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Billy Budd (1962)

Approved | | Adventure, Drama, War | 12 November 1962 (USA)
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Billy 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 »
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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 Lee Montague ... Squeak - Assistant to Mr. Claggart
Thomas Heathcote 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. He relies on his cruel and often sadistic Master-at-Arms John Claggert to maintain what he believes to be tenuous order and discipline aboard the ship. When a new seaman, Billy Budd, is pressed into service from a passing merchantman, his innocent, happy-go-lucky attitude quickly endears him to both 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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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

Robert Ryan and John Neville became close friends during the shoot. In 1967, as Artistic Director of the Nottingham Playhouse, Neville was able to fulfill Ryan's ambition to play "Long Day's Journey Into Night", and "Othello" on stage. 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

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.
Billy Budd: 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]
Billy Budd: .
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 Billy Budd (1998) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

an almost Biblical like morality play
23 December 2003 | by dtucker86See all my reviews

Most people remember Herman Melville as the author of Moby Dick. Its hard to believe that when Melville's novel came out that most critics gave it negative reviews and it basically ended Melville's career. He spent most of the rest of his life working as a customs inspector on the New York city docks and was forgotten when he died. It was only after his death that his greatness was realized. Melville died in 1891, but Billy Budd wasn't published until 1924. A man named Raymond Weaver found the manuscript. I first read BB as a student in high school and I read it again in college. It is a wonderful book with symbolism and a message like the film Saving Silverman (with its message about the power of friedship). Billy Budd is a sort of Christ like figure (in the book Melville says that sailors took pieces of the scaffold where he was hanged as they would a fragment of the Cross). John Claggart is evil incarnate, some people have said his initials JC mean he is an anti-Christ. Captain Vere was forced to make a terrible decision to hang the beloved young sailor after he accidentally killed Claggart. Claggart knew that Billy had a speech impediment when he was scared and accused him of treason and Billy fatally struck him. I hated what they did to him, but it was sort of like reading about the Crucifixtion. I don't know what Herman Melville's religious beliefs were, but he wrote a tale like a Biblical morality play that I will always remember. Peter Ustinov is a real giant among actors. He is a director a writer and a true man of the world (he has won two Academy Awards for his acting). He did such a wonderful job directing this film, its a shame he never directed another. He is wonderful as the Conscience stricken Captain Vere. Terence Stamp was just getting started in films and gives a fine performance as Billy Budd. He does a wonderful job portraying Billy naiveness and goodness. Robert Ryan is also excellent as the evil and sinister Claggart. Ryan was excellent at playing bad guys like Colonel Breed in The Dirty Dozen, but he was never better here. Claggart is evil with a human face. I remember one scene where he orders a sailor savagely whipped and you see by his facial expression that he is almost sexually aroused at the site. You think to yourself how sick this man really is. He even wears black throughout the film. What is interesting to me reading Melville's book is that it was written a century before the term "serial killer" "psychopath" and "sociopath" were even coined and yet yet, there is a part of the book where he describes the fiendish Claggart and it is one of the best defintions of the sociopathic mind ever written! Melville really was a genius. There is a man named Harold Schechter who has written a number of books on famous serial killers and he quoted Melville's book in one of them. I wrote to him and he said that Melville was such a genius that it didn't suprise him that he was able to define what a sociopath and a diabolical mind was a century before FBI profilers did. In fact, his defintion could fit Lieutenant Loren Singer on JAG. She was a diabolical mind as well.


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