Based on the novel by Ernest Hemingway. Santiago goes out on his usual fishing trip and makes a huge catch, the biggest of his life. Then a shark attacks and tries to steal his catch. ... See full summary »
Against all odds Father Flanagan starts "Boys' Town" after hearing a convict's story. Whitey Marsh comes there. He runs away but, hungry, returns. He runs away again but, when friend Pee ... See full summary »
Now an old man, a lifelong fisherman sets out to sea to ply his trade as he has done all of his life. He's not had much good fortune of late and has gone almost three months without a major catch while others are catching one or even two large marlins every week. Many of the locals make fun of him and some say he's too old now to be fishing but he still loves what he does and is encouraged by a young boy who loves him and has faith in him. On this day he hooks the fish of a lifetime, a marlin that is larger than his skiff. As it slowly pulls him out to sea, the old man reminisces about his past, his successes and the high points of his life. When he does finally manage to land the fish he has to fight off sharks who are feeding on it as he tries to return to his Cuban village. Written by
Ernest Hemingway's books have been filmed by Hollywood with varying degrees of success. Such stars as Gary Cooper, Gregory Peck, Tyrone Power, Rock Hudson, and Humphrey Bogart have taken a turn at being Hemingway heroes. I guess it was Spencer Tracy's turn to do it now.
I'm not sure that any actor no matter how good they are could keep the audiences attention on him for 90 minutes just alone in a boat, struggling to hook the mother of all marlins. But Spencer Tracy is as good as they get and I'm not sure he did it either. But Tracy ought to be commended for trying, in fact an Oscar nomination came in the way of a commendation.
One thing I will say, Tracy may have been the least vain actor on the screen. When a whole lot of his contemporaries were still doing romantic leads, Tracy let his age and everything else all hang out in this story of an old Cuban fisherman with two passions, baseball and fishing. His favorite ball player, who else but Joe DiMaggio the son of an Italian fisherman. The old man's passion; to go fishing with Joe DiMaggio. Actually in real life, DiMaggio honed his baseball skills to get away from the life his father and the old man led.
Of course there's that epic struggle with the marlin and what happens after. Hemingway goes Melville on us here, the big fish is the old man's white whale. Of course unlike Captain Ahab, it's an individual struggle, Tracy doesn't take a whole crew down with him because of his obsession.
It was a great effort and Tracy and director John Sturges deserve an A for effort here in trying to film an essentially plot less story. I suppose The Old Man and the Sea found an audience with fishermen and Spencer Tracy fans.
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