Plot: What’s it about?
Harvey Cheyne (Freddie Bartholomew) is ten years old and as spoiled as can be, as his rich father allows him to indulge his every whim. When he is unable to get his way, he resorts to bribes and even blackmail, which leads to his expulsion from school. After trying to bribe one of his teachers, Harvey is sent out and his father decides to take him to Europe in that period. Even then, he tries to impress everyone by drinking a number of ice cream sodas, an action that he will soon regret. On the ship, his stomach is in knots and as he leans over the side, he is tossed overboard. No one notices his fall, so he drifts in the waters until a fishing crew passes by and one of the men pulls him in. He isn’t thankful for the rescue, instead offended by the inconvenience of the situation. He tries to bribe the fishermen to take him back, but they don’t believe him. With three months on the seas ahead of him, can Harvey learn to survive on his own?
If you’ve seen Cabin Boy with Chris Elliott, but wanted a more serious take on the subject matter, then this is your ticket. Captains Courageous is a great movie in all respects, especially in regard to how well it captures life on the high seas. A lot of movies that take place on the ocean have a false presence, but here the atmosphere is realistic and immersive. You feel like you’re on this ship, in other words. As expected from author Rudyard Kipling, we have a great story that balances emotion and adventure. The characters here are well developed and never seem one dimensional, especially the main leads. Spencer Tracy earned an Oscar for his performance and with good reason, as his performance is excellent. I enjoyed seeing Captains Courageous again and I give it a high recommendation.
Video: How does it look?
Captains Courageous is presented in full frame, as intended. Warner has churned out some impeccable restorations for certain classic films, but this isn’t one of those films. Not a bad visual effort, but when you think about those restorations, this presentation begins to lose its shine. The print is in decent condition, but has debris and grain present. This wouldn’t normally be an issue with a film of this age, but Warner’s reputation is such that I expected a cleaner print than this. So while still an acceptable effort, I just wanted more from this transfer than Warner provided.
Audio: How does it sound?
The sounds of the open sea aren’t that immersive here, but this is an almost seventy year old mono soundtrack, so that is understandable. I heard some minor hiss and distortion at times, but very minor issues and for the vintage of the elements, that’s acceptable. The dialogue is usually fine, with no volume or clarity problems to report. The sounds of the high seas aren’t well presented enough to make you feel like you’re on the ship, but decent enough, for mono. This disc also includes a French language track, as well as subtitles in English, Spanish, and French.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This disc includes a couple of bonus shorts, as well as two of the film’s theatrical trailers.