TV Cream

Films: M is for...

Moby Dick

It’s a good book, is Moby Dick. Underneath all the allegorical grandstanding and portentous biblical references, in between the – admittedly fascinating – digressions into the cultural symbolism of whales, and the intricate descriptions of how to hoist a mainsail and fillet and drain a whale corpse, is a damn good adventure story to make the likes of Andy McNabb shrivel up like a blob of ambergris, and John Huston and Ray Bradbury’s adaptation get that bit of the novel pretty much spot on, making this one of the best adaptations of an “unfilmable” book we’ve seen. Gregory Peck straps his leg back as the increasingly demented Ahab, Richard ‘Voyage’ Basehart does all right as the narrator Ishmael and Orson Welles gets the perfect pre-cast-off scene to steal. James Robertson ‘bleeding time’ Justice is also in there, as, we’re told, is Arthur Mullard, somewhere. The editing is fantastic, Oswald ‘The Wiz’ Morris does some amazing oil painting mimicry with the photography, and if Charles ‘Star Wars’ Parker and August ‘Barbarella’ Lohman’s ‘troubled’ model whale suffers from Jaws syndrome, it still adds to the unreal, mythical atmosphere. Almost as dark and disturbing as Dicky Moe, the nasty, depressing Tom and Jerry cartoon directed by Gene ‘Popeye’ Deitch, the even-worse-than-Chuck-Jones Hanna-Barbera replacement, full of unpalatable, angular violence and harsh electronic sound effects. Now, *that* should have been consigned to the depths.

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