H.M.S. Avenger is headed into battle against the French fleet during the Napoleonic Wars, and the dark shadow of two recent mutinies in the English fleet concern Captain Vere (Sir Peter Ustinov). He relies on his cruel and often sadistic Master-at-Arms John Claggert (Robert Ryan) to maintain what he believes to be tenuous order and discipline aboard the ship. When a new seaman, Billy Budd (Terence Stamp), is pressed into service from a passing merchantman, his innocent, happy-go-lucky attitude quickly endears him to his messmates as well as the ship's officers. However, his charismatic naivete seems to bother Claggert, whose perverse depravity makes him resent Billy's good-natured purity, especially after the teenager's promotion to fore-top Captain. The mean-spirited Claggert unfairly plots to put him on report and ultimately perjures himself when he accuses Billy of conspiring to mutiny.
Gabe Taverney (firstname.lastname@example.org)
TERENCE STAMP A new face! A new talent! A great new star discovery!
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Did You Know?
Terence Stamp stated that he was disconcerted by Robert Ryan keeping him at a distance during filming. He later realized that this had been done deliberately to create the right tension between their characters. See more
After the trial, the captain speaks with Budd below decks. In some shots Billy's head cast a long shadow on his left shoulder. In others, a short one. Then his head's shadow is on his right shoulder. See more
It's wrong to flog a man. It's against his being a man.
As the cast is listed onscreen, the actors are heard stating their characters' names and ranks. See more
Version of Billy Budd