Despite winning the first of his two Oscars for his work in
this film, Spencer Tracy never cared for his performance as a Portuguese fisherman in Captains Courageous, and it does feel like a casting decision that only could have happened under the old
studio system of Hollywood's Golden Age.
Nevertheless, Tracy steals this movie with an immensely
likeable character in this coming-of-age adventure set aboard a fishing schooner.
Freddie Bartholomew plays a spoilt brat who joins his father
on a transatlantic voyage and falls overboard, subsequently rescued by the fishing boat where he is told he must work as a crew member to earn passage.
Based on the novel by Rudyard Kipling, the film has a strong
message about maturity and there's a good on-screen partnership between Bartholomew and Tracy.
It all looks a little dated now, but it's as fine a film they
could have made from the source material in the late 1930's.