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Huston also fought with Ray Bradbury over the screenplay. The great science fiction author was literally reduced to tears by the gruff director, and he wrote a book about the experience. There was also some conflict over the casting of Gregory Peck as Ahab. Some say Orson Welles or Leo Genn (Starbuck) would have been a better choice. This may well be, but it should be admitted that Peck rises to the occasion when it's called for. The great scene with the Spanish doubloon and the great scene with Starbuck on the bridge, where Ahab explains his obsession. Few other actors are likely to have surpassed these moments.
According to IMDb, MOBY DICK was shot in 1.66:1 aspect ratio. This DVD does not present the film in that ratio, yet it does not appear to be a pan & scan transfer. The film looks very good and and nothing appears to have been done to tamper with the color. This is most likely how it should look. The director fought with the studio over the color process used in MOBY DICK: it's intentional. He and the cinematographer were trying to capture a visual style that would be evocative of a period style of painting that would contribute to the mood of the story.
Anyone interested in background on this film should read THE HUSTONS by Lawrence Grobel. The harrowing production is detailed, with plenty of attention given to the above-mentioned conflicts and also to the shooting of the INCREDIBLE final sequence.
Some extras would have been welcome, but this DVD is more than worth owning by any fan of Melville, Huston or American film.
Although some have complained about Gregory Peck's performance as Captain Ahab, I feel that his cold reserved expressions in the film work just as well in showing a man consumed by hatred and a lust for revenge. In line with Melville's extremely religious themes, the character of Ahab is a man who feels he's been cheated by nature and God and so seeks his revenge. Taking his doomed men with him around the world, he seeks to exact his vengeance on the great white whale who took his leg, Moby Dick. The sailor Ishmael (Richard Basehart) is the voice of innocence and redemption.
The direction and cinematography is superb. Huston was a master of his craft and had directed many timeless classics by the time he did Moby Dick. I recommend this film as the best adaptation of the story with the strongest cast as well as the best directed.
There seems to be an ongoing debate about whether or not this film was shot widescreen, and everyone on both sides will insist they are right. I can certainly say that I have seen a LaserDisc version of this in the early 1990's, which was matted at 1.85:1, and to boot, it was from a better print with better display of the color tinting used especially for the movie; as far as I remember, the transfer process was either supervised or endorsed by Martin Scorsese, of all people, even with a disclaimer on the jacket explaining the unusual coloring process. For the record, although this DVD is passable enough for me to own (mostly because I have enjoyed this movie since I was a child and still enjoy it in my 30's), MGM could have done much better with this presentation, and I will make this my official call for a better edition.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I had wanted to see this movie again after watching “In the Heart of the Sea,” Ron Howards film from 2015. Read morePublished 5 days ago by M. Oleson
Love this audio version of Melville's classic. This is the full unabridged version and the reader is wonderful. Very compelling.Published 10 days ago by Terisa ODowd
This is one of the stories everyone should know however none do know. I have heard about this story all my days.
Now I know the story. This is a well told version. Read more
Wonderfully directed by John Huston. The acting was great - especially Gregory Peck! Very dramatic! I believe the original movie was in black and white. Read morePublished 20 days ago by Jan Red
talk about whales saw this film at the theatre i was 9 years old great moviePublished 29 days ago by sampickett