Moby Dick (1956) – thoughts of a UK Script Consultant

As a UK script consultant, I like many people now view more and more films on TV, or on a PC or tablet. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with this – I got to the cinema for films that I want to see on a big screen. I wish I had seen Moby Dick (1956) on the big screen.

Hollywood increasingly pumps up the volume and special effects for big films that (supposedly) need to be seen in the cinema for maximum affect. Well, in 1956 they were doing it too – Moby Dick is to the 50s what Jaws was in 1975.

Of course, the whole thing is based on the classic Herman Melville novel, but sitting watching this on BluRay the other night it was like being transferred back in time – not to 1956 when the film was made – but to 1851 when the events in the story are meant to take place.

This has a brilliant look, amazing production design, stunning photography and let’s not forget the screenplay by Huston and Ray Bradbury. Which cleverly distils a massive book down to a two hour film, and keeps all the emotional impact.

Huston’s films are sometimes all over the place, but when he connects with the material he was better than many directors with greater reputations.

If this film ever gets a cinema re-release or is shown at a festival on the big screen, I’ll be there. Pass the popcorn.

Matthew Cooper has been a script writer for hire for over 20 years. He’s written for most of the UK soaps, including writing award winning episodes of Emmerdale, EastEnders, Hollyoaks and Family Affairs and has been BAFTA shortlisted and Royal Television Society nominated as a script writer. He’s also a leading UK script consultant. You can find some of his broadcast credits on the IMDb. You can get in touch with Matthew on or hire him on Peopleperhour