Billy Budd (1962)
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as Billy Budd
as John Claggart
as Edwin Fairfax Vere
as The Dansker
as Lt. John Ratcliffe
as Lieutenant Wyatt
as Lt. Seymour
as Capt. Graveling
as Amos Leonard
as Charles Mathews
Critic Reviews for Billy Budd
In the title role is the year's most promising newcomer: 23-year old Terence Stamp, as a benevolent lad whose innocence and simplicity contain the seeds of his own destruction.
The problem with well-worn historical themes like the eighteenth-century British navy is how to clean the past of the clichés that now barnacle it... Here we have just the usual costume stuff.
The script thoughtfully examines the dangers of placing the letter of the law over true justice.
Terence Stamp received his only Oscar nomination (supporting category)for playing the titular role, the naive and charismatic youth, in Peter Ustinov's version of Melville's classic.
Audience Reviews for Billy Budd
a faithful adaptation of melville's powerful last work. i liked it slightly better than huston's moby dick, tho to be fair, no one could faithfully adapt that behemoth. terence stamp in his film debut is a real charmer and robert ryan has never been quite so flinty-eyed and evil. ustinov's direction outshines his acting
Fine acting in this sad tale.
In "Billy Budd," it is 1797 and the man of war Avenger, commanded by Captain Vere(Peter Ustinov, who also co-wrote the script, directed and produced), boards the merchant Rights of Man to impress sailors and comes away with only one, Billy Budd(Terence Stamp), a junior sailor. His first impression of His Majesty's Navy is not a good one as soon after his arrival he witnesses a flogging watched over Master of Arms Claggart(Robert Ryan). His fellow sailors are not kind either, as he is challenged to a fight by Jenkins(Ronald Lewis) who quickly comes to regret his rash decision. "Billy Budd" is a compelling adaptation of the allegorical Herman Melville novel which I read back in high school, so I can't accurately judge how faithful this is. The acting is good, even if Robert Ryan seems out of place but I think this is intentional, as Claggart is not an entirely unsympathetic presence, even if he is the villain and the catalyst for the action. That goes to the setting of the story during a war when the military has no choice but to take people who should never be in a war zone. For different reasons, Claggart is one, and Budd, though he makes a superb sailor, is too kind for such cruel circumstances. Whether or not there is anything else to be read into this story is up for debate, even with an oddly filmed shot.
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