Gregory Peck Weekend Removed a Few Times

Quote from Moby Dick by Captain Ahab: “Sleep? That bed is a coffin, and those are winding sheets. I do not sleep, I die.”

Quote from On The Beach by Julian Osborne: “In the end, somehow granted the time for examination, we shall find that our so-called civilization was gloriously destroyed by a handful of vacuum tubes and transistors. Probably faulty.”

I regard Gregory Peck as one of the best actors of all time to grace the movie screens.  The first movie I watched him in was To Kill a Mockingbird and he will continue to be a screen legend.  Like this movie, Moby Dick and On the Beach, include pressing societal issues and in the case of Moby Dick, mental issues as well of Captain Ahab.  Peck would be nominated for five Academy Awards in his career and finally won and Oscar for To Kill a Mockingbird.

Moby Dick (1956) is an adventure and drama about Captain Ahab and his quest to get revenge on the white whale who physically injured him, but more to seek revenge for his damaged pride.  It is told from the viewpoint of Ishmael, one of his crew.  I have yet to finish reading the book, which has sat on my shelf for over two decades now.  This story is adapted from Herman Melville’s book, screenplay by Ray Bradbury and John Huston, and Norman Corwin where no credit was given.  It is directed by John Huston and stars Gregory Peck as Captain Ahab, Richard Basehart as Ishmael, Leo Genn as Starbuck, James Robertson Justice as Captain Boomer, Harry Andrews as Stubb, Bernard Miles as The Manxman, Noel Purcell as Ship’s Carpenter, Edric Connor as Daggoo, Mervyn Johns as Peleg, and Royal Dano as Elijah. It doesn’t have a rating and is 1 hour and 56 minutes long.

The film opens with Ismael meeting a Polynesian cannibal named Queequeg.  He along with Queequeg agree to take part of a voyage despite being warned about Captain Ahab.  On the Pequod, there are others who serve as company and some of them comfort to Ishmael including Starbuck, Stubb, Tashtego, Flask, Daggoo, Peleg, Elijah, and Fedallah.  It takes a while for Captain Ahab to appear, but when he does everyone finds out how ruthless and unforgiving he is when it comes to whales.  As they find success on these hunts, stories are bountiful including the real reason Ahab never wants to be on dry land.  The various ships they encounter have stories that paint a bleak picture for them.  Ahab might never find the white whale, but he will continue until the sea or the whale stop him.  When Moby Dick is finally seen, Ahab does everything in his power to weaken the white whale.  The chase is on and after Moby Dick destroys boats and terminates lives, Ahab has no choice but to go eye to eye with him.  The visuals in this movie are stunning, and while it clearly is not an actual whale, the final scene between Moby Dick and Ahab is one I will remember for a long time.  Despite Captain Ahab being a character I would not want to meet, I give Moby Dick a rating of 100% for the acting, direction, production design, and everything else that makes it a perfect movie.


On the Beach (1958) is a drama and romance about Commander Towers and his duty to his crew and survivors of the radiation fallout after World War III, including Moria Davidson who grabs his attention despite increasing tensions between the two.  This story is adapted from Nevil Shute’s book and screenplay by John Paxton. It is directed by Stanley Kramer and stars Gregory Peck as Cmdr. Dwight Lionel Towers, Ava Gardner as Moira Davidson, Fred Astaire as Julian Osborn, Anthony Perkins as Lt. Peter Holmes, Donna Anderson as Mary Holmes, John Tate as Adm. Bridie, Richard Meikle as Davis, John Meillon as Ralph Swain. It doesn’t have a rating and is 1 hour and 56 minutes long. I would say this is more depressing of the two films because of how death is presented.

The film begins in Australia where devastation from war has killed most of the inhabitants in the northern hemisphere.   It is in the south where people seek refuge including the American Commander Towers.  Most of them know the severity of the situation including Lt. Holmes and encourages his wife to face the fact they might die.   A few remain hopeful that the radiation poisoning will not reach them.  Despite the small chance of finding a few survivors, Towers and his officers sail on the USS Sawfish in search of them.  When they reach the west coast, the reality of the situation becomes authenticated in several ways.  This leads to the officers dealing with the inevitable in their own way whether it be through car racing, romantic getaways, or nostalgic monologues.  As USS Sawfish submerges underwater for the last time, it’s a somber ending to what could have been.  Unlike Captain Ahab, I wouldn’t mind meeting Commander Towers, but not under these circumstances.  The acting in this movie too was perfect.  It didn’t hold my attention as much as Moby Dick, but it was a near perfect movieTherefore, I give On the Beach a rating of 96%.




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