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Moby Dick Details


Previous film versions of insisted upon including such imbecilities as romantic subplots and happy endings. John Huston's 1956 remains admirably faithful to its source. "Call me Ishmael" declares itinerant whaler Richard Basehart as the opening credits fade. Though slightly intimidated by the sermon delivered by Father Mapple (Orson Welles in a brilliant one-take cameo), who warns that those who challenge the sea are in danger of losing their souls, Ishmael nonetheless signs on to the Pequod, a whaling ship captained by the brooding, one-legged Ahab (Gregory Peck). For lo these many years, Ahab has been engaged in an obsessive pursuit of Moby Dick, the great white whale to whom he lost his leg. Ahab's dementia spreads throughout the crew members, who maniacally join their captain in his final, fatal attack upon the elusive, enigmatic Moby Dick. Screenwriter Ray Bradbury masterfully captures the allegorical elements in the Herman Melville original without sacrificing any of the film's entertainment value (Bradbury suffered his own "great white whale" in the form of director Huston, who sadistically ran roughshod over the sensitive author throughout the film).Cinematographer Oswald Morris' washed-out color scheme brilliantly underlines the foredoomed bleakness of the story. 's one major shortcoming is its obviously artificial whale-but try telling a real whale to stay within camera range and hit its marks. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

  • Release date:June 27, 1956


Awarded by
National Board of Review John Huston Best Director 1956 Winner
New York Film Critics Circle John Huston Best Director 1956 Winner
Directors Guild of America John Huston Best Director 1956 Nominee
National Board of Review Richard Basehart Best Supporting Actor 1956 Winner


Gregory Peck
as Capt. Ahab
Richard Basehart
as Ishmael
Leo Genn
as Starbuck
Harry Andrews
as Stubb
Orson Welles
as Father Mapple
Mervyn Johns
as Peleg
Bernard Miles
as Manxman
Tom Clegg
as Tashtego
Noel Purcell
as Ship's Carpenter
Edric Connor
as Daggoo
Philip Stainton
as Bildad
Royal Dano
as Elijah
James Robertson Justice
as Capt. Boomer
Joseph Tomelty
as Peter Coffin
Christopher Lee
Joan Plowright
Frederick Ledebur
as Queequeg
James Robertson Justice
as Capt. Boomer
Joseph Tomelty
as Peter Coffin


John Huston
John Huston
John Huston
Herman Melville
Book Author
Ray Bradbury
Freddie Francis
Oswald Morris
Philip Stainton
Composer (Music Score)
Louis Levy
Musical Direction/Supervision
Stephen B. Grimes
Art Director
Elizabeth Haffenden
Costume Designer
Robert Clarke
Freddie Francis
Camera Operator