Based on the novel by Ernest Hemingway. Santiago goes out on his usual fishing trip and makes a huge catch, the biggest of his life. Then a shark attacks and tries to steal his catch. ... See full summary »
Against all odds Father Flanagan starts "Boys' Town" after hearing a convict's story. Whitey Marsh comes there. He runs away but, hungry, returns. He runs away again but, when friend Pee ... See full summary »
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
Ernest Hemingway's "The Old Man and the Sea" is a classic literary work but it isn't well suited to screen adaptation. This film has some of the necessary ingredients for success but comes up short in several respects.
Spencer Tracy turns in a fine performance as the titular 'old man', one which was rewarded with an Oscar nomination. Felipe Pazos (as the boy), on the other hand, is a dreadful actor and almost drags Tracy's performance down in the scenes that they share. Tracy does double duty as the omniscient narrator as well, though I don't think that it made much sense to delegate that task to the actor playing the main character of the film.
John Sturges seems to have had to cobble together footage from various shoots and locations, resulting in a somewhat haphazard look. Budgetary concerns were likely a part of the problem along with limitations in technology.
Dimitri Tiomkin's score won an Oscar but I didn't think it was that exceptional. Certainly not nearly as memorable as the scores that Elmer Bernstein provided for Sturges's "The Magnificent Seven" and "The Great Escape".
While some will undoubtedly find the story boring I think that it is easily the best part of this picture. Behind the simple story of a man and his marlin there are layers upon layers of deeper meaning. I could have done without some of the narration, though, particularly when the same thing could have been conveyed with visuals.
In the end, I give the content of the film high points though the film's technical aspects are riddled with inadequacies. It's worth watching but you should be prepared for some decidedly rough edges.
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