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Billy Budd

Price: CDN$ 58.43
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Product Details

  • Actors: Robert Ryan, Peter Ustinov, Melvyn Douglas, Paul Rogers, John Neville
  • Directors: Peter Ustinov
  • Writers: Peter Ustinov, DeWitt Bodeen, Herman Melville, Louis O. Coxe, Robert H. Chapman
  • Producers: A. Ronald Lubin
  • Format: Black & White, Closed-captioned, DVD-Video, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (US and Canada This DVD will probably NOT be viewable in other countries. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • MPAA Rating: NR
  • Studio: Warner
  • Release Date: March 6 2007
  • Run Time: 123 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • ASIN: B000KJU182
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #43,368 in DVD (See Top 100 in DVD)
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0xa5c9bfb4) out of 5 stars 95 reviews
69 of 73 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa544f408) out of 5 stars THIS IS THE NEW WB DVD & IT'S GREAT! Sincerely!!!! March 9 2007
By S. Bernard - Published on
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
First off, let me make sure that it is clear my review refers to the March 6, 2007 release of Billy Budd from Warner Bros. for the reasonable price of about $15. I pre-ordered it before March 6th & it arrived today. I am ecstatic. In fact, I have a confession to make; I invited all the reviewers on this page to be my friend, just so I could message them & let them know about this new release. I have also uploaded a pict of the cover from the DVD to help distinguish it from that other awful copied version.


Like many, I saw this movie when I was young and it made a great impression on me- I have never forgotten it. I was in 10th grade in literature class and that was about 24 years ago (holy smokes!) This movie, adapted from the Herman Melville story is about many things- its complexity and nuances are something wonderful to behold. I have read the story and seen the movie & I must say, I prefer Ustinov's adaptation to the book. I think Ustinov did a more than masterful job of acting, directing, producing and writing. Not many people can wear 4 "hats" so very well. I personally have always felt this was his opus magnum- and I've heard it was a personal favorite of his. To me he captures so much of the struggle of what it is to be human in every frame of this movie. From the every day struggles of dignity to the struggle between the law and justice.

The acting by all is wonderful. Terrance Stamp's screen debut is perfect. His understated way is just what Billy needed. Robert Ryan is the perfect villain- why? Because he is HUMAN- like us all, he struggles with his own demons- his are just closer to the surface than most. In that unforgettable scene on the deck at night with Billy, it is almost as heart-wrenching as the final scene where injustice makes its ugly presence known. In the deck scene with Claggart you can see the armor of his slowly drop, there's just a hint of a tear in his left eye- and then, in a flash, his armor of evil is back in full force. Ryan's performance is just awesome to behold! How lucky are we all to have this entire movie on DVD to enjoy for years to come!
All of the supporting roles are well done- all believable. The on location shots in Spain on the open seas are fabulous! It adds a huge sense of reality to the whole movie. Lighting and the music is just beautiful too.

The extra features... yes, I'm such a fanatic, the minute I checked the mail I put the DVD in & listened to the commentary by Stamp & Soderbergh. If you are looking to find out a lot about the movie, you may be disappointed- if you wanted to find out a lot about Terrance Stamp, you'll be happy. He speaks at length about his own career and some things unrelated to the movie. There is not a lot of scene by scene commentary. He does speak about Ustinov and some of the things about production. His discourse is erudite and even occasionally stimulating. Soderbergh is in the role of an interviewer in this case. I enjoyed the commentary, but one does wonder how much it would've been enriched if someone had gotten off their dead butts & done this before Ustinov died. (I mourn him openly- he was my renaissance man- funny, smart and a humanitarian.)

All and all, I'm quite pleased to have this DVD. I'm thankful to Warner Bros. for putting it out on DVD with a quality picture and sound.

34 of 36 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa5449ea0) out of 5 stars Movie 5, DVD 0 - Goodbye to you, old "Rights of Man" Aug. 16 2006
By K. Gittins - Published on
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
"Billy Budd" is based on Herman Melville's last novel, and is a story of morality, military duty and social responsibility.

Except for the first few minutes on another ship, the movie takes place on a British man-o-war, in 1797. The British ship stops a merchant ship and impresses the young naive Billy into the British navy, which is at war with France. Billy is soft-spoken and outgoing, and soon makes friends with the crew. However, he unknowingly gets on the bad side of the sadistic master-at-arms Claggart, until Billy is falsely accused of mutiny by him. Stammering and unable to form a verbal response, Billy reflexively hits Claggart and accidentally kills him. Now, sympathetic Captain Vere and a board of inquiry must decide Billy's fate.

The movie is perfectly acted by all, especially Peter Ustinov (who also directed) as Captain Vere, Robert Ryan as Claggart, and Terence Stamp in his critically-acclaimed first role, as Billy Budd.

This is an excellent movie that deserves a better, and/or cheaper, DVD. The "digitally mastered" phrase referring to this DVD only means it uses binary "1"s and "0"s, not that the picture is enhanced or even any good. In fact the otherwise nice black-and-white photography suffers from whatever old print the DVD was made from, as the whites tend to glow, and the contrast and image quality are pretty soft. This expensive DVD is in fact so cheap there is not even a menu, much less a trailer, subtitles or any other extra.

This is a first rate movie on a poor DVD. Still, I'm glad I have it in my collection. You will be, too.

Edit: Warner has released an excellent version. Get that one.
30 of 35 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa544d27c) out of 5 stars Naval drama of the highest order June 26 2002
By The Bruce - Published on
Verified Purchase
I first saw this many years ago...a truly excellent and thought-provoking film.

When Billy Budd accidentally kills a sadistic officer on-board ship, the captain is forced to lay charges under wartime Naval law. In the process he unleashes larger issues about good and evil, and condemning a good man using "just the facts". If you liked the courtroom scene in The Caine Mutiny, you will find this fascinating.

March 9, 2007: Wouldn't you know it! I had this DVD pre-ordered and tracked its progress hourly by the USPS website to my front door. But when I arrived home it was nowhere to be found...someone made off with it(!) I have never had any mail stolen before...luckily a replacement is on the way (perhaps the thief will watch it, see themselves in Claggart and amend their ways....)
25 of 29 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa5449ec4) out of 5 stars caveat emptor Dec 5 2006
By T. P. Lewis - Published on
Format: DVD
Yes, you are correct. The video quality of this DVD you own is atrocious. That is because you have been DUPED. That is because it is a BOOTLEG. I have been tracking the progress of a potential DVD release of this movie since the time I bought my very first DVD player. Unfortunately for the general public, back in June of 2002, the rights to this masterpiece fell into the hands of Allied Artists Entertainment. (See my scathing review of those clowns below). They came up with the ingenious idea to release this classic on a low quality, dying format (VHS). But my patience has finally paid off, as Warner Brothers will be releasing a full length, unedited, restored, anamorphic widescreen version on DVD in March of 2007. Well, folks, I'm very sorry you fell for this one but don't feel bad as this was a well orchestrated scam. Hey look, even fell for it! I believe this junk was first made available on a seedy website called MoviesUnlimited. I guess Amazon wanted a piece of the action and took the bait. As a reputable online store (it's where I shop), Amazon should immediately pull this from their site. But c'mon folks, what were ya thinkin when it arrived in the mail...the cover art's scanned from the VHS box, the disc itself has no label on it, the recorded side is Purple, and the disc contains no menus or chapter stops. Did ya think it might have been good idea to return it immediately??? But fear not. In just four months all of us Billy Budd fans can finally rejoice together. Take care.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa5529894) out of 5 stars What a Classic! Dec 3 2006
By Dale Cockayne - Published on
Format: DVD
I saw this movie when I was 10 years old and it never left me. I studied the book in University, and was given the VHS copy from England some years ago. What a classic! Lines such as " The Law will exist as long as man has a mind, and Justice as long as he has a heart" and "Goodbye old Rights of Man" stay with me to this day. Ustinov did such a brilliant job in capturing the heart of the novelette by Melville. The portrayals of each character were excellent, as was the tension between Budd and Claggart, not just black and white caricatures, but expressions of the complexity and complicity of the human heart. Terrence Stamp is totally believable in a role that would be very hard to portray, Robert Ryan as Claggart is so totally humanly corrupt and bitter that you feel pity for him even as you despise him, Ustinov as Captain Vere is palpably torn in his head versus heart conflict. Keep an eye out for a very young John Meillon (Wally in Crocodile Dundee fame for those outside Oz) and David McAllum pre "Man from U.N.C.L.E." fame. A terrific tale on so many levels and one of real impact to those who believe in LAW versus JUSTICE. God bless Captain Vere!