Captains Courageous


1h 56m 1937
Captains Courageous

Brief Synopsis

A spoiled rich boy is lost at sea and rescued by a fishing boat, where hard work and responsibility help him become a man.

Photos & Videos

Film Details

Also Known As
Rudyard Kipling's Captains Courageous
Genre
Drama
Adventure
Adaptation
Classic Hollywood
Release Date
Jun 25, 1937
Premiere Information
New York premiere: 11 May 1937
Production Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
Distribution Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
Country
United States
Location
Gloucester, Massachusetts, USA; Port aux Basques, Newfoundland & Labrador, Canada; Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, Canada; Florida Keys, Florida, USA; Shelbourne, Nova Scotia, Canada; Mazatlan, Mexico; Florida Keys, Florida, United States; Gloucester, Massachusetts, United States; Mazatlan,Mexico; Port aux Basques, Newfoundland, Canada; Santa Catalina Island, California, United States; Shelburne, Nova Scotia, Canada
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel Captains Courageous by Rudyard Kipling (London, 1897).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 56m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
12 reels

Synopsis

Harvey, the spoiled son of millionaire Cheyne, is suspended from his private boarding school for attempted bribery. Mr. Cheyne, although a well-meaning and loving father, is a widower who has been too busy to notice his son's increasing bullying and snobbishness. Hoping to change things, Mr. Cheyne decides to take Harvey with him on a boat trip to England, but on the first day out Harvey falls overboard, sickened by drinking too many chocolate sodas in a childish dare with two other boys from the ship. He is picked up by a happy-go-lucky Portuguese fisherman named Manuel Fidello who brings his "little fish" back to the We're Here , a schooner out of Gloucester. Because the boat has no radio, they cannot contact Mr. Cheyne and Harvey must stay aboard until the summer catch is complete. The men at first dislike Harvey, and call him a "Jonah," but gradually, under Manuel's gruff guidance, Harvey becomes a hardworking, friendly shipmate. The affection between Manuel and Harvey grows and Harvey looks forward to being with his friend when they return to land. On their return to port, however, during a race with a rival ship, Manuel is critically injured when one of the riggings falls, pulling him into the water. Because Manuel knows that he cannot survive, he orders Captain Disko to cut the ropes and let him go under. When the ship is back in Gloucester, Mr. Cheyne comes for Harvey, but the disconsolate boy prefers to cry alone in Manuel's dinghy than talk to his father. When a monument to men who have died at sea is dedicated, Harvey throws a wreath into the water for Manuel, and as his father does the same, the two clasp hands. Finally, Harvey relates some fishing stories to his father as their limousine pulls Manuel's dinghy along on a trailer.

Cast

Freddie Bartholomew

Harvey [Cheyne]

Spencer Tracy

Manuel [Fidello]

Lionel Barrymore

[Capt.] Disko [Troop]

Melvyn Douglas

Mr. Cheyne

Mickey Rooney

Dan [Troop]

John Carradine

"Long Jack"

Oscar O'shea

Cushman

Jack Larue

Priest

Walter Kingsford

Dr. Finley

Donald Briggs

Tyler

Sam Mcdaniels

"Doc"

Billy Burrud

Charles

Billy Gilbert

Soda jerk

Leo G. Carroll

Burns

Christian Rub

Old Clement

Dave Thursby

Tom

William Stack

Elliott

Charles Trowbridge

Dr. Walsh

Richard Powell

1st steward

Jay Ward

Pogey

Kenneth Wilson

Alvin

Roger Gray

Nate Rogers

Gladden James

Secretary Cobb

Jimmy Conlin

Martin

Tommy Bupp

Boy

Wally Albright

Boy

Katherine Kenworthy

Mrs. Disko

Philo Mccullough

Member of crew

James Kilgannon

Member of crew

Bill Fisher

Member of crew

Dick Howard

Member of crew

Larry Fisher

Member of crew

Gil Perkins

Member of crew

Jack Sterling

Member of crew

Stubby Kruger

Member of crew

Dave Wengren

Lars

Murray Kinnell

Minister

Goldie Sloan

Black woman

Dora Early

Appleton's wife

Gertrude Sutton

Nate's wife

Frank Sully

Taxi driver

Don Brody

Reporter

Billy Arnold

Reporter

Bobby Watson

Reporter

Lester Dorr

Corridor steward

Lloyd Ingraham

Skipper of ship

Art Berry Jr.

Fisherman

Captain C. E. Anderson

Fisherman

Edward Peil Sr.

Fisherman

Jack Kennedy

Captain of Flying Swan

Monte Vandergrift

Sailor on Flying Swan

Charles Coleman

Butler

Wade Boteler

Skipper of Blue Gill

Herman Ainsley

Robbins

Myra Marsh

Chester's wife

Myra Mckinney

Lee Van Atta

Gene Reynolds

Sherry Hall

Henry Hanna

Betty Alden

Reggie Streeter

Photo Collections

Captains Courageous - Costume Sketches
Here are several Costume / Wardrobe sketches made for Captains Courageous (1937).
Captains Courageous - Movie Posters
Here are a few original-release movie posters for MGM's Captains Courageous (1937), starring Spencer Tracy and Freddie Bartholomew.

Videos

Movie Clip

Captains Courageous (1937) - He's A Jonah! Portugese fisherman Manuel (Spencer Tracy) takes the fall for rescued schoolboy Harvey (Freddie Bartholomew), after privately forcing him to confess to his misdeed against Long Jack (John Carradine) in Captains Courageous, 1937.
Captains Courageous (1937) - In Coventry New England schoolmaster Tyler (Donald Briggs) counsels then places spoiled Harvey (Freddie Bartholomew) in a silent place called Coventry (an idiom borrowed from English public schools), in this early scene from Captains Courageous, 1937.
Captains Courageous (1937) - You're One Of The Crew Now Harvey (Freddie Bartholomew), spoiled schoolboy saved by a fishing schooner after falling off a liner, isn't getting the attention he wants from captain Disko Troop (Lionel Barrymore) or his rescuer Manuel (Spencer Tracy) in Captains Courageous, 1937.
Captains Courageous (1937) - I Had To Fight My Way Out Harvey (Freddie Bartholemew) is conning his magnate father (Melvyn Douglas) after fleeing school on a ruse, soon exposed by the visiting headmaster (Walter Kingsford) and teacher Tyler (Donald Briggs), in Captains Courageous, 1937.
Captains Courageous (1937) - They Know How Chop Bait Rescued schoolboy Harvey (Freddie Bartholomew) learns from Portugese fisherman Manuel (Spencer Tracy) about chopping bait and manners among men in Captains Courageous, 1937, from a Rudyard Kipling novel.
Captains Courageous (1937) - I Got New Kind Of Fish Spoiled schoolboy Harvey (Freddy Bartholomew) sailing to England, makes good on his boast that he could drink six ice-cream sodas, then topples overboard and meets Portugese fisherman Manuel (Spencer Tracy, his first scene), a key moment in MGM’s Captains Courageous, 1937.

Trailer

Hosted Intro

Film Details

Also Known As
Rudyard Kipling's Captains Courageous
Genre
Drama
Adventure
Adaptation
Classic Hollywood
Release Date
Jun 25, 1937
Premiere Information
New York premiere: 11 May 1937
Production Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
Distribution Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
Country
United States
Location
Gloucester, Massachusetts, USA; Port aux Basques, Newfoundland & Labrador, Canada; Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, Canada; Florida Keys, Florida, USA; Shelbourne, Nova Scotia, Canada; Mazatlan, Mexico; Florida Keys, Florida, United States; Gloucester, Massachusetts, United States; Mazatlan,Mexico; Port aux Basques, Newfoundland, Canada; Santa Catalina Island, California, United States; Shelburne, Nova Scotia, Canada
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel Captains Courageous by Rudyard Kipling (London, 1897).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 56m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
12 reels

Award Wins

Best Actor

1937
Spencer Tracy

Award Nominations

Best Editing

1937
Elmo Veron

Best Picture

1937

Best Writing, Screenplay

1938

Articles

The Essentials - Captains Courageous


SYNOPSIS

Harvey Cheyne (Freddie Bartholomew) is a twelve-year-old insufferable spoiled brat. The son of a wealthy business tycoon (Melvyn Douglas), Harvey constantly uses his money and position to manipulate the people around him. His awful behavior alienates his school chums at the posh boarding school he attends, and eventually he gets suspended. Harvey's schoolmasters advise his neglectful father to spend more time with him to help straighten him out. When Harvey accompanies his father on a luxury liner bound for Europe, an accident caused by his own arrogance sends him overboard into the icy waters of the North Bank. He is rescued by Manuel (Spencer Tracy), a Portuguese fisherman, who takes him aboard the We're Here, a commercial fishing schooner led by the salty Captain Disko Troop (Lionel Barrymore). Harvey immediately starts giving orders only to learn that he's not the boss here and in fact will have to wait until the fishermen finish their haul in another two or three months. During that period of time, he will get an education in the real world and go from being a spoiled brat to a young man of great promise.

Director: Victor Fleming
Writers: John Lee Mahin, Marc Connelly, Dale Van Every
Based on the Novel By: Rudyard Kipling
Producers: Louis D. Lighton, Sam Katz
Cinematography: Harold Rosson
Art Direction: Cedric Gibbons
Editing: Elmo Veron
Music: Franz Waxman
Sound: Douglas Shearer
Cast: Freddie Bartholomew (Harvey Cheyne), Spencer Tracy (Manuel), Lionel Barrymore (Capt. Disko Troop), Melvyn Douglas (Mr. Cheyne), Charles Grapewin (Uncle Salters), Mickey Rooney (Dan Troop), John Carradine ("Long Jack"), Oscar O'Shea (Cushman), Jack LaRue (Priest), Walter Kingsford (Dr. Finley), Donald Briggs (Tyler), Sam McDaniels ("Doc"), Billy Burrud (Charles).
BW-117m. Closed Captioning. Descriptive Video.

Why CAPTAINS COURAGEOUS is Essential

Captains Courageous was a hit at the box office and considered one of MGM's best films of the 1930s. It was nominated for four Academy Awards including Best Picture. The briny coming of age adventure adapted from Rudyard Kipling's classic novel touched the hearts of moviegoers of all ages.

Actor Spencer Tracy won his first Best Actor Academy Award for his work in the film as Manuel. It was an uncharacteristically tender role that he had taken reluctantly, but it came to be one of his best loved performances.

Child star Freddie Bartholomew gives one of his finest and most memorable performances in Captains Courageous. Although his name has faded from public consciousness since his heyday in the 1930s, one need only watch this film to appreciate what a stunningly remarkable natural talent Bartholomew possessed.

Captains Courageous was the first of five films that Spencer Tracy made with director Victor Fleming, whose direction of the production was so sure-footed and successful that Tracy learned to trust his judgment. Following Captains Courageous they made Test Pilot (1938), Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1941), Tortilla Flat (1942), and A Guy Named Joe (1943) together.

by Andrea Passafiume
The Essentials - Captains Courageous

The Essentials - Captains Courageous

SYNOPSIS Harvey Cheyne (Freddie Bartholomew) is a twelve-year-old insufferable spoiled brat. The son of a wealthy business tycoon (Melvyn Douglas), Harvey constantly uses his money and position to manipulate the people around him. His awful behavior alienates his school chums at the posh boarding school he attends, and eventually he gets suspended. Harvey's schoolmasters advise his neglectful father to spend more time with him to help straighten him out. When Harvey accompanies his father on a luxury liner bound for Europe, an accident caused by his own arrogance sends him overboard into the icy waters of the North Bank. He is rescued by Manuel (Spencer Tracy), a Portuguese fisherman, who takes him aboard the We're Here, a commercial fishing schooner led by the salty Captain Disko Troop (Lionel Barrymore). Harvey immediately starts giving orders only to learn that he's not the boss here and in fact will have to wait until the fishermen finish their haul in another two or three months. During that period of time, he will get an education in the real world and go from being a spoiled brat to a young man of great promise. Director: Victor Fleming Writers: John Lee Mahin, Marc Connelly, Dale Van Every Based on the Novel By: Rudyard Kipling Producers: Louis D. Lighton, Sam Katz Cinematography: Harold Rosson Art Direction: Cedric Gibbons Editing: Elmo Veron Music: Franz Waxman Sound: Douglas Shearer Cast: Freddie Bartholomew (Harvey Cheyne), Spencer Tracy (Manuel), Lionel Barrymore (Capt. Disko Troop), Melvyn Douglas (Mr. Cheyne), Charles Grapewin (Uncle Salters), Mickey Rooney (Dan Troop), John Carradine ("Long Jack"), Oscar O'Shea (Cushman), Jack LaRue (Priest), Walter Kingsford (Dr. Finley), Donald Briggs (Tyler), Sam McDaniels ("Doc"), Billy Burrud (Charles). BW-117m. Closed Captioning. Descriptive Video. Why CAPTAINS COURAGEOUS is Essential Captains Courageous was a hit at the box office and considered one of MGM's best films of the 1930s. It was nominated for four Academy Awards including Best Picture. The briny coming of age adventure adapted from Rudyard Kipling's classic novel touched the hearts of moviegoers of all ages. Actor Spencer Tracy won his first Best Actor Academy Award for his work in the film as Manuel. It was an uncharacteristically tender role that he had taken reluctantly, but it came to be one of his best loved performances. Child star Freddie Bartholomew gives one of his finest and most memorable performances in Captains Courageous. Although his name has faded from public consciousness since his heyday in the 1930s, one need only watch this film to appreciate what a stunningly remarkable natural talent Bartholomew possessed. Captains Courageous was the first of five films that Spencer Tracy made with director Victor Fleming, whose direction of the production was so sure-footed and successful that Tracy learned to trust his judgment. Following Captains Courageous they made Test Pilot (1938), Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1941), Tortilla Flat (1942), and A Guy Named Joe (1943) together. by Andrea Passafiume

Pop Culture 101 - Captains Courageous


A 1977 version of Captains Courageous was made for television starring Karl Malden as Disko Troop, Ricardo Montalban as Manuel and Jonathan Kahn as Harvey.

A 1996 version of Captains Courageous was made for television starring Robert Ulrich as Captain Troop, Colin Cunningham as Manuel and Kenny Vadas as Harvey.

The 1951 Joel McCrea Western Cattle Drive was described by some reviewers as Captains Courageous on the plains due to a similar storyline: An experienced cattle herder (McCrea) rescues the rich, spoiled son of a tycoon, who is lost on the plains, and teaches him how to survive on the trail.

A 1952 Mister Magoo cartoon short titled Captains Outrageous referenced the film in its title and loosely in its plot, which has the wealthy Magoo falling overboard his boat while trying to catch an elusive giant marlin with his nephew.

by Andrea Passafiume

Pop Culture 101 - Captains Courageous

A 1977 version of Captains Courageous was made for television starring Karl Malden as Disko Troop, Ricardo Montalban as Manuel and Jonathan Kahn as Harvey. A 1996 version of Captains Courageous was made for television starring Robert Ulrich as Captain Troop, Colin Cunningham as Manuel and Kenny Vadas as Harvey. The 1951 Joel McCrea Western Cattle Drive was described by some reviewers as Captains Courageous on the plains due to a similar storyline: An experienced cattle herder (McCrea) rescues the rich, spoiled son of a tycoon, who is lost on the plains, and teaches him how to survive on the trail. A 1952 Mister Magoo cartoon short titled Captains Outrageous referenced the film in its title and loosely in its plot, which has the wealthy Magoo falling overboard his boat while trying to catch an elusive giant marlin with his nephew. by Andrea Passafiume

Trivia - Captains Courageous - Trivia & Fun Facts About CAPTAINS COURAGEOUS


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.

Captains Courageous 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 (1994).

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?"
"Yes."
"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

Trivia - Captains Courageous - Trivia & Fun Facts About CAPTAINS COURAGEOUS

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. Captains Courageous 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 (1994). 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?" "Yes." "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

The Big Idea - Captains Courageous


The genesis of Captains Courageous came from famed British author Rudyard Kipling's 1897 novel of the same name. The story about a spoiled rich boy who finds redemption aboard a Gloucester fishing schooner was Kipling's only American novel, and MGM had been mulling over the idea of turning it into a major motion picture for several years. In 1934 MGM Production Head Irving Thalberg purchased the screen rights to the book for $25,000 and assigned producer Louis D. Lighton to put the project together. Victor Fleming, with whom Lighton had collaborated on the 1929 western The Virginian, was chosen to direct.

A total of three writers worked on adapting Kipling's book into a screenplay: John Lee Mahin, Marc Connelly, and Dale Van Every. The adaptation took a few liberties with the story and characters, including elevating the book's minor character of Manuel, the simple Portuguese fisherman, to a key player in the film. The writers also shaved a few years off of the character of Harvey, taking him from fifteen-years-old to twelve in order to accommodate MGM's choice actor for the role, Freddie Bartholomew.

Bartholomew was one of MGM's top child actors of the 1930s. Plucked from obscurity in Great Britain to star in MGM's big budget adaptation of David Copperfield in 1935, Bartholomew's remarkable talent and natural instincts as an actor made him an instant star. Following successful featured roles in Anna Karenina (1935) with Greta Garbo and Little Lord Fauntleroy (1936), Bartholomew was given top billing in Captains Courageous.

Most of the supporting cast for the film was chosen early in the pre-production process including Melvyn Douglas (borrowed from Columbia) as Harvey's wealthy father and Lionel Barrymore as the crusty Captain of the We're Here, Disko Troop. Bartholomew's contemporary, Mickey Rooney, was cast in a small role as Captain Troop's son Dan.

The most important casting choice would be for Manuel, the rugged but lovable Portuguese fisherman whose character is the heart of the film's story. Irving Thalberg wanted a less than obvious choice for the part: Spencer Tracy. The actor had come to MGM in 1935 at the end of a stint with Twentieth Century Fox, where stardom had eluded him. At MGM, Thalberg had known how to properly use the versatile actor, and Tracy quickly earned fame at his new studio in films such as Fury and San Francisco (both 1936).

As much faith as Tracy had in Thalberg's judgment, however, he initially resisted taking the assignment. Not only had he never worked with director Victor Fleming before, he also felt that playing Manuel might be too big of a stretch. "Fought against it like a steer," Tracy later said according to James Curtis' 2011 biography Spencer Tracy. "Thought the characterization would be phony. Didn't see how the pieces would fit together. Didn't know where I could borrow an accent." Tracy was uncomfortable affecting any accent, and he warned Fleming and Lighton that his Portuguese accent would probably be all over the place and less than authentic. Fleming and Lighton in turn assured him that a character like Manuel had spent years living among Gloucester seamen and would likely have picked up all sorts of language influences in his accent.

Additionally, Tracy was uncomfortable with the level of spiritual symbolism in Manuel. "I've always played rough-and-tumble parts," he said. "This story's religion or something. Those scenes where he talks about his father--suppose I don't bring 'em off? They'll be horrible--sitting there in the boat, talking about Fisherman's Heaven, a guy thirty-seven years old -- you'll have your audience reaching for bigger and wider hats."

Eventually, however, Tracy acquiesced and began preparing for the role. "I went to see every picture in town where an actor might be found speaking in an accent--saw Eddie Robinson, [Paul] Muni [in Black Fury, 1935], others," he said. "Then we scoured San Diego trying to find a Portuguese sailor to use as a model for Manuel. Finally we found our man. The chap came to the studio to see me. He was Manuel. The expression in his eyes, the way he walked, the way he sat, the way he used his hands, his knowledge of boats. Then he began to talk, and...he spoke better English than I do. When I asked him what he thought about my calling the kid my 'leetle feesh,' he looked at me patiently--and a little pityingly--and said, 'Do you mean little fish, Mr. Tracy?' I gave up."

In early September 1936, MGM spent three days shooting test footage for Captains Courageous, including makeup for Tracy. The makeup people experimented with darkening his skin and curling his hair--something Tracy hated. "One day, just after I'd had my hair curled," said Tracy, "I walked down the stairs at Metro and heard a scream. I looked up, and Joan Crawford said, 'My God, Harpo Marx!'"

There were many times when the insecure Tracy considered pulling out of the film. However, his friends and colleagues would convince him to stay and throw himself into the role. "I finally talked myself into practicing dialect and putting up with having my hair curled twice a day," said Tracy, "but the thought of singing gave me the shudders. I dodged the voice teacher, Arthur Rosenstein, for weeks. After I started taking lessons, I used to duck practice as much as I could. Then I just said, 'Oh, what's the difference?' and let the old baritone rip." Tracy also took musical lessons so that he could properly handle a hurdy-gurdy, which Manuel plays in the film.

Just as Captains Courageous was set to begin principal shooting, however, the entire MGM family was dealt a painful blow on the morning of September 14, 1936: Production Chief Irving Thalberg died suddenly at the premature age of 36. Thalberg had been a much beloved figure at the studio, and Tracy knew that it was Thalberg's guidance of his career that had helped make him a star at MGM. After a brief period of mourning that initially delayed the production schedule on Captains Courageous, shooting was ready to commence. Tracy wanted to honor Thalberg in his performance as Manuel out of respect for all he had done for him and the faith Thalberg had always shown in his talent.

by Andrea Passafiume

The Big Idea - Captains Courageous

The genesis of Captains Courageous came from famed British author Rudyard Kipling's 1897 novel of the same name. The story about a spoiled rich boy who finds redemption aboard a Gloucester fishing schooner was Kipling's only American novel, and MGM had been mulling over the idea of turning it into a major motion picture for several years. In 1934 MGM Production Head Irving Thalberg purchased the screen rights to the book for $25,000 and assigned producer Louis D. Lighton to put the project together. Victor Fleming, with whom Lighton had collaborated on the 1929 western The Virginian, was chosen to direct. A total of three writers worked on adapting Kipling's book into a screenplay: John Lee Mahin, Marc Connelly, and Dale Van Every. The adaptation took a few liberties with the story and characters, including elevating the book's minor character of Manuel, the simple Portuguese fisherman, to a key player in the film. The writers also shaved a few years off of the character of Harvey, taking him from fifteen-years-old to twelve in order to accommodate MGM's choice actor for the role, Freddie Bartholomew. Bartholomew was one of MGM's top child actors of the 1930s. Plucked from obscurity in Great Britain to star in MGM's big budget adaptation of David Copperfield in 1935, Bartholomew's remarkable talent and natural instincts as an actor made him an instant star. Following successful featured roles in Anna Karenina (1935) with Greta Garbo and Little Lord Fauntleroy (1936), Bartholomew was given top billing in Captains Courageous. Most of the supporting cast for the film was chosen early in the pre-production process including Melvyn Douglas (borrowed from Columbia) as Harvey's wealthy father and Lionel Barrymore as the crusty Captain of the We're Here, Disko Troop. Bartholomew's contemporary, Mickey Rooney, was cast in a small role as Captain Troop's son Dan. The most important casting choice would be for Manuel, the rugged but lovable Portuguese fisherman whose character is the heart of the film's story. Irving Thalberg wanted a less than obvious choice for the part: Spencer Tracy. The actor had come to MGM in 1935 at the end of a stint with Twentieth Century Fox, where stardom had eluded him. At MGM, Thalberg had known how to properly use the versatile actor, and Tracy quickly earned fame at his new studio in films such as Fury and San Francisco (both 1936). As much faith as Tracy had in Thalberg's judgment, however, he initially resisted taking the assignment. Not only had he never worked with director Victor Fleming before, he also felt that playing Manuel might be too big of a stretch. "Fought against it like a steer," Tracy later said according to James Curtis' 2011 biography Spencer Tracy. "Thought the characterization would be phony. Didn't see how the pieces would fit together. Didn't know where I could borrow an accent." Tracy was uncomfortable affecting any accent, and he warned Fleming and Lighton that his Portuguese accent would probably be all over the place and less than authentic. Fleming and Lighton in turn assured him that a character like Manuel had spent years living among Gloucester seamen and would likely have picked up all sorts of language influences in his accent. Additionally, Tracy was uncomfortable with the level of spiritual symbolism in Manuel. "I've always played rough-and-tumble parts," he said. "This story's religion or something. Those scenes where he talks about his father--suppose I don't bring 'em off? They'll be horrible--sitting there in the boat, talking about Fisherman's Heaven, a guy thirty-seven years old -- you'll have your audience reaching for bigger and wider hats." Eventually, however, Tracy acquiesced and began preparing for the role. "I went to see every picture in town where an actor might be found speaking in an accent--saw Eddie Robinson, [Paul] Muni [in Black Fury, 1935], others," he said. "Then we scoured San Diego trying to find a Portuguese sailor to use as a model for Manuel. Finally we found our man. The chap came to the studio to see me. He was Manuel. The expression in his eyes, the way he walked, the way he sat, the way he used his hands, his knowledge of boats. Then he began to talk, and...he spoke better English than I do. When I asked him what he thought about my calling the kid my 'leetle feesh,' he looked at me patiently--and a little pityingly--and said, 'Do you mean little fish, Mr. Tracy?' I gave up." In early September 1936, MGM spent three days shooting test footage for Captains Courageous, including makeup for Tracy. The makeup people experimented with darkening his skin and curling his hair--something Tracy hated. "One day, just after I'd had my hair curled," said Tracy, "I walked down the stairs at Metro and heard a scream. I looked up, and Joan Crawford said, 'My God, Harpo Marx!'" There were many times when the insecure Tracy considered pulling out of the film. However, his friends and colleagues would convince him to stay and throw himself into the role. "I finally talked myself into practicing dialect and putting up with having my hair curled twice a day," said Tracy, "but the thought of singing gave me the shudders. I dodged the voice teacher, Arthur Rosenstein, for weeks. After I started taking lessons, I used to duck practice as much as I could. Then I just said, 'Oh, what's the difference?' and let the old baritone rip." Tracy also took musical lessons so that he could properly handle a hurdy-gurdy, which Manuel plays in the film. Just as Captains Courageous was set to begin principal shooting, however, the entire MGM family was dealt a painful blow on the morning of September 14, 1936: Production Chief Irving Thalberg died suddenly at the premature age of 36. Thalberg had been a much beloved figure at the studio, and Tracy knew that it was Thalberg's guidance of his career that had helped make him a star at MGM. After a brief period of mourning that initially delayed the production schedule on Captains Courageous, shooting was ready to commence. Tracy wanted to honor Thalberg in his performance as Manuel out of respect for all he had done for him and the faith Thalberg had always shown in his talent. by Andrea Passafiume

Behind the Camera - Captains Courageous


Months before principal photography began on Captains Courageous, director Victor Fleming sent a second unit MGM crew to Massachusetts to shoot footage in and around the quaint fishing town of Gloucester. While there, MGM purchased an authentic schooner called the Oretha F. Spinney and promptly transformed it into the We're Here of the film's story.

With the second unit crew aboard, the newly christened We're Here sailed around Newfoundland and Nova Scotia in order to pick up authentic shots at sea. According to Victor Fleming, they set out to capture "shots of the fishing fleet in every conceivable sort of rough winter weather." The crew then brought the boat towards northern California, collecting atmospheric footage of fog along the way, according to author James Curtis. Another schooner was soon purchased that was transformed into the We're Here's rival boat, the Jennie Cushman, which was ultimately docked alongside the We're Here in Catalina Island's Avalon Harbor.

The principal cast and crew came together to begin shooting in California in late September 1936. Spencer Tracy regularly grumbled over the two hour process of having his hair curled every day and admittedly faked his way through a "Portuguese" accent, making most of it up as he went along. Fortunately, the screenwriters had tried to tailor Manuel's dialogue to Tracy as much as possible while still remaining true to the original spirit of Kipling's story.

Spencer Tracy was impressed by the professionalism and dedication of his young co-star Freddie Bartholomew. When a scene called for his character Harvey to be soaking wet, for instance, Bartholomew willingly jumped in the water to look the part. "The kid can take it," said Tracy. "I hand it to him." According to Bartholomew, however, Tracy could also feel a little threatened by him. "I had warm feelings for Spencer Tracy," said Bartholomew in a 1992 interview, "but there was, curiously, a sense of competitiveness that he felt towards me. I'm not trying to say that I was wonderful and he wasn't--I don't mean that at all--but I think he felt that, 'Oh, wait a minute. The kid's running off with the picture, and this is not necessarily a good idea.'"

Since Bartholomew and supporting player Mickey Rooney were both school age, the production had to regularly carve out time for the two of them to be tutored. "Studio carpenters converted the fo'c'sle of the fishing vessel to a classroom where Freddie and I spent three hours a day studying with Freddie's tutor, Harold Minnear," recalled Rooney in his 1991 autobiography Life Is Too Short. "We had a full schedule, a long shoot every morning, then art, history, social studies, arithmetic, composition, grammar, spelling, botany, physiology, and hygiene in the afternoon. No wonder Freddie was so smart."

For Victor Fleming the biggest challenge with the Captains Courageous shoot was having to deal with the frequent frustrations of uncooperative weather. "We had purposely set out in October in order to take advantage of the fog," said Fleming. "But for days after we began to work, either the sun would break through or the wind would cause a break in the mist." On one occasion Fleming became so fed up with the ever-changing weather while trying to get a shot in the water that he finally threw up his arms in defeat. "Fleming said, 'Goddamnit, we're going home!'," recalled Spencer Tracy. "And then we went back to Catalina to get the stuff we had left in the hotel, and Fleming was in such a hurry to get away that he was using a speedboat [while] the rest of us were going to use a big tug. He walked out on the pier to jump into his speedboat, and the speedboat took off and he went into the water--with his white [pants], all dressed up."

For a difficult shot in which Freddie Bartholomew was to fall out of one of the dories racing back to the We're Here, Fleming spent an hour rehearsing so that Bartholomew would hopefully not have to do more than a single take in the icy waters. One of the real-life seamen helping the crew, Captain J.M. Hersey, said at the time, "[Crew member and Olympic swimmer] Stubby Kruger, out of camera range, was all ready to dive in if Tracy had difficulty hauling Freddie back into the dory, but Freddie was sure everything was going to be all right. The kid has nerve, all right. A second dory was ready to race over if there was any hitch, and Mr. Fleming himself had a leg over the rail and wouldn't have hesitated to drop in. Tracy's dory came up alongside. As he reached for the forward dory hook, Freddie put one foot on the gunwale, started to pass up the trawl tub, and took a backward header. Tracy, quick as a flash, reached over, grabbed him by the collar as he came up, got a grip with his other hand on the lad's trousers, and pulled him in as if he was landing a codfish. It was all over in a few seconds. We hauled up the dory, rushed Freddie below, stripped him, dried him, rubbed him down, and put him between blankets in a bunk where Mr. Barrymore, Charley Grapewin, Tracy and others came down and kidded him about his Olympic high-dive."

Towards the end of shooting, Victor Fleming had to enter the hospital for a minor surgery, something that was originally only supposed to take a few days. However, his recovery was unexpectedly slow and ended up causing a few weeks delay in the film's production. MGM appointed another director, Jack Conway, to temporarily take over the film until Fleming could return to work on February 1.

Fleming was back at the helm in time to shoot Manuel's dramatic death scene in which he is crushed in an accident during a storm. It was the most challenging scene to film in the entire production. In order to tightly control all of the elements, filming took place in a studio tank with medical personnel standing close by in case anything went wrong. When the time came for the storm to begin, Hollywood special effects wizards performed their magic. "Huge paddles churn up a frothy sea," reported columnist Robbin Coons at the time, "clouds of spray fly with a roar from a towering wooden reservoir, and a huge funnel batters Tracy's head with wind. The waves rise higher, higher, engulfing him, knocking him about as he yells his dialogue. Rescuers are John Carradine--just up from the flu--Dave Thursby, and Jack Sterling, all of whom get nearly as drenched as Tracy. And they do the scene three times. Before the last take Tracy, submerged in his art if ever an actor was, catches me leering on the sidelines and jeers, 'You like to try it? If you've got to laugh, you might stay out of my line of vision!' But another wave breaks over him before I can explain it wasn't laughter but an expression I always wear when wondering whether Metro is trying to drown Tracy."

The entire death scene took three days to shoot. The many close-ups of Bartholomew and Tracy saying their goodbyes were time consuming and took up much of the schedule. One of the screenwriters, John Lee Mahin, was watching Fleming shoot the scene and wondered why he initially took so long to move in for a close-up on Freddie Bartholomew. "I said, 'Geez, this is a beautiful kid, Vic. It seems to me you're not getting the close-ups of this kid,'" recalled Mahin. "He said, 'Wait till we need 'em. Wait till they'll have some effect.' I said, 'Well, when will that be?' He said, 'When he starts crying and breaking. That's when we'll go in to see him.' And this tough bastard starts to move in on him. He was right."

When production finally wrapped in late February 1937, Spencer Tracy was relieved. "Well, I got away with it," he said later. "Want to know why? Because of Freddie, because of that kid's performance, because he sold it 98 per cent. The kid had to believe in Manuel, or Manuel wasn't worth a quarter. The way he would look at me, believe every word I said, made me believe in it myself. I've never said this before, and I'll never say it again. Freddie Bartholomew's acting is so fine and so simple and so true that it's way over people's heads. It'll only be by thinking back two or three years from now that they'll realize how great it was."

by Andrea Passafiume

Behind the Camera - Captains Courageous

Months before principal photography began on Captains Courageous, director Victor Fleming sent a second unit MGM crew to Massachusetts to shoot footage in and around the quaint fishing town of Gloucester. While there, MGM purchased an authentic schooner called the Oretha F. Spinney and promptly transformed it into the We're Here of the film's story. With the second unit crew aboard, the newly christened We're Here sailed around Newfoundland and Nova Scotia in order to pick up authentic shots at sea. According to Victor Fleming, they set out to capture "shots of the fishing fleet in every conceivable sort of rough winter weather." The crew then brought the boat towards northern California, collecting atmospheric footage of fog along the way, according to author James Curtis. Another schooner was soon purchased that was transformed into the We're Here's rival boat, the Jennie Cushman, which was ultimately docked alongside the We're Here in Catalina Island's Avalon Harbor. The principal cast and crew came together to begin shooting in California in late September 1936. Spencer Tracy regularly grumbled over the two hour process of having his hair curled every day and admittedly faked his way through a "Portuguese" accent, making most of it up as he went along. Fortunately, the screenwriters had tried to tailor Manuel's dialogue to Tracy as much as possible while still remaining true to the original spirit of Kipling's story. Spencer Tracy was impressed by the professionalism and dedication of his young co-star Freddie Bartholomew. When a scene called for his character Harvey to be soaking wet, for instance, Bartholomew willingly jumped in the water to look the part. "The kid can take it," said Tracy. "I hand it to him." According to Bartholomew, however, Tracy could also feel a little threatened by him. "I had warm feelings for Spencer Tracy," said Bartholomew in a 1992 interview, "but there was, curiously, a sense of competitiveness that he felt towards me. I'm not trying to say that I was wonderful and he wasn't--I don't mean that at all--but I think he felt that, 'Oh, wait a minute. The kid's running off with the picture, and this is not necessarily a good idea.'" Since Bartholomew and supporting player Mickey Rooney were both school age, the production had to regularly carve out time for the two of them to be tutored. "Studio carpenters converted the fo'c'sle of the fishing vessel to a classroom where Freddie and I spent three hours a day studying with Freddie's tutor, Harold Minnear," recalled Rooney in his 1991 autobiography Life Is Too Short. "We had a full schedule, a long shoot every morning, then art, history, social studies, arithmetic, composition, grammar, spelling, botany, physiology, and hygiene in the afternoon. No wonder Freddie was so smart." For Victor Fleming the biggest challenge with the Captains Courageous shoot was having to deal with the frequent frustrations of uncooperative weather. "We had purposely set out in October in order to take advantage of the fog," said Fleming. "But for days after we began to work, either the sun would break through or the wind would cause a break in the mist." On one occasion Fleming became so fed up with the ever-changing weather while trying to get a shot in the water that he finally threw up his arms in defeat. "Fleming said, 'Goddamnit, we're going home!'," recalled Spencer Tracy. "And then we went back to Catalina to get the stuff we had left in the hotel, and Fleming was in such a hurry to get away that he was using a speedboat [while] the rest of us were going to use a big tug. He walked out on the pier to jump into his speedboat, and the speedboat took off and he went into the water--with his white [pants], all dressed up." For a difficult shot in which Freddie Bartholomew was to fall out of one of the dories racing back to the We're Here, Fleming spent an hour rehearsing so that Bartholomew would hopefully not have to do more than a single take in the icy waters. One of the real-life seamen helping the crew, Captain J.M. Hersey, said at the time, "[Crew member and Olympic swimmer] Stubby Kruger, out of camera range, was all ready to dive in if Tracy had difficulty hauling Freddie back into the dory, but Freddie was sure everything was going to be all right. The kid has nerve, all right. A second dory was ready to race over if there was any hitch, and Mr. Fleming himself had a leg over the rail and wouldn't have hesitated to drop in. Tracy's dory came up alongside. As he reached for the forward dory hook, Freddie put one foot on the gunwale, started to pass up the trawl tub, and took a backward header. Tracy, quick as a flash, reached over, grabbed him by the collar as he came up, got a grip with his other hand on the lad's trousers, and pulled him in as if he was landing a codfish. It was all over in a few seconds. We hauled up the dory, rushed Freddie below, stripped him, dried him, rubbed him down, and put him between blankets in a bunk where Mr. Barrymore, Charley Grapewin, Tracy and others came down and kidded him about his Olympic high-dive." Towards the end of shooting, Victor Fleming had to enter the hospital for a minor surgery, something that was originally only supposed to take a few days. However, his recovery was unexpectedly slow and ended up causing a few weeks delay in the film's production. MGM appointed another director, Jack Conway, to temporarily take over the film until Fleming could return to work on February 1. Fleming was back at the helm in time to shoot Manuel's dramatic death scene in which he is crushed in an accident during a storm. It was the most challenging scene to film in the entire production. In order to tightly control all of the elements, filming took place in a studio tank with medical personnel standing close by in case anything went wrong. When the time came for the storm to begin, Hollywood special effects wizards performed their magic. "Huge paddles churn up a frothy sea," reported columnist Robbin Coons at the time, "clouds of spray fly with a roar from a towering wooden reservoir, and a huge funnel batters Tracy's head with wind. The waves rise higher, higher, engulfing him, knocking him about as he yells his dialogue. Rescuers are John Carradine--just up from the flu--Dave Thursby, and Jack Sterling, all of whom get nearly as drenched as Tracy. And they do the scene three times. Before the last take Tracy, submerged in his art if ever an actor was, catches me leering on the sidelines and jeers, 'You like to try it? If you've got to laugh, you might stay out of my line of vision!' But another wave breaks over him before I can explain it wasn't laughter but an expression I always wear when wondering whether Metro is trying to drown Tracy." The entire death scene took three days to shoot. The many close-ups of Bartholomew and Tracy saying their goodbyes were time consuming and took up much of the schedule. One of the screenwriters, John Lee Mahin, was watching Fleming shoot the scene and wondered why he initially took so long to move in for a close-up on Freddie Bartholomew. "I said, 'Geez, this is a beautiful kid, Vic. It seems to me you're not getting the close-ups of this kid,'" recalled Mahin. "He said, 'Wait till we need 'em. Wait till they'll have some effect.' I said, 'Well, when will that be?' He said, 'When he starts crying and breaking. That's when we'll go in to see him.' And this tough bastard starts to move in on him. He was right." When production finally wrapped in late February 1937, Spencer Tracy was relieved. "Well, I got away with it," he said later. "Want to know why? Because of Freddie, because of that kid's performance, because he sold it 98 per cent. The kid had to believe in Manuel, or Manuel wasn't worth a quarter. The way he would look at me, believe every word I said, made me believe in it myself. I've never said this before, and I'll never say it again. Freddie Bartholomew's acting is so fine and so simple and so true that it's way over people's heads. It'll only be by thinking back two or three years from now that they'll realize how great it was." by Andrea Passafiume

Captains Courageous


Inform the rich brats of the world. At some point they're going to meet real salt of the earth folk who'll teach them the true meaning of life, or at least you might think so from the dozens and dozens of movies built around that theme. Perhaps the best is the 1937 Captains Courageous, based on Rudyard Kipling's novel, which earned Spencer Tracy his first Best Actor Oscar.

The story couldn't be more simple: Freddie Bartholomew is a spoiled tycoon's son who always gets his way through buying, whining or simple lying. On a trip to Europe he falls off the luxury ship only to awaken aboard the boat of a Portuguese fisherman (Spencer Tracy) and his small crew. Naturally Bartholomew immediately starts giving orders only to learn that he's not the boss here and in fact will have to wait until the fishermen finish their haul in another two or three months. Faced with such unyielding circumstances Bartholomew has little choice but to find out more about Tracy and his life.

Spencer Tracy had misgivings about playing the fisherman. He was first approached while filming Libeled Lady (1936) and felt that the fisherman was too secondary to the boy's part to be of real interest. It took director Victor Fleming (Red Dust, 1932) and Tracy's wife to convince him to take the role. Tracy still had reservations about getting his hair curled (at the studio, Joan Crawford kidded him for looking like Harpo Marx) and having to sing. He was also uncertain about how to do the Portuguese accent before deciding to base it on a Yiddish accent from his old theatre days. Even after finishing Captains Courageous Tracy thought it was some of his "worst" work, at least until he began receiving critical praise and eventually an Oscar. (It also took his life in an unexpected direction: After seeing Captains Courageous Katharine Hepburn decided that she had to work with Tracy and started looking for an appropriate project. The two would later become one of Hollywood's most famous screen teams.)

Much of Captains Courageous was filmed in winter off the coast of California during a period when location shooting was uncommon. Hundreds of live fish were brought down from Alaska and many more frozen ones flown in from Boston. A real fishing boat was used, along with some other boats for background and authenticity. Tracy kept trying to take the helm of the boat when not filming, something that did not amuse the real captain who once had Tracy forcibly removed when a storm unexpectedly arose. Mickey Rooney (who appears in a supporting role) and Freddie Bartholomew spent a good part of each day being tutored in part of the boat that had been converted into a classroom.

Producer: Louis D. Lighton
Director: Victor Fleming
Screenplay: Marc Connelly, John Lee Mahin, Dale Van Every (based on the novel by Rudyard Kipling)
Cinematography: Harold Rosson
Art Direction: Cedric Gibbons, A. Arnold Gillespie
Film Editing: Elmo Veron
Original Music: Franz Waxman, Clifford Vaughan
Principal Cast: Spencer Tracy (Manuel), Freddie Bartholomew (Harvey Cheyne), Lionel Barrymore (Captain Troop), Mickey Rooney (Dan Troop), Melvyn Douglas (Mr. Cheyne), Charley Grapewin (Uncle Salters), John Carradine (Long Jack), Leo G. Carroll (Burns)
BW-117m. Closed captioning. Descriptive Video.

by Lang Thompson

Captains Courageous

Inform the rich brats of the world. At some point they're going to meet real salt of the earth folk who'll teach them the true meaning of life, or at least you might think so from the dozens and dozens of movies built around that theme. Perhaps the best is the 1937 Captains Courageous, based on Rudyard Kipling's novel, which earned Spencer Tracy his first Best Actor Oscar. The story couldn't be more simple: Freddie Bartholomew is a spoiled tycoon's son who always gets his way through buying, whining or simple lying. On a trip to Europe he falls off the luxury ship only to awaken aboard the boat of a Portuguese fisherman (Spencer Tracy) and his small crew. Naturally Bartholomew immediately starts giving orders only to learn that he's not the boss here and in fact will have to wait until the fishermen finish their haul in another two or three months. Faced with such unyielding circumstances Bartholomew has little choice but to find out more about Tracy and his life. Spencer Tracy had misgivings about playing the fisherman. He was first approached while filming Libeled Lady (1936) and felt that the fisherman was too secondary to the boy's part to be of real interest. It took director Victor Fleming (Red Dust, 1932) and Tracy's wife to convince him to take the role. Tracy still had reservations about getting his hair curled (at the studio, Joan Crawford kidded him for looking like Harpo Marx) and having to sing. He was also uncertain about how to do the Portuguese accent before deciding to base it on a Yiddish accent from his old theatre days. Even after finishing Captains Courageous Tracy thought it was some of his "worst" work, at least until he began receiving critical praise and eventually an Oscar. (It also took his life in an unexpected direction: After seeing Captains Courageous Katharine Hepburn decided that she had to work with Tracy and started looking for an appropriate project. The two would later become one of Hollywood's most famous screen teams.) Much of Captains Courageous was filmed in winter off the coast of California during a period when location shooting was uncommon. Hundreds of live fish were brought down from Alaska and many more frozen ones flown in from Boston. A real fishing boat was used, along with some other boats for background and authenticity. Tracy kept trying to take the helm of the boat when not filming, something that did not amuse the real captain who once had Tracy forcibly removed when a storm unexpectedly arose. Mickey Rooney (who appears in a supporting role) and Freddie Bartholomew spent a good part of each day being tutored in part of the boat that had been converted into a classroom. Producer: Louis D. Lighton Director: Victor Fleming Screenplay: Marc Connelly, John Lee Mahin, Dale Van Every (based on the novel by Rudyard Kipling) Cinematography: Harold Rosson Art Direction: Cedric Gibbons, A. Arnold Gillespie Film Editing: Elmo Veron Original Music: Franz Waxman, Clifford Vaughan Principal Cast: Spencer Tracy (Manuel), Freddie Bartholomew (Harvey Cheyne), Lionel Barrymore (Captain Troop), Mickey Rooney (Dan Troop), Melvyn Douglas (Mr. Cheyne), Charley Grapewin (Uncle Salters), John Carradine (Long Jack), Leo G. Carroll (Burns) BW-117m. Closed captioning. Descriptive Video. by Lang Thompson

Critics' Corner - Captains Courageous


AWARDS AND HONORS

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."

THE CRITIC'S CORNER - CAPTAINS COURAGEOUS

"Metro's Captains Courageous...is 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

Critics' Corner - Captains Courageous

AWARDS AND HONORS 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." THE CRITIC'S CORNER - CAPTAINS COURAGEOUS "Metro's Captains Courageous...is 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

Captains Courageous on DVD


Harvey Cheyne (Freddie Bartholomew) has had all of the privileges that the son of a rich industrialist could expect, and it shows. He is a well-tailored ten-year-old who has learned deportment and manners, and he attends the boarding school which has been heavily endowed by his father. Unfortunately, at school Harvey shows himself to be nothing more than a spoiled rich kid. He carries out plans to enter into school clubs and activities as if he were a ruthless businessman, not above bribing or even blackmailing anyone who stands in his way of getting what he wants, and wielding his father's influence as if it was a sword of his own making. His most recent attempt at blackmail is a particularly insidious plan to convince a fellow student that if does not get Harvey into a club he wants to join, Harvey will bring pressure on the school authorities to have the boy expelled.

But Harvey's plan backfires when the boy brings his concerns about being turned away to the headmasters. As punishment for Harvey's treatment of his fellow student, the school administrators decide to administer one of the school's harshest punishments—a prolonged silent treatment. Of course, Harvey chafes at this and takes off for home where, dousing himself with ink, he claims that he was attacked for no reason when he went to his job at the school printing press. Mr. Cheyne (Melvyn Douglas) calls in the school officials for a chat, and they explain what the situation really was, and how difficult it seems to be to handle young Harvey. Cheyne seems equally at a loss, since he is forced to spend most of his time with the endless details of running his companies. When Cheyne informs the officials that Harvey's behavior will be much-improved when they get him back to school, the officials regretfully inform him that Harvey has been expelled for six months. There is nothing for it but for Cheyne to bring Harvey along on his overseas business trip

Once aboard the luxury liner Cheyne is, as always, taken up with business, and still doesn't have time for his son. While Harvey is running around decks on his own, he manages to fall overboard and watches as the liner speeds away. Harvey is pulled from the drink by simple Portuguese fisherman Manuel Fidello (Spencer Tracy), who is working on the schooner We're Here, helmed by Captain Disko Troop (Lionel Barrymore). Harvey is so disconnected from the "common man" that he can't understand why none of the fishermen will accept money to bring to England, or at least to the nearest port. Nor is he any happier to learn that he will be stuck on the schooner for the next three months, because the fisherman's very livelihood rests entirely on how much they'll be able to catch on their three months at sea before returning to port. For the first time in his life, Harvey finds that his family fortune and his family name mean nothing.

While sympathetic to the boy's desire to be returned to his family, Captain Troop has no intention of risking the livelihood of his crew, and promises Harvey that when they return to Gloucester at the end of the three months, he'll help Harvey locate his family. In the meantime, in order to be fair he offers to hire Harvey on as crew, principally to pair Harvey with his son Dan (Mickey Rooney) in daily grunt work. But Harvey blanches at the idea of doing manual labor, and the crew refuses to have anything to do with him, believing that a passenger on a fishing boat is a Jonah. Harvey is more or less left under the wing of Manuel to learn the ways of the fisherman, .and little by little as they learn about each others lives, they grow a great deal of respect for each other. In Manuel, Harvey has finally found the father who will let the boy spend time at his knee, learning the practical things of life and growing a special bond. With the care and understanding of Manuel, Harvey begins to enter into the life of a fisherman, trying to learn the right ways to do things, and eventually earning the respect of the crew.

It is when the crew are finally on their way back to Gloucester that a storm blows up, the intensity of which blows out one of the main masts, sending it and Manuel crashing down into the sea. While the crew desperately works free him, and Harvey begs him to hold on, Manuel explains to the captain in Portuguese that his lower extremities were severed in the accident, and so wasting precious time trying to free him would be futile. The captain finally, reluctantly gives in , and Manuel is cut free and slips from Harvey's grasp and under the water.

Based on the story by Rudyard Kipling, Captains Courageous is not the run-on-the-mill coming-of-age story, but rather a story in which the less-then-sterling upbringing of an over-privileged child is corrected when he's faced with the realities of the real world. The basic story may seem simplistic, but the execution is not: director Victor Fleming gives the story the time it needs to build to an emotional impact. He provides a telling backstory for Harvey that shows the alarming extent to which his spoiled nature has been allowed to grow, and gives a glimpse of the futility of effecting a change in the boy without some sort of intervention (Divine or otherwise) from the outside sadly demonstrated by his father's reactions to news of his latest exploits: his response is a mixture of faint amusement and resignation.

Even with the fine script and Fleming's direction, the film still could've become cliched (or even maudlin) were it not for the extraordinary performances of the entire cast. Of course, Spencer Tracy won his first Oscar for his portrayal of Manuel. But at the film's center is the incredibly believable, compelling performance by Freddie Bartholomew. This would've been an impressive performance by an adult actor: for a child it is no less than stunning. Bartholomew doesn't strike a false note throughout the emotional transformation he must undergo over the course of the film. Alongside Tracy and Bartholomew are a cast of veteran character actors including Lionel Barrymore, Charley Grapewin, John Carradine, and Mickey Rooney, all of whom give performances so honest that they keep the film well-anchored in reality.

Warner's new DVD includes a lovely transfer, struck from a source that is in remarkably good condition, free of damage and, for the most part, free of debris. The image is beautifully contrasted throughout with deep blacks, well-balanced whites, and clearly defined shadings. The soundtrack is showing some deterioration, mainly during the opening and closing credits, thought there some mild deterioration throughout, though it is never pronounced enough to impact on the listening experience.

Extras include the vintage short "The Little Maestro," classic carton "Little Buck Cheeser." Also included is the "Leo is on the Air" Radio Promo and two theatrical trailers.

For more information about Captains Courageous, visit Warner Video. To order Captains Courageous, go to TCM Shopping.

by Fred Hunter

Captains Courageous on DVD

Harvey Cheyne (Freddie Bartholomew) has had all of the privileges that the son of a rich industrialist could expect, and it shows. He is a well-tailored ten-year-old who has learned deportment and manners, and he attends the boarding school which has been heavily endowed by his father. Unfortunately, at school Harvey shows himself to be nothing more than a spoiled rich kid. He carries out plans to enter into school clubs and activities as if he were a ruthless businessman, not above bribing or even blackmailing anyone who stands in his way of getting what he wants, and wielding his father's influence as if it was a sword of his own making. His most recent attempt at blackmail is a particularly insidious plan to convince a fellow student that if does not get Harvey into a club he wants to join, Harvey will bring pressure on the school authorities to have the boy expelled. But Harvey's plan backfires when the boy brings his concerns about being turned away to the headmasters. As punishment for Harvey's treatment of his fellow student, the school administrators decide to administer one of the school's harshest punishments—a prolonged silent treatment. Of course, Harvey chafes at this and takes off for home where, dousing himself with ink, he claims that he was attacked for no reason when he went to his job at the school printing press. Mr. Cheyne (Melvyn Douglas) calls in the school officials for a chat, and they explain what the situation really was, and how difficult it seems to be to handle young Harvey. Cheyne seems equally at a loss, since he is forced to spend most of his time with the endless details of running his companies. When Cheyne informs the officials that Harvey's behavior will be much-improved when they get him back to school, the officials regretfully inform him that Harvey has been expelled for six months. There is nothing for it but for Cheyne to bring Harvey along on his overseas business trip Once aboard the luxury liner Cheyne is, as always, taken up with business, and still doesn't have time for his son. While Harvey is running around decks on his own, he manages to fall overboard and watches as the liner speeds away. Harvey is pulled from the drink by simple Portuguese fisherman Manuel Fidello (Spencer Tracy), who is working on the schooner We're Here, helmed by Captain Disko Troop (Lionel Barrymore). Harvey is so disconnected from the "common man" that he can't understand why none of the fishermen will accept money to bring to England, or at least to the nearest port. Nor is he any happier to learn that he will be stuck on the schooner for the next three months, because the fisherman's very livelihood rests entirely on how much they'll be able to catch on their three months at sea before returning to port. For the first time in his life, Harvey finds that his family fortune and his family name mean nothing. While sympathetic to the boy's desire to be returned to his family, Captain Troop has no intention of risking the livelihood of his crew, and promises Harvey that when they return to Gloucester at the end of the three months, he'll help Harvey locate his family. In the meantime, in order to be fair he offers to hire Harvey on as crew, principally to pair Harvey with his son Dan (Mickey Rooney) in daily grunt work. But Harvey blanches at the idea of doing manual labor, and the crew refuses to have anything to do with him, believing that a passenger on a fishing boat is a Jonah. Harvey is more or less left under the wing of Manuel to learn the ways of the fisherman, .and little by little as they learn about each others lives, they grow a great deal of respect for each other. In Manuel, Harvey has finally found the father who will let the boy spend time at his knee, learning the practical things of life and growing a special bond. With the care and understanding of Manuel, Harvey begins to enter into the life of a fisherman, trying to learn the right ways to do things, and eventually earning the respect of the crew. It is when the crew are finally on their way back to Gloucester that a storm blows up, the intensity of which blows out one of the main masts, sending it and Manuel crashing down into the sea. While the crew desperately works free him, and Harvey begs him to hold on, Manuel explains to the captain in Portuguese that his lower extremities were severed in the accident, and so wasting precious time trying to free him would be futile. The captain finally, reluctantly gives in , and Manuel is cut free and slips from Harvey's grasp and under the water. Based on the story by Rudyard Kipling, Captains Courageous is not the run-on-the-mill coming-of-age story, but rather a story in which the less-then-sterling upbringing of an over-privileged child is corrected when he's faced with the realities of the real world. The basic story may seem simplistic, but the execution is not: director Victor Fleming gives the story the time it needs to build to an emotional impact. He provides a telling backstory for Harvey that shows the alarming extent to which his spoiled nature has been allowed to grow, and gives a glimpse of the futility of effecting a change in the boy without some sort of intervention (Divine or otherwise) from the outside sadly demonstrated by his father's reactions to news of his latest exploits: his response is a mixture of faint amusement and resignation. Even with the fine script and Fleming's direction, the film still could've become cliched (or even maudlin) were it not for the extraordinary performances of the entire cast. Of course, Spencer Tracy won his first Oscar for his portrayal of Manuel. But at the film's center is the incredibly believable, compelling performance by Freddie Bartholomew. This would've been an impressive performance by an adult actor: for a child it is no less than stunning. Bartholomew doesn't strike a false note throughout the emotional transformation he must undergo over the course of the film. Alongside Tracy and Bartholomew are a cast of veteran character actors including Lionel Barrymore, Charley Grapewin, John Carradine, and Mickey Rooney, all of whom give performances so honest that they keep the film well-anchored in reality. Warner's new DVD includes a lovely transfer, struck from a source that is in remarkably good condition, free of damage and, for the most part, free of debris. The image is beautifully contrasted throughout with deep blacks, well-balanced whites, and clearly defined shadings. The soundtrack is showing some deterioration, mainly during the opening and closing credits, thought there some mild deterioration throughout, though it is never pronounced enough to impact on the listening experience. Extras include the vintage short "The Little Maestro," classic carton "Little Buck Cheeser." Also included is the "Leo is on the Air" Radio Promo and two theatrical trailers. For more information about Captains Courageous, visit Warner Video. To order Captains Courageous, go to TCM Shopping. by Fred Hunter

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

The opening title reads, "Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer presents Victor Fleming's Production of Rudyard Kipling's Captains Courageous." Reviews pointed out the fact that the character of "Harvey" was nineteen in Kipling's novel, but was changed to twelve in order to accommodate Freddie Bartholomew. According to pre-production news items in Daily Variety and Hollywood Reporter, backgrounds and exteriors for the film were shot on location in Port aux Basques, Newfoundland and Shelburne, Nova Scotia in Canada, and Gloucester, MA in October and November 1935. Principal photography was set to begin on 14 Sep, then September 19, 1936, but, due to the death of M-G-M production chief Irving Thalberg on 13 Sep, the production was delayed for several days. Additional location shooting was done by second unit crews in the Florida Keys and off the coast of Mazatlan, Mexico, where the storm scenes were filmed. In mid-January 1937, shooting was temporarily halted due to the slow recovery of director Victor Fleming after minor surgery. Jack Conway subsequently took over for Fleming until 1 Feb. Photographer Harold Rosson was briefly replaced by Harold Morzorati in early February 1937 while Rosson was ill with the flu.
       Melvyn Douglas was borrowed from Columbia for the picture. The exterior of the building used for the Cheyne manion at the beginning of the film is located on Washington, Blvd. in Culver City. The structure, which initially housed the offices of the Thomas H. Ince Corp., became the headquarters of Selznick-International, and also served as its corporate logo. A Hollywood Reporter news item on the Los Angeles premiere noted that, for the first time in Hollywood history, pickets dressed in evening clothes manned a picket line. Although not specifically stated in that news item, the protest was linked to strikes within the industry that began in early May. According to various front page news items in Hollywood Reporter from 1 May to 14 May, a general, industry-wide strike was averted on 12 or 13 May, but some studios had not yet signed pertinent agreements. M-G-M apparently was one studio that had not yet signed. According to a news item in Motion Picture Daily on November 18, 1938, Federal Judge Harry Hollzer awarded a $30,000 judgement against M-G-M to Mrs. Helen Gonmesen, the widow of Kristen Gonmesen, a seaman who was swept overboard in the Pacific Ocean during shooting. The suit was based on the contention that the ship used was unsafe and unseaworthy.
       Spencer Tracy won an Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance, the first of two back-to-back awards. The second was for Boys Town. Captains Courageous was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture, and John Lee Mahin, Marc Connelly and Dale Van Every were nominated for the Best Screenplay award. According to a news item in Hollywood Reporter, Mahin did not accept his Oscar nominaton certificate until 1939 because, at the time of his nomination, he had been on the board of the Writer's Guild and there was a dispute between the Guild and the Academy about possible discrimination in the writer's branch award committee. Film Daily, the National Board of Review, and New York Times all named the picture one of the ten best films of the year. A television movie adaptation of Kipling's novel was made in 1977, starring Jonathan Kahn, Ricardo Montalban and Karl Malden.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States 1937

Broadcast over TNT (colorized version) February 14, 1989.

Released in United States 1937