In 1840, a young sailor joins the whaling ship Pequod, whose captain, Ahab, is obsessively searching for the monstrous white whale that took off his leg.
John Huston’s long-cherished adaptation of Herman Melville’s novel has some wonderful scenes but the great white whale always looks phoney. It performed badly in high seas off the coasts of Ireland and the Canaries, pushing the budget through the roof.
In addition, Gregory Peck as Captain Ahab is miscast, completely lacking the required demonic presence. Wags at the time joked that Orson Welles, who plays Father Mapple, should have played the whale, while Peck himself thought that Huston should have played Ahab.
However, Peck was persuaded to take on the Father Mapple role in the 1998 TV movie version, starring Patrick Stewart as Ahab.
Francis De Wolff