7.9/10
3,469
54 user 18 critic

Billy Budd (1962)

Trailer
3:00 | Trailer
Billy is an innocent, naive seaman in the British Navy in 1797. When the ship's sadistic master-at-arms is murdered, Billy is accused and tried.

Director:

Peter Ustinov

Writers:

Louis O. Coxe (based upon the play: "Billy Budd"), Robert H. Chapman (based upon the play: "Billy Budd") | 3 more credits »
Reviews
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 2 wins & 7 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Robert Ryan ... John Claggart - Master of Arms
Peter Ustinov ... Edwin Fairfax Vere - Post Captain Royal Navy
Melvyn Douglas ... The Dansker - Sailmaker
Paul Rogers ... Philip Seymour - First Lieutenant
John Neville ... Julian Radcliffe - Second Lieutenant
David McCallum ... Steven Wyatt - Gunnery Officer
Ronald Lewis ... Enoch Jenkins - Maintopman
Lee Montague ... Squeak - Assistant to Mr. Claggart
Thomas Heathcote Thomas Heathcote ... Alan Payne - Maintopman
Ray McAnally ... William O'Daniel - Maintopman (as Ray McAnnally)
Robert Brown ... Arnold Talbot - Maintopman
John Meillon ... Neil Kincaid - Maintopman
Cyril Luckham ... Alfred Hallam - Captain of Marines
Niall MacGinnis ... Nathaniel Graveling - Ship's Master, Rights of Man (as Niall McGinnis)
Victor Brooks Victor Brooks ... Amos Leonard - First Mate, Rights of Man
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Storyline

H.M.S. Avenger is headed into battle against the French fleet during the Napoleonic Wars, and the dark shadow of two recent mutinies in the English fleet concern Captain Vere. He relies on his cruel and often sadistic Master-at-Arms John Claggert to maintain what he believes to be tenuous order and discipline aboard the ship. When a new seaman, Billy Budd, is pressed into service from a passing merchantman, his innocent, happy-go-lucky attitude quickly endears him to both his messmates as well as the ship's officers. However, his charismatic naivete seems to bother Claggert, whose perverse depravity makes him resent Billy's good-natured purity, especially after the teenager's promotion to fore-top captain. The mean-spirited Claggert unfairly plots to put him on report and ultimately perjures himself when he accuses Billy of conspiring to mutiny. Written by Gabe Taverney (duke1029@aol.com)

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The Men!.. The Mutiny!...The Might!... The Magnitude Of Herman Melville's Classic Adventure of the High Seas! See more »

Genres:

Adventure | Drama | War

Certificate:

See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

20 September 1962 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

Die Verdammten der Meere See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

When the film opened in Britain in November, 1962, there was no mention of DeWitt Bodeen in the screenplay credits or the film's advertising; the screenplay was credited to Peter Ustinov and Robert Rossen. However, whenever the film has been shown on British television (it has been televised on only a handful of occasions in the UK), the credits have instead named Bodeen as Ustinov's only collaborator and made no mention of Rossen. See more »

Goofs

Captain Vere uses a book to shield his eyes when he stares up at Billy on the mast, but his face is still in full sunlight. See more »

Quotes

Lieutenant Seymour: Wyatt, we do not deal with justice here, but with the law.
Lieutenant Wyatt: Was not the one conceived to serve the other?
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Crazy Credits

and introducing / Terrence Stamp See more »

Connections

Featured in The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Justice and law, good and evil, and duty and ethics are debated on high seas.
4 January 2006 | by hakobellSee all my reviews

Not only an excellent study of good and evil, this film also explores the conflict of duty vs personal ethics. When the officers are pondering Billy's fate, Wyatt pleads passionately for him. He is told that they are talking about law not justice and he asks pointedly , "Was not the one designed to serve the other?" Of course this opens up for the viewer a question of the real purpose of law. Excellent performances all around. Of course everyone talks about Stamp, Ustinov, and Ryan, but we also see excellent performances by Melvyn Douglas and David McCallum.

This film deserves to be released on DVD. It is a classic. I have shown it to my students in Honors American Literature after we read the novella, and it is always well received. The screenplay by Ustinov improves on the book by including the debate among the officers at Billy's trial.


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