow of two recent mutinies in the English fleet concern Captain Vere. He relies on his cruel and often sadistic Master-at-Arms John Claggert to maintain what he believes to be tenuous order and discipline aboard the ship. When a new seaman, Billy Budd, is pressed into service from a passing merchantman, his innocent, happy-go-lucky attitude quickly endears him to both his messmates as well as the ship's officers. However, his charismatic naivete seems to bother Claggert, whose perverse depravity makes him resent Billy's good-natured purity, especially after the teenager's promotion to fore-top captain. The mean-spirited Claggert unfairly plots to put him on report and ultimately perjures himself when he accuses Billy of conspiring to mutiny. Written by Gabe Taverney (duke1029@aol.com)

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

MUTINY...the word the navy dreaded most! See more »

Genres:

Adventure | Drama | War

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

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Language:

Release Date:

12 November 1962 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Die Verdammten der Meere  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

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Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Favorite film of actor Jeff Bridges. See more »

Goofs

After the trial, the captain speaks with Budd below decks. In some shots Billy's head cast a long shadow on his left shoulder. In others, a short one. Then his head's shadow is on his right shoulder. See more »

Quotes

Master At Arms Claggert: We must serve the law, sir, or give up the right and privilege of service. It is only within that law that we may use our discretions according to our rank.
Captain Vere: You're so intelligent and so lucid for the rank you hold, Master At Arms.
Master At Arms Claggert: I thank you, sir.
Captain Vere: Yes, that's no flattery, Mr. Claggart. It's a melancholy fact. It's sad to see such qualities of mind bent to such a sorry purpose. What's the reason for it?
Master At Arms Claggert: I am what I am, sir. And what the world has made me.
Captain Vere: The world? The world demands that ...
[...]
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Crazy Credits

and introducing / Terrence Stamp See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Sopranos: Eloise (2002) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Ryan's 'Claggart ' Unfogettable
12 March 2006 | by See all my reviews

A nice, innocent kid getting brutalized by an incredibly-sadistic 1700s ship officer is not always easy to watch, but this is one of the better under-publicized films of its day. It sill holds up, some 40-plus years later, and I'm still wondering when a DVD will come out. The great cinematography alone makes this cry out for a good DVD transfer.

It was an apt choice to cast Robert Ryan as the sadistic "Claggart." Ryan played mostly villains in his career and is extremely effective in that role here as an intelligent-but-sick-and-vicious bully. In fact, his character in Billy Budd remains one of the most memorable villains I've seen in a half century of movie watching. It isn't just his deeds. The looks on his face alone as he delivers his lines make him fascinating.

Peter Ustinov gives a great performance as the captain of the ship and a man who has to make a big, big decision about Mr. Budd, played by a young and boyish-looking Terrence Stamp. The character "Billy Budd" is about as pure and innocent as some of the characters Jennifer Jones played in the 1940s, such as Cluny Brown, Bernadette Soubirous or Jennie Appleton. Also of interest is Melvyn Douglas as the aging seaman.

This is simply a powerful and very involving film, one that is hard to forget.


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