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Billy Budd

UK, English, 119 mins

  • Director: Peter Ustinov
  • Writer: Herman Melville; Louis O. Coxe
  • Producer: A. Ronald Lubin; Peter Ustinov

CGiii Comment

A boyish Terence Stamp basically kicked off his career with this Oscar nominated performance.

A tale to make your blood boil - Ustinov directs with a well-mannered pace - building a brittle tension.

The legal argument is presented with clarity and, yet, the sympathies are off-kilter with the feelings felt.

The film serves well now with regard to law and the death penalty - confined on a ship as confined by the law.

A remarkable story - elegantly brought to the screen by Ustinov.


Trailer...

The(ir) Blurb...

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.

Cast & Characters

Robert Ryan as John Claggart, Master d'Arms;
Peter Ustinov as Edwin Fairfax Vere, Post Captain;
Melvyn Douglas as The Dansker, sailmaker;
Paul Rogers as Philip Seymour, 1st Lieutenant;
John Neville as Julian Ratcliffe, 2nd Lieutenant;
David McCallum as Steven Wyatt, Gunnery Officer;
Ronald Lewis as Enoch Jenkins, maintopman;
Lee Montague as Squeak, Mr. Claggart's assistant;
Thomas Heathcote as Alan Payne, maintopman;
Ray McAnally as William O'Daniel, maintopman;
Robert Brown as Arnold Talbot, maintopman;
John Meillon as Neil Kincaid, maintopman;
Cyril Luckham as Hallam, Captain of Marines;
Niall MacGinnis as Captain Nathaniel Graveling, Rights of Man;
Victor Brooks as Amos Leonard, First Mate, Rights of Man

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