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Posts tagged ‘Families’

My Left Foot (1989)

downloadDirected by Jim Sheridan

I realized today that writing a post and getting it ready does absolutely no good if you don’t actually schedule it. Sorry for the delay. I promise I’m not always this flakey.

My family went to the movies one night when I was six, and I saw a poster for a movie called My Left Foot. I thought the title was weird, so I asked my mom what the movie was about. She said it was about a painter who used his left foot to paint, because that was the only part of his body that he could move. That explanation sounded so fake to me that I assumed she was lying; the movie must be about some grown-up thing she didn’t want to tell me about. When I saw My Left Foot for the first time 25 years later, I found out that not only was my mom telling me the truth about that bizarre plot, but that the movie was a true story. It blew my mind.

So what’s the story? When Christy Brown is born into a large Irish family in 1932, his parents find out that baby Christy has cerebral palsy. People assume that his parents will put him into a home, but his father refuses to do so. He grows up surrounded by his loving family, most of whom assume that he’s not really bright. Through much practice and perseverance, Christy learns to write the alphabet holding a piece of chalk with his left foot. From then on, Christy blooms into a brilliant painter and writer.

The Good: Daniel Day-Lewis is a brilliant actor. I would go so far as to say that he might be the most talented actor of his generation. I’ve seen him star in several movies without realizing it was him because he submerges himself so deeply into his roles. It’s no different in My Left Foot. Day-Lewis becomes Christy Brown. It’s almost frightening how well he does.

The supporting cast is excellent as well. Brenda Fricker was recognized with an Academy Award for her portrayal of Christy’s supportive, loving mother who refuses to give up on her son. Ray McAnally plays Christy’s father with equal gusto. He may not believe that his son is actually smart, but the love and pride that shines out of his eyes is beautiful to see. While Hugh O’Conor may not be quite as brilliant as Daniel Day-Lewis, he does a fantastic job in his incredibly difficult role of young Christy Brown, showing the audience the struggles of a young boy who just wants the people around him to understand what is going on in his head. Christy’s speech and physical therapist, Dr. Eileen Cole, who is intelligent and sympathetic, is played by Fiona Shaw. Shaw just slips into the role, becoming immersed in Cole’s personality.

Sometimes biopics fall into the trap of making the subject too perfect, almost saintly. The screenwriters of My Left Foot avoided making this mistake. While his achievements were incredible and inspiring, Christy Brown was sometimes still a jerk, and the filmmakers are not afraid to show this side of him. In the movie, he throws fits when he doesn’t get his way. He makes a horrible scene in a restaurant when he finds out that the woman he loves is engaged to someone else. He pesters a woman to go on a date with him even though she keeps telling him no. He has his good side, too, but the writers showed him as a whole person who has ups and downs and good and bad all mixed together. That makes for a wonderful screenplay.

The Bad: I didn’t get much of a sense of passage of time. Sheila, Christy’s older sister, is the only character whose clothes changed with time. I realize that this is a poor family in a place where fashion doesn’t change much, but there could have been other clues. Headlines in the papers? People talking about World War II in the pub? His brothers getting called up, maybe? It’s not a huge deal, but it left me feeling a little bit rudderless.

The Ugly: My Left Foot has nothing bad enough that it can be called ugly.

Oscars Won: Best actor in a leading role (Daniel Day-Lewis); best actress in a supporting role (Brenda Fricker).

Other Oscar Nominations: Best picture; best director; best writing, screenplay based on material from another medium.

 

A Star is Born (1937)

Poster - A Star is Born (1937)_02Directed by William A. Wellman

Surprise! There are extra posts this week! I miscounted the movies, and since I had a specific movie in mind for next week, I needed to finish 1937. So for your reading pleasure, I present The Rest of 1937.

I had a hard time getting hold of this movie, even though there are several copies of it in my library system. I had put it on hold, but it didn’t come in, so I called the customer service line to see what was going on. The lady on the other end said, “Oh, let me place that on hold for you again; it should spark the hold then. So you want A Star is Born? Oh, here it is. I just love Judy Garland in that movie. Wait. You don’t want the one with Judy Garland? You want Janet Gaynor? Are you sure that’s the one you want? It’s rather old.” She still sounded skeptical after I assured her that, yes, I was looking for the version with Janet Gaynor. I ended up having to call a coworker to grab a copy off the shelf at the library I work at so that I could get it. Yes, young people like old movies and just because something has been remade (and remade three times) doesn’t mean that the first one is obsolete.

So what’s the story? Young Esther Blodgett runs away to Hollywood with stars in her eyes, convinced that she will become a famous actress as soon as she gets there. Esther finds that it’s harder than she thought, but soon she catches the eye of the famous actor Norman Maine and finds herself shooting to stardom, even as Norman’s career begins to fail due to alcoholism.

The Good: I had only seen Janet Gaynor in silent movies before I watched A Star is Born. I had to check to make sure it was the same actress; she made such a good crossover to talkies that I felt a little unsure. Gaynor captures the spirit of Esther Blodgett as she goes from starry-eyed girl to mature woman. She also makes sure that the film doesn’t descend into melodrama.  Norman Maine, a man of humor and despair, is played to perfection by Fredric March. In his third role in an Oscar nominated movie in 1937, Adolphe Menjou plays Oliver Niles, Norman and Esther’s sympathetic agent. There was no type-casting for him, by the way. The three (large) roles he played in One Hundred Men and a Girl, Stage Door, and A Star is Born were all completely different. He did an excellent job in each.  I’m always glad to see Andy Devine, and he does a good job (as always) as Esther’s brotherly neighbor Danny (and he looks so young!). May Robson gives a sassy performance as Esther’s strong-willed grandmother Lettie.

The screenplay was co-written by one of my personal heroes: Dorothy Parker. Her trademark wit is scattered throughout. Again, although the story is a good one, A Star is Born could easily have become a melodrama. Thanks to Parker and her colleagues Alan Campbell and Robert Carson, the screenplay was able to help avoid that.

A Star is Born is a study in contrasts. The costuming, art direction, and music all work together to highlight Esther’s rise to stardom. Esther starts out as a girl from the sticks; her family lives in a small, plain house in the freezing mountains. She wears simple, practical clothes. The music that underscores these homely scenes includes familiar melodies, such as “Auld Lang Syne.” When she moves to Hollywood, her simple clothes stay the same, but her poverty is evident through her boardinghouse, which is old, cramped, and falling apart. Her neighbor Danny’s suits are of poor quality and always rumpled. The music here is rather sweet and innocent. The night that Esther goes to waitress at a party for Hollywood’s elite, everything changes. The suits and dresses of the wealthy are of a much better quality and cut, and of course of the highest fashion. The homes of the wealthy are also beautiful and fashionable, clean and open. They even have more modern telephones – and Oliver’s is even gold plated. The music is jazzy and fun, because these wealthy people seem not to have a care in the world. As Esther becomes a star, her clothes become more and more fantastic. At first they are of better quality, but still conservative. They get more fashionable the wealthier she gets. Esther and Norman’s house that they buy together is amazing, too. It has spacious rooms, beautiful gardens, and even a swimming pool. The music becomes much more sweeping and dramatic as Esther’s life fills not only with luxuries, but also difficulties. However, no matter how much life changes for Esther, she is still the simple farm girl inside. She’s obviously sending money home, because when Grandmother Lettie comes to remind Esther that Esther is strong and can get through anything, Grandmother Lettie is wearing fashionable old lady clothes instead of the old-fashioned country clothes she wore before Esther left. As her house empties out around her, the gentle music is a reminder that life can get better. Although not always the flashiest elements, the costuming, art direction, and music subtly add an extra dimension to the movie.

The Bad: The story on its own is a tad melodramatic. The theme of a country girl making it big and marrying the man of her dreams is not unfamiliar, but the story of Norman’s alcoholism could be a story written by a teetotaler in the 1880s. The title would be something like “The Evils of Drinking,” and it would detail the story of a wealthy man who ended up dying broken and alone because of his inability to give up alcohol. The original ending would have ruined the movie. Luckily, due to the screenplay and the excellent acting, A Star is Born avoids becoming a heavy-handed tale; it is instead a sensitive portrayal of an all-too-common issue.

The Ugly: There’s nothing truly horrible about A Star is Born; I had to reach to even find anything bad.

Oscars Won: Best writing, original story.

Honorary Oscar Won: W. Howard Greene, for the color photography.

Other Oscar Nominations: Best picture; best actor in a leading role (Fredric March); best actress in a leading role (Janet Gaynor); best director; best writing, screenplay; best assistant director.

Fun Fact: A Star is Born was the first all-color best picture nominee.

 

 

 

 

One Hundred Men and a Girl (1937)

One-Hundred-Men-and-a-Girl-PosterDirected by Henry Koster

Some things are definitely cute. Babies are cute. Puppies are cute. Pikachu is cute. But I hate it when people call other things cute: “That’s a cute book,” or “It was such a cute movie!” When people work hard on an artistic endeavor, they deserve to hear something more specific than the rather generic “cute”. As much as I hate it, though, I am going to have to use it now: One Hundred Men and a Girl is a cute movie.

So what’s the story? John Cardwell is a trombonist struggling to get work during the Great Depression. Every night, he waits outside the concert hall with the hope of meeting the great conductor Leopold Stokowski and getting an audition with him; however, he is never successful. After an encounter with some wealthy arts patrons who carelessly promise financial backing, his young teenaged Patricia decides she will get all the unemployed musicians together to form their own orchestra. Her grit and tenacity, along with much confusion, lead to a happy ending.

The Great: I know I don’t usually do a “great” section, but Deanna Durbin is so amazing that she needs special mention. The girl can sing. And by sing, I don’t mean that she can carry a tune or sing pop songs; Deanna Durbin had a beautiful operatic voice. She was only fifteen when One Hundred Men and a Girl was released in theaters, and it is hard to believe that she does her own singing. Not only could she sing, but Deanna Durbin could also act. She does a beautiful job in One Hundred Men and a Girl. There are moments when she’s talking fast because she’s so excited, but you can understand every word. She is completely convincing at every moment. This was my first experience with Deanna Durbin, and I remain completely blown away.

The Good: Deanna Durbin may have been the standout, but other great actors were involved in this movie. Adolphe Menjou gives a sweet performance of a man who has been ripped apart by the world, but is willing to hope again for his daughter’s sake. He goes from hopeless to grudgingly hopeful to exultant as the movie goes on. Mischa Auer brings enough humor as Michael to offset the hopelessness of the beginning. Frank Jenks brings some happy seriousness as the encouraging taxi driver, and Alice Brady is fabulous, darling as the rather thoughtless Mrs. Frost. Leopold Stokowski is a surprisingly good actor for a conductor. I have seen other real-life conductors/musicians/dancers in movies, and they are often not convincing, but Stokowski was a good actor as well as being a wonderful conductor.

The story was good. It brought the plight of people out of work because of the Depression into the forefront. It showed the good people who wanted to work, but just couldn’t find anything. It also showed the thoughtlessness of the rich. Mrs. Frost makes an impulsive promise to a young girl, then promptly forgets about it and goes out of town. She doesn’t really care about Patricia; she sees Patricia as something interesting and new in her dull, expensive life. The wealthy men who play practical jokes on each other are just as bad. While the poor are playing poker using matchsticks, these rich men bet significant amounts of money on who has the better joke. It idealizes the honest poor while uncovering the faults of the uncaring rich.

The music was awesome. I’m not sure how it was nominated for original score; most of the music was classical music. But it was amazing. I would have given them an award for best use of classical music in a musical score. The music person (not sure who it was, because there’s not really a credit for it) matched the classical music to the action perfectly. I’ve never seen it done better.

 The Bad: As talented as Deanna Durbin is with both singing and acting, she has no talent for lip-syncing. By saying she’s lip-syncing, I in no way mean to imply that she is not doing her own singing. She’s just lip-syncing to her own pre-recorded singing. And she’s bad at it. At first I just thought the audio was off, but no. It’s Deanna Durbin.

Both Patricia and her father are constantly trying to get past the doorman at the theater where Stokowski works. It gets old after a bit. Repeated jokes are not as funny as people think they are.

Why do I call One Hundred Men and a Girl cute? Because it’s a well-done, happy movie with not much depth. It’s too simplistic to be anything but cute. It’s a movie you would watch when you’re feeling down and don’t want to think too much. It’s fun, but not extraordinary. It’s just…cute.

The Ugly: There is nothing ugly about this movie. It’s too cute to be ugly.

Oscar Won: Best music, score.

Other Oscar Nominations: Best picture; best writing, original story; best sound, recording; best film editing.

In Old Chicago (1937)

In old chicagoDirected by Henry King

Chicago politics. The Chicago Fire of 1871. Close brothers who become rivals. With all of these elements, what could go wrong? A lot, actually. While there were some exciting scenes, In Old Chicago left much to be desired.

So what’s the story? The O’Leary brothers are polar opposites. Straight-arrow Jack is an attorney who always fights for the underdog. Charmingly roguish Dion runs a saloon, but he has bigger plans. He will use anyone and anything to get what he wants. Jack and Dion’s ideals will be tested for once and all on the night of the Great Chicago Fire of 1871.

The Good: There was some good acting. Alice Brady stole the show as Mrs. O’Leary (yes, THAT Mrs. O’Leary). Don Ameche is strong as Jack, and Alice Faye makes a wonderful singer/saloon owner/woman in love with Dion. Dion’s character is a little inconsistent, but Tyrone Power does an excellent job with what he’s given.

The production design was impressive. There is a huge contrast in all the buildings, from the opulence of the saloons to the humble O’Leary home to the elegance of the Mayor’s office. It brought to life the different factions of Chicago society. Also, the streets were disgustingly muddy. Historical films don’t always remember to put in small details like that. I loved it.

I wasn’t going to be impressed with the actual fire scenes; it was 1937. How convincing could it be? That was a bad call on my part. The fire is amazing, possibly even better than the burning of Atlanta in Gone with the Wind two years later. It was just…wow.

The Bad: While I acknowledge that several scenes take place in saloons and that the producers were trying to showcase Alice Faye’s famous voice, there were too many musical numbers. They slowed down the conniving and the action, and they weren’t particularly entertaining.

While In Old Chicago has a good story with lots of potential drama, the movie felt really shallow. The screenplay left the characters feeling flat and uninteresting, except for Dion. He has the opposite problem. His character changes at the drop of a hat. One minute he’s a rogue with a twinkle in his eye, the next he’s completely evil. Then suddenly, he remembers how much he loves his brother and is perfectly good. It’s just not believable.

The Ugly: Rape isn’t a joke, although they play attempted rape as funny twice. Forcing a girl to kiss you and then threatening to rape her will not get you a business partner or a loving wife. Not cool, 1937.

Oscars Won: Best actress in a supporting role (Alice Brady); best assistant director.

Other Oscar Nominations: Best picture; best writing, original story; best sound, recording; best music, score.

The Good Earth (1937)

good earthDirected by Sidney Franklin

I read the novel The Good Earth for the first time when I was fourteen, which is longer ago than I’d like to admit. Even though I was so young, I felt the love and respect that Pearl S. Buck had for the people and culture of China, along with some of her criticism (which is fair, because no culture is perfect). I was nervous about watching this movie, because I wasn’t sure what Hollywood would do to such a sensitive book about such a different place. Although the filmmakers did make some horrifying decisions (more on that later), The Good Earth is both an excellent movie on its own and an excellent adaptation of the book, which is an incredibly difficult thing to do.

So what’s the story? Poor farmer Wang Lung marries O-lan, a mistreated slave from a wealthy household. For many years, they work side by side on his small farm, buying more land whenever they can scrape the money together to do so. They stick together through storms, famine, and locusts. When Wang forgets what is truly important in life, O-lan is there to remind him. (This is basically the storyline, but the movie is much more exciting and subtle than this summary makes it sound.)

The Good: Luise Rainer makes an excellent O-lan. O-lan is a very quiet, shy character; she never has much to say. Rainer finds O-lan’s soul and brings out her inner strength for the world to see. Her expressions and body language are incredible; they let the viewer get a glimpse of O-lan’s inner workings.

Paul Muni shows boyish delight as Wang. He takes pride in the beautiful things that are his – his farm, his wife, his children. He loves the land and all it gives him. When the land betrays Wang and later, when he becomes wealthy, Muni is able to show the despair and hubris Wang experiences. Yes, Wang has more to say than O-lan, but he, too, has his inner struggles.

The cinematography is exceptional. Karl Freund, the cinematographer, makes excellent use of light and shadow. The scene where O-lan is having her baby during a thunderstorm with lightning as the only light is incredible. Freund also does wonderful work with wide-angle lenses. The panoramic views of people travelling during the famine adds to the feeling of despair, while the views of the locusts make it seem like the entire world is about to end. It’s amazing.

I know I’m not supposed to compare movies to books, but there are so few good adaptations that I have to mention it when I see it. Yes, some things get left out, but that’s because no one wants to sit through a five hour long movie. The story that is left is rich and full and draws the viewer in. So maybe I’ll excuse my indulgence by saying The Good Earth has an excellent screenplay.

There was no Oscar for special effects in 1937, but if there had been, The Good Earth would have deserved it for the locust scene alone. It was frightening on the 19 inch screen I watched in on in 2017. It must have been terrifying on a big screen in 1937, when people weren’t jaded by the CGI monsters that are so common now.

 The Bad:  Most of the music is very stereotypically Chinese; it uses the “Oriental” chords to evoke the strangeness of China. However, I did like music during the scene where O-lan kills the bull. The sweeping chords and building melody were how heroism was often underscored in the 1930s, and it echoes the O-lan’s heroism in the face of starvation.

The makeup was sketchy. While the makeup artists did a fabulous job using makeup to age the characters, they did not do a great job of making Paul Muni and Luise Rainer look Asian, which leads us to…

The Ugly: Let’s talk about the whitewashing. Yes, Paul Muni and Luise Rainer were wonderful in their parts. I’m not going to blame them for starring in the movie. But I do have a problem with the fact that the prominent roles of Wang, O-lan, Wang’s father, Wang’s uncle, and Wang’s second wife, along with a few less-prominent characters, were not played by people of Chinese descent, or even people from other Asian countries. They were all white. I recognize that the Hollywood of the day would not have even auditioned actual Asians to star in a story about China even though there were plenty of Asians living in California, but it still bothers me. It still happens today in Hollywood, which doesn’t make a lot of sense, because there are lots of very good Asian-American actors to choose from. I would have like to have been able to see The Good Earth with actors of the proper race. Since I can’t, I hope Hollywood will get over itself and let Asians play Asians.

Oscars Won: Best actress in a leading role (Luise Rainer); best cinematography.

Other Oscar Nominations: Best picture; best director; best film editing.

Fun Fact: With her Oscar for this role, Luise Rainer became the first person to win Oscars for a leading role back-to-back.

Dead End (1937)

dead endDirected by William Wyler

“There was blood on his hands…and a price on his head!” I knew absolutely nothing about Dead End before I watched it, but this tagline made me pretty sure it was film noir. I was so excited; I love film noir. Turns out Dead End is not film noir, but something better: a look at the life of poverty-stricken people in New York’s Lower East Side.

So what’s the story? Drina is single and poor, struggling to raise her younger brother, Tommy. She has always been in love with Dave, a man who worked hard to put himself through college so he could escape the slums, but who can’t get a job now. Dave is falling for Kay, a young woman living in the fancy new apartment building that backs onto Drina and Dave’s block. Tommy is the leader of a street gang; he’s getting into more and more trouble lately. One day, a mysterious man comes to the block. On that one fateful day, the tensions between rich and poor, wealth and poverty, and law and crime all come to a head.

The Good: The lead actors (Sylvia Sydney as Drina and Joel McCrae as Dave) were amazing. Their performances were so good that I can’t figure out why I wasn’t familiar with their names. They both deserved to have much bigger careers than they did. Humphrey Bogart did a good job as always, as did some of the teens in Tommy’s gang.

The filmmakers used several elements to contrast the realities in the lives of the rich and poor. At the beginning, they use editing to show alternating scenes as both groups get ready for the day. The costumes also show class contrast. Drina has one dress on throughout the day, and although it’s clean and pressed, it’s not fashionable. We see Kay in a couple of dresses: a fashionably simple, blindingly white day dress, and a beautiful evening gown. The gang of teenage boys wear a variety of clothes, many of which are obviously hand-me-downs, while the teen boy who lives in the apartment house wears a tailored suit. Martin wears (and brags about) his expensive clothes, while Dave wears worn shirts and trousers. Those living in the poor neighborhood use more slang than the wealthy apartment dwellers; their grammar is also not always perfect. These things all come together to subtly remind viewers of the contrasting lives.

The musical score in Dead End is perfect for the movie; there isn’t one. Sure, there’s some music over the opening credits, and again at the “The End” placard, but the only other music in the movie is the naturally occurring music throughout the day: the player piano in the bar; the kazoo that one of the boys joyfully plays; the songs people sing; the jazz records of the wealthy. This adds to the realism of the movie.

More than anything else, though, the story and screenplay made me love this movie. Dead End speaks for people who don’t have voices, people who are doing their best but who can’t make it out of poverty. It shows why people get stuck in the poverty cycle. It explores that while all people have dreams, sometimes you can’t have all of your dreams. Fighting for your dreams is important, but that doesn’t mean that you’ll get what you’re fighting for. Doing your best isn’t always good enough. The wealthy are not only privileged in their money, but also with the law. They have connections that can get them what they want. On the other hand, just because they are wealthy doesn’t mean that they don’t deserve the protections of the law. All of this was packed into one movie that takes place in one day. That was extraordinarily well done.

The Bad: While Tommy’s gang has some good actors in their midst, some of them are not so great. Also, some of them have such thick New York accents that it’s hard for this person from “out West” to tell what they are saying sometimes.

There were a few parts that felt a little bit slow, but everything is important at some point, so don’t let your attention wander.

The Ugly: This is still happening. People are still living in poor, crime-ridden parts of town. They want to move to a nicer place, but they don’t have the money. Kids still get in over their heads in gangs. Some people decide that they would rather have the money that comes with a life of crime than live an honest life. Some people try to get out of the life, but society makes it hard for them. The justice system comes down harder on poverty-stricken people. I have never ever said that a movie should be remade, but I think this one should be. Not because it’s a bad movie, but because many people won’t watch a black-and-white movie to save their lives. I also think some of the parallels to today might be lost on some people. But this is partially what the humanities are for: to help people understand other people whose lives are so completely different than their own.

Oscars Won: None.

Oscar Nominations: Best picture; best actress in a supporting role (Clair Trevor); best cinematography; best art direction.

Captains Courageous

Directed by Victor Flemingcaptains courageous

Side note: I knew I hadn’t posted for a while, but I had no idea that it had been three months. I wouldn’t have guessed more than one. Where does the time go? I’ve decided to make another change, since two movie reviews a week are apparently more than I can handle. I’m just going to post once a week. on Thursdays, so anyone looking for a weekend movie has a new idea. And now back to our irregularly scheduled post:

I knew that I had seen Captains Courageous as a child because I remembered very clearly a scene where Mickey Rooney has an argument with the captain. It turns out that doesn’t actually happen in Captains Courageous, so I’m thinking that maybe a similar thing happens in Boys Town. But I’m still sure that I saw this movie, because my love of pea coats and fisherman’s sweaters is rooted so firmly in Captains Courageous that when I see the DVD at the library, I think, “Oh! The pea coat movie!”

So what’s the story? Spoiled, conniving, manipulative Harvey Cheyne, aged ten, is suspended from his elite boarding when the teachers find out he is blackmailing other boys and trying to bribe teachers to get what he wants. His formerly absent father decides to take Harvey with him on a business trip to Europe to try to teach him that you have to work for what you want. When Harvey tries to play a prank on the other boys on the ocean liner, he falls overboard. He is rescued by a group of fishermen, but nothing he can say will make them return to shore before their fishing season is over. Faced with spending three months on a fishing boat full of men who all have to do their part, Harvey is forced to learn that hard work at honest labor delivers more rewards than he could ever have imagined.

The Good: The screenwriters made an amazing choice for this movie. Rudyard Kipling’s novel upon which this movie is based was published in 1897. The writers decided to set the movie in 1937 instead. It would have been good if it had been set in 1897, but changing the setting made the movie much more timely. At one point, Harvey tries to manipulate one of his classmates by threatening to have his classmate’s father fired. This would have been a huge threat in the 1930s, when millions of people were out of work and starving because of the Great Depression. This setting connected people to the movie much more strongly than a historical fiction film would have.

The supporting cast was wonderful. Lionel Barrymore is excellent as Captain Disko, and Mickey Rooney does a good job is his smaller-than-I-was-expecting role of Dan, the captain’s son. I loved the other sailors (some of whom are played by rather prolific actors), who all had different personalities and came to be fond of Harvey in their own different ways. Melvyn Douglas plays Mr. Cheyne, a widower who thinks that he is giving Harvey everything he needs, only to realize that he doesn’t know his own son. It’s a small role, but Douglas’s ability makes it a tender one.

Now let’s talk about the most amazing thing in the movie: Freddie Bartholomew’s acting. I marveled throughout the entire movie as I watched a spoiled brat struggling as he turns into a young man. It’s ridiculous how good of an actor that child was. Everything in the movie hinges on the part of Harvey, and if a lesser actor had played him, the movie would have failed. I don’t have the words to describe his acting; Captains Courageous is a movie you will want to watch if you enjoy watching fine acting.

The Bad and The Ugly: Nothing exactly fits into these categories, so I had to make a new category for today:

The I Have No Idea How I Feel About This: People who have looked at the movie poster will say, “Wait a minute. Spencer Tracy’s name is on the movie poster. Why haven’t you talked about him?” It’s because I have very mixed feelings about this performance. The performance itself is not exactly bad, but Tracy’s accent is atrocious to the point that it becomes distracting. He does express various emotions well, but for me, he never quite becomes jolly Portuguese sailor Manuel; he’s just an actor doing a bad accent. It’s possible that the performance is good and the accent is ugly, but since they are so intertwined, it’s hard for me to make a judgment.

Oscar Wins: Best actor in a leading role (Spencer Tracy).

Other Oscar Nominations: Best picture; best writing, screenplay; best film editing.