John Barrymore's second sailing as the carefree scalawag harpoonist, who evolves into the maimed and driven Captain Ahab in the first sound adaptation of Moby Dick, may play fast and loose with Herman Melville (just like its silent predecessor The Sea Beast), but it charts a unique and highly entertaining course.
The Great Profile plays Ahab as a lovestruck swain whose romance with a New Bedford parson's daughter (Joan Bennett) is severed when he loses his right leg in an ill-starred encounter with the Great White Whale, and his jealous brother (Lloyd Hughes) leads him to believe that his once-promised marriage can never be. So Ahab embarks again as the obsessed master of his own ship with a shanghaied crew to once more hunt the mighty mammal.
Lloyd Bacon's vigorous direction, the fluidly mobile camerawork and the spot-on production design create a lustrous period flavor to match the power of the peerless Barrymore – all the way to an ending that may gall Melville purists, but will enthrall fans of splendid studio moviemaking. Thar she blows, indeed.