Long before Jaws terrorized Martha's Vineyard Island off the southern coast of Massachusetts in 1975, there was Moby Dick.

Folks who saw the films take no chances when great white sharks appear in Massachusetts coastal waters. They remain on land.

What is the fascination these sea creatures have with Massachusetts anyway?

It's reminiscent of how Godzilla had a thing for Japan in the middle of the last century. Inverse.com says Godzilla savaged Tokyo alone at least 13 times and other Japanese cities at least 18 times throughout 32 films.

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Moby Dick was a fictional white sperm whale that drove Captain Ahab crazy in Herman Melville's novel Moby-Dick. The book was turned into a Hollywood film in 1956, in which Gregory Peck starred as Captain Ahab. Orson Welles also appeared in the film.

Herman Melville was born in New York City in 1819 and died there in 1891. On January 3, 1841, Melville set sail from Fairhaven aboard the whaling vessel Acushnet as a "green hand" for 1/175th of whatever profits the voyage would yield.

Before sailing, Melville attended a sermon at Seaman's Bethel on Johnny Cake Hill in New Bedford. He drew from his experience in writing Moby-Dick.

New Bedford Will Celebrate Moby Dick Movie Night In July
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When the film version premiered on June 27, 1956, at the State, Empire and New Bedford Theaters in downtown New Bedford, it launched a celebration that lasted several days and included a parade featuring the film's star, Gregory Peck.

The Standard-Times reported, "Senator John F. Kennedy bought the premier's first ticket." The paper reported when Peck and other notables arrived at New Bedford Regional Airport for the festivities, "About 10,000 people greeted the plane, thousands showing up four hours before its scheduled arrival."

Mayor Francis Lawler was on hand and presented Peck and the others with keys to the city. Peck spent the next three nights at the New Bedford Hotel and toured the Whaling Museum and Seamen's Bethel, among other places.

There were also parties at the Wamsutta Club and Gaudette's Pavillion, now the Century House.

When it was over, Peck and the others left New Bedford by train.

The New Bedford Whaling Museum, which hosts the annual Moby Dick Marathon each January, is hosting "Moby Dick Movie Night" on Wednesday, July 10, 2024, at 6 pm in the museum's Cook Memorial Theater. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased online.

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