122 user 52 critic

Moby Dick (1956)

Not Rated | | Adventure, Drama | 3 October 1956 (Portugal)
The sole survivor of a lost whaling ship relates the tale of his captain's self-destructive obsession to hunt the white whale, Moby Dick.


John Huston


Ray Bradbury (screenplay), John Huston (screenplay)

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5 wins & 4 nominations. See more awards »




Cast overview, first billed only:
Gregory Peck ... Captain Ahab
Richard Basehart ... Ishmael
Leo Genn ... Starbuck
James Robertson Justice ... Capt. Boomer
Harry Andrews ... Stubb
Bernard Miles ... The Manxman
Noel Purcell ... Ship's Carpenter
Edric Connor Edric Connor ... Daggoo
Mervyn Johns ... Peleg
Joseph Tomelty Joseph Tomelty ... Peter Coffin
Francis De Wolff Francis De Wolff ... Capt. Gardiner
Philip Stainton Philip Stainton ... Bildad
Royal Dano ... 'Elijah'
Seamus Kelly Seamus Kelly ... Flask
Friedrich von Ledebur ... Queequeg (as Friedrich Ledebur)


This classic story by Herman Melville revolves around Captain Ahab and his obsession with a huge whale, Moby Dick. The whale caused the loss of Ahab's leg years before, leaving Ahab to stomp the boards of his ship on a peg leg. Ahab is so crazed by his desire to kill the whale, that he is prepared to sacrifice everything, including his life, the lives of his crew members, and even his ship to find and destroy his nemesis, Moby Dick. Written by E.W. DesMarais <jlongst@aol.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Starbuck He bet his fears and his faith against the fury of Captain Ahab! See more »


Adventure | Drama


Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »






Release Date:

3 October 1956 (Portugal) See more »

Also Known As:

Herman Melville's Moby Dick See more »

Filming Locations:

UK See more »


Box Office


$4,500,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


| (TCM print)

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound Recording)



Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


When Richard Basehart's Ishmael is walking into the Youghal. County Cork, location of New Bedford in the opening scene, the first shot is from the top of Powetscourt waterfall, County Wicklow, a mere 251 kms up the road! See more »


When the white whale rams the ship, the main mast breaks and comes down, crow's-nest and all, hitting the cabin boy. The whale circles the ship creating a whirlpool; when we see wider shots of the ship spinning and sinking, the mast is back up. See more »


[first lines]
Ishmael: [voiceover] Call me Ishmael.
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Crazy Credits

The film finishes with 'Finis' instead of the usual 'The End'. See more »


Featured in Hustle (1975) See more »


We're All Bound To Go
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Huston's Treasure of the Sea
15 October 2001 | by gvb0907See all my reviews

In the 1960s English professors and film critics delighted in bashing this film. The professors took the line that the movie wasn't Melville, while the critics dismissed Peck's interpretation of Captain Ahab as "stiff." Neither view holds up well today.

Huston's "Moby Dick" isn't the whole book, but what film is? Though he doesn't give you the breadth or the depth, Huston does deliver much of the spirit and heart of the novel. The production values are splendid and the supporting players outstanding. No one can top Orson Welles as Father Mapple, but Leo Genn's Starbuck comes close. My only complaint is with Richard Basehart, who was a good actor but at 42 much too old for Ishmael, who I believe is in his early 20s. Stray thought - I wonder what James Dean would have done with Ishmael?

As for Peck, who else could have attempted this role in the mid-50s? John Wayne? Gary Cooper? Let's be serious. Sterling Hayden (who actually was quite a sailor) had the proper face and frame, but Hayden was never a box office draw and likely wasn't considered. More to the point, Peck was a much better actor. Though a bit young for Ahab, he certainly conveys both the man's insanity and his magnetism, which of course are inseparable. In so many films ("Twelve O'Clock High", "Pork Chop Hill", "The Guns of Navarone"), Peck was nothing if not a leader. Here he leads convincingly, which is essential, for Ahab is not Captain Quegg. In spite of everything Ahab's men do not mutiny, they follow him down, and with Peck in the role you accept it. Was he stiff? Well, try walking around with a pegleg. You'll probably feel a bit stiff yourself. Better to call Peck's Ahab rigid and unflinching, qualities that are central to the character. I have not seen Patrick Stewart's interpretation, but I doubt his Ahab achieves either Peck's demonic fury or his stone-hearted resolve.

There have been few better films of life at sea and few better interpretations of classic literature. "Moby Dick" is a treasure grown richer with age.

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