Creator Killer: Melville was a pretty successful author between 1845 and 1850. Unfortunately, after Moby Dick tanked, he never truly recovered and his work during his last 30 years was largely ignored and unknown. Reportedly, this caused a Creator Breakdown.
Referenced by...: Bone, where it is the protagonist Fone Bone's favorite book (although it's otherwise given a huge Take That! as it's an insomnia cure to anyone else).
Science Marches On: While the author was very knowledgeable about cetology, some "facts" he used have since been proven to be inaccurate.
"Be it known that, waiving all argument, I take the good old fashioned ground that the whale is a fish."
More of a case of definitions march on. "Fish" originally just meant "animal that lives exclusively in water". Melville recognises that whales are warm-blooded, breathe air, and bear live young, but just doesn't think that a sufficient reason to redefine what "fish" means.
He also mentions phrenology and physiognomy, both now considered pseudosciences.
Chapter 105 poo-poohs the notion that whaling might endanger the whale population.
Troubled Production: Filming was delayed by cast injuries (Gregory Peck, who did not use a double, injured his kneecap, Richard Basehart broke his ankle while jumping into a longboat, and Leo Genn slipped a disk and caught pneumonia before shooting had finished) and bad weather which caused the budget to overrun. And then there was the white whale. A ninety-foot model was built for $30,000. A tug pulled it out into the Irish Sea and, after two shots were completed, the towline snapped and the whale quickly sank. A second whale was built on a barge but a storm also sank it without a trace. Finally a third whale was built and again the towline snapped. John Huston had had enough. He climbed into the whale and shouted, "Lose this whale and you lose me!" He stayed aboard as two crew members swam under the whale, grabbed the line, and reconnected it. In his autobiography, Huston called this, "The most difficult picture I ever made".
Underage Casting: Gregory Peck acknowledged that he was too young to play Captain Ahab at 38, when he's supposed to be an old man at the end of his career.