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Moby Dick (Warner 1956, Gregory Peck, Richard Basehart)



After making a number of fine films based on good, yet hardly classic novels, John Huston decided to tackle ‘the big one,’ Herman Melville’s monumental classic of one man’s obsession with a great white whale. Huston chose fantasy writer Bradbury to adapt the story and cast Gregory Peck as the maniacal Captain Ahab, leaving ashore most of the ruminations about man’s quarrel with God to concentrate on the action and adventure. The results are better than might have been expected, despite a performance by Peck as stiff as his whalebone peg leg.

The film looks terrific (Huston shot the film in an experimental color process to simulate the look of 19th-century wood engravings), with good performances by Basehart as Ishmael, Welles in a cameo as Father Mapple, and Austrian count Ledebur as a sympathetic Queequeg, the harpooner from the South Seas. The excellent music is by English symphonic composer Philip Stainton, his only film score, and considered the major composition of his career.

production details
USA | Warner Bros. | 116 minutes | 1956

Producer and Director: John Huston
Cinematography: Oswald Morris
Editor: Russell Lloyd
Music: Philip Stainton
Script: Ray Bradbury, John Huston
Production Design: Stephen B. Grimes
Art Direction: Ralph Brinton, Stephen B. Grimes

Gregory Peck as Captain Ahab
Richard Basehart as Ishmael
Leo Genn as Starbuck
James Robertson Justice as Captain Boomer
Harry Andrews as Stubbs
Bernard Miles as The Manxman
Friedrich von Ledebur as Queequeg
Mervyn Johns as Peleg
Orson Welles as Father Mapple
John Huston as Barman