Moby Dick (1930 film)

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Moby Dick
Moby Dick 1930 Poster.jpg
theatrical poster
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
Starring John Barrymore
Music by William Axt
David Mendoza
Cinematography Robert Kurrle
Edited by Desmond O'Brien
Distributed by Warner Bros.
Release dates
  • 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 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 the daughter of the local minister, after disembarking in New Bedford. She falls in love with Barrymore and is heartbroken when he leaves on another voyage. During his next voyage, Ahab loses his leg to a large white whale. When he returns to New Bedford, he mistakenly believes that the woman he loves no longer wants to see him due to his disfigurement. He vows revenge against the whale, and to kill it or be killed in the process, and returns to sea.

Differences from novel[edit]

The film, just as The Sea Beast (the previous 1926 silent version) was, is an extremely free adaptation of the novel Moby-Dick by Herman Melville. It implements a prequel and sequel element to the story that did not exist in Melville's novel. As an example of the changes found in the film, Captain Ahab is portrayed as a handsome romantic hero with a pretty girlfriend, but his evil brother manipulates the situation so that she will reject him. He also has both of his legs until he embarks on the voyage in which Moby Dick bites off one of them and he becomes consumed with revenge and embarks on the odyssey to kill the whale that maimed him. Ultimately, Ahab survives the ordeal, kills his stowaway brother (as well as Moby Dick), and returns home to the woman who loves him.[citation needed]


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[1] and cable but has yet to see a Warner Archive DVD-on-demand availability.


External links[edit]