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The Old Man and the Sea (1958)

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An old Cuban fisherman's dry spell is broken when he hooks a gigantic fish that drags him out to sea. Based on Ernest Hemingway's story.


, (uncredited) | 1 more credit »


Won 1 Oscar. Another 5 wins & 4 nominations. See more awards »



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Complete credited cast:
The Old Man / Narrator
Felipe Pazos ...
The Boy (as Felipe Pazos Jr.)
Cafe Proprietor
Don Blackman ...
Hand Wrestler
Joey Ray ...
Mary Hemingway ...
Richard Alameda ...
Tony Rosa ...
Carlos Rivero ...
Robert Alderette ...


Now an old man, a lifelong fisherman sets out to sea to ply his trade as he has done all of his life. He's not had much good fortune of late and has gone almost three months without a major catch while others are catching one or even two large marlins every week. Many of the locals make fun of him and some say he's too old now to be fishing but he still loves what he does and is encouraged by a young boy who loves him and has faith in him. On this day he hooks the fish of a lifetime, a marlin that is larger than his skiff. As it slowly pulls him out to sea, the old man reminisces about his past, his successes and the high points of his life. When he does finally manage to land the fish he has to fight off sharks who are feeding on it as he tries to return to his Cuban village. Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

fisherman | sea | fish | old man | marlin | See All (48) »


SPENCER TRACY in his most suspenseful role...ERNEST HEMINGWAY'S story of Heroism...Defeat...Victory!


Adventure | Drama


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Release Date:

11 October 1958 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

El viejo y el mar  »

Box Office


$5,000,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound Recording)



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Spencer Tracy personally flew to Cuba to meet Ernest Hemingway and get his approval. See more »


Although the Old Man is supposed to be way out at sea and all alone, at around 33:00 a small boat with a person on it can clearly be seen between the old man's body and his left arm. Apparently the previous wide shot (Old Man in boat) is reused as background for a following close shot of the Old Man. See more »


Referenced in The Simpsons: Hit & Run (2003) See more »


Cancion del Pescador
Music by Dimitri Tiomkin
Lyrics by Nestor Amaral
See more »

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User Reviews

A Good Adaptation & A Poignant Performance By Spencer Tracy
12 December 2005 | by (Ohio) – See all my reviews

Ernest Hemingway's "The Old Man and the Sea" is a fine story, but it gives every indication of being quite a challenge to any film-maker hoping to adapt it to the screen. This is a good effort, with a well-conceived approach to getting across the story and the main ideas. Yet it required above all the right leading actor, and Spencer Tracy comes through with a poignant performance that pulls everything else together.

Tracy is perfectly cast as the old fisherman. His voice is ideal, not only for the character but also for reading the lengthy voice-over narrations from Hemingway's text. The narration is used to communicate some of the story's key themes, and without just the right reader it probably would not have worked at all. Tracy also seems to identify with the character closely, since his mannerisms and body language almost always seem just right.

The action parts of the story rely heavily on stock footage, and sometimes on rather obvious models, but the action is not nearly as important as are the old man's character and his thoughts. Although there are some exciting moments in his battle with nature, it is what these bring out in him, not the events themselves, that are important.

What works especially well here are the old man's dreams and thoughts of the past. They are all-important in defining the character, and this adaptation manages them better than you could hope for, with the simplest of means. Once again, Tracy's narration matches the content perfectly.

The heart of the story is an honest but compassionate look at a man almost thoroughly ignored by the world, seemingly with little purpose to his life. His importance comes not from any outstanding achievement or valuable talent, but simply because he is a human being, with his own hopes, memories, and worries that are unique to him. This movie version succeeds well in rendering a touching picture of its main character.

14 of 17 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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