Moby Dick (1930 film)

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Moby Dick
Moby Dick 1930 Poster.jpg
Theatrical poster
Directed by Lloyd Bacon
Produced by
Written by Oliver H.P. Garrett
Screenplay by J. Grubb Alexander
Based on Moby-Dick
by Herman Melville
Starring John Barrymore
Music by
Cinematography Robert Kurrle
Edited by Desmond O'Brien
Distributed by
Release date
  • September 30, 1930 (1930-09-30)
Running time
80 minutes
Country United States
Language English

Moby Dick is a 1930 American pre-Code film from Warner Bros., directed by Lloyd Bacon, and starring John Barrymore, Joan Bennett and Walter Lang.[1] The film is a sound remake of the 1926 silent movie, The Sea Beast, which also starred Barrymore.[2] It is the first adaption film of Moby Dick which includes a soundtrack.[1]


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.


Foreign language versions[edit]

One foreign language version of the 1930 film of Moby Dick was produced. The German version was titled Dämon des Meeres and was directed by Michael Curtiz.

Preservation status[edit]

The film survives intact and has been broadcast on television[3] and cable and is available through Warner Archive DVD-on-demand.[4]

Comparison to novel[edit]

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."[5] 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.[6] It also has a love story which doesn't appear in the novel.[1]


External links[edit]