Captains Courageous

1937 boat movie

Rating: 16/20

Plot: A spoiled and likely neglected rich kid has his silver spoon yanked right out of his ass when he's expelled from his boarding school, takes a tumble from his daddy's cruise ship, and is put to work by a crew of fishermen. It's comeuppance time for young Harvey as he befriends crusty fisherman Manuel and learns how to not be a complete pain in the ass.

What do I hate more than anything else in movies? Child actors from the 1930s! And Captains Courageous has an annoying kid (Freddie Bartholomew) playing an annoying character. I suppose we're not really supposed to like Harvey (Why do I keep wanting to call him Nathan?) throughout the first half of this movie, but I don't like him so much that I find it impossible to like him during the second half of the movie, too. I actually broke bones in my hand taking punches at my television screen during a scene involving ice cream. The other children at the beginning of the movie are equally bad. They probably all tried out to play Nathan, and director Victor Fleming just threw up his hands and said, "Whatever! They're all annoying. Just pick out the one with the best face and keep him the hell away from me!" I really liked when one of the kids asked, "Did you call me a sissy?" in a voice that makes him sound like a big sissy. I was really surprised that I didn't really hate this movie, a Cory recommendation, and Spencer Tracy gets all the credit for that. I really think all you have to do is give me a movie where Spencer Tracy is on a boat, and I'll be cool with it. His Manuel is funny, almost like a Marx brother with a little of Groucho's bite and a lot of little of Chico's voice. And he reminded me that I really want my own hurdy-gurdy. I really liked his character, and the bond between the annoying little brat and Manuel is realistic and touching. I'm also immature enough to crack up every time he sang, "Yeah ho, little fish." Once little Nathan is on the boat, this movie picks up, probably because bad things start happening to a bad little kid. I liked watching life on the fishing boat, too. This is the type of movie that kind of makes you wish you were doing what the characters were doing, and after a while, I kind of wanted to work on a boat with a bunch of smelly fish and probably smellier fisherman. Basically, I just want a job where I don't have to shower anymore. I'll even take the occasional hook in my arm if it means I don't have to shower. I also really liked the fisherman trash talk, and Lionel Barrymore as the grizzled captain delivers those lines well. All in all, this turned out to be a nice little adventure story on the high seas with believable characters and the right amount of heart. Yeah ho, little fish! Yeah ho!


cory said...

Tracy and Barrymore are terrific in this very touching film, and I have a much higher tolerance for 30's children, it seems. I would give it a 19. As always, thanks for watching it. I don't see a foreign in the "five"(don't know how that happened), so I would suggest "Ridicule".

Barry said...

I give this one an far as child actors go little Freddie was one of my least favorites. However he is well cast in this role, because you really are not supposed to like the little spud until very late in the movie.

I like the accents..I really like Barrymore, and this is a well told tale. Glad everyone enjoyed it.