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Moby Dick (1930)

Passed | | Adventure, Drama | 20 September 1930 (USA)
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 »


Lloyd Bacon


Herman Melville (by), Oliver H.P. Garrett (adaptation) | 1 more credit »


Complete credited cast:
John Barrymore ... Captain Ahab Ceely
Joan Bennett ... Faith
Lloyd Hughes ... Derek
Noble Johnson ... Queequeg
Nigel De Brulier ... Elijah (as Nigel de Brulier)
Walter Long ... Stubbs
May Boley ... Whale Oil Rosie
Tom O'Brien Tom O'Brien ... Starbuck
Virginia Sale ... Old Maid
John Ince ... Reverend Mapple
Learn more

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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 meets and falls for Faith Mapple, daughter of the local minister and beloved of Ahab's brother Derek. Faith herself quickly returns Ahab's love, as Derek is drab and ignoble. On his next voyage, however, Ahab loses a leg to the monstrous white whale Moby-Dick. When upon his return to New Bedford he mistakenly believes Faith wants nothing to do with him because of his disfigurement, Ahab returns to sea with only one goal in mind -- to find and kill the great white whale. Written by Jim Beaver <jumblejim@prodigy.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Thar she blows! See more »


Adventure | Drama


Passed | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?


Although this title was among more than 700 Warner Bros. productions sold to Associated Artists in 1956 for re-release and/or television broadcast, this one, along with The Mad Genius (1931) and Svengali (1931) remained in litigation until April 1959 because of their involvement with the estate of the late John Barrymore who had a financial interest in them when they were originally produced. By this time, the remake Moby Dick (1956), had already made its rounds in the theaters, and was beginning to pop up on local television, so this earlier version was rarely shown until the 1990s when it showed up first on Turner Network Television and, finally, on Turner Classic Movies, where it now receives an occasional airing. See more »


The cover of Melville's novel is shown, then what is ostensibly the first page. But the text we are shown consists of statements about whaling in general and Moby Dick. The novel, however, is written in the first person, and its first line, establishing this, is one of the most famous in all literature: "Call me Ishmael." See more »


Captain Ahab Ceely: [to Derek about Faith concerning his disfiguring pigleg] She's willing to be a dutiful wife even if she gags at the sight of me!
See more »

Crazy Credits

While the credits state that the film is based on Herman Melville's novel, the first page of the novel shown onscreen right after the credits is entirely written by one of the screenwriters; it has absolutely nothing to do with Melville's original, and even leaves out Melville's classic opening sentence, "Call me Ishmael". See more »


Version of Moby Dick (1978) See more »

User Reviews

Don't call me Ishmael
10 March 2015 | by jimjo1216See all my reviews

I haven't read Herman Melville's "Moby Dick", but I've seen the 1956 Gregory Peck film and I have some preconceived notions about Captain Ahab and the story. This 1930 film is about as "Hollywoodized" an adaptation as one could imagine. The focus here is on Ahab the man, with particular attention paid to his romance with Faith, the pastor's daughter. Much of the film establishes Ahab's background as a sailor, before his transformation into the revenge-minded Captain we all know ("Ahab Begins", as it were).

John Barrymore's Ahab is a charming show-off and a notorious ladies' man. While ashore in New Bedford he falls in love with Faith (Joan Bennett), much to the anger of his landlubber brother Derek (Lloyd Hughes), who'd already carved Faith's name with his own in the side of a tree. Faith promises to marry Ahab when he returns from his next voyage, but by then the infamous white whale Moby Dick has left him a cripple. It is about forty-five minutes into this 70-minute film that we first see the monomaniacal "Captain" Ahab, who purchases a ship of his own and sets sail to hunt down the beast that took his leg and his life.

Barrymore's hammy performance in the first half is unlike my idea of Ahab, but in the framework of this film it serves to provide a marked contrast to the brooding captain of the latter half. An early-era talkie, some of the dialogue is delivered clumsily and the whale effects seem quaint to modern eyes. Still, there's some excitement in Ahab's final confrontation with the whale. The movie excludes the character of Ishmael, the book's narrator, and the Hollywood dream factory gives Melville's story a ridiculous fairytale ending. Literary enthusiasts be warned.

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Release Date:

20 September 1930 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

A Fera do Mar See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Warner Bros. See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


| (Turner library print)

Sound Mix:

Mono (Vitaphone)

Aspect Ratio:

1.20 : 1
See full technical specs »

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