Moby Dick

1956, Movie, NR, 116 mins

Review

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Not too sea-worthy. John Huston gives a passionate and faithful rendering of Herman Melville's novel in MOBY DICK, aided by a stellar cast. The film opens as a man (Richard Basehart) enters the whaling town of New Bedford in 1840, and, in voiceover, makes the famous declaration "Call me Ishmael." He signs on board the Pequod, commanded by peg-legged Capt. Ahab (Gregory Peck). Once under way, the wild-eyed, stony, horribly scarred Ahab assembles his crew to tell them that this will be no routine whaling expedition but a mission of vengeance against the great white whale Moby Dick, which tore off his leg and scarred him for life. He whips them into a frenzy, and when Moby Dick is finally sighted, the crew is as obsessed with killing it as Ahab is. Filmed at considerable danger to cast and crew, MOBY DICK, under Huston's strong direction, is one of the most historically authentic, visually stunning, and powerful adventures ever made. Inevitably, many critics disagreed with Huston's interpretation of Melville's classic. Two fishbones to pick: Peck and Genn's miscasting. But there's Welles in rare form, fine whaling scenes, the first glimpse of Moby Dick, good use of color (akin to old whaling prints) and a literate adaptation by Ray Bradbury. When MOBY is good, it's a whale of a time. Huston received the New York Film Critics Best Director Award. leave a comment

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