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Moby Dick (1956)

tomatometer

84

Average Rating: 7.1/10
Reviews Counted: 19
Fresh: 16 | Rotten: 3

It may favor spectacle in place of the deeper themes in Herman Melville's novel, but John Huston's Moby Dick still makes for a grand movie adventure.

80

Average Rating: 0/10
Critic Reviews: 5
Fresh: 4 | Rotten: 1

It may favor spectacle in place of the deeper themes in Herman Melville's novel, but John Huston's Moby Dick still makes for a grand movie adventure.

audience

72

liked it
Average Rating: 3.5/5
User Ratings: 8,101

My Rating

Movie Info

Previous film versions of Moby Dick insisted upon including such imbecilities as romantic subplots and happy endings. John Huston's 1956 Moby Dick 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

G,

Drama, Action & Adventure, Classics

John Huston, Ray Bradbury

Jun 19, 2001

MGM

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All Critics (19) | Top Critics (5) | Fresh (16) | Rotten (3) | DVD (4)

One could have plenty of quarrels with this as an adaptation of the Herman Melville novel, but it's still one of the better John Huston films of the 50s.

August 5, 2011 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Moby Dick is certainly the most unusual picture of the year and may well be the best.

August 5, 2011 Full Review Source: TIME Magazine
TIME Magazine
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Moby Dick is interesting more often than exciting, faithful to the time and text more than great theatrical entertainment.

June 2, 2008 Full Review Source: Variety
Variety
Top Critic IconTop Critic

It is often staggeringly good.

June 24, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A rolling and thundering color film that is herewith devoutly recommended as one of the great motion pictures of our times.

March 25, 2006 Full Review Source: New York Times
New York Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

John Huston gives a passionate and faithful rendering of Herman Melville's novel in Moby Dick, aided by a stellar cast.

August 5, 2011 Full Review Source: TV Guide's Movie Guide
TV Guide's Movie Guide

John Huston's long-cherished adaptation of Herman Melville's novel has some wonderful scenes but must be counted as a noble failure.

April 5, 2011 Full Review Source: Radio Times
Radio Times

The film takes flight as a grand chase movie, and leaves its ambition in its wake.

April 5, 2011 Full Review Source: Empire Magazine
Empire Magazine

Even if it is Melville-lite, Moby Dick is a rousing, beautifully conceived old-school production.

October 8, 2010 Full Review Source: EDGE Boston
EDGE Boston

Huston uses his great filmmaking skills to keep things mostly on course.

June 25, 2008 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

It's a considerable achievement, filmed against monstrous physical odds.

May 24, 2003 Full Review Source: Film4
Film4

An interesting interpretation, with Peck as a wounded, pitiful, but dark Ahab.

October 4, 2002
Journal and Courier (Lafayette, IN)

John Huston em mais um de seus grandes momentos.

May 30, 2002 Full Review Source: Cinema em Cena
Cinema em Cena

Huston's film has stellar action sequences and some fine work done in supporting roles, which helps overcome Peck's wooden work as Ahab.

September 4, 2001 Full Review Source: Apollo Guide
Apollo Guide

Audience Reviews for Moby Dick

Peck is a BADASS!
December 24, 2008
kenstachnik

Super Reviewer

A fair stab at adapting the classic novel by science fiction novelist Ray Bradbury, this is still the definitive screen version. Gregory Peck plays nicely against cast as the archetypal obsessive and has plenty of nice period detail. It's also interesting to see where pretty much every sea bound adventure gets it's inspiration...
May 16, 2007
garyX
xGary Xx

Super Reviewer

"A hwite hwale, as big as a mountain of hwite snow." Gregory Peck, after Moby Dick was made, admitted that he was embarrassed by his performance: and rightfully so! Peck has established himself as a paternal figure, and then all of a sudden he needs to play a cold hearted, revenge crazed whaling ship captain. I'm not at all saying that he's bad. Peck overacts to the point of embodying the character of Captain Ahab and conquers every scene he's in. Peck gives one of the definite Hollywood performances of all time.

A major factor in me seeing this was because of Orson Welles, but he disappointingly had only about two to three minutes of actual screen time. Welles is near the beginning, and he sports a preposterously ragged beard and plays a priest who gives a sermon about Jonah and the Whale before the whalers go off to sea. His opening monologue was stupendous, but after that he wasn't there, which made me sad :(. This is the sixth film I've seen him in, others being Citizen Kane, Touch of Evil, The Third Man, The Stranger, and A Man for All Seasons, and I wanted to make a list of my five favorite, but both his performances in A Man for All Seasons and Moby Dick are extremely short, so I'll have to resume my search for other Welles films.

Famous science-fiction author Ray Bradbury (Martian Chronicles/ Fahrenheit 451) wrote the screenplay with John Huston, and like many cinematic adaptations of classic novels, namely The Brothers Karamazov starring Yul Breynner, there's very quick pacing and they skimmed over details. I haven't read the book, but it seemed like they just took out major moments in the plot and used them in the script. What surprised me the most was how well this strategy worked. I was never bored, I never felt like they were insulting my intelligence, and though the dialogue consisted of ye olde english: both the characters and writing conveyed their points well.

This is the fourth John Huston film I've seen, the others being The Maltese Falcon, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, and The African Queen. I see some trends in his directorial style, but it's very difficult for me to put my finger on exactly what it is. I guess it's fair to say that he masterfully balances drama, entertainment, and intelligence, as well as creates great atmosphere. What stands out the most in this one is the stale visuals and a badass giant animatronic whale.

John Huston's Moby Dick starts out introducing a main character, as the novel does, with the famous line "Call me Ishmael", and then doesn't touch on him any further and begins a tale about a whaling ship. I found that to be a bad idea on Huston's part because from the beginning you're expecting to follow Ishmael on his journey, but then you're spontaneously introduced to many different characters with much more depth and then thrown into the madness of Captain Ahab. Other than the storytelling flaw early in the film, I found little wrong with anything else. 98/100
November 12, 2010
Over the Rising Sun
Simeon Deutsch

Super Reviewer

Gregory Peck is a force to be reckoned with in this very faithful version of the classic novel.
April 13, 2009
SunilJawahir

Super Reviewer

    1. Capt. Ahab: I'll follow him around the Horn, and around the Norway maelstrom, and around perdition's flames before I give him up.
    – Submitted by Adam O (15 months ago)
    1. Capt. Ahab: From hell's heart I stab at thee; for hate's sake I spit my last breath at thee. Ye damned whale.
    – Submitted by Adam O (15 months ago)
    1. Ishmael: Call me Ishmael.
    – Submitted by Adam O (15 months ago)
    1. Ishmael: He did not feel the wind, or smell the salt air. He only stood, staring at the horizon, with the marks of some inner crucifixion and woe deep in his face.
    – Submitted by Adam O (15 months ago)
    1. Capt. Ahab: By heavens man, we are turned round and round in this world, like yonder windlass, and fate is the handspike.
    – Submitted by Adam O (15 months ago)
View all quotes (5)

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