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 (Sir Peter Ustinov). He relies on his cruel and often sadistic Master-at-Arms John Claggert (Robert Ryan) to maintain what he believes to be tenuous order and discipline aboard the ship. When a new seaman, Billy Budd (Terence Stamp), is pressed into service from a passing merchantman, his innocent, happy-go-lucky attitude quickly endears him to 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.
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TERENCE STAMP A new face! A new talent! A great new star discovery!
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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
William O'Daniel, maintopman
[After Jenkons' burial at sea
Well, that's the end of Enoch Jenkins. Over the side he goes and his mates soon forget him.
Alan Payne, maintopman
They'll not forget him so soon, I'm thinking.
The Dansker, sailmaker
Ah, whatever happened to Jenkins, he ain't worried now. He got a hundred fathoms between him and the troubles of his life.
I'd rather be buried at sea than on the shore when I come to die. Will you stand by the plank, mates, so I can shake a friendly hand before I sink?
[After a pause, they all laugh
and introducing / Terrence Stamp See more
Version of Billy Budd