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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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Airs Tue. Apr. 04, 3:15 PM on TCM

Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 2 wins & 7 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
...
Paul Rogers ...
Philip Seymour - First Lieutenant
...
Julian Radcliffe - Second Lieutenant
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Steven Wyatt - Gunnery Officer
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Enoch Jenkins - Maintopman
Lee Montague ...
Squeak - Assistant to Mr. Claggart
Thomas Heathcote ...
Alan Payne - Maintopman
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William O'Daniel - Maintopman (as Ray McAnnally)
...
Arnold Talbot - Maintopman
...
Neil Kincaid - Maintopman
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Alfred Hallam - Captain of Marines
...
Nathaniel Graveling - Ship's Master, Rights of Man (as Niall McGinnis)
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:

The Men!.. The Mutiny!...The Might!... Of Herman Melville's Classic Adventure of the High Seas! See more »

Genres:

Adventure | Drama | War

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

12 November 1962 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Die Verdammten der Meere  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Independent producer Frank Gilbert acquired the screen rights in 1956 and assigned the adaptation to DeWitt Bodeen. The rights were later sold to independent producer/director Robert Rossen, who worked with Bodeen on a second screenplay. By the time it reached the screen in 1962, it had been sold to Peter Ustinov, who wrote the final shooting script but gave Bodenn a co-writer credit. See more »

Goofs

When Claggart dies, his head tilts to his right. The Captain and Billy exit the cabin. Moments later, the Captain and surgeon return to the cabin. Claggart's head is pointing straight forward. See more »

Quotes

Master At Arms Claggert: I am what I am and what the world has made me.
See more »

Crazy Credits

As the cast is listed onscreen, the actors are heard stating their characters' names and ranks. See more »

Connections

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

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Just as good as the novel!
12 February 2005 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

I saw this when it first came out and loved it! The makers of this film (from the UK) are to be praised for addressing a subject historically so controversial that their countrymen could object it has anti-British content based on familiar stereotypes. Yet it is undeniably true. The British Empire thrived on a system of enforced labor, which included plantation slavery, pressgangs in the Navy and crimping of soldiers into the Army. The practice of stealing American sailors off of American ships and forcing them into the British service remained a vexed question between the two countries even after the revolution. Americans who had won their freedom in the revolution had to surrender it to the same tyrants on the high seas. "Billy Budd" shows the tragic injustice of being forced to serve an enemy, suffer his contempt and be punished for the natural act of defending oneself.

Technically, the film couldn't be better. The drama is excellently drawn in well lit black and white and cuts from scene to scene in a manner that never sacrifices clarity to suspense, telling the story as well as it can be told on screen. The close ups reveal all the nuances of character implied in Melville's great novel, making very accessible the emotion of righteous indignation, which is the film's final message. Today, a production crew like the one that made "Billy Budd" could make itself very busy faithfully translating literary classics onto the screen.


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