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 »
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Won 1 Oscar. Another 3 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:

From Rudyard Kipling's best-loved story, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer has fashioned picture. Two years to make! Fortunes to produce! It will live in your memory forever... See more »


Certificate:

G | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

For a difficult shot in which Freddie Bartholomew was to fall out of one of the dories racing back to the We're Here, Victor Fleming spent an hour rehearsing so that Bartholomew would hopefully not have to do more than a single take in the icy waters. One of the real-life seamen helping the crew, Captain J.M. Hersey, said at the time, "[Crew member and Olympic swimmer] Stubby Kruger, out of camera range, was all ready to dive in if [Spencer Tracy] had difficulty hauling Freddie back into the dory, but Freddie was sure everything was going to be all right. The kid has nerve, all right. A second dory was ready to race over if there was any hitch, and Mr. Fleming himself had a leg over the rail and wouldn't have hesitated to drop in. Tracy's dory came up alongside. As he reached for the forward dory hook, Freddie put one foot on the gunwale, started to pass up the trawl tub, and took a backward header. Tracy, quick as a flash, reached over, grabbed him by the collar as he came up, got a grip with his other hand on the lad's trousers, and pulled him in as if he was landing a codfish. It was all over in a few seconds. We hauled up the dory, rushed Freddie below, stripped him, dried him, rubbed him down, and put him between blankets in a bunk where [Lionel Barrymore], Charley Grapewin, Tracy and others came down and kidded him about his Olympic high-dive." See more »

Goofs

When planning the Atlantic crossing, Mr. Cheyne is told that the trip would happen on the Queen Anne. A lifeboat on the ship is shown with a name that is partially obscured, but appears to say QUEEN MARY. "QUEEN" is shown in its entirety, and the letters "AR" are clearly shown in the second word. 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 ...
[...]
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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 Stars of the Silver Screen: Spencer Tracy (2014) See more »

Soundtracks

Ooh What a Terrible Man
(1937) (uncredited)
Lyrics by Gus Kahn
Music by Franz Waxman
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User Reviews

 
Guaranteed to reduce you to sobbing wreck
28 February 2005 | by mik-19See all my reviews

I dare anyone to sit through this film with dry eyes! Especially people of the male persuasion. There is simply no way it can be done.

Young teen Freddie Bartholomew is a snotty, spoilt brat, and on a cruise with his dad he falls overboard and is rescued by Portuguese fisherman Spencer Tracy who takes him to Captain Lionel Barrymore's commercial fishing ship. They can't afford to go give up their fishing to take the arrogant kid back to land, and so Freddie is forced to spend three months with the crew, gradually mellowing into a nice boy and evolving into a rugged, no-nonsense kid who dotes on Tracy's rough and ready Manuel.

Victor Fleming was never the most subtle of directors, and this adaptation of Kipling's story does not thrive on its wealth of detail or the ambiguity of emotion, but its sweep is epic and its heart so real that you feel you have been on a roller-coaster-ride. I loved the reels of the men fishing and preparing the fish, it had a nice documentary feel to it, akin to the silent 'Down to the Sea in Ships' that 'Captains Courageous' resembles a lot at times. The cinematography is beautiful, the mist and fog captured with finesse.

But this film is all about acting. Spencer Tracy got an Oscar for his acting as Manuel, cast against type. And although his performance verges on the sentimental, it never actually tips over. But the film belongs to Freddie Bartholomew who surely must have been tempted to overboard with emotion, but, miraculously, never does. This boy was an astute and intuitive actor, and he never sets a foot wrong. Mickey Rooney shines in an itsy bitsy part as the captain's son. He never tries to steal any scenes from Bartholomew (as one suspects he might, and could!), but concentrates on a brisk, matter-of-fact performance of this young pro of the sea, every movement he makes seems exactly right, again almost documentary-like.

Watch this film if you get the chance. They don't come much better, and yes, it will make you bawl and sob. Be warned.


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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)
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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