Captains Courageous (1937)

115, 116 or 118 mins | Adventure, Drama | 25 June 1937

Director:

Victor Fleming

Producer:

Louis D. Lighton

Cinematographer:

Harold Rosson

Editor:

Elmo Veron

Production Designer:

Cedric Gibbons

Production Company:

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
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HISTORY

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 DV and HR , 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 Oct and Nov 1935. Principal photography was set to begin on 14 Sep, then 19 Sep 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-Jan 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 Feb 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 HR news item on the Los Angeles premiere noted that, for the first time in Hollywood history, pickets ... More Less

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 DV and HR , 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 Oct and Nov 1935. Principal photography was set to begin on 14 Sep, then 19 Sep 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-Jan 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 Feb 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 HR 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 HR 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 MPD on 18 Nov 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 (see above). 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 HR , 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. FD , the National Board of Review, and NYT 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. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
7 Oct 35
p. 9.
Daily Variety
6 Nov 35
p. 8.
Daily Variety
24 Mar 37
p. 3.
Film Daily
29 Mar 37
p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter
3 Oct 35
p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Oct 35
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
18 Oct 35
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
23 Nov 35
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
14 Sep 36
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
19 Sep 36
p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter
29 Sep 36
p. 14.
Hollywood Reporter
5 Nov 36
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
3 Dec 36
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
5 Jan 37
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
14 Jan 37
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
18 Jan 37
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
19 Jan 37
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
2 Feb 37
p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter
2 Feb 37
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
15 Feb 37
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
25 Feb 37
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
24 Mar 37
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
24 Apr 37
p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter
17 May 37
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
15 May 37
p. 1, 3
Hollywood Reporter
18 Nov 38
p. 1.
Motion Picture Daily
25 Mar 37
p. 4.
Motion Picture Daily
16 Jun 37
pp. 12-13.
Motion Picture Herald
19 Dec 36
p. 39.
Motion Picture Herald
3 Apr 37
p. 37.
New York Times
12 May 37
p. 27.
Variety
19 May 37
p. 22.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
Charles Grapewin
Dave Thursby
Don Brody
Billy Arnold
Myra McKinney
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
Victor Fleming's Production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Marine dir
Fill-In dir
Loc dir
PRODUCERS
Supv
WRITERS
Contr to trmt
PHOTOGRAPHY
Photog
Fill-in photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Art dir assoc
Art dir assoc
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
MUSIC
Mus score
SOUND
Rec dir
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod mgr
Press rep
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel Captains Courageous by Rudyard Kipling (London, 1897).
SONGS
"Ooh What a Terrible Man" and "Don't Cry Little Fish," music by Franz Waxman, lyrics by Gus Kahn
"Blow the Man Down" and "What Shall We Do with a Drunken Sailor?" traditional
and traditional melodies with original Portuguese lyrics by Z. Yaconelli.
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Rudyard Kipling's Captains Courageous
Release Date:
25 June 1937
Premiere Information:
New York premiere: 11 May 1937
Production Date:
mid September 1936--late February 1937
Copyright Claimant:
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
Copyright Date:
21 April 1937
Copyright Number:
LP7187
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Sound System
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
115, 116 or 118
Length(in reels):
12
Country:
United States
PCA No:
2951
Passed by NBR:
Yes
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 ... +


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. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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