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Harvey Cheyne is a spoiled brat used to having his own way. When a prank goes wrong onboard an ocean liner Harvey ends up overboard and nearly drowns. Fortunately he's picked up by a fishing boat just heading out for the season. He tries to bribe the crew into returning early to collect a reward but none of them believe him. Stranded on the boat he must adapt to the ways of the fishermen and learn more about the real world. Written by
Col Needham <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Frank Burton Cheyne:
Elliot, I'm going to be a father again.
Good Heavens, Mr. Cheyne.
No, no no Elliot... just that it seems that smart little boys from so-called wealthy well-bred parents don't grow up very successfully by themselves.
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The opening credits are letters on planks, like the lettering on the side of ships, and between screen-fulls, a foaming wave of water splashes over it and then runs off. In the initial sets of credits, these appear to be actually letter-forms attached to the wood, as the water gets deflected by some of the letters; in later sets of credits, this effect is harder to see and the sets may be credits superimposed upon wood. See more »
That was quite a catch that Spencer Tracy made that day in the Grand Banks of Newfoundland.
Young Freddie Bartholomew the spoiled son of tycoon Melvyn Douglas falls overboard off an ocean liner. By the merest chance, Spencer Tracy is in his dory fishing and reels in young Bartholomew. After his catch is made, Tracy returns to the boat that captain Lionel Barrymore is commanding.
It's quite a culture shock to the lad. He's fallen in literally with a bunch of people who work for a living and have no real interest in him because his Daddy's the richest guy around. Truth is Melvyn Douglas has been neglecting the kid for business and young Bartholomew is not really as bad a kid as originally thought. He joins the crew and becomes close to Tracy.
Of Tracy's two Oscar winning performances, the part of Manuel the Portugese fisherman, transplanted to New England is a bit more showy than Father Flanagan. It's a good blend of the roughneck characters Tracy was used to playing and the new father figure persona he adopted in San Francisco.
By necessity Tracy had to adopt an accent if for no other reasons than to distinguish him from the other members of Lionel Barrymore's crew and their clipped New England speech. The Portugese are a hearty, seafaring group though and I certainly never heard any complaint that his performance was in any way demeaning. Manuel's a simple guy, but with a good way of life and an appreciation for the important things life has to offer. That is what he imparts to Freddie Bartholomew.
Melvyn Douglas does not get enough recognition for this film. Just as Freddie Bartholomew is not a bad kid at heart, Douglas is not a bad man either. His performance as a man who lost his only child and then had him miraculously returned from the dead is touching. And the scenes where he tries to repair his relationship with young Bartholomew are poignant.
Lionel Barrymore is the perfect conception of a hearty New England fishing boat captain. As Freddie Bartholomew watches the interaction between Barrymore and Mickey Rooney, father and son, sharing not just playtime, but the father's profession, he realizes what he and Melvyn Douglas have missed out on.
Of the crew also pay close attention to John Carradine who resents and then accepts Bartholomew with the crew.
The fishing scenes are well done and Director Victor Fleming gives you a good picture of life on a commercial fishing vessel.
Captains Courageous is a fine family film in every sense of the word.
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