Moby Dick (1930)

Passed   |    |  Adventure, Drama

Moby Dick (1930) Poster

In this extremely loose adaptation of Melville's classic novel, Ahab is revealed initially not as a bitter and vengeful madman, but as a bit of a lovable scamp. Ashore in New Bedford, he ... See full summary »


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15 August 2007 | bkoganbing
| Pure Coincidence
I suppose that any novel that's as much of a downer as Moby Dick would not find much favor with Depression era audiences who had enough of their own troubles. But any resemblance to the classic Herman Melville novel is a pure coincidence.

In fact half of the film is a prequel to the main story as we know it, not that too much of it was kept for the film. We first meet Ahab Creely (he's got a last name and a brother) as one happy go lucky soul with two legs and intentions to marry Joan Bennett who is Father Mapple's daughter. That brother Derek, played by Lloyd Hughes, also wants to marry Bennett.

John Barrymore is Ahab in an over the top performance. Barrymore had not quite mastered the sound cinema and he gave out with all the silent era histrionics plus a stage voice that would have shaken the rafters of any movie theater this film was playing in.

We see Ahab lose his leg to the great whale Moby Dick and I have to say the amputation scene was pretty gruesome. Of course this was all before the Code. Still I'm sure 1930 audiences shuddered.

After that the story of Ahab's hunt for the whale that he thinks made him unsightly in Joan Bennett's eyes. That is not exactly Melville's motivation, in fact there are no women characters in Moby Dick as he wrote it.

One of the things Melville did was invest the crew of Ahab's ship the Pequod with personalities. Other than Queequeg the cannibal harpooner the names are there, but not the personalities. Starbuck and Stubbs might as well be Smith and Jones.

I'd see this version of Moby Dick strictly for curiosity and nothing else.

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