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Captains Courageous (1937)

Passed | | Adventure, Drama, Family | 25 June 1937 (USA)
Trailer
2:27 | Trailer
A spoiled brat who falls overboard from a steamship gets picked up by a fishing boat, where he's made to earn his keep by joining the crew in their work.

Director:

Victor Fleming

Writers:

Rudyard Kipling (novel), John Lee Mahin (screen play) | 2 more credits »
Reviews
Won 1 Oscar. Another 2 wins & 6 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Freddie Bartholomew ... Harvey
Spencer Tracy ... Manuel
Lionel Barrymore ... Disko
Melvyn Douglas ... Mr. Cheyne
Charley Grapewin ... Uncle Salters
Mickey Rooney ... Dan
John Carradine ... 'Long Jack'
Oscar O'Shea ... Cushman
Jack La Rue ... Priest (as Jack LaRue)
Walter Kingsford ... Dr. Finley
Donald Briggs ... Tyler
Sam McDaniel ... 'Doc' (as Sam McDaniels)
Bill Burrud ... Charles (as Billy Burrud)
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Storyline

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 <col@imdb.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The Most Exciting Picture Since "Mutiny On The Bounty" See more »


Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

For Victor Fleming, the biggest challenge with the shoot was having to deal with the frequent frustrations of uncooperative weather. "We had purposely set out in October in order to take advantage of the fog," said Fleming. "But for days after we began to work, either the sun would break through or the wind would cause a break in the mist." On one occasion Fleming became so fed up with the ever-changing weather while trying to get a shot in the water that he finally threw up his arms in defeat. "Fleming said, 'Goddamnit, we're going home!'," recalled Spencer Tracy. "And then we went back to Catalina to get the stuff we had left in the hotel, and Fleming was in such a hurry to get away that he was using a speedboat [while] the rest of us were going to use a big tug. He walked out on the pier to jump into his speedboat, and the speedboat took off and he went into the water--with his white [pants], all dressed up." See more »

Goofs

When Disko hits him Harvey falls over but keeps his hat on. In the next shot Havery has no hat on. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Burns: [to the maid as he adjusts her tray] There'll be none of that. No trays.
Dr. Finley: [hurriedly relaying highlighted news updates to Mr. Cheyne as he wolfs down breakfast] The Star Telegram has you quoted quite definitely: 'before departing by plane for New York, Mr. Cheyne stated that the new equipment is to be provided by the present bond issue.' The other papers have virtually the same.
Frank Burton Cheyne: What do the confidentials say?
Dr. Finley: Tuesday morning, Paris wires: the president will probably sign the batamant ...
[...]
See more »

Crazy Credits

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 »

Connections

Featured in MGM Parade: Episode #1.28 (1956) See more »

Soundtracks

What Shall We Do with The Drunken Sailor?
(uncredited)
Traditional
See more »

User Reviews

 
Being a boy, being spoiled, finding truth...quite the tale
19 January 2014 | by secondtakeSee all my reviews

Captains Courageous (1937)

You might think this movie will come off as old-fashioned and stale, a old Kipling yarn filmed in the 1930s in black and white. Well don't pre-judge this! It's really good. Fast, energetic, touching, and filled with good acting and great filming. It even has a moral tale that doesn't smack you as sentimental, but is a good reminder of what counts in life.

The main character is a rich boy who obviously needs to learn some lessons in humility and honor. And he's played with real perfection by the young English actor Freddie Bartholomew who had a five year heyday of great roles and great performances with classic adventure stories told on film. And there are parallels here of bigger tales like "Kidnapped" (1938) and "David Copperfield" (1935), with a child intersecting the world of adults and its perils.

His adult friend is the bigger star, Spencer Tracy, who does a good job though I've never quite loved his style of acting. Here he plays a Portuguese sailor with a half an accent and it's the one problem in the film. Next to him in a big role is Lionel Barrymore, who recognizably makes for a quirky captain of the fishing boat. He's great. And so are the other side characters, including a whole slew of big names from the time (John Carradine and Mickey Rooney are probably most famous now).

Much of the film is a low key adventure film. It's aimed at kids the way "The Wizard of Oz" is aimed at kids—meaning it's great for adults, too, and there are a few things snuck in to keep older viewers attuned. Director Victor Fleming went on to direct "Oz" and much of "Gone with the Wind" in two years, and you can feel his Hollywood expertise in every scene here. This is not a stiff 1930s movie if your head is in that mode. Fleming (with photographer great Harold Rosson, who shot "Oz" and a hundred others) makes it vivid and wondrous. The mix of studio shots and authentic sea footage (made with a second film crew in the North Atlantic) is brilliantly handled—no back projection goofs here.

I really liked this movie. It's straight up filmic storytelling. No distractions, no bumbling. Give it a go and be surprised.


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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Portuguese

Release Date:

25 June 1937 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Rudyard Kipling's Captains Courageous See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$1,645,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

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