Take Me To The River on Blu-ray & DVD Feb 5Phantom From 10,000 Leagues (1956) on Blu-ray & DVD Jan 5Condemned on DVD & Blu-ray Jan 5Broad City: Season 2 on DVD Jan 5McHale's Navy: The Complete Series on DVD No 17Return to Sender on Blu-ray & DVD Sep 29The Phantom of the Opera with Lon Chaney Blu-ray & DVD Oct 13

follow us on twitter

dOc on facebook

NE News Editor

Jennifer Esposito Is Your Newest NCIS Agent in Season 1...
Critics Are Split on Ghostbusters Reboot ...
'Respect is key': The Game, Snoop Dogg lead march to LA...
Kristen Stewart's Sheer Dress At 'Equals' Premiere -- S...
"A Slow Slipping Away"-- Kris Kristofferson's Long-Undi...
Fox News' Roger Ailes Sued for Sexual Harassment by Ous...
Garrison Keillor Retires from 'Prairie Home Companion' ...
Jennifer Aniston is Pregnant: Star Steps Out in Loose D...
Hiddleswift Is One Big Song Promotion -- A Theory...
Elvis Presley's daughter Lisa Marie Presley files for ...

Microsoft Store

Share: email   Print      Technorati.gif   StumbleUpon.gif   MySpace   digg.gif delicious.gif   google.gif   magnolia.gif   facebook.gif
Permalink: Permalink.gif

Buy from Amazon

Buy from Amazon.com

Warner Home Video presents
Captains Courageous (1937)

Harvey: I want to be with you, Manuel. Please.
Manuel (patting Harvey's face): My little fish.

- Freddie Bartholomew, Spencer Tracy

Review By: David Krauss  
Published: January 31, 2006

Stars: Freddie Bartholomew, Spencer Tracy, Lionel Barrymore, Melvyn Douglas
Other Stars: Mickey Rooney, John Carradine, Charley Grapewin, Oscar O'Shea, Jack LaRue
Director: Victor Fleming

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (nothing objectionable)
Run Time: 01h:56m:35s
Release Date: January 31, 2006
UPC: 012569676749
Genre: family

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
A- AB+B B-

DVD Review

Few movies we loved as children retain their appeal when viewed from an adult perspective, but Captains Courageous is a rare and wonderful exception. One of the finest family films ever made, this exciting and immensely human adventure story, based on Rudyard Kipling's classic novel, continues to charm, thrill, and move us almost 70 years after its initial release. Director Victor Fleming (Gone With the Wind, The Wizard of Oz) embraces the yarn's tough and tender aspects, and guides Spencer Tracy to a well-deserved Best Actor Oscar as the big-hearted, serene Portuguese fisherman, Manuel Fidello, who teaches a spoiled young boy to value hard work, simple pleasures, and abiding friendships more than wealth, status, and material possessions.

Harvey Cheyne (Freddie Bartholomew) is a snot-nosed brat of the first order. Pampered by servants in his Manhattan mansion, able to draw at will from a bottomless bank account, and neglected by his widowed, workaholic tycoon father (Melvyn Douglas), the 10-year-old monster knows how to get what he wants and manipulate others like a mini Machiavelli. He tries to bribe a teacher at his ritzy Connecticut boarding school to make a history exam easier, and blackmails a distraught classmate in the hope of gaining admittance into an exclusive club. His out-of-control behavior leads to a school suspension, which at last wakes up his oblivious father, who vows to more actively participate in Harvey's upbringing. A London business trip provides a prime bonding opportunity, but while sailing overseas on a luxurious liner, Harvey gets into mischief and tumbles overboard. Yes, overboard!

Luckily, the area is a hot spot for fishermen, and Harvey is quickly rescued from the frigid ocean water by Manuel, who brings him onto the We're Here, a fishing vessel out of Gloucester, Massachusetts. Once he regains his strength, Harvey confronts the boat's crusty captain (Lionel Barrymore) and demands to be taken immediately to either London or New York. The captain—unimpressed by Harvey's pedigree and offended by his insolence—scoffs at the request, and informs him they won't be returning to shore for at least three months. At first, Harvey throws a tantrum and refuses to chip in and earn his keep during the voyage, but the brusque, blue-collar crew won't tolerate his antics. Manuel takes it upon himself to whip his "little fish" into shape, and his firm hand, upright values, and subtle encouragement slowly command the boy's respect, teach him honor and discipline, and sow the seeds of a deep friendship.

Captains Courageous focuses on Harvey's transformation and Manuel's irrepressible spirit, but also paints a detailed portrait of life aboard a fishing smack—the chores, challenges, camaraderie, and teamwork that turn a group of disparate men into a family. Although rear projection work dilutes realism somewhat, Fleming intersperses enough actual seafaring footage to suspend our disbelief, so at times we can almost taste the salt air, feel the ocean spray, and smell the stench of fresh fish on deck. The screenplay also sprinkles a generous amount of humor throughout the film (most of it impeccably delivered by Tracy), which helps us develop a strong kinship with the characters—so much so that we, too, feel like a member of the We're Here crew.

Shirley Temple aside, Bartholomew reigned supreme as the 1930s biggest child star, and Captains Courageous reminds us what a talented, natural performer he was. Never does he mug or cop an overly cute pose, and he cries with far more sincerity than most moppet actors. In the early part of the film, he adopts an obnoxious, superior air that's downright despicable, but takes care not to overdo the attitude. And when Harvey finally learns how to love later on, his attachment to Manuel feels warm and genuine.

Tracy wrestled with his role during filming, always doubting his performance and worrying over the Portuguese accent and the ditties he would sing while playing an old hurdy-gurdy. "If anyone had predicted that the part would win an Academy Award when I was working before the cameras," he later said, "I'd have thought he was delirious." Yet the portrayal remains one of Tracy's most beloved and affecting. The quiet strength, simple spirituality, and paternal tenderness Manuel imparts speak not just to Harvey, but to us all, and Tracy beautifully embodies those qualities.

Fleming, however, sets the tone, and—like he would do in Gone With the Wind and Oz—masterfully balances adventure and spectacle with a child-like wonder and pitch-perfect sentiment. Captains Courageous could easily become maudlin and trite, but Fleming keeps it grounded, vital, and, thus, timeless. Another exceptional film from an exceptional—and very underrated—director.

Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: A


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Warner's winning ways with vintage transfers continues with this above average effort. For the most part, the image remains clear and surprisingly vibrant, although various age-related defects occasionally dot the print. A pesky black vertical line ever-so-slightly intrudes now and then, and medium grain—a typical element of 1930s films—persists throughout. Gray levels, however, are nicely varied, blacks possess solid depth, and contrast and shadow detail are fine. For a 69-year-old film, Captains Courageous looks mighty good.

Image Transfer Grade: B+


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
MonoEnglish, Frenchyes

Audio Transfer Review: The original mono track supplies dynamic audio, especially during the climactic ocean race sequence. The brisk wind, crashing waves, and billowy sails sound crisp and lively, immersing us in the drama of the moment, while quieter stretches lack the pops and crackles so prevalent among films from this period. A bit of hiss remains audible, but dialogue is rarely compromised, and Franz Waxman's music score adds robust accents to the action.

Audio Transfer Grade: B


Disc Extras

Static menu with music
Scene Access with 31 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish with remote access
2 Original Trailer(s)
Packaging: Amaray
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual
Layers Switch: 50m:02s

Extra Extras:
  1. Vintage short, The Little Maestro
  2. Vintage cartoon, Little Buck Cheeser
  3. Leo Is on the Air radio promo
Extras Review: Some mildly entertaining extras enhance the disc, beginning with the 11-minute musical short, The Little Maestro, in which a pint-sized mute hobo, who carries his belongings in a violin case, gets mistaken for a serious musician when he tries to pilfer some food from a nightclub kitchen. A few episodes of slapstick musical comedy follow, as the drifter tries to fit into the various club acts, with little success. Up next, the vintage cartoon Little Buck Cheeser, running seven-and-a-half minutes, chronicles the fantasy of a petit mouse who builds a Buck Rogers-like rocket to take him to the moon—which, his grandfather has told him, is made of green cheese.

A Leo Is on the Air radio promo hypes the release of Captains Courageous by presenting a selection of music and audio scenes from the film. The announcer calls the movie one of MGM's "proudest achievements" during the 12-minute montage. Rounding out the supplements, two theatrical re-release trailers document the picture's enduring appeal. The first, from 1973, promotes Captains Courageous as part of a children's matinee series, while the second, from 1946, minimizes the participation of Bartholomew, who by then was just another has-been child actor. Those watching this preview—if unfamiliar with the film—could easily assume Mickey Rooney co-stars with Tracy, as he did in Boys Town and Men of Boys Town a few years before, and Bartholomew is but a mere supporting player. A disgraceful way to treat such a talented and once-valued performer.

Extras Grade: B-


Final Comments

A timeless family film packed with adventure and emotion, Captains Courageous far outclasses more contemporary movies in the same vein. Victor Fleming directs with customary gusto, Spencer Tracy files one of his finest performances, and Warner supplies another stellar transfer—just three of several reasons why this rousing classic deserves a spot on every movie lover's shelf. Highly recommended.


Back to top

Search 10,000+ titles:

or Advanced Search


Get FREE Shipping on all orders at TimeLife.com! - 120x90


Microsoft Store


television, jennifer esposito, blue bloods, ncis, mark harmon. duane henry, wilmer valderrama, michael weatherly, bull, movie, ghostbusters, comedy, chris helmsworth, melissa mcarthy, kristen wiig, celebrity, rap, game, shoop dogg, jayceon terrell taylor, alton sterling, kristen stewart, equals, jonathan simkhal, nicholas hoult, music, kris kristofferson, country music hall of fame, alzheimers, lyme disease, fox news, gretchen carlson, fox and friends, steve doocy, roger ailes, the real story with gretchen carlson, radio, garrison keillor, a prairie home companion, jennifer anniston, baby bump, justin theroux, taylor swift, tom hiddleston, calvin harris, lisa marie presley, michael lockwood, riley and benjamin keough, danny keough, michael jackson, nicolas cage, tom affleck, boston fan, bill simmons, hbo show, any given wednesday, tom brady, deflategate, hamilton, lin-manuel mianda, periscope, heart tweet machine, hamilton mixtape, cable, hbo, curb your enthusiasm, larry david, bernie sanders, saturday night live, maya and marty, christina grimmie, murdered, plaza live, before you exit, marcus grimmie, nashville, cmt, president brian phillips, the tonight show, jimmy fallon, president obama, the roots, hillary clinton, tim mcgraw, faith hill, maggie mcgraw, humble and kind, ellen degeneres show, titi pierce, coldwell banker robbins & free realty, hairspray live!, tracy turnblad, york theatre company, john waters, jennifer hudson, harvey fierstein, martin short, derek hough, j.k. rowling, harry potter and the cursed child, noma dumezweni, emma watson, judd apatow, paul freig, melissa mccarthy, romance, history channel, roots, remake, anika noni rose, t.i., malachi kirby, josh duhamel, transformers, fergie, black eyed peas, axl, double dutchess, abc, music city, grand ole opry, chip esten, lennon stella, the voice, alisan porterm, christina aguilera, ceelo green, ariana grande, sia, the little big town, 2016 billboard music awards, pink, just like fire, pamela neal, warrior princess, send my love (to your new lover), billboard music awards, adele, patrick daughters, bryan cranston, lbj, all the way, melissa leo, frank langella, todd weeks, hard sell, kristin chenoweth, wicked

On Facebook!
Promote Your Page Too



Original Magic Dress.com

Susti Heaven

Become a Reviewer | Search | Review Vault | Reviewers
Readers | Webmasters | Privacy | Contact
Microsoft Store