The exterior of the Cheyne mansion shown at the very beginning of Captains Courageous
is located on Washington Boulevard in Culver City, California. The building originally housed offices for the Thomas H. Ince Corporation and then later became headquarters for David O. Selznick's Selznick-International Pictures. The image of the building served as the Selznick International Pictures logo for several years.
had its gala premiere at the Carthay Circle Theatre in Los Angeles on May 14, 1937 with many stars in attendance. "Of all the stiff-shirted gentlemen and the décolleté ladies in the audience," said local columnist Harrison Carroll at the time, "I doubt if there was a single one who did not weep with Freddie Bartholomew over the death of Spencer Tracy, the story's lovable Manuel. The relationship of these two has been made into a masterpiece of screen sentiment." Spencer Tracy gave credit to his director. "The man to be thanked because Captains Courageous
turned out as well as it did is the director, Victor Fleming," he told one journalist. "You'll never know what he went through--six months, mostly on a process stage with only three sections of boat to work with, the stinking smell of fish, Freddie Bartholomew limited to four hours of work a day--and Fleming himself sick as a dog half the time."
Spencer Tracy was in the hospital recovering from a hernia operation when the Academy Awards ceremony took place and was unable to attend. When he won in his category--the film's only win--MGM studio head Louis B. Mayer walked to the stage inside Los Angeles' Biltmore Hotel escorting Tracy's wife, Louise. "It's a great privilege to be a stand-in for so great an artist and, great as he is an artist, he's still a greater man," said Mayer. When he introduced Louise Tracy to accept the award, she added, "I accept this award on behalf of Spencer, Susie, Johnny and myself," a reference to their children. Tracy's Academy Award for Captains Courageous
was the first in a back-to-back win for the skilled actor, who went on to win again the following year for his work in Boys Town
(1938). It was the first time in history that any actor had accomplished this. Tracy's record would stand until Tom Hanks achieved the same honor with his back-to-back wins for Philadelphia
(1993) and Forrest Gump
According to the 1993 edition of the Mason Wiley and Damien Bona book Inside Oscar
, one of the screenwriters of Captains Courageous
, John Lee Mahin, was unhappy when he received his Academy Award nomination for Best Screenplay. At the time he was president of the Screen Playwrights, Inc., which was, according to Wiley and Bona, "a splinter group from the Screen Writers Guild, which Mahin believed evinced Communist leanings." Mahin was also not a fan of the Academy and openly refused the Best Screenplay nomination, complaining that the Academy, led by its President Frank Capra, had refused to include the Screen Playwrights in the Academy's balloting because of their political views. Capra wrote Mahin a letter in response that said: "In regard to the charge of unfair discrimination which your organization is belly-aching about, you know very well that you were given the same opportunity to participate in the Awards Committee as any other organization in Hollywood." Regarding Mahin's refusal of the Academy's nomination Capra wrote: "We don't care whether you accept it or throw it away or deposit it in that well-known place where everything is consigned in Hollywood."
John Carradine, the actor who plays "Long Jack" in the film, is the father of the famous Carradine brothers: Chris, David, Keith and Robert.
The Fisherman's Memorial statue seen towards the end of Captains Courageous
was cast in 1925 and looks out over Gloucester Harbor in Massachusetts. It still stands today.
Memorable Quotes from CAPTAINS COURAGEOUS
"It wants breakfast in its rooms."
-- Burns the Butler (Charles Coleman) to the maid, referring to Harvey (Freddie Bartholomew)
"Well, do you want to do an act of friendship?"
"What if the others don't want you in?"
"Now, look here, Charles. You like being the president, don't you?"
"Certainly I do. It's an office of honor."
"And what if you weren't the president anymore?"
"You can't do anything about it."
"Oh yes I can. What if you weren't at the school anymore?"
"I'm going to be at the school."
"...Your father sells my father's automobiles in Providence, doesn't he?"
"Well, then, do you think he'd like it if you had a chance to do me an act of friendship and didn't do it? What if he woke up one day and my father took away all the automobiles he let him have to sell and said, 'You're fired!'? You know how many people are out of jobs? Millions of people. And they're all hungry and in rags. They can't send their sons to school. You're not old enough to work, so you'd have to go out with your mother and father and beg. And that certainly would be awful to have your mother sitting there, all dressed up in rags and eating rotten bread and things like that. Wouldn't that be terrible?"
--Harvey and his schoolmate Charles (Billy Burrud)
"It was an act of friendship."
"You mean a bribe, don't you?"
"What's a bribe?"
"A bribe's a dishonest gift. A person who accepts it knows that he must do something dishonest in return. Be honest, Harvey."
"All I wanted was to belong to the Buffaloes. Look, people give presents after someone's been nice to them, don't they? So what's dishonest with giving presents before someone's nice to you?"
-- Harvey and his teacher Mr. Tyler (Donald Briggs)
"I bet I know a lot of things you don't know. I know that's not French you're singing."
"That's right. About 10 million people know it's Portuguese."
"I bet you can't speak French."
"Right now, I sorry I speak English."
-- Harvey and Manuel (Spencer Tracy)
"Maybe your father come back see if you good and drowned, huh?"
--Manuel, to Harvey
"You're trailing me 'cause I can find cod where you can't find half a pound of sick squid."
-- Captain Disko (Lionel Barrymore), to Captain Cushman (Oscar O'Shea), the captain of the Jennie Cushman
"Hey kid. Hey, wake up. Come on, wake up, Little Fish. Hey, wake up, wake up! Somebody think you dead, they have celebrations."
--Manuel to Harvey
"You touch that kid, I tear you apart, see?"
-- Manuel to "Long Jack" (John Carradine)
Compiled by Andrea Passafiume