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Billy Budd (1962)

Approved | | Adventure, Drama, War | 12 November 1962 (USA)
Trailer
3:01 | Trailer
Billy Budd 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.

Director:

Peter Ustinov

Writers:

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

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Robert Ryan ... John Claggart - Master of Arms
Peter Ustinov ... Edwin Fairfax Vere - Post Captain Royal Navy
Melvyn Douglas ... The Dansker - Sailmaker
Paul Rogers ... Philip Seymour - First Lieutenant
John Neville ... Julian Radcliffe - Second Lieutenant
David McCallum ... Steven Wyatt - Gunnery Officer
Ronald Lewis ... Enoch Jenkins - Maintopman
Lee Montague ... Squeak - Assistant to Mr. Claggart
Thomas Heathcote ... Alan Payne - Maintopman
Ray McAnally ... William O'Daniel - Maintopman (as Ray McAnnally)
Robert Brown ... Arnold Talbot - Maintopman
John Meillon ... Neil Kincaid - Maintopman
Cyril Luckham ... Alfred Hallam - Captain of Marines
Niall MacGinnis ... Nathaniel Graveling - Ship's Master, Rights of Man (as Niall McGinnis)
Victor Brooks 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 (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. Written by Gabe Taverney (duke1029@aol.com)

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

MUTINY...the word the navy dreaded most! See more »

Genres:

Adventure | Drama | War

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Terence Stamp stated that he was disconcerted by Robert Ryan keeping him at a distance during filming. He later realized that this had been done deliberately to create the right tension between their characters. See more »

Goofs

Captain Vere uses a book to shield his eyes when he stares up at Billy on the mast, but his face is still in full sunlight. See more »

Quotes

[Billy and the Dansker have just witnessed a flogging]
Billy Budd: What was his crime?
The Dansker, sailmaker: Any one of many possible reasons.
Billy Budd: You mean you don't know what he did?
The Dansker, sailmaker: Flogging. The only solution to every problem. I warrant even the culprit himself doesn't know! It was just... his... turn!
See more »

Crazy Credits

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

Connections

Version of Beau travail (1999) See more »

User Reviews

 
Ryan's 'Claggart ' Unfogettable
12 March 2006 | by ccthemovieman-1See all my reviews

A nice, innocent kid getting brutalized by an incredibly-sadistic 1700s ship officer is not always easy to watch, but this is one of the better under-publicized films of its day. It sill holds up, some 40-plus years later, and I'm still wondering when a DVD will come out. The great cinematography alone makes this cry out for a good DVD transfer.

It was an apt choice to cast Robert Ryan as the sadistic "Claggart." Ryan played mostly villains in his career and is extremely effective in that role here as an intelligent-but-sick-and-vicious bully. In fact, his character in Billy Budd remains one of the most memorable villains I've seen in a half century of movie watching. It isn't just his deeds. The looks on his face alone as he delivers his lines make him fascinating.

Peter Ustinov gives a great performance as the captain of the ship and a man who has to make a big, big decision about Mr. Budd, played by a young and boyish-looking Terrence Stamp. The character "Billy Budd" is about as pure and innocent as some of the characters Jennifer Jones played in the 1940s, such as Cluny Brown, Bernadette Soubirous or Jennie Appleton. Also of interest is Melvyn Douglas as the aging seaman.

This is simply a powerful and very involving film, one that is hard to forget.


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Frequently Asked Questions

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Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

12 November 1962 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Billy Budd See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Anglo Allied See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »

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