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Billy Budd (1962)

Approved | | Adventure, Drama, War | 12 November 1962 (USA)
3:00 | Trailer

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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.



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



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


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


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


Adventure | Drama | War


Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

12 November 1962 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Die Verdammten der Meere  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Terence Stamp's film debut. See more »


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 »


Master At Arms Claggert: Tell me in all ignorance do you dare understand me, then?
Billy Budd: I think so, sir.
Master At Arms Claggert: Why did Jenkins die?
Billy Budd: You did not wish his death.
Master At Arms Claggert: No, I did not.
Billy Budd: You didn't even hate him. I think that sometimes you hate yourself. I was thinking, sir, the nights are lonely. Perhaps I could talk with you between watches when you've nothing else to do.
Master At Arms Claggert: Lonely. What do you know of loneliness?
Billy Budd: Them's alone that want to be.
Master At Arms Claggert: Nights are long. Conversation helps pass the time.
Billy Budd: Can I talk to you again, then? It would mean a ...
See more »

Crazy Credits

and introducing / Terrence Stamp See more »


Version of Hora once: Billy Budd (1972) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Good and dramatic ships film with top-notch acting and masterfully directed
21 July 2004 | by See all my reviews

The flick is set in the end Century XVIII upon English-French war , in Napoleon time , 1797 . Actor and director Peter Ustinov has directed a few films , this is the best . The movie centers about a Young named Billy (Terence Stamp's film debut) who's obligatorily enlisted in a war ship . Billy Budd is a crew member of the British merchant ship the Rights of Man sailing off the coast of Spain , when the ship is briefly commandeered by the British Naval Ship , the HMS Avenger . There Billy will have to take on a nasty deputy (Robert Ryan) with tragical results .

Terence Stamp's interpretation as an innocent , naive , thoughtful and sensitive young is extraordinary . Robert Ryan plays correctly to the villain and ominous man . The support cast is featured by famous secondary actors : John Neville (Baron Munchausen) , David McCallum (UNCLE Agency series ) , Ray McNally (The mission) and Neall MacGinnis (Jason and the Argonauts). The film is based on a Herman Melville's novel (author of Moby Dick) . 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 and it was finally published in 1924 . An independent producer acquired the screen rights in 1956 and assigned the adaptation to DeWitt Bodeen and subsequently sold to 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 .

The runtime movie is overlong and results to be a little bit boring because happens little adventures ; however , being very interesting and thought-provoking . Cinematography by Robert Krasker (superproductions' photographer of the 60s) is riveting . Anthony Hopkins musical score is fascinating . Acting as ship commander and direction by recently deceased Peter Ustinov is excellent . Rating: 7.5/10 , above average . It's a thoughtful and thought-provoking movie . Well worth watching

16 of 21 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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