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.

Director:

John Huston

Writers:

Ray Bradbury (screenplay), John Huston (screenplay)
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5 wins & 4 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

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 ... 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)
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Storyline

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

Taglines:

The Man- The Whale- The Vengeance- The Mightiest Adventure Ever Seen "Never such a sight! Never such a might!"; "Captain Ahab The White Whale nearly destroyed him - and no one would rest till the White Whale was dead!"; "Ishmael Handsome, romantic - the look of a poet, the courage of a giant!"; "Starbuck He bet his fears and his faith against the fury of Captain Ahab!"; "Queequeg Cannibal-turned-harpooner - his fierce strength as strange as his mystic tattoo!"; "Father Mapple The blood-and-thunder preacher who roared his warnings to the waiting women!"; "Tashtego The silent Indian --- when hunting buffalo became too tame, he went after Moby Dick!"; "There Is No Might Like The Might Of Moby Dick!"; "Filmed with a spectacular new development in color by TECHNICOLO See more »

Genres:

Adventure | Drama

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Gregory Peck's few attempts to play a villain were considered unsuccessful, perhaps because the public could not accept Peck as anything other than good. He was considered too young at 38 to play Captain Ahab in Moby Dick (1956), especially since the character was described in Herman Melville's novel as an old man. See more »

Goofs

Airplane contrails are visible in the background when Starbuck plans to shoot Ahab. See more »

Quotes

[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 »

Connections

Spoofed in Dopey Dick, the Pink Whale (1957) See more »

Soundtracks

Blood Red Roses
(uncredited)
Traditional
Arranged by Albert Lloyd
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User Reviews

A Fine Job of Filming a Challenging Novel
20 September 2004 | by Snow LeopardSee all my reviews

It would be impossible to make a movie that came up to the standard of the novel "Moby-Dick", but this film does a fine job of capturing some of the most important themes, and of telling a selection of the key parts of the story in an interesting way. It would be a temptation for any film-maker to put the focus on the action and the special effects, and thus ruin the heart of the book by downplaying its themes, as so many recent films have done with other classic material. Instead, John Huston's version concentrates on bringing out many of the complex internal and external conflicts of Captain Ahab, in sketching the crew members and their reactions to Ahab's monomania, and in portraying the atmosphere of frequent tedium, growing tension, and occasional dread aboard the 'Pequod'.

Richard Basehart's mild, pleasant demeanor makes Ishmael an appropriate mirror for the events and characters on the ship. Gregory Peck does rather well in the very challenging role of Ahab. Ahab is one of the most carefully-designed and demanding characters in literature, and lesser actors would simply be an embarrassment in the part. On screen, there is much to Ahab that just does not come across, and Peck's performance has to be judged with that in mind.

Leo Genn makes his scenes as Starbuck count, and several of the other crew members are portrayed well, albeit in much smaller parts. As Father Mapple, Orson Welles has only one scene, but it is an important one, in that it sets up some of the vital themes of the story ahead. Welles was an ideal choice, and his scene in the church is one scene that does come up to the high standard of Melville's novel.

While there may indeed be some areas in which this version falls short, and it's fair to point them out, it would be pretty difficult to improve on it in a cinema version of the story. And if taken on its own, it fits together well, making generally good choices as to what material would fit together and would work on screen, and in using the photography and settings to create the right atmosphere. For those who appreciate the depth of the original story, this has more than enough to make it worth watching.


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Frequently Asked Questions

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Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

3 April 1959 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Herman Melville's Moby Dick See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$4,500,000 (estimated)
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (TCM print)

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound Recording)

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
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