Blu-ray Review: MOBY DICK (1956)

MOBY DICK was produced and directed by John Huston who also co-wrote the story with Ray Bradbury. The film stars Gregory Peck, Richard Basehart, Leo Genn, Orson Welles, James Robertson Justice, Harry Andrews and and Friedrich von Ledebur. The score is by Philip Sainton.

This 1956 epic adventure that’s based on Herman Melville’s great American classic novel begins in the year 1841 and follows the crew of the Pequod that sets sail with the elusive and mysterious Captain Ahab. The journey is supposed to be for three years but once Ahab reveals himself and his alternate plans, this high seas adventure ends much sooner than what was first planned. The crew thought they were going whale hunting but Ahab is full of vengeance and only has his eyes set on one particular target, the great white whale that’s scarred from top to bottom and front to back. Ahab is not only obsessed with killing this whale but his previous encounters with it has also left him possessed. He’s determined to kill it no matter what the cost may be, even at the expense of his own crew. Ahab’s persistence and determination finally pays off when the big whale shows up and challenges the mad captain and his crew. They all find out the hard way that they’re no challenge for the great white whale and even though Ahab doesn’t get what he desires the most, the whale most certainly does.

I think most of us have watched some kind of incarnation and adaptation of Moby Dick at some point in our lives. It’s a story that has gotten countless movies and miniseries made about it, as recently as 2015’s In the Heart of the Sea. The story is an interesting one that is told from the point of view of the ship’s newest crew member. The first thirty minutes or so all focuses on this man, but once the elusive Captain Ahab finally reveals himself, the focus and tone of the movie changes immediately. Ahab is a dark character full of vengeance and maybe even a little magic. He’s a fascinating character who is determined to hunt down the great white whale that left him scarred inside and out, and the two ultimately meet one more time. I think the acting in old movies like this was overdone to some degree because it all played out more like a stage play at times than an actual movie. So yeah, the acting and theatrics are exaggerated at times but that’s okay. The two big standouts to me were the cinematography that helped make the setting and location look so authentic and realistic, and then there’s the special effects that were so impressive looking.

The front of the packaging features the artwork you see up top and the back includes movie details, an image, a few quotes, and list of special features. The reverse sleeve features some alternate artwork. The Blu-ray disc also features artwork that matches the front cover. I really like these clear keepcases. Inside is a booklet from Twilight Time that includes more images from the movie, some nice words about Moby Dick by Julie Kirgo and some original artwork on the back. You can see the front cover of the booklet down below. Inserting the disc, the menu screen was simple and easy to navigate. The picture and sound quality for this high-definition release were really good. The colors showed up nicely and the sound was just right. This is the best this old classic has ever looked and I didn’t have any issues with the video and audio.

Bottom line is, Moby Dick is one of those classic tales that has had countless movies made about it, both big screen and small screen adaptations, but this one here was the very first one. I had seen bits and pieces of the movie before but this was the first time I’ve had the opportunity to watch it from beginning to end. Herman Melville’s novel is brought to life by director John Huston and this cast of interesting characters led by Gregory Peck and Orson Welles. There’s also some great looking practical effects used and it’s impressive for its time. The movie is dialogue heavy that also features a little Old English to help make it even more of an authentic period piece. It’s a slow burn, but it’s also extremely well done and fun movie to watch, if you enjoy classics like this. To celebrate the 60th anniversay of this classic high seas adventure, Twilight Time has released this Blu-ray and the movie has never looked better. There’s only 3,000 units available and this one comes highly recommended.

Distributor: Twilight Time:

Run Time: 116 Minutes

Rated: Not Rated

Blu-ray Video: 1080p High-Definition (1.66:1) Color / Region Free

Blu-ray Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 1.0

Subtitles: English SDH

Special Features: The Blu-ray extras include Twilight Time’s trademark isolated score track, some audio commentary, a restoration featurette, image gallery, and the theatrical trailer.

  • Isolated Score Track
  • Audio Commentary with Film Historians Julie Kirgo, Paul Seydor, and Nick Redman
  • A Bleached Whale: Recreating the Unique Color of Moby Dick (05:41)
  • Posters, Lobby Cards & Production Stills
  • Original Theatrical Trailer (03:13)



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