Billy Budd (1962)


Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBB.5

United Kingdom, 1962.  Allied Artists Pictures, Anglo Allied.  Screenplay by Peter Ustinov, , based on the play by and and the novel Billy Budd, Foretopman by .  Cinematography by .  Produced by Peter Ustinov.  Music by .  Production Design by .  Costume Design by Anthony Mendleson.  Film Editing by .  

Diverting drama is a dark side to Horatio HornblowerPeter Ustinov stars and directs as the captain aboard an eighteenth-century ship that has undergone various crew changes, culminating with the arrival of a young, naive and irresistibly kind seaman named Billy Budd (Terence Stamp in his film debut).

Budd immediately becomes the target of a sadistic, high-ranking crew member (Robert Ryan) who singles him out for his degrading torture; when Ryan ends up dead thanks to a blow being given to him, quite righteously, by Budd, the young man finds himself on trial for murder.

Ethical issues are weighed out with intelligence and ease and a few healthy tinges of homoeroticism, though you won’t love it if it isn’t already your kind of movie.

All the performances are wonderful, particularly a marvelously young and beautiful Stamp and terrifying Ryan.

Academy Award Nomination:  Best Supporting Actor (Terence Stamp)


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