Director: Victor Fleming Cast: Freddie Bartholomew, Spencer Tracy, Lionel Barrymore, Melvyn Douglas, Charley Grapewin, Mickey Rooney, John Carradine, Oscar O’Shea, Donald Briggs
Academy Awards: Best Actor in a Leading Role (Spencer Tracy)
Also Nominated For: Best Picture; Best Adapted Screenplay (Marc Connelly, John Lee Mahin, Dale Van Early); Best Film Editing
I First Saw In: 2015
Synopsis: Harvey Cheyne is a spoiled brat used to having his own way. When a prank goes wrong onboard an ocean liner Harvey ends up overboard and nearly drowns. Fortunately he’s picked up by a fishing boat just heading out for the season. He tries to bribe the crew into returning early to collect a reward but none of them believe him. Stranded on the boat he must adapt to the ways of the fishermen and learn more about the real world.
Did You Know?
Much to the surprise of Spencer Tracy, and the chagrin of the Academy, Tracy’s Oscar had been inscribed to comic-book hero “Dick Tracy”. The Academy replaced the statuette.
And now a Word from the Guise:
Harvey Cheyne is the just the worst sort of child, and I’ve come across far too many little monsters just like him. I wish more of them would fall overboard, get picked up by a fishing boat, and then put to work and made to realise that the world does not, in fact, bow to their every whim. You can’t really blame him though: his mother passed away when he was too young to remember, his father is “far too busy and important” to raise him, and he’s given everything he wants just to quieten him. But when he tries to intimidate the fishermen with idle threats, they don’t take him seriously, and Harvey quickly learns that that nonsense just isn’t going to fly with them. After a few more obstinate endeavours, the boy finally relents and begins to help the crew with their tasks. He quickly grows to love it, especially after Manuel teaches him how to fish.
The story doesn’t just delve into the importance of valuing hard work, it also delves into the importance of valuing life. Too young at the time to remember his mother’s death, he didn’t fully grasp what it meant to die. But as Manuel – the only true parental figure in his life up until then – drowns right before his eyes, Harvey comes to terms with human mortality and why cherishing your loved ones is more important than money and material possessions.
Oscar Madness Ranking – ??? out of 23