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Captains Courageous was nominated for four Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Editing, Best Screenplay and Best Actor (Spencer Tracy). Spencer Tracy took home the film's only Oscar® -- his very first as Best Actor.

In 2006 the American Film Institute ranked the film number 94 on its "100 Years...100 Cheers" list, which "celebrates the films that inspire us, encourage us to make a difference and send us from the theatre with a greater sense of possibility and hope for the future."


"Metro's Captains another of those grand jobs of moviemaking we have come to expect of Hollywood's most prodigal studio. With its rich production, magnificent marine photography, admirable direction and performances, the film brings vividly to life every page of Kipling's novel and even adds an exciting chapter of its own...Young Master Bartholomew...plays Harvey faultlessly, presenting at first as reptilian a lad as a miniature Basil Rathbone might have managed and bringing him around eventually to the grieving, bewildered small boy who has lost the one person he loved and cannot readily admit his father into the desolate sanctuary of his heart. Spencer Tracy, as Manuel, the boy's idol, seemed curiously unconvincing in the beginning probably because the accent does not become him, but made the part his in time. Then there is Lionel Barrymore, who is a flawless Captain Disko, and Melvyn Douglas giving an understanding interpretation of the elder Cheyne...Victor Fleming's direction has kept the tale flowing, Hal Rosson's photography has given it beauty, and excellent characterization has lent it poignance. Metro can take pride in its production." -- The New York Times

"The Kipling yarn...has been given splendid production, performance, photography and dramatic composition...Bartholomew's transition from a brat to a lovable child is done with convincing strokes. His performance is matched by Tracy, who also doesn't seem right doing an accent and singing songs, but he, too, later gets under the skin of the character. Barrymore is himself, as usual. As the father of the boy, Melvyn Douglas gives a smooth, unctuous performance. One of the fishermen is deftly portrayed by John Carradine." -- Variety

"...So magnificent are its sweep and excitement, so harmonious its design, that Captains Courageous ranks above most current cinematic efforts, offers its credentials for admission to the thin company of cinema immortals." -- Time magazine

"With no advance notice befitting its magnificence, Rudyard Kipling's immortalization of Gloucester's hardy and courageous fishing folk thrills us with fine seascapes and stirs us with the philosophy of the faith of a brawny though sentimental fisherman in the latent virtues hidden under the arrogance and selfishness of an obnoxiously spoiled son of a rich parent. Freddie Bartholomew and Spencer Tracy are superb in their account of the evolution of the spoiled brat into a man, a lad who could only learn life's important lessons the hard way. Kipling kept life in his story, and so do its Hollywood narrators." -- James Cunningham, The Commonwealth

Compiled by Andrea Passafiume

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