7.9/10
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52 user 15 critic

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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Paul Rogers ...
Philip Seymour - First Lieutenant
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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)
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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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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!... The Magnitude 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

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Release Date:

12 November 1962 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Die Verdammten der Meere  »

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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

Herman Melville had been writing poetry for 30 years when he returned to fiction with "Billy Budd" in late 1888. Still unfinished when he died in 1891, it was forgotten. Melville's biographer accidentally stumbled upon it when going through a trunk of the writer's papers in his granddaughter's New Jersey home in 1919. Melville's widow worked to help complete it, and it was finally published in 1924. Over the years other unsatisfactory versions were published, but it wasn't until Melville's original notes were found that the definitive version was ultimately published in 1962. Ironically Peter Ustinov's film version was released the same year. 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

Captain Vere: You know Seymour, there are some men who cannot stand too much perfection. They see it as a disease, which must be stamped out at it's first rash showing.
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Crazy Credits

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

Connections

Featured in The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Under-rated Melville Classic!
11 October 2004 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Nothing can touch the book (quality-wise), but this Ustinov-directed epic of '62 is clearly under-rated for it's time with some fine performances with beautiful B/W cinematography. Ustinov also plays Captain Vere in a subdued and strange performance. Robert Ryan (superb actor is right on the money as Claggart. Terence Stamp (in his film debut, I believe) is the perfect Billy Budd and well deserving of his supporting Oscar nomination.

An 8 out of 10. Best performance = Terence Stamp. Melvyn Douglas is crusty as usual and David McCallum is well-cast and officious. This was adapted from one of the classic American novels so the film could only be criticized rightfully, but a stunning achievement in retrospect!


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