Billy Budd

Drama |English | 123 minutes | 1962


Aboard an eighteenth-century naval ship, Billy, an overly optimistic eighteen-year-old, sets off on his first voyage. Billy is relentlessly tormented by Claggart, the vicious master-at-arms and his equally despicable lackey, Squeak. The harassment builds up to a boiling point and Billy kills Claggart.  It’s a classic case of good vs. evil. The ship’s commander, Captain Vere,  is tormented between his compassion for Billy and following maritime law which calls for Billy to be hanged.  That is the question Captain Vere must now decide.

Terence Stamp (Billy) / Robert Ryan (Claggart) / Peter Ustinov (Captain Vere) / Lee Montague (Squeak)
Why Stream This Film?
Is there ever an occasion when a homicide is justifiable? In all cases, is the law the law and must be obeyed? This superb film addresses these questions. And, most likely, these questions dealing with Billy Budd may also torment you.
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score (Critics Consensus): 90%
  • Academy Awards: Nominated,  Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Terence Stamp)
  • Golden Globes: Winner, Most Promising Newcomer (Terence Stamp)
  • National Board of Review: Selected, Top Ten Films of the Year
The script thoughtfully examines the dangers of placing the letter of the law over true justice.
Matt Brunson

Creative Loafing

The classic conflict of good and evil, of a pure young British soldier tormented by a vicious master-at-arms, is firmly battened down and rendered shipshape in a splendid film based upon the book and on a recent play. The physical setting of the drama is flawlessly achieved.
Bosley Crowther

The New York Times



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