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173 of 182 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Why don't "THEY" make movies like this one any longer?
"Captain's Courageous" is IT...the real thing....a truly great, heartfelt, classic film....arguably THE most emotionally compelling film of Hollywod's Golden Age.

Victor Fleming was known as a "MAN"S" director; so how did he produce one of the most perfectly paced, sensitive and outright BEAUTIFULLY loving "relationship" films of all time.....a story of a...
Published on December 30, 2000 by Lawrence Rapchak

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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fun movie
Really solid movie. But the sound what out of sync for a large portion of the movie - some kind of streaming problem that I've had with Amazon Instant before (but never, for example, with Netflix Instant).
Published 18 months ago by Brian Gunn


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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Just good stuff, November 9, 2006
By 
M. Shults (Sodus Point, NY) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Captains Courageous (DVD)
I showed this at a big party with lots and lots of kids. I was a little worried that the kids wouldn't "get" the old black and white flick, but there wan't a peep, and nobody left or lost interest. Someone else brought and showed "Captain Ron" before I put this on, which made for a great juxtoposition of values. Captain Ron was, typical of modern Hollywood, trashy and profane, while Captains Courageous was positive and uplifting. For my kids, I'd prefer the latter.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Captivating, Wonderful, Adventurous and Heartwrenching, October 26, 2000
By 
Phillip E. Clarke (Bayou La Batre, AL United States) - See all my reviews
This movie captured me from the very beginning. It is the story of a young, rich, spoiled, neglected boy who tries to fit in but can't seem to. Attempting to purchase friendship, by his father's riches and influence, only manages to buy confusion and a closed door. The father, forced to spend time with his son, because of the boy's mischief, takes him on a business trip. While enroute, aboard ship, the boy falls overboard and is picked up by a Portuguese fisherman in a skiff. This fisherman delivers him to the main fishing vessel where his lessons in life begin. Growing up aboard a fishing vessel with my father during my early years, made this movie really hit home with me. The main difference being that my father did not have time for me as Manuel did for Harvey. I cried my eyes out and couldn't stop. I tried to make sure that I was the perfect father to my children, but even with all my insight, sensitivity and carefulness, still found my self lacking. This movie makes you feel for the child in you, your children and every other child who needs love and attention, desperately.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic available now on DVD, March 21, 2007
By 
Michael T Kennedy (Mission Viejo, CA USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Captains Courageous (DVD)
This classic story of a spoiled boy learning to be a man is timeless. The story is simple; a spoiled rich boy is on his way to Europe with his overindulgent, and widowed, father when he falls overboard from the ship. He is rescued by Portugese fisherman Spencer Tracy, who would win the Academy Award for his role of Manuel, the fisherman. The boy is brought aboard the fishing schooner, captained by Lionel Barrymore, not yet crippled by rheumatoid arthritis. Mickey Rooney plays the captain's son who serves as a foil between the boy and the crew, especially John Carradine who would prefer to throw him overboard as a bad luck Jonah. The sailing scenes are among the best ever in movies. Freddie Bartholomew played the boy Harvey in one of a number of starring roles that made him the most successful child actor after Shirley Temple.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars SPENCER TRACY AND THE SEA ACT AS SURROGATE FATHERS TO FREDDY BARTHOLOMEW, October 25, 2006
This review is from: Captains Courageous (DVD)
Rudyard Kipling's classic boy's tale of the sea is inhabited by Freddy Bartholomew as spoiled rich boy Harvey, Spencer Tracy as compassionate fisherman Manuel, Lionel Barrymore as good-natured Captain Disko, and Melvyn Douglas as Harvey's negligent father. Freddy Bartholomew, who received top billing in this film, is perhaps the best child actor who has ever lived, simply because he really seems to be acting rather than just looking cute. Spencer Tracy, who won the Oscar for Best Actor for his role, is one of the best adult actors of all time. As if that weren't enough, Lionel Barrymore (It's a Wonderful Life) and Melvyn Douglas (Ninotchka, Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House) are two of the top character actors. And, to top it off, you've got John Carradine and Mickey Rooney in supporting roles. You can't beat the story or the cast.

Victor Flemming (Wizard Of Oz, Gone With The Wind, The Good Earth) did a superb job directing his talented cast and crew through the John Lee Mahin/Marc Connelly/Dale Van Every screenplay, which tells the story of how a spoiled rich boy, out of sorts with himself and the world, falls off a cruise ship into the sea, and is fished out by a friendly Portuguese fisherman named Manuel. Once on board Manuel's fishing schooner, Harvey learns he won't be able to return to shore for three months, until the fishermen have finished their season of fishing. At first he fights his plight; but through the love and patience of Manuel, Harvey soon learns to fit in and become a contributing member of the crew. He makes mistakes; but Manuel helps him learn and eventually grow into a boy of character.

This is a great father-son film. It's also a wonderful film about the sea and sailing. There are some breathtaking shots of ships, especially during a race between two schooners. There are some wonderful relationships. It's interesting to see how each adult deals with Harvey, and how each changes in that relationship as Harvey changes. One of the best scenes of the film, and the one that got to me the most, is at the very end, when Harvey is going home with his dad. First we see the dinghy in which Harvey and Manuel fished being pulled behind his dad's car. Harvey couldn't bear to part with it, so his dad brought it with them. Then the camera pans to the back of the car, where we see Harvey and his dad in the back seat through the window. Harvey is animated with enthusiasm as he is obviously telling his dad about all his adventures - even to the point of exaggerating the size of the first fish he caught. It's a great final statement about the difference an experience like that and a friend like Manuel can make in a boy's life.

Waitsel Smith
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A picture without time!, October 15, 2005
This adaptation of Rudyard Kipling talks about directly in mythic language. A spoiled rich kid who falls from the ocean liner and is rescued by fishermen. In the road he will understand and know many things not written about the life; its true values.

A film of films; a superb triumph of the cinema and undeniably, the masterpiece of Victor Fleming. Tracy won an ultra deserved Prize as Best Actor for this work.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Captains Courageous: the movie and the book, two different works of art, February 19, 2007
This review is from: Captains Courageous (DVD)
Rudyard Kipling died in 1936. He had never allowed transposition of his writings to the theatre or to the movies for fear of misinterpretation. This is just what happenend in 1937 when Victor Fleming with the aid of the script writers John Lee Mahin, Marc Connelly and Dale Van Every directed the Academy Award winning "Captains Courageous" with an Oscar winning Spencer Tracy, the foremost child actor of the moment Freddie Bartholomew, the great arthritis striken Lionel Barrymore, the elegant and algid Melvyn Douglas and John Carradine. A little part was played by Micky Rooney that would later become a Hollywood star on his own. The movie was immensely popular in 1937 and became more so with the passing of the years and still has an enormous appeal today.

The movie's plot is well known and can be read in other reviews. I want to focus on what fascinates me most: how movies interpret books and to what extent time and circumstances influence this relationship.

VF "Captains Courageous" is something different from Kipling's novel.The plot is "inspired by" the novel and apparently similar and the setting is consistent, but the meanings conveyed by the two works are quite different. True, this is a story about growing up and son-father relationship but the creation of the character of Manuel Fidello (that plays only a small part in the book) and his substitution of Disko Troop as Harvey's father figure and of Dan as Harvey's brother in arms changes for Kipling readers the story's meaning. The Portugese Manuel is evidently a Roman Catholic, and at moments he embodies the figure of Christ the Savior. Many references to Catholic religion are evident throughout: Manuel's sacrifice to save the ship and Harvey, his allusions to Christ's apostels as fisherman, his conception of Paradise like a dorie were he can fish with his father. He is evidently Harvey's saviour and guardian angel, whereas in the book this figure is embodied by the black cook who will later follow Harvey in his adult life. Hollywood in 1937 was probably not ready to assign such a role to an Afro-American and preferred to have a Portugese. Kipling had no propensions toward Roman Catholic religion other than those that were part of his enduring curiosity towards all ethnical and religious differences.

Kipling's novel is rigidly constructed to highlight Harvey's transferral to adulthood and the only emotional moments are when during the Memorial Day Ceremony the sailors that have died at sea are mentioned. In this closing episode a sense of angst grips the reader but I doubt anybody reading the book sheds a tear.

The movie instead is construceted as a tear-jerker, the many cords of affection between Manuel and Harvey are played before the must part. So when the moment comes, emotion is unleashed and catharsis is there to satisfy the audience.

The sense of death as a natural and acceptable consequence of human experience, that Kipling was so keen to comunicate throughout his novel, is somehow respected even if the longing for Manuel remains even after the movie ends.

All this is to point out how an author's work can be alterated to a different meaning. If this is right or wrong, its not for me to say.

Victor Fleming's Captain Courageous is a beatiful movie that still retains today its emotional value. It also has the great merit of helping visualize the novel. In the outdoor settings it is perfectly true to the book: the fogs on the banks, the images of the nautical charts, the dories, the schooner and the fishes...and the fish cleaning...are so very real. The boat race between Disko and the Jenny Champion is not in the book, where Disko is such a great cod fisher that he finishes first and gets back to Gloucester one week before his rivals. The Disko of the book would have never engaged such a dangerous and stupid race that costs Manuel's life. However the filming of these scenes is fantastic and one has the impression of looking at the America's Cup. The scene in which Manuel dies has been faithfully reproduced in "Titanic" (cinematic cross-reference).

Spencer Tracy's interpretation of Manuel is practically all his own because the character is almost abstent in the book, where his only important scenes are when he rescues Harvey and when he accepts only five dollars from Cheyne senior for having saved his son.

Harvey's character also is given a different interpretation. In the book he is only an arrogant spoiled adolescent (remember he is fifteen) in the movie he is a manipulator and a cheat and harder to like, so his redemption is harder too.

One point that is strictly in favour of the movie is the dialogue. Kipling's book has been accused of beeing cryptical, because it's written for the most part in fisherman's dialect. Maybe this is so, but if one still reads Captains Courageous today he or she will willingly put up with a few notes. In the movie the dialect is respected, but it appears as a spoken language and as such is much more comprehensible.

Another key feature is the music, with Manuel's hurdy gurdy in the first place and the unforgettable song "Little fish don't cry".

Victor Fleming respects Kiplings exclusively male world (in the movie even Harvey's mother is dead) with men that desire to escape from the realm of women and domestic oblgations to attain real freedom. This director, universally famous also for other movies, contributed so much to the American popular culture that today we take for granted many of intuitions such as that of childhood as a moment to live out with risks and in wilderness.

The occasions of making these observations in the presence of two great works of art is intriguing. Neither the book nor the movie loose value in the comparison, they are only different and the difference represents the essence of dated rereadings of masterpieces.

I suggest to read the book before watching the movie to give better wings to your imagination.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars They Don't Make Them Like this Anymore!, April 1, 2000
By A Customer
Ahh... if only Hollywood would make films like this today. If only "they" were not afraid to use heartwarming stories about just being human. If only "they" were not afraid to leave out the superfluous violence. If only "they" could remember that sexuality isn't necessary to create a film that can become a work of art. And if only "they" could learn that integrity, ethics, honesty, and morality are virues worth selling!
This is a film that has stayed with me for days. To say that I enjoyed every performance is an understatement. To say that I now search for more films of this caliber goes without saying.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You will remember this movie always. A true classic., April 26, 2000
As long as you have a pulse, you will laugh, cry and always remember this movie.
Spencer Tracey gives a brilliant performance as Manual, a Portuguese fisherman who befriends a young, pompous brat (Bartholomew)and changes his life (and the viewer's) forever.
There is a scene in this movie that is probably the most touching scene ever filmed. But you will get no "give-aways" from me.
During the viewing of this movie, Tracey always strikes me as Harpo Marx with an accent. Off all his movies, I think Tracey gives the best performance here.
I can only hope and pray to the "fishies" that this movie is released on DVD.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Still Gripping, November 5, 2007
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This review is from: Captains Courageous (DVD)
I first watched this as a boy in the 1950's. The film was old then and moved me. It still does.

I think in this modern day when so many boys have too much stuff and not enough father - that they too act out.

One of the most mythic searches of all is for the father who really cares for us and in caring also asks us to be a man.

Freddie Bartholomew was a genius. His transformation from the spoiled brat to the young man is one of the wonders of film. The real footage of the schooner life can never be replicated.

The redemptive power of the story and the characters are mythic - I think I will watch it again tonight
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Way back when, June 27, 2005
Way back when this movie was made, people complained about how bad things were, the cost of food, and the same complaints we have today. I don't think there would be anyone who could find something to complain about conserning this movie.

It is a movie of a boy who with Gods help, falls into the water, only to be landed by Spencer Tracy. From there the entire world is seen different through the eyes of the child.

The child learns something that many of us have yet to learn.

The days we are liveing now, with all our complaints, and groumbling, we will recall as "THE GOOD OLD DAYS" when we are older.

I first saw this movie many years ago with my father, who is now gone. With the patience of Spencer Tracy to the boy, it reminds me of the patience and love that only a father can give.

This movie, to me, is right up there with Gone With The Wind.

Scarlette learned through Rhett, the child learns through Tracy

Respectfully submitted, Kathleen Eckhart
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Captains Courageous
Captains Courageous by Victor Fleming (DVD - 2006)
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