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Captains Courageous

Captains Courageous

4.2 8
Director: Victor Fleming, Spencer Tracy, Freddie Bartholomew, Lionel Barrymore

Cast: Victor Fleming, Spencer Tracy, Freddie Bartholomew, Lionel Barrymore


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A boy learns life-changing lessons about the importance of friendship and the dignity of labor in this adventure saga based on a story by Rudyard Kipling. Young Harvey Cheyne (Freddie Bartholomew) is the working definition of a spoiled brat; the only child of a wealthy widowed businessman, Harvey has everything he needs, but never


A boy learns life-changing lessons about the importance of friendship and the dignity of labor in this adventure saga based on a story by Rudyard Kipling. Young Harvey Cheyne (Freddie Bartholomew) is the working definition of a spoiled brat; the only child of a wealthy widowed businessman, Harvey has everything he needs, but never stops asking for more, convinced he can get anything if he yells, pouts, or throws the right tantrum. Even other boys his age are disgusted with his antics. Suspended from school, Harvey joins his father on a voyage across the Atlantic to Europe; but early in the trip, he falls overboard off the New England coast. He is rescued by Manuel (Spencer Tracy), a deck hand and doryman on a Gloucester fishing boat, where the young pest is initially less than welcome. Harvey shows no gratitude to Manuel for saving his life and demands to be taken home immediately; Manuel and the crew, not the least bit sympathetic, inform him that once they've filled the ship's hold with fresh catch, they'll return to shore, and not a moment sooner. Over the next few weeks, Harvey grows from a self-centered pantywaist into a young man who appreciates the value of a hard day's work, and in Manuel he finds the strength, guidance and good sense that he never got from his father. Spencer Tracy earned an Academy Award for his performance in Captains Courageous and even sings a bit; the story was parodied years later (with a few rather drastic changes) in the Chris Elliott vehicle Cabin Boy.

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Bruce Kluger
In the latter part of his career, Spencer Tracy settled into a series of leading roles for which he became forever associated, from Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea to Katharine Hepburn's foil in some of Hollywood's best romantic comedies, such as Adam's Rib. But in 1937, Tracy -- then among the decathletes of character actors -- took on the role of Manuel, the Portuguese fisherman in the screen adaptation of Rudyard Kipling's adventure tale, Captains Courageous. Equal parts action movie and allegory, the story concerns Harvey Cheyne (Freddie Bartholomew), a spoiled rich boy who, after falling from the deck of an ocean liner, is hauled from the sea by Manuel (Tracy), a doryman on a Gloucester fishing ship. Instead of returning the boy to shore, Manuel and his shipmates put Harvey to work, informing him that there's no going to shore until the ship's hold is full of fish. While the rest of the film provides enough action and scenery to hold the attention of viewers both young and old, its best attraction is in watching Tracy dole out the kind of wisdom, guidance, and love that Harvey, and any child, so clearly requires. Tracy won an Oscar for his performance, which is supported by, among others: Melvyn Douglas as Harvey's well-meaning tycoon dad; Lionel Barrymore, as the fishing vessel's wise, crusty captain; and Mickey Rooney as a young mate on the ship. It remains among the great all time screen yarns.
All Movie Guide - Dan Jardine
Rudyard Kipling's well-known novel enjoys an excellent adaptation in Victor Fleming's splendidly directed film. There are some well-directed action sequences that get the heart pounding, but the core of the story is in the slowly developing relationship between Harvey and Manuel. In an unlikely "love" story, these two opposites -- a privileged, tyrannical child who has never known a moment of pain or want, and a gentle, humble man who has had to work very hard for everything he has and endure some real hardships along the way -- learn to love each other. Through a combination of forbearance, forgiveness, and firmness, Manuel teaches Harvey more about life in his three months on the boat than he would have learned if he had spent his entire life in his penthouse apartment. The climax of the film may bring tears to even the most hard-bitten viewer. Captains Courageous was nominated for four Academy Awards, including Best Picture. Spencer Tracy, who won his first of two consecutive Best Actor Oscars, was the only one to walk away with a statuette.

Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
Warner Home Video
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Special Features

Closed Caption; Vintage short: The Little Maestro; Classic cartoon: Little Buck Cheeser; Leo Is on the Air - radio promo; 2 theatrical trailers; Languages: English & Français; Subtitles: English, Français & Español (Feature Film Only)

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Spencer Tracy Manuel
Freddie Bartholomew Harvey Cheyne
Lionel Barrymore Captain Disko
Melvyn Douglas Mr. Cheyne
Charles Grapewin Uncle Salters
John Carradine "Long Jack"
Mickey Rooney Dan Troop
Oscar O'Shea Cushman
Jack LaRue Priest
Walter Kingsford Dr. Finley
Donald Briggs Tyler
Sam McDaniel "Doc"
Billy Burrud Charles
Betty Alden Actor
William Arnold Reporter
Wade Boteler Skipper of Blue Gill
Don Brodie Actor
Charles Coleman Butler
Jimmy Conlin Thin Man
Lester Dorr Corridor Steward
Larry Fisher Actor
Sherry Hall Actor
Dick Howard Actor
Lloyd Ingraham Skipper of Ship
Jack Kennedy Captain of Flying Swan
Dave Kerman Actor
Myra Marsh Chester's Wife
Philo McCullough Actor
Mira McKinney Actor
Edward Peil Fisherman
Gil Perkins Actor
Richard Powell Steward
Gene Reynolds Actor
Frank Sully Taxi Driver
Gertrude Sutton Nate's Wife
Lee van Atta Actor
Monte Vandergrift Sailor on Flying Swan
James Kilgannon Actor
Bill Fisher Actor
Jack Sterling Actor
Reggie Streeter Bits
Art Berry Capt. Anderson
Christian Rub Old Clement
Tommy Bupp Boy
Leo G. Carroll Burns
Charles Trowbridge Dr. Walsh
Billy Gilbert Soda Steward
Murray Kinnell Minister
William Stack Elliott
Bobby Watson Reporter
David Thursby Tom
Dave Wengren Lars
Jay Ward Pogey
Gladden James Secretary Cobb
Katherine Kenworthy Mrs. Disko
Norman Ainsley Robbins
Roger Gray Nate Rogers
Wally Albright Boy

Technical Credits
Victor Fleming Director
Marc Connolly Screenwriter
Cedric Gibbons Art Director
Arnold A. Gillespie Art Director
Gus Kahn Songwriter
Louis D. Lighton Producer
John Lee Mahin Screenwriter
Harold Hal Rosson Cinematographer
Dale Van Every Screenwriter
Clifford Vaughan Score Composer
Elmo Vernon Editor
Franz Waxman Score Composer
Edwin B. Willis Art Director

Scene Index

Disc #1 -- Captains Courageous
1. Credits [1:28]
2. It Wants Breakfast in Bed [4:01]
3. Harvey's Threat [3:06]
4. Dishonest Behavior [5:43]
5. Parent / Teacher Talk [5:05]
6. Soda Fountain Sport [4:37]
7. Overboard [4:24]
8. No Course Change [3:01]
9. Smacked Silent [3:31]
10. Bad Luck [3:21]
11. Anything For Manuel [3:33]
12. The Song Inside [4:59]
13. The Jennie Cushman [3:09]
14. Crew At Work [5:59]
15. Smart Kid [2:22]
16. That's a Wager [3:31]
17. Heavenly Fisherman [6:29]
18. No-Cheat Fishing [3:30]
19. Confessing to Long Jack [3:04]
20. Singing Anger Away [2:08]
21. Fishing Frenzy [4:06]
22. Hasty Exit [4:58]
23. Racing The Cushman [2:30]
24. His Little Fish [3:47]
25. Close Call [3:19]
26. Topsail Collapse [1:54]
27. Manuel's Farewell [3:12]
28. Keepsakes [4:24]
29. Advice Between Fathers [3:34]
30. Where Manuel Is [3:51]
31. Flowers Into the Sea [3:48]


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Captains Courageous 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
dec0558 More than 1 year ago
I'm 49 and I saw this film as a kid back in 1970 when MGM re-released it (and other family friendly classic films) as a special weekend "children's matinee" feature.

It was one of the most memorable films from my childhood: exciting, funny and very emotional. The film is the perfect example of what film makers SHOULD do when translating classic literature for the screen.

While it is great for the whole family, and while kids will be entranced, this is NOT a kid's film. It is, simply put, a movie for ANYONE--adults as well as kids. Given the exciting setting of the story, this movie will have particular appeal to men of ANY age.

Victor Flemming (who directed this film) is one of the great, NEGLECTED directors in American film history. He directed such hits as the original "Treasure Island." More than any other director he transformed Clark Gable into a motion picture legend--with such films as "Red Dust" in the early 1930's. But more importantly Flemming directed TWO of the GREATEST CLASSIC FILMS OF ALL TIMES---and he directed both of them in the SAME YEAR: 1939 (the year that film critics and historians consider to have been the best year ever in American film history.) Those two classic films were very different types of movies. (It's impossible to pin Flemming down to any one style or genre; he excelled at all.) The two films are "The Wizard of Oz" and "Gone With the Wind." One would assume that if someone had directed ONLY these two movies, that director would be as universally praised as a director. But sadly enough, Victor Flemming is forgotten and ignored.

Watch "Captain Coourageous" and discover a GREAT film by a GREAT director.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Captains Courageous is a great film for the whole family to enjoy. It is an interesting look into the hard work and dangers of commercial fishing as well as a wonderful story of ethics. It has humor, excitement, tragedy, and tenderness.
CAM-Teacher More than 1 year ago
Spencer Tracy, playing a Portugese fisherman named Manuel, shows why he is a big name in acting in his portrayal of the father figure that rich and spoiled Harvey Cheyne (played by Freddie Bartholomew) needs. A mentorship movie that is a little too melodramatic at times, "Captains Courageous" still manages to be an entertaining, family-friendly movie.
nazareth62 More than 1 year ago
Honestly this film is 1 of the best movie experiences that I've ever had! I'm 46 years old and when this movie draws to it's conclusion I'm blubbering like a little kid! Every young boy should get a chance to see this film. If you have a young son I recommend it moreso than any other film I've ever seen! Bravo Spencer Tracey and Freddie Bartholomew.
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