Billy Budd | Chicago Reader

Billy Budd

Peter Ustinov directed, scripted, and acted in this 1962 translation of Herman Melville's classic allegory, and he fumbled on almost every level. The direction is lackadaisical, the editing too busy (the film must set a record for gratuitous reaction shots), and the compositions pointlessly portentous. As Captain Vere, Ustinov is ludicrous, “acting” all over the place. Robert Ryan's Claggart is better but mannered, and Terence Stamp's Billy is only adequate. They don't come much stiffer than this. 122 min.

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