Captains Courageous (Classic Movie Week) [Review by Terrence]


I’m honored to have Terrence, from The Focused Filmographer, as a guest reviewer here. Chances are you’ve probably heard of his website, which features reviews to films as well as several cool features. Interested in seeing some new movie posters? Well, you’re more than likely going to see it on The Focused Filmographer. 

When asked to participate in this amazing “Classic Movie Week,” I had a difficult task in choosing what movie to spotlight. Having grown up watching several classic films with stars such as Humphrey Bogart, Audrey Hepburn, Errol Flynn, Greer Garson, Cary Grant, Elizabeth Taylor, William Powell and more, how was I to choose just one film to spotlight? Some of my favorites include movies such as:

Original photo by wittyabstractions. Click to visit origin.

Click photo to see original by witty abstractions.

  • 1936′s My Man Godfrey
  • 1942′s Yankee Doodle Dandy
  • 1952′s The Quiet Man
  • 1941′s Sergeant York
  • 1939′s On Borrowed Time
  • 1947′s The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
  • 1936′s Little Lord Fauntleroy
  • 1942′s Mrs. Miniver
  • 1938′s Boys Town
  • 1938′s The Adventures of Robin Hood
  • …and more.

Just to name a few. A daunting task to choose. After several days of pondering, I chose to highlight a black and white classic film that, if it were to be the very first black and white movie that someone were to sit through, would hopefully inspire the desire in the viewer to afford several other classic films the opportunity to share their beauty, grace, storytelling and style.

The film I wish to share today: 1937′s CAPTAINS COURAGEOUScaptains-courageous-title-still

  • Directed by: Victor Fleming (The Wizard of Oz, Gone With The Wind, Treasure Island)
  • Starring: Freddie Bartholomew (Little Lord Fauntleroy), Spencer Tracy (Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner), Lionel Barrymore (It’s a Wonderful Life), Mickey Rooney (National Velvet) and more.
  • Awards:
    • Won an Oscar: “Best Actor in a Leading Role” (Spencer Tracy).
    • Nominated for 3 other Oscars: “Best Film Editing,” “Best Picture” and “Best Writing, Screenplay.”
    • Won 1937 National Board of Review award for “Top Ten Films”
    • Won 1937 Photoplay Award Medal of Honor


Let’s take a look:

Based on the 1897 novel of the same name by author Rudyard Kipling (The Jungle Book, “Rikki-Tikki-Tavi,” “The Man Who Would Be King”), 1937′s Captains Courageous tells the story of a spoiled bratty young son of a wealthy tycoon named Harvey who is used to getting his own way. Things don’t go his way when he ends up thrown overboard into the ocean while on a transatlantic steamship trip with his family. Rescued by a member of a passing-by fishing boat, Harvey reluctantly becomes a hired hand and joins the crew in order to “pay” for passage back home at the end of the fishing season. The rugged life, along with a few unlikely yet developed friendships, forces Harvey to adapt and mature as time on the open seas shows him the true value of life and changes his outlook and approach to all it has to offer.capt

This film remains one of the epitomes of what acting, storytelling and film-making should be. Everything works together to make this one of the most-memorable films of the golden era of movies. Freddie Bartholomew takes us to different extremes from despising a young brat too big for his britches and in major need of a trip to the woodshed to a boy that we care and cheer for.

See the boy before his life-transformation here:

Ruthless! ha.

Captains_courageous_tracy_and_bartholomewThat same character becomes a different boy throughout this coming of age story as he partners up with a rugged hardworking fisherman with an honest heart of gold (Spencer Tracy as Manuel). Tracy delivers one of the best performances of his illustrious career as the man who shows Harvey the ropes and inadvertently replaces the non-involved father Harvey “never” had. Lionel Barrymore (Actress Drew Barrymore’s great-uncle) , most commonly known as Mr. Potter in It’s a Wonderful Life, plays the part of Captain Disko in believable and expected fashion. The rest of the cast does nothing but add to the tremendous effort Fleming brings to telling Rudyard Kipling’s masterpiece of a story that is real, exciting and touching.

cap3Full of moments that will make you smile, laugh and undoubtedly bring a tear or three to your eye, Captains Courageous is an excellent and emotionally fulfilling movie with complete casting, contributing music and compelling story. Be courageous and brave your fear/avoidance of B&W movies. Start with Captains Courageous. It comes with my highest recommendation as one of the greatest movie classics from Hollywood past.

Thank you to Austin for this opportunity to share one of my favorite classics with you. May you watch and enjoy (along with many others of this week’s classic movie spotlights).

Thanks for reading. Happy watching.

T, The Focused Filmographer

Classic movie week is currently filled with writers, but if you would like to take part in a future film week, email me at 


5 thoughts on “Captains Courageous (Classic Movie Week) [Review by Terrence]

  1. Pingback: Action Movie Memory: The Matrix | The Focused Filmographer

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