7.9/10
3,487
54 user 18 critic

Billy Budd (1962)

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

On TV

Airs Fri. Feb. 01, 10:15 AM on TCM

ON DISC
Billy Budd (Terence Stamp) 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:

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

Genres:

Adventure | Drama | War

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

12 November 1962 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Die Verdammten der Meere See more »

Company Credits

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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Did You Know?

Trivia

Herman Melville had been writing poetry for thirty years when he returned to fiction with "Billy Budd" in late 1888. Still unfinished when he died in 1891, it was forgotten. Melville's biographer accidentally stumbled upon it when going through a trunk of Melville's papers in his granddaughter's New Jersey house in 1919. Melville's widow worked to help complete it, and it was finally published in 1924. Over the years, other unsatisfactory versions were published, but it wasn't until Melville's original notes were found that the definitive version was ultimately published in 1962. Coincidentally, Sir Peter Ustinov's movie version was released the same year. See more »

Goofs

After the trial, the captain speaks with Budd below decks. In some shots Billy's head cast a long shadow on his left shoulder. In others, a short one. Then his head's shadow is on his right shoulder. See more »

Quotes

Captain Vere: You know Seymour, there are some men who cannot stand too much perfection. They see it as a disease, which must be stamped out at it's first rash showing.
See more »

Crazy Credits

and introducing / Terrence Stamp See more »

Connections

Featured in The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Under-rated Melville Classic!
11 October 2004 | by shepardjessica-1See all my reviews

Nothing can touch the book (quality-wise), but this Ustinov-directed epic of '62 is clearly under-rated for it's time with some fine performances with beautiful B/W cinematography. Ustinov also plays Captain Vere in a subdued and strange performance. Robert Ryan (superb actor is right on the money as Claggart. Terence Stamp (in his film debut, I believe) is the perfect Billy Budd and well deserving of his supporting Oscar nomination.

An 8 out of 10. Best performance = Terence Stamp. Melvyn Douglas is crusty as usual and David McCallum is well-cast and officious. This was adapted from one of the classic American novels so the film could only be criticized rightfully, but a stunning achievement in retrospect!


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