Moby Dick (1956 film)
Overview
Moby Dick is a 1956 film adaptation of Herman Melville
Herman Melville
Herman Melville was an American novelist, short story writer, essayist, and poet. He is best known for his novel Moby-Dick and the posthumous novella Billy Budd....

's novel Moby-Dick
Moby-Dick
Moby-Dick; or, The Whale, was written by American author Herman Melville and first published in 1851. It is considered by some to be a Great American Novel and a treasure of world literature. The story tells the adventures of wandering sailor Ishmael, and his voyage on the whaleship Pequod,...

. It was directed by John Huston
John Huston
John Marcellus Huston was an American film director, screenwriter and actor. He wrote most of the 37 feature films he directed, many of which are today considered classics: The Maltese Falcon , The Treasure of the Sierra Madre , Key Largo , The Asphalt Jungle , The African Queen , Moulin Rouge...

 with a screenplay by Ray Bradbury
Ray Bradbury
Ray Douglas Bradbury is an American fantasy, horror, science fiction, and mystery writer. Best known for his dystopian novel Fahrenheit 451 and for the science fiction stories gathered together as The Martian Chronicles and The Illustrated Man , Bradbury is one of the most celebrated among 20th...

 and the director. The film starred Gregory Peck
Gregory Peck
Eldred Gregory Peck was an American actor.One of 20th Century Fox's most popular film stars from the 1940s to the 1960s, Peck continued to play important roles well into the 1980s. His notable performances include that of Atticus Finch in the 1962 film To Kill a Mockingbird, for which he won an...

, Richard Basehart
Richard Basehart
John Richard Basehart was an American actor. He starred in the 1960s television science fiction drama Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, in the role of Admiral Harriman Nelson.-Career:...

, and Leo Genn
Leo Genn
- Early life :He was born at 144 Kyverdale Road, Stamford Hill, Hackney, London, England to a Jewish family. His father, Woolfe Genn, was a jewellery salesman and the maiden name of his mother, Rachel, was Asserson....

. It was rated a PG (Parental Guidance) by the British Board of Film Classification or shortened to BBFC but rated a 15 by the Film Censors Office.

The music score was written by Philip Sainton
Philip Sainton
Philip Prosper Sainton was a British–French composer, conductor, and violist.-Biography:He was born in Arques-la-Bataille, in Seine-Maritime, France, grandson to violinist Prosper Sainton and contralto Charlotte Helen Sainton-Dolby. He started his music studies learning the violin...

.
  • Gregory Peck
    Gregory Peck
    Eldred Gregory Peck was an American actor.One of 20th Century Fox's most popular film stars from the 1940s to the 1960s, Peck continued to play important roles well into the 1980s. His notable performances include that of Atticus Finch in the 1962 film To Kill a Mockingbird, for which he won an...

     as Captain Ahab
  • Richard Basehart
    Richard Basehart
    John Richard Basehart was an American actor. He starred in the 1960s television science fiction drama Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, in the role of Admiral Harriman Nelson.-Career:...

     as Ishmael
  • Leo Genn
    Leo Genn
    - Early life :He was born at 144 Kyverdale Road, Stamford Hill, Hackney, London, England to a Jewish family. His father, Woolfe Genn, was a jewellery salesman and the maiden name of his mother, Rachel, was Asserson....

     as Starbuck
  • James Robertson Justice
    James Robertson Justice
    James Robertson Justice was a popular British character actor in British films of the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s.-Biography:...

     as Captain Boomer
  • Harry Andrews
    Harry Andrews
    Harry Fleetwood Andrews, CBE was an English film actor known for his frequent portrayals of tough military officers. His performance as Sergeant Major Wilson in The Hill alongside Sean Connery earned Andrews the 1965 National Board of Review Award for Best Supporting Actor and a nomination for the...

     as Stubb
  • Bernard Miles
    Bernard Miles
    Bernard James Miles, Baron Miles, CBE was an English character actor, writer and director. He opened the Mermaid Theatre in London in 1959, the first new theatre opened in the City of London since the 17th century....

     as The Manxman
  • Noel Purcell
    Noel Purcell (actor)
    Noel Purcell was an Irish film and television actor.-Career:Purcell began his show business career at the age of 12 in Dublin's Gaiety Theatre. Later, he toured Ireland in a vaudeville act with Jimmy O'Dea....

     as Ship's Carpenter
  • Edric Connor
    Edric Connor
    Edric Connor was a pioneering calypso singer, folklorist and actor who was born in Mayaro, Trinidad in 1913...

     as Daggoo
  • Mervyn Johns
    Mervyn Johns
    Mervyn Johns was a Welsh film and television character actor. He was a mainstay of Ealing Studios.Among his dozens of film roles were Walter Craig in Dead of Night , the Church Warden in Went the Day Well? and Bob Cratchit in Scrooge...

     as Peleg
  • Joseph Tomelty
    Joseph Tomelty
    Joseph Tomelty was a Northern Irish character actor and playwright. He worked in film, television, radio and on the stage, starring in Sam Thompson's 1960 play Over the Bridge.-Early life:...

     as Peter Coffin
  • Francis de Wolff
    Francis de Wolff
    Francis de Wolff was an English character actor. Large, bearded, and beetle-browed, he was often cast as villains in both film and television....

     as Captain Gardiner
  • Philip Stainton as Bildad
  • Royal Dano
    Royal Dano
    Royal Edward Dano was an American film and television character actor.-Early life:Dano was born in New York City to Mary Josephine , an Irish immigrant, and Caleb Edward Dano, a printer for newspapers. He reportedly left home at the age of twelve and at various intervals, lived in Florida, Texas...

     as Elijah
  • Seamus Kelly as Flask
  • Friedrich von Ledebur
    Friedrich von Ledebur
    Graf Friedrich Anton Maria Hubertus Bonifacius von Ledebur-Wicheln was an actor who was known for Moby Dick , Alexander the Great and Slaughterhouse-Five .Ledebur was born in Austria-Hungary in 1900...

     as Queequeg
  • Orson Welles
    Orson Welles
    George Orson Welles , best known as Orson Welles, was an American film director, actor, theatre director, screenwriter, and producer, who worked extensively in film, theatre, television and radio...

     as Father Mapple


Peck was initially surprised to be cast as Ahab (part of the studio's agreement to fund the film was that Huston use a "name" actor as Ahab).
Encyclopedia
Moby Dick is a 1956 film adaptation of Herman Melville
Herman Melville
Herman Melville was an American novelist, short story writer, essayist, and poet. He is best known for his novel Moby-Dick and the posthumous novella Billy Budd....

's novel Moby-Dick
Moby-Dick
Moby-Dick; or, The Whale, was written by American author Herman Melville and first published in 1851. It is considered by some to be a Great American Novel and a treasure of world literature. The story tells the adventures of wandering sailor Ishmael, and his voyage on the whaleship Pequod,...

. It was directed by John Huston
John Huston
John Marcellus Huston was an American film director, screenwriter and actor. He wrote most of the 37 feature films he directed, many of which are today considered classics: The Maltese Falcon , The Treasure of the Sierra Madre , Key Largo , The Asphalt Jungle , The African Queen , Moulin Rouge...

 with a screenplay by Ray Bradbury
Ray Bradbury
Ray Douglas Bradbury is an American fantasy, horror, science fiction, and mystery writer. Best known for his dystopian novel Fahrenheit 451 and for the science fiction stories gathered together as The Martian Chronicles and The Illustrated Man , Bradbury is one of the most celebrated among 20th...

 and the director. The film starred Gregory Peck
Gregory Peck
Eldred Gregory Peck was an American actor.One of 20th Century Fox's most popular film stars from the 1940s to the 1960s, Peck continued to play important roles well into the 1980s. His notable performances include that of Atticus Finch in the 1962 film To Kill a Mockingbird, for which he won an...

, Richard Basehart
Richard Basehart
John Richard Basehart was an American actor. He starred in the 1960s television science fiction drama Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, in the role of Admiral Harriman Nelson.-Career:...

, and Leo Genn
Leo Genn
- Early life :He was born at 144 Kyverdale Road, Stamford Hill, Hackney, London, England to a Jewish family. His father, Woolfe Genn, was a jewellery salesman and the maiden name of his mother, Rachel, was Asserson....

. It was rated a PG (Parental Guidance) by the British Board of Film Classification or shortened to BBFC but rated a 15 by the Film Censors Office.

The music score was written by Philip Sainton
Philip Sainton
Philip Prosper Sainton was a British–French composer, conductor, and violist.-Biography:He was born in Arques-la-Bataille, in Seine-Maritime, France, grandson to violinist Prosper Sainton and contralto Charlotte Helen Sainton-Dolby. He started his music studies learning the violin...

.

Cast

  • Gregory Peck
    Gregory Peck
    Eldred Gregory Peck was an American actor.One of 20th Century Fox's most popular film stars from the 1940s to the 1960s, Peck continued to play important roles well into the 1980s. His notable performances include that of Atticus Finch in the 1962 film To Kill a Mockingbird, for which he won an...

     as Captain Ahab
  • Richard Basehart
    Richard Basehart
    John Richard Basehart was an American actor. He starred in the 1960s television science fiction drama Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, in the role of Admiral Harriman Nelson.-Career:...

     as Ishmael
  • Leo Genn
    Leo Genn
    - Early life :He was born at 144 Kyverdale Road, Stamford Hill, Hackney, London, England to a Jewish family. His father, Woolfe Genn, was a jewellery salesman and the maiden name of his mother, Rachel, was Asserson....

     as Starbuck
  • James Robertson Justice
    James Robertson Justice
    James Robertson Justice was a popular British character actor in British films of the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s.-Biography:...

     as Captain Boomer
  • Harry Andrews
    Harry Andrews
    Harry Fleetwood Andrews, CBE was an English film actor known for his frequent portrayals of tough military officers. His performance as Sergeant Major Wilson in The Hill alongside Sean Connery earned Andrews the 1965 National Board of Review Award for Best Supporting Actor and a nomination for the...

     as Stubb
  • Bernard Miles
    Bernard Miles
    Bernard James Miles, Baron Miles, CBE was an English character actor, writer and director. He opened the Mermaid Theatre in London in 1959, the first new theatre opened in the City of London since the 17th century....

     as The Manxman
  • Noel Purcell
    Noel Purcell (actor)
    Noel Purcell was an Irish film and television actor.-Career:Purcell began his show business career at the age of 12 in Dublin's Gaiety Theatre. Later, he toured Ireland in a vaudeville act with Jimmy O'Dea....

     as Ship's Carpenter
  • Edric Connor
    Edric Connor
    Edric Connor was a pioneering calypso singer, folklorist and actor who was born in Mayaro, Trinidad in 1913...

     as Daggoo
  • Mervyn Johns
    Mervyn Johns
    Mervyn Johns was a Welsh film and television character actor. He was a mainstay of Ealing Studios.Among his dozens of film roles were Walter Craig in Dead of Night , the Church Warden in Went the Day Well? and Bob Cratchit in Scrooge...

     as Peleg
  • Joseph Tomelty
    Joseph Tomelty
    Joseph Tomelty was a Northern Irish character actor and playwright. He worked in film, television, radio and on the stage, starring in Sam Thompson's 1960 play Over the Bridge.-Early life:...

     as Peter Coffin
  • Francis de Wolff
    Francis de Wolff
    Francis de Wolff was an English character actor. Large, bearded, and beetle-browed, he was often cast as villains in both film and television....

     as Captain Gardiner
  • Philip Stainton as Bildad
  • Royal Dano
    Royal Dano
    Royal Edward Dano was an American film and television character actor.-Early life:Dano was born in New York City to Mary Josephine , an Irish immigrant, and Caleb Edward Dano, a printer for newspapers. He reportedly left home at the age of twelve and at various intervals, lived in Florida, Texas...

     as Elijah
  • Seamus Kelly as Flask
  • Friedrich von Ledebur
    Friedrich von Ledebur
    Graf Friedrich Anton Maria Hubertus Bonifacius von Ledebur-Wicheln was an actor who was known for Moby Dick , Alexander the Great and Slaughterhouse-Five .Ledebur was born in Austria-Hungary in 1900...

     as Queequeg
  • Orson Welles
    Orson Welles
    George Orson Welles , best known as Orson Welles, was an American film director, actor, theatre director, screenwriter, and producer, who worked extensively in film, theatre, television and radio...

     as Father Mapple


Peck was initially surprised to be cast as Ahab (part of the studio's agreement to fund the film was that Huston use a "name" actor as Ahab). Peck later commented that he felt Huston himself should have played Ahab. Ironically, Huston had originally intended to cast his own father, the actor Walter Huston
Walter Huston
Walter Thomas Huston was a Canadian-born American actor. He was the father of actor and director John Huston and the grandfather of actress Anjelica Huston and actor Danny Huston.-Life and career:...

 in the role, but his father had died by the time the film was made. Peck went on to play the role of Father Mapple in the 1998 television miniseries adaptation of Melville's novel, with Patrick Stewart
Patrick Stewart
Sir Patrick Hewes Stewart, OBE is an English film, television and stage actor, who has had a distinguished career in theatre and television for around half a century...

 as Ahab.

Welles later used the salary from his cameo to fund his own stage production of Moby Dick, in which Rod Steiger
Rod Steiger
Rodney Stephen "Rod" Steiger was an Academy Award-winning American actor known for his performances in such films as On the Waterfront, The Big Knife, Oklahoma!, The Harder They Fall, Across the Bridge, The Pawnbroker, Doctor Zhivago, In the Heat of the Night, and Waterloo as well as the...

 played Captain Ahab.

The Pequod was portrayed by, appropriately, the Moby Dick. Built in England in 1887 as the Ryelands, the ship came into the hands of the film industry in the 50s, and was also used in Treasure Island
Treasure Island (1950 film)
Treasure Island is a 1950 Disney adventure film, adapted from the Robert Louis Stevenson's novel Treasure Island. It starred Bobby Driscoll as Jim Hawkins, and Robert Newton as Long John Silver...

. It was destroyed by fire in Morecambe
Morecambe
Morecambe is a resort town and civil parish within the City of Lancaster in Lancashire, England. As of 2001 it has a resident population of 38,917. It faces into Morecambe Bay...

, England
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

 in 1972.

The schooner
Schooner
A schooner is a type of sailing vessel characterized by the use of fore-and-aft sails on two or more masts with the forward mast being no taller than the rear masts....

s used were Harvest King and James Postlethwaite, both registered in Arklow
Arklow
Arklow , also known as Inbhear Dé from the Avonmore river's older name Abhainn Dé, is a historic town located in County Wicklow on the east coast of Ireland. Founded by the Vikings in the ninth century, Arklow was the site of one of the bloodiest battles of the 1798 rebellion...


Production

During a meeting to discuss the screenplay, Ray Bradbury informed John Huston that regarding Melville's novel, he had "never been able to read the damned thing". According to the biography The Bradbury Chronicles, there was much tension and anger between the two men during the making of the film, allegedly due to Huston's bullying attitude and attempts to tell Bradbury how to do his job, despite Bradbury being an accomplished writer. Bradbury's novel Green Shadows, White Whale
Green Shadows, White Whale
Green Shadows, White Whale is a 1992 novel by Ray Bradbury. It gives a fictionalized account of his journey to Ireland in 1953-1954 to write a screen adaptation of the novel Moby-Dick with director John Huston. Bradbury has said he wrote it after reading actress Katharine Hepburn's account of...

includes a fictionalized version of his writing the screenplay with John Huston in Ireland. Bradbury's short story "Banshee" is another fictionalized account of what it was like to work with Huston on this film. In the television adaptation of the story for The Ray Bradbury Theater
The Ray Bradbury Theater
The Ray Bradbury Theater is an anthology series that ran for two seasons on HBO, three episodes per season from 1985 to 1986, and four additional seasons on USA Network from 1988 to 1992. It was later shown in reruns on the Sci Fi Channel...

the Huston character was played by Peter O'Toole
Peter O'Toole
Peter Seamus Lorcan O'Toole is an Irish actor of stage and screen. O'Toole achieved stardom in 1962 playing T. E. Lawrence in Lawrence of Arabia, and then went on to become a highly-honoured film and stage actor. He has been nominated for eight Academy Awards, and holds the record for most...

 and the Bradbury surrogate by Charles Martin Smith
Charles Martin Smith
Charles Martin Smith is an American film actor, writer, and director.-Early life:Smith was born in Van Nuys, California. His father, Frank Smith, was a film cartoonist and animator, while his uncle Paul J. Smith was an animator as well as a director for the Walter Lantz Studios...

.

Parts of the movie were shot at the sea in front of Caniçal
Caniçal
Caniçal is a civil parish in the municipality of Machico in the Portuguese archipelago of Madeira. In 2001 the population was less than 4000 inhabitants, in an 11.85 km² area of islets and raised escarpments...

, a traditional whaling
Whaling
Whaling is the hunting of whales mainly for meat and oil. Its earliest forms date to at least 3000 BC. Various coastal communities have long histories of sustenance whaling and harvesting beached whales...

 parish in Madeira Islands, Portugal
Portugal
Portugal , officially the Portuguese Republic is a country situated in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula. Portugal is the westernmost country of Europe, and is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the West and South and by Spain to the North and East. The Atlantic archipelagos of the...

, with real action of whaling, done by whalers of Madeira Island. It was also filmed in Las Canteras beach, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria
Las Palmas de Gran Canaria
Las Palmas de Gran Canaria commonly known as Las Palmas is the political capital, jointly with Santa Cruz, the most populous city in the Autonomous Community of the Canary Islands and the ninth largest city in Spain, with a population of 383,308 in 2010. Nearly half of the people of the island...

, Canary Islands
Canary Islands
The Canary Islands , also known as the Canaries , is a Spanish archipelago located just off the northwest coast of mainland Africa, 100 km west of the border between Morocco and the Western Sahara. The Canaries are a Spanish autonomous community and an outermost region of the European Union...

, Spain.

Many exterior scenes set in New Bedford were shot on location in Youghal
Youghal
Youghal is a town in County Cork, Ireland. Sitting on the estuary of the River Blackwater, in the past it was militarily and economically important. Being built on the edge of a steep riverbank, the town has a distinctive long and narrow layout...

, Co. Cork, Ireland. The town has a Public house
Public house
A public house, informally known as a pub, is a drinking establishment fundamental to the culture of Britain, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand. There are approximately 53,500 public houses in the United Kingdom. This number has been declining every year, so that nearly half of the smaller...

, originally called Linehan's, and at that time owned by Paddy Linehan. Some of the bar's exterior appears in the movie. It was renamed Moby Dick's shortly after filming by Mr. Linehan. It is still owned and run by the Linehan family and boasts a fine collection of photographs taken of the cast and crew during the making of the film. While there, John Huston used the bar as his headquarters to plan each day's filming. The town's harbor basin, in front of Moby Dick's bar, was used to stand in as New Bedford's harbor, and some local people appear as extras in the ship's departure scene. Youghal's nineteenth century lighthouse
Lighthouse
A lighthouse is a tower, building, or other type of structure designed to emit light from a system of lamps and lenses or, in older times, from a fire, and used as an aid to navigation for maritime pilots at sea or on inland waterways....

 also appears in a scene of the Pequod putting to sea (at sunset) on her fateful voyage.

Of the three film versions of Moby Dick made between 1926 and 1956, Huston's is the only one which is faithful to the novel and uses its original ending.

A myth that was put to rest in cinematographer Oswald Morris
Oswald Morris
Oswald Norman Morris OBE, DFC, AFC, BSC is a British cinematographer. Known to his colleagues by the nicknames "Os" or "Ossie", Morris' film cinematography career spanned six decades.-Early life and career:...

' autobiography, Huston, We Have A Problem, is that no full length whale models were ever built for the production. Previous accounts have claimed that as many as three 60-foot rubber "white whales" were lost at sea during filming making them "navagational hazards". According to Morris, the Pequod was followed by a barge with various whale parts (hump, back, fin, tail). These were used as needed and one twenty foot cylinder section did come loose from its tow-line and drifted away in a fog. Morris does not say if Gregory Peck was aboard the prop, but this was confirmed by Peck in May, 1995, when he spoke at the Barter Theatre
Barter Theatre
Barter Theatre, located in Abingdon, Virginia, opened on June 10, 1933. It is one of the longest running professional theatres in the nation. In 1933, when the country was in the middle of the Great Depression, most patrons were not able to pay the full ticket price...

 in Virginia. 90% of the shots of the white whale are various size miniatures filmed in a water tank in Shepperton Studios in London. Whales and longboat models were built by a special effects man, August Lohman, working in conjunction with art director Stephen Grimes. Studio shots also included a life-size Moby jaw and head - with working eyes. The head apparatus which could move like a rocking horse was employed when actors were in the water with the whale. Gregory Peck's last speech is delivered in the studio while riding the white whale's hump (a hole was drilled in the side of the whale so Peck could conceal his real leg).

Peck and Huston intended to shoot Herman Melville's Typee
Typee
Typee is American writer Herman Melville's first book, a classic in the literature of travel and adventure partly based on his actual experiences as a captive on the island Nuku Hiva in the South Pacific Marquesas Islands, in 1842...

in 1957, but the funding fell through. Not long after, the two had a falling out. According to one biography, Peck discovered to his disappointment that he had not been Huston's choice for Ahab, but in fact was thrust upon the director by the Mirisch brothers to secure financing. Peck felt Huston had deceived him into taking a part for which Peck felt he was ill-suited. Years later, the actor tried to patch up his differences with the director, but Huston, quoted in Lawrence Grobel's biography The Hustons, rebuked Peck ("It was too late to start over," said Huston) and the two never spoke to each other again.

In the documentary accompanying the DVD marking the 30th anniversary of the film, Jaws
Jaws (film)
Jaws is a 1975 American horror-thriller film directed by Steven Spielberg and based on Peter Benchley's novel of the same name. In the story, the police chief of Amity Island, a fictional summer resort town, tries to protect beachgoers from a giant man-eating great white shark by closing the beach,...

, director Steven Spielberg
Steven Spielberg
Steven Allan Spielberg KBE is an American film director, screenwriter, producer, video game designer, and studio entrepreneur. In a career of more than four decades, Spielberg's films have covered many themes and genres. Spielberg's early science-fiction and adventure films were seen as an...

 states his original intention had been to introduce the Ahab-like character Quint (Robert Shaw
Robert Shaw (actor)
Robert Archibald Shaw was an English actor and novelist, remembered for his performances in The Sting , From Russia with Love , A Man for All Seasons , the original The Taking of Pelham One Two Three , Black Sunday , The Deep and Jaws , where he played the shark hunter Quint.-Early life...

), by showing him watching the 1956 version of the film and laughing at the inaccuracies therein. However, permission to use footage of the original film was denied by Gregory Peck as he was uncomfortable with his performance.

Film rights

This was an independent production
Independent film
An independent film, or indie film, is a professional film production resulting in a feature film that is produced mostly or completely outside of the major film studio system. In addition to being produced and distributed by independent entertainment companies, independent films are also produced...

 originally released by Warner Bros.
Warner Bros.
Warner Bros. Entertainment, Inc., also known as Warner Bros. Pictures or simply Warner Bros. , is an American producer of film and television entertainment.One of the major film studios, it is a subsidiary of Time Warner, with its headquarters in Burbank,...

; however, the distribution rights to this film (as well as the pre-1950 Warner library) ended up being sold to Associated Artists Productions
Associated Artists Productions
Associated Artists Productions was a distributor of theatrical feature films and short subjects for television. It existed from 1953 to 1958. It was later folded into United Artists. The former a.a.p. library was later owned by MGM/UA Entertainment and then Turner Entertainment. Turner continues...

, which later was sold to United Artists Television
United Artists Television
-Background:UA purchased Associated Artists Productions in 1958, giving UA access to the pre-1950 Warner Bros. library and the Popeye cartoons made by Fleischer Studios and Famous Studios between 1933 and 1957....

. This would eventually be one of two films in the a.a.p. package that would not end up with Turner Entertainment
Turner Entertainment
Turner Entertainment Company, Inc. is an American media company founded by Ted Turner. Now owned by Time Warner, the company is largely responsible for overseeing its library for worldwide distribution Turner Entertainment Company, Inc. (commonly known as Turner Entertainment Co.) is an American...

 (the other being Rope
Rope (film)
Rope is a 1948 American thriller film based on the play Rope by Patrick Hamilton and adapted by Hume Cronyn and Arthur Laurents, directed by Alfred Hitchcock and produced by Sidney Bernstein and Hitchcock as the first of their Transatlantic Pictures productions...

, which is now owned by NBCUniversal, but UA continues to hold the film's copyright), and thus UA (via its parent company, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc. is an American media company, involved primarily in the production and distribution of films and television programs. MGM was founded in 1924 when the entertainment entrepreneur Marcus Loew gained control of Metro Pictures, Goldwyn Pictures Corporation and Louis B. Mayer...

) continues to own the U.S. rights to this film today with MGM Home Entertainment
MGM Home Entertainment
MGM Home Entertainment is the home video and DVD arm of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.-History:The home video division of MGM started in 1979 as MGM Home Video, releasing all the movies and TV shows by MGM. In 1980, MGM joined forces with CBS Video Enterprises, the home video division of the CBS television...

 (through 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment is the home video distribution arm of the 20th Century Fox film studio. It was established in 1976 as Magnetic Video Corporation, and later as 20th Century Fox Video, CBS/Fox Video and FoxVideo, Inc....

 from 2006 forward) holding the home video rights. The international rights are with various other companies (including StudioCanal
StudioCanal
StudioCanal is a French-based production and distribution company that owns the third-largest film library in the world...

).

Changes from the original novel

Although the film was quite faithful to the original novel, even down to the retention of Melville's original poetic dialogue, there were several slight changes:
  • In the film, Elijah's prophecy: "A day will come at sea when you'll smell land and there'll be no land, and on that day, Ahab will go to his grave, but he'll rise again, and beckon, and all save one shall follow", foretells exactly what will happen to the Pequod and her crew in the film. In the novel, Elijah does not make a prophecy, but subtly hints that something will happen.

  • In the film Ishmael and Queequeg meet in and sail out of New Bedford
    New Bedford, Massachusetts
    New Bedford is a city in Bristol County, Massachusetts, United States, located south of Boston, southeast of Providence, Rhode Island, and about east of Fall River. As of the 2010 census, the city had a total population of 95,072, making it the sixth-largest city in Massachusetts...

     while in the novel they meet in New Bedford but sail out of Nantucket.

  • The demonic harpooneer Fedallah is totally omitted from the film. In the novel, it is the dead Fedallah who ends up lashed to the back of Moby Dick, but in the film, this happens to Ahab. In the novel, Ahab is merely dragged into the water by the harpoon rope and is never seen again.

  • In the film, when the dead Ahab "beckons" to the crew (an incident caused by the whale rolling back and forth while Ahab is tied to its back), Starbuck, who had previously bitterly opposed Ahab's quest for vengeance, is so moved by the sight that he becomes like a man possessed, and orders the crew to attack Moby Dick. This leads to the death of all except Ishmael, as the whale leaps on them in a fury. In the novel, Starbuck does not participate in the final hunt and the ship and her crew are lost after the Pequod is rammed by Moby Dick.
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