Summer is over and I finally have an opportunity to revisit some of my favorite movies and this blog. I had the chance to take my two boys fishing off the coast of North Carolina last week and in honor of that trip I bring you this Spencer Tracy award winner from 1937.
Captains Courageous is the film adaptation of a Rudyard Kipling novel of the same name.The film was directed by Victor Fleming who also directed The Wizard of Oz and Gone With the Wind and holds the honor of being the only director with two films in the top 10 of the 2007 American Film Institutes 100 years…100 movies list.
Spencer Tracy plays Manuel in this coming of age/adventure movie and is joined by Lionel Barrymore who plays Captain Disko Troop, Mickey Rooney who plays Dan Troop and Freddie Bartholomew, who also played the title character in Little Lord Fauntleroy as well as in David Copperfield, as Harvey Cheyne the boy who is lost at sea .
Spencer Tracy earned the second of nine Oscar Award nominations playing Manuel in Captains Courageous and the first of his two (consecutive) Oscar Wins. The nine nominations are a record that he shares with Sir Laurence Olivier. And he is one of only two (Tom Hanks) to win consecutive Oscars.
Harvey Cheyne is a spoiled son of an absentee father and rich business man who is suspended from his boarding school for bad behavior. His father played by Melvyn Douglas takes him on a business trip to Europe travelling on a trans-Atlantic voyage. Harvey’s spoiled behavior puts him in danger and he quietly falls into the ocean without any other passengers noticing.
Harvey is discovered by Manuel (Spencer Tracy) a Portugese-American fisherman who takes him aboard the ship for which he is fishing. Harvey is unable to convince captain Troop to take him back to shore or of his family wealth. Instead Disko puts him to work on the ship and because of Manuel’s tough love and despite the meanness of some of the other crew members Harvey takes to the hard life of a fisherman.
Manuel becomes something of a father-figure to Harvey and Harvey becomes very attached to Manuel. Manuel is killed in a desperate schooner race back to Gloucester and Harvey is left to mourn his friend alone when he returns home.