Moby Dick (1930 film)
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|Directed by||Lloyd Bacon|
|Written by||Oliver H.P. Garrett (adaptation)|
|Screenplay by||J. Grubb Alexander (dialogue and screenplay)|
|Based on||Moby-Dick (1851 novel)
by Herman Melville
|Music by||William Axt
|Edited by||Desmond O'Brien|
|Distributed by||Warner Bros.|
Moby Dick is a 1930 American Pre-Code film from Warner Bros., directed by Lloyd Bacon, and starring John Barrymore and Joan Bennett. The film is a sound remake of the 1926 silent movie, The Sea Beast, which also starred Barrymore.
The film tells of a sea captain's maniacal quest for revenge on a great white whale who has bitten off his leg. Ahab meets and falls in love with Faith, the daughter of the local minister, after disembarking in New Bedford. She falls in love with him and is heartbroken when he leaves on another voyage, but saying she will wait three years for him to return. During this next voyage, Ahab loses his leg to Moby Dick, a legendary white whale. When Ahab returns to New Bedford, he mistakenly believes that the woman he loves no longer wants to see him due to his disfigurement, an opinion encouraged by Ahab's brother, who wants Faith for himself. Ahab vows revenge against the whale, and to kill it or be killed in the process, and returns to sea. Eventually, Ahab raises enough capital to buy and be captain of his own ship; but no one wants to crew with him because of his passion for destroying Moby Dick. Nonetheless, he directs his first mate to shanghai a crew--and unknowingly takes his brother on board. Although the crew mutinies, Moby Dick is sighted, and Ahab heads the harpoon boats out to spear him; driven with a bloodlust, he harpoons Moby Dick and kills him. The crew boils him down for whale oil, and they return to New Bedford, where Ahab and Faith are reunited.
- John Barrymore as Captain Ahab Ceely
- Joan Bennett as Faith Mapple
- Lloyd Hughes as Derek Ceely
- Noble Johnson as Queequeg
- Nigel De Brulier as Elijah
- Walter Long as Mr Stubbs
- May Boley as Whale Oil Rosie
- Tom O'Brien as Starbuck
- John Ince as Reverend Mapple
Foreign language versions
The film survives intact and has been broadcast on television and cable but has yet to see a Warner Archive DVD-on-demand availability.
Comparison to novel
Moby Dick was considered a loose adaptation of the novel; Marc Di Paolo said it was "a poorly conceived and unfaithful version... in which Ahab... slays the white whale at the end and goes home to his true love". Walter C. Metz said the film excludes the novel's central character Ishmael and "produces a conventional Hollywood love story between Ahab and Faith, the invented daughter of Rev. Mapple, whose moral purity reforms Ahab from a bawdy sailor into a marriageable man". Metz also said that the film focused even more on Ahab's back story than the novel itself.
- The AFI Catalog of Feature Films:.. Moby Dick
- 1957 MOVIES FROM AAP Warner Bros Features & Cartoons SALES BOOK DIRECTED AT TV
- Di Paolo, Marc (2007). Emma Adapted: Jane Austen's Heroine from Book to Film. Peter Lang. p. 15. ISBN 978-1-4331-0000-0.
- Metz, Walter C. (2007). The Literature/film Reader: Issues of Adaptation. Scarecrow Press. pp. 71–73. ISBN 978-0-8108-5949-4.